Filed under: Afghanistan, Election 2014, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Islam, Military, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Five High Risk Taliban Leaders, POW or Deserter?, Private Bowe Bergdahl
The Bowe Bergdahl story is an interesting one. For the Obama administration it is an opportunity to prove how very much they care about our military, returning, at great price, one of our boys who has been a prisoner of war among the terrorist Taliban in Afghanistan. He has been a captive for five long years, and his family longs for his return. They are grateful that he has been rescued, and the entire town of Hailey, Idaho will turn out to welcome home their hero. Call this the political boasting story. Susan Rice was once again dispatched to the Sunday shows to tell the happy story.
The second story is that the White House and the president, embattled with the media proliferation of macabre stories about the mistreatment of veterans at our nation’s VA Hospitals. The bonuses and advancement of administrators were measured by wait times. The Obama administration set a goal in 2011 of 14 days as the longest a veteran should have to wait in order to see a doctor or nurse. A little bit of fudging led to more and there was an enormous scandal with 40 dead veterans, destroyed wait lists. All over the headlines in every venue, and then information about the Indian Health Service started appearing, and it was clear a major distraction was needed. It was needed so fast that the minor law about giving Congress 30 days notice about releasing any detainee from Guantanamo couldn’t be observed. Five Taliban leaders, called extremely dangerous terrorists, were traded for Bowe Bergdahl. Obama summoned Bergdahl’s parents to the White House for a Rose Garden announcement of the good news that Bowe would be coming home.
Third story, told by the warriors of Private Bergdahl’s former army unit: the guy sneaked out at night, deserted his unit, leaving behind his uniform and weapons. He had previously sent his stuff home. They searched for him for several months, enduring fire fights with Taliban, and 6 good men were killed in the effort to get Private Bergdahl back. His unit blames him for those deaths, considers him a deserter, and suspects he was working with the Taliban. Obama mysteriously promoted Private Bergdahl to Sergeant First Class, and successfully changed the headlines in the media from the VA scandal to the return of a prisoner of war.
Fourth story: Those with some knowledge of the military are appalled. Trading five high-risk Taliban prisoners for a captive who may have been working with the Taliban endangers Americans everywhere. If kidnapping an American will get five prisoners out of Guantanamo, no one is safe in Afghanistan or anywhere in the Middle East. America becomes a patsy that can be played. The Taliban leaders who have been released will return as soon as possible to the battlefield and to killing Americans. No one familiar with the Middle East believes that they will be detained for long in Qatar.
Fifth story: Obama’s naive belief in diplomacy as the solution to any foreign policy problem— is a problem. The exchange does not make Obama seem strong and in command of the situation, but unusually weak, and willing to do anything to get rid of bad publicity. Our allies cannot count on the United States, and see Obama’s disinterest in foreign policy and contempt for the idea of projecting power, or speaking firmly and following through is obvious. He believes he was elected to get us out of Bush’s Wars, believes they were a disaster, and does not see any accomplishment to be maintained. Joe Biden was sent to get a status of forces agreement in Iraq, but could not manage it, so we left anyway. Now he has notified the Taliban of when we will leave, and will not attempt to preserve what was won at such cost.
That’s my take, you can take your pick, offer other choices, or tell me I’m way off. We’ll see how it develops. Honor and ethics don’t seem to have a role in the story.