American Elephants


The Bergdahl Blunder is Not About Bowe, But About Barack Obama by The Elephant's Child

The center of the Bowe Bergdahl scandal is not the young man who apparently deserted his post in wartime, but the President of the United States. President Obama was advised by senior military leaders not to make the prisoner swap with the Taliban. Barack Obama released five top Taliban leaders in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. This has been compared to releasing five four-star generals belonging to the  enemy in the midst of war.

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In fact he has been advised fairly continually since 2011, not to negotiate with the Taliban, and not to release these five Taliban leaders (the worst of the worst).

The Obama foreign policy was failing on every front. The president’s handlers developed a program to show that he was really in charge. The first was a quick flight to Bagram Airfield as the first photo-op. (See how I care about the troops). Two days later, there was a Rose Garden press conference to announce his decision about future U.S. troop levels and his timeline for ending the war in Afghanistan( in command) The next day he was off to West Point to deliver “a major foreign policy address” at the commencement ceremony (Commander in Chief). The address received polite applause from the cadets who had undoubtedly hoped the address would be about their future, since it was their graduation.

Back in the real world, setbacks in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine continued. China continued making increasingly aggressive territorial claims, Russia was doing the same, and the White House inadvertently “outed” the CIA station chief in Afghanistan.

It has been said for some time that the president frequently does not take intelligence briefings or chooses to ignore the advice offered by intelligence officers in those meetings, and relies on his close associates instead.When Russian tanks rolled into Crimea, the administration admitted it had no strategic warning of just what Putin was up to.

The Veterans Administration scandal broke to American outrage, and the president was sure that returning the long held prisoner-of-war to the bosom of his family would get the vets off the front pages. With progress on ending America’s overseas wars and closing the detention facility at Guantanamo, he expected a big jump in the polls. Didn’t work. Susan Rice was sent to the Sunday shows. Bergdahl was a hero, the president had an obligation to prioritize the health of Sgt. Bergdahl. His life could have been at t risk. The Taliban would kill him if word got out. (then they’d have nothing to trade), The Taliban would kill the deal if word got out. Something over 90 people in the administration and in Qatar knew about the deal, just not Congress. And the most recent is that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is the one who signed off on the deal. The president’s insistence on never accepting any blame for anything gets tiresome. The Bergdahl affair is something the president blames on his enemies in Congress. “I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up on Washington,” he said.

“The controversy whipped up by others” says an article in The Federalist is in reality President Obama’s desire to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. His administration has already written a memo contending that the executive does not possess sole authority on such matters. Obama’s drive to undo anything and everything done by his predecessor is hampered by the Constitution. You have “an increasingly hegemonic presidency that employs the Constitution as campaign fodder during election season but sees it as a nuisance otherwise.”

It has become clear that President Obama was motivated less by any desire to bring this particular prisoner back, than by a desire to make a deal with the Taliban. The president himself said that the deal could “open the door for broader discussions[with the Taliban] about the future [of Afghanistan] by building confidence.”

Which leads to the news today that al Qaeda has taken over Mosul. The Iraqi Army which was shaping up well, but unready for prime time, needed the extra time with U.S. Military help denied them by the Obama administration. The foreign policy of “Anti-Bush” has not worked too well. Not many people know that the major portion of the military death rate in Afghanistan was under Barack Obama. Obama came into office believing that his ability to make speeches that swayed people into doing what he wanted was all that was needed in American Foreign Policy. That hasn’t worked out either.

Add the problem that the Taliban have now got their hands on modern U.S. heat-seeking Stinger missiles. This is the result of the U.S. government’s efforts to arm the Libyan rebels which backfired, ending up with flooding weapons into Syria.

The prime duty of the President of the United States is foreign policy, protecting the United States of America. President Obama doesn’t like foreign policy and tries to avoid it. He believes in making deals, in negotiation. He believes firmly that peaceful negotiation leads to finding common interests which is the basis for agreements. The government of Iran, for example, believes firmly in the art of deception, which is approved by the Koran. As diplomats pronounce the July 20 deadline for a nuclear deal dead, the ayatollahs have managed to string us along for eight months. So there we are.

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