On Bergdahl, Obama Made the Least Bad Choice

 

ObamaBerghdalPresident Obama has come under enormous criticism for his handling of the repatriation of Sgt Bergdahl. As always, he couldn’t help but do it in the most grandstanding way possible. The central decision, though, was the best of a bad set of choices. I’m not convinced by any of the arguments that I’ve seen here or elsewhere on the web that he could have done this much differently.

Here then, are the complaints:

We Negotiated With Terrorists

Of course we did. The Taliban have the upper hand in Afghanistan and they know it. We were always going to have to give up something to get him back; it was just a matter of negotiating down to the smallest number of prisoners they were willing to exchange for him.

But He’s a Deserter

Suppose he had been captured in action, as some accounts say. After losing a certain number of men trying to free him, the military would have decided the cost was too high and we would have been forced to negotiate anyway.

We Should Have Left Him to Rot

Had Obama done that, would everyone on the right be backing him up on that decision? Or would everyone be talking about how he cravenly left one of our brave warriors behind? Obama has, for once, acted according to principle: you don’t leave anyone behind. To make that happen, he’s had to push other moral considerations aside.

He Needs to be Tried

After five years in captivity, there may not be enough of Bowe Bergdahl left inside the head of Sergeant Bergdahl to have a trial. Were his genitals cut off? How many times was he raped? How many times was he beaten? How much brain damage has he incurred as a result of five years of malnutrition, exposure, and isolation? Has he picked up some chronic disease in captivity? After some rehabilitation, he might be propped up in a chair and made to face a court-martial, but what are you going to do to him that hasn’t been done already?

But He’s a Deserter

When did this first start to show up, specifically? How long before he wandered off? Was he ever really cut out for infantry duty or did a desperate military send him to the front because they needed a warm body to fill a slot? And when he first started showing signs of disloyalty, was that dealt with or did everyone just sort of cross their fingers and hope he could hold it together for a few more months?

We were told early on that “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.” True then, true now. Expediency and exigency are the foundation on which the Global War on Terror was built. It’s a system that has served everyone stateside very well; the actual consequences of this way of doing things have been borne entirely by the man in uniform. An investigation may show that Bergdahl failed his responsibilities, but who in the American government is ever going to be held responsible for this mess in the first place? Loyalty is a two-way street.

Obama Broke the Law

Yes he did. But realistically, was Congress going to think this through reasonably and approve the swap or would they have used Bergdahl as a political football? The administration claims his health was deteriorating quickly enough that the stipulated 30 days was too long to wait. Even if that proves to be another one of their lies, was five years not long enough to wait? What, other than moral grandstanding, would our congressmen have done with those thirty days?

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 106 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. virgil15marlow@yahoo.com Coolidge
    virgil15marlow@yahoo.com
    @Manny

    MLH:

    At the risk of appearing very dense: why’d he have to do it at all?

     Exactly my question.  I would have left the traitor to rot.

    • #91
  2. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Manny:

    MLH:

    At the risk of appearing very dense: why’d he have to do it at all?

    Exactly my question. I would have left the traitor to rot.

     I also don’t get the promotion. Two grades in 5 years for being “on leave.” Has he been collecting pay and benefits, too? Makes me think his official status was POW/MIA.

    • #92
  3. user_409996 Inactive
    user_409996
    @EdwardSmith

    The promotions and pay raises don’t surprise me.

    Desertion is a charge to be made and contested in a Court Martial.  He’d need to be present for that.

    Was he able to collect his pay while he was held by the Taliban?

    Were he to be brought back to a state of health fit for that Court Martial, and found guilty, would he be stripped of his rank and given a Dishonorable Discharge as well as facing prison time or even the Death Penalty?  Could he also not be held liable to pay collected fraudulently?  And would any revenues from selling his story not be subject to a Lien if that were the case?

    It would probably have been better to let him rot.  But with a President who cares about this country (and is there a Statute of Limitations for Desertion?  2016, anyone?) he could be in for a world of trouble.

    • #93
  4. user_409996 Inactive
    user_409996
    @EdwardSmith

    The shock of how shabbily the President is treating good soldiers by getting this piece of you-know-what back is for the present.

    But the story is not, I think, over.   Bergdahl should not rest easy.  There’s too many people too pissed off by what has happened for him not to pay for what he has done.

    • #94
  5. oleneo65 Coolidge
    oleneo65
    @oleneo65

    PHCheese:

    By the way , he was not held by the Taliban but by a group equivalent to the Afghan Mafia.

    A distinction without a difference!

    • #95
  6. Proud Skeptic Inactive
    Proud Skeptic
    @ProudSkeptic

    Jason Rudert:

    Proud Skeptic: The way I see it, this post is way ahead of itself. Based on what I have heard, there is reason for the Army to do its version of a grand jury investigation to see if he deserted or not. Then it all goes from there.

    Yes, but if we waited for all the facts, what would we talk about?

     We would talk about something else, about which more is known and we can speak authoritatively based on facts…  Then, once the facts on this are explored, we can talk about this without relying so heavily on speculation.

    • #96
  7. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Edward Smith:

    The promotions and pay raises don’t surprise me.

    Desertion is a charge to be made and contested in a Court Martial. He’d need to be present for that.

    Was he able to collect his pay while he was held by the Taliban?

    Were he to be brought back to a state of health fit for that Court Martial, and found guilty, would he be stripped of his rank and given a Dishonorable Discharge as well as facing prison time or even the Death Penalty? Could he also not be held liable to pay collected fraudulently? And would any revenues from selling his story not be subject to a Lien if that were the case?

    It would probably have been better to let him rot. But with a President who cares about this country (and is there a Statute of Limitations for Desertion? 2016, anyone?) he could be in for a world of trouble.

    Go read what happened to Charles Robert Jenkins. The facts of his case are the same as here – with the exception that when Mr. Jenkins went to court martial, he pled guilty.

    • #97
  8. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Lookie what we have here, now the WaPo mentions that Charles Robert Jenkins did not receive a welcome home phone call from President Bush.  Of course  he also wasn’t traded for 5 whatevers that the North Koreans wanted.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-no-apologies-for-bergdahl-release-deal/2014/06/05/a4c15fca-ec2a-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html

    • #98
  9. user_977556 Member
    user_977556
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    “Obama Made the Least Bad Choice”

    One word answer: “Bull.”

    • #99
  10. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Bozobit:

    Seems to me the only reason to get him is if he was more dangerous to us working with the Taliban than sitting in the brig. He can sit in the brig, now.

    The equation is much worse. Having deserter Bergdahl in the brig and five lead terror dogs back in play has to somehow outweigh deserter Bergdahl’s hypothetical future cooperation with the enemy. By this time, after years of separation, the value of Bergdahl’s cooperation (if any) has been largely exhausted.

    If Bergdahl was more dangerous to US security with the enemy than these five lead terror dogs, why hail him as a returning hero? And why use the notorious Lying Czar Susan Rice to hail him as a returning hero?

    Bergdahl’s desertion has been known and published since he walked away, as recently redocumented by Michelle Malkin on her website. Inside the military, having a deserter is a known risk of command. If all of these voices from Bergdahl’s unit know and provide evidence that he deserted, denial clearly isn’t an effective strategy. Only a bumbler would try it.

    Oh. Right.

    • #100
  11. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Instugator:

    So when is P. Obama going to open up negotiations with the North Koreans for the two remaining US deserters they have?

    Shhhhh! Maybe he hasn’t noticed yet.

    • #101
  12. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    SoMS: I don’t understand the US Army’s actions. This guy was a PFC when he deserted. He left a note so they would know he left intentionally. The US Army then put men at risk to retrieve him, and kept giving him promotions. I wonder if any of his peers didn’t get promoted with him? What must his fellow soldiers think?

     This is one of my pet peeves–he got retroactive promotions. The Army or whoever was fully covering this up.

    • #102
  13. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    JimGoneWild:

    SoMS: I don’t understand the US Army’s actions. This guy was a PFC when he deserted. He left a note so they would know he left intentionally. The US Army then put men at risk to retrieve him, and kept giving him promotions. I wonder if any of his peers didn’t get promoted with him? What must his fellow soldiers think?

    This is one of my pet peeves–he got retroactive promotions. The Army or whoever was fully covering this up.

     No, it is more a case of innocent until proven guilty. We generally don’t try people in absentia – so in Bergdahl’s case promotions occur on time.

    • #103
  14. 3rd angle projection Member
    3rd angle projection
    @

    Late back to the party…How’s Bergdahl’s health these days? Oh, he’s doing good? Good to hear. What was O’s urgency again? Ahhh, don’t worry about it, this is going to work out ok. Really. What could go wrong?

    • #104
  15. Boomerang Inactive
    Boomerang
    @Boomerang

    3rd angle projection:

    Late back to the party…How’s Bergdahl’s health these days? Oh, he’s doing good? Good to hear. What was O’s urgency again? Ahhh, don’t worry about it, this is going to work out ok. Really. What could go wrong?

     Thrap!  You’re back!

    • #105
  16. 3rd angle projection Member
    3rd angle projection
    @

    Boomerang:

    3rd angle projection:

    Late back to the party…How’s Bergdahl’s health these days? Oh, he’s doing good? Good to hear. What was O’s urgency again? Ahhh, don’t worry about it, this is going to work out ok. Really. What could go wrong?

    Thrap! You’re back!

    Yes Boomer I’m back! Nice to be back too, I must say. And thanks for the acknowledgement. How’ve you been? Perhaps a catch up in the PIT? 4.0? Still? Is there a 5.0?

    • #106
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.