Jewish World Review June 12, 2014 / 14 Sivan, 5774
Sgt. Bergdahl and the US departure from Afghanistan
By Victor Davis Hanson
Soon we shall get to the bottom of the swap of five Taliban kingpins from the
In time we will learn whether Bergdahl really served with "honor and distinction" and was "captured on the battlefield," as National Security Adviser Susan Rice has stated. Or whether, as fellow soldiers of his platoon insist, he was a deserter who left his comrades to seek out the Taliban.
We will soon discover whether Bergdahl's serious health problems or imminent danger prompted President Obama to make the sudden swap. Or whether, as administration skeptics insist, the deal was a rushed political gambit to divert attention from the
Amidst the swap conundrum, the president has defended the trade by referencing history and the American experience in past wars. But here, too, what the president states is not always accurate.
Obama insisted that, "We have a rule, a principle, that when somebody wears our country's uniform and they're in a war theater and they're captured ... we're going to do everything we can to bring 'em home. ... And regardless of whatever circumstances there are, it is our obligation to bring them home."
Both in war and peace,
Obama also declared that in "the transition process of ending a war is going to involve, on occasion, releasing folks who we may not trust but we can't convict."
That is also mostly untrue. The U.S., in most of its foreign wars, more often waited until the conclusion -- not during a "transition process" -- before exchanging prisoners. And how does the president know beforehand that "we can't convict" through military tribunals Guantanamo terrorists like those he released, as we have with others in the past?
We are also not "ending a war," but only U.S. participation in it. Most likely, after our departure in 2016, the enemy, in similar fashion to the North Vietnamese in 1975, will storm
The Bergdahl affair is a chapter in a much larger story. Obama campaigned in 2008 on the premise that
The president wants to quit the war, whether
Obama is wagering that the public does not care all that much whether Bergdahl is a deserter. Or whether the administration has negotiated with terrorists such as the Haqqani network or the Taliban. Or whether the released Taliban militants will soon return to fight in
Obama is also betting that Americans are sick of
We saw that in
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Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University.
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