Partisan Politics, Bad Ideas & the Bergdahl Swap

aaUSA_PFC_BoweBergdahl_ACU_CroppedPresident Obama’s exchange of 5 high-ranking Taliban murderers for a soldier who possibly was a deserter and collaborator encapsulates everything that is wrong with this administration’s foreign policy. The serial failures of the past 5 years reflect a toxic brew of partisan politics and naïve ideology.

The staging of the announcement last Saturday in the Rose Garden obviously was intended to milk every drop of photogenic pathos and political gain from a decision rife with moral hazard and questionable legality. To reap political advantage from this disaster of a deal, lies and half-truths were necessary for creating the narrative behind the picture of Obama flanked by Bergdahl’s joyful, if somewhat bizarre, parents. Contrary to the president and his supporters, Bergdahl was not a “hero” or “prisoner of war.” Nor had he served with “honor and distinction,” or been “captured on the battlefield,” as the terminally mendacious Susan Rice said on a Sunday morning news-show.

In fact, evidence continues to mount that Bergdahl voluntarily left his post to connect with English-speaking Taliban, a move consistent with his renunciation of his citizenship and disgruntled anti-American emails. Whether he is just a flake, as his earlier biography and strange comments suggest, or had more sinister motives will become clearer as more information surfaces. He may even be a traitor. His team leader on the night he disappeared, former Army Sergeant Evan Buetow, has told CNN that radio intercepts revealed that Bergdahl was looking for the Taliban, and that after his capture, the Taliban’s attacks on Americans became “far more directed.”

The serious questions about Bergdahl were known to the administration, if only from a 2012 Rolling Stone article. Yet consistent with Obama’s foreign policy approach, facts are never an impediment to political advantage, as his record shows. The Benghazi disaster was created by politics and covered up for political reasons. Beefing up security for the diplomatic mission was nixed because it contradicted the political narrative that the multilateral “leading from behind” removal of Ghaddafi had started Libya on the road to Jeffersonian democracy and peace, when in reality it had unleashed hundreds of feral jihadists gangs now armed with missiles and other weapons. Likewise blaming the attack on an obscure video rather than an al Qaeda franchise reinforced the “al Qaeda on its heels” and “bin Laden dead” memes peddled during the presidential campaign in order to prove the success of Obama’s anti-Bush foreign policy.

So too the Bergdahl weeper is another episode in the “end the wars and bring the troops home” political narrative demonstrating the superiority of “collective action” and “diplomacy and development, sanctions and isolation, appeals to international law, and, if just, necessary and effective, multilateral military action,” as Obama said at West Point, over George Bush’s alleged trigger-happy, blood-for-oil, Halliburton-enriching unilateralism. Just don’t think about the 6 soldiers who died looking for Bergdahl, or the violation of legal protocols for releasing Guantanamo detainees, or the dismissal of the concerns of the intelligence community, or the snubbing of Congress in making the deal, or the moral hazard of paying ransom to hostage-takers. Never mind that under Obama’s watch Iraq is once again an inferno of sectarian violence and is fast becoming a satellite of Iran. Just forget that the Taliban, given a date-certain for our withdrawal, are poised to reassert control over large swaths of eastern Afghanistan, squandering the sacrifices made by our troops. Those facts must be obscured in order to achieve a political advantage. So too the enormous risk to our soldiers’ lives and our national interests that attends the release of 5 battle-hardened jihadist murderers does not figure in political calculations for firing up the base ahead of the midterm election.

Politics may be all there is to Obama’s foreign policy. With some justification, he may calculate that despite a few occasional bleats of protest, the ovine press corps will always watch his back and deliver the political dividends his actions seek. The scandal of Benghazi––both the incompetence that lead to 4 dead Americans, and the blatantly dishonest cover-up afterwards––that unfolded a few months before the 2012 elections should have put his reelection at risk. Yet with an indifferent press corps downplaying the story, and partisan hack Candy Crowley watching his back during the presidential debates, the worst scandal of his presidency had no effect on the election. So we shouldn’t be surprised that team Obama thinks this latest shameless political stunt will work too. As Guy Benson at Townhall.com analyzes the Obama crew’s thinking, “They figured that the feel-good nature of the ‘POW’ returning home narrative would be blindly seized upon and enabled by a media exhausted by the egregious VA scandal story. Unpleasant details would be whitewashed or mostly ignored, and the only real outrage would emanate from the usual suspects on the Right. They thought they could counter critiques of the nature and terms of the trade with faux-indignant questions about whether skeptics were in favor of ‘leaving Americans behind.’” In short, the White House’s political modus operandi on every bonehead decision for the past 5 years.

Yet there is also an ideology behind Obama’s foreign policy, one shared by most progressives. This naïve view assumes the whole world is just like us, wants freedom, human rights, leisure, and prosperity as much as we do, and is kept from achieving those boons by environmental forces, lingering superstitions like religion, and the fallout from historical crimes most of which have been committed by the West. Thus it assumes America’s guilt and need to atone for its neo-colonial and neo-imperialist sins, and its racism, plunder of resources, and militarist adventurism, the very attitude struck in Obama’s infamous 2009 Cairo speech. Then follows the imperative for American withdrawal and retreat, a dangerous dereliction of global duty rationalized with the magical thinking of “international law,” “engagement,” “multilateralism,” “smart diplomacy,” “sanctions,” “international pressure,” and all the other camouflage for an unwillingness to make the tough, risky choices necessary in a hard world of bad men. This ideology bespeaks a monumental failure of imagination, and a parochial inability to understand that different peoples and cultures have different mores and goals.

Every one of Obama’s foreign policy debacles reveals this shopworn idealism. It explains the impulse to rely on negotiations and concessions with enemies like Iran, who only yield at the point of a gun; the reliance on bluster and bluff with killers like Bashar al Assad, who can read every tell announcing a weak hand; or the feeble threats of disapproval from an international community issued to Vladimir Putin, whose past brutal behavior in Chechnya and Georgia shows that he cares nothing for the estimation of some imagined “international community” that still wants to buy his oil. And now comes Obama’s absurd claim that releasing 5 seasoned killers will “open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground.” That Obama thinks the Taliban––who brutally murdered their own people in a soccer stadium, stone homosexuals, throw acid in the face of schoolgirls, honor-kill their own wives and daughters, and blow up women and children–– can have any “common ground” with anyone not sharing their barbarous religious ideology is profoundly delusional. 

As the Bergdahl fiasco shows yet again, partisan politics and bad ideas make for a world dangerous to our interests and security.

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  • VarshaMoretoniss

    my Aunty
    Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      Go away …

  • edlancey

    You had me up until Assad – so you propose to side with the Jihadis that he is fighting ?

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      Assad just happens to be on the top of the heap – for now. But fundamentally, he is a jihadi who is only fighting jihadis who themselves want to be on the top of the heap. This is the way it works in the Muslim world …

      • Drakken

        Sit back, grab a bourbon and watch the sh*tshow, let them slaughter each other to their little jihadist hearts content, we will then deal with the survivors.

        • Wolfthatknowsall

          Eventually, they will start lobbing nukes, at each other. As long as they keep it in their own countries …

          Then, the ultimate winner will have be dealt with.

  • Lanna

    Many Senators are now more skeptical after the briefing. Bergdahl could have been drugged, or sedated, making his appearance look worse. We all know this is part of the closier of Gitmo, and the allowance of bad elements back into the system to kill more troops and people.

  • Gee

    The person that should be traded for is the Marine in Mexico. Say have 500 Washington politicians for him

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  • nomoretraitors

    “terminally mendacious Susan Rice”
    No morals, no ethics, no conscience. How does this woman stand herself?

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      It’s the definition of the Left. Accordingly, to her, we have no morals, no ethics, and no conscience. These are not people we can deal with. They must be defeated and taken out of power.

    • NJK

      She’s a sociopath just like Zero. She has no conscience. She’s Ted Bundy in a dress.

      • Drakken

        You give her way too much credit, she is the poster child for affirmative action and incompetence.

    • Drakken

      Everything this affirmative action hire has touched has turned to sh*t. Incompetence and stupidity are rewarded in todays world.

  • Wolfthatknowsall

    Very good article, Bruce. On-target assessment of this situation …

  • Americana

    The rest of the world, especially the Muslim world, may not be entirely like us in terms of their theistic political functioning, but they’re HUMAN and they’re ENOUGH like us that given the opportunity, there can be a gradual shift toward a different character of their nations. That fight between the secular and the theistic Muslims is one that’s going to be hard-fought throughout the Islamic world. Look at Malala Yusufsai who faced down the Taliban. She is absolutely not going back to what she had under the Taliban. Malala’s peasant father WANTED his daughter to be educated and ALLOWED his daughter to pursue an education despite the Taliban threats. That father’s urgency and grasp of modern life came from somewhere and it wasn’t going to be suppressed. Huge numbers of Afghans like him want a semblance of what we have but are hampered by practitioners of their own religion. There is some hope. It’s up to the Afghans to master their fate though and find ways to subvert the Taliban.

    • Drakken

      More leftist stupidity and Marxist drivel. Islam is islam, and where ever islam goes, the blood always flows, without exception, and here you are singing about rainbows and unicorns and wondering why we just don’t put COEXIST stickers on our cars and sing kumbaya? Islam is defeated only one way, you kill it.

      • Americana

        Dreadnought, do you think you can keep spouting continuous, noxious shill in order to sell your POV? I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re simply a soldier, full stop. A soldier who’s willing to lie to continue to create the illusion of truth. You’ve got no use for your intellect to investigate any other possibilities about how to handle this resurgence of Muslim power. You are selling the all-out war theory and, that’s it, no more thought needed. Well, there may be countries that are facing the prospect of all-out war with Islam but the West is not. You may choose to be trying to sell the catastrophe that is facing Israel as the oncoming reality facing the West and I’d say you’re a militaristic monomaniac. Military power is only one aspect of this equation and using it while ignoring all the other sociological aspects will wreak more havoc and put more at risk culturally than other means of undermining this jihadist threat.

        reader, all I can say is producing that little Seinfeld compendium is typical of Americans who aren’t willing to look deeper than their television sets for their foreign policy. Jingoistic garbage can certainly seem edible even if it ultimately proves indigestible.

        • Habbgun

          One of the explanations for little Leftists is that Left wing intellectual talking points serve as positional goods for social climbers. Just like having the right smartphone or hybrid car signals both money and being hip so does the simple act of spouting slogans.

          The way conspicuous consumption works is simple. It is an easily seen status symbol. The way positional leftism works is the constant gainsay of an article to show a greater understanding. The beauty of positional Political Correctness is that is free!!! Just leave a comment and show your friend and you have just begun a small bit of social climbing.

          You have shown you read the right literature! You have shown you are better than the ignorant trolls and therefore deserve MORE!!!! You can show your friends how you put the less classy in their place!!! And all for free!!!

          There is one problem with conspicuous consumption. It can be seen through quite easily. Sometimes you aren’t the suave guy you think. You are just crass and “bougie”.

          The same goes for reflexive political correctness. You aren’t sophisticated. You’re just another webtroll and it takes just one hit on the ego for all the insecurities to come out.

          • Americana

            Habbgun, will travel. Just try gunning for my ego, sport, and we’ll see just how many times you claim to strike the bullseye. These tactics of calling someone a narcissist and a malignant narcissist and insane along w/all the sexual slams and slurs are pathetically clear as to their nature. Have you got a CLUE just how INSANE you all appear to the rest of the world by choosing these tactics?

            You really think you can dish out all these slurs ad infinitum and you’ll come off sounding like you’ve got anything to say or legs to stand on? Reflexive political correctness? I’ve got ABSOLUTELY NO interest in that at all. If you’re reading my comments and all you can respond with is to claim I’m a narcissist, that’s about as much an ADMISSION of MY LEGITIMACY as anything I can say myself.

          • Habbgun

            A hit. A palpable hit!!

        • reader

          You don’t even have a point. You spew some mush having nothing to do with reality. I recognize that it makes impression on those graduating in droves from all sorts of liberal arts programs, but most here live in the real world and judge facts on merits, not on meaningless bumper stickers like “Coexist” and “War is not the answer”. If you really want to prove yourself right, slap ‘em on your forehead and fly to Kabul. Report back, sport. Good nigh and good luck!

          • Americana

            I’d hardly call that mush but you can certainly try to label it as such. Good luck w/doing so. I’d prefer not to be the one walking around w/a target on their back for the foreseeable future all the while saying, “It’s mine, it’s all mine,” and thinking they can avoid the fate they’re obviously courting thanks to their own choices.

          • reader

            Err…what? I could only infer from this that you’re also a big marijuana rights supporter.

          • Americana

            Marijuana is a highly decorative plant and I’d use it in my garden design business if it were legal but, no, I’m not a smoker. Not of anything. Don’t use a hookah. Don’t use a pipe. Don’t SMOKE period. I also DON’T BLOW SMOKE. PERIOD. I’m fine w/another botanical product though — chocolate w/its theobromine content.

    • reader
    • Flowerknife_us

      There are any number of examples where Native Americans accepted the White Mans ways. Yet- we still have Reservations. Tribal Culture remains pretty much the same where ever it is practiced. Add the absolutism of Islam to the mix and one has a barrier to modernization beyond common reason. Like the Native Americans. The use of all the Modern conveniences will be used in their effort to destroy its source.

      Welcome back to 1868-the Washington Redskins

      • Americana

        We still have reservations because reservations are land that’s been given in perpetuity to these tribes to isolate them and enable them to maintain their hunting and gathering and limited vegetable gardening lifestyle. Reservations that maintain the old ways for Native American tribes for the most part are OUT OF THE WAY. The reservations out west, in the Dakotas for instance, are nowhere anyone particularly wants to go except for the tiny towns that abut the reservation that serve liquor to the Indians. Other reservations, such as those in Minnesota and Wisconsin (the Chippewa and so on) and Florida (the Seminoles) have begun fairly significant acculturation. There are many more intermarriages, their homes are just like everyone else’s and they’ve begun businesses that tap into the tourism industries by becoming guides, building casinos, and exploiting some aspects of their Indian lifestyle. Sure, there hasn’t been full acculturation but it’s only been 200+ years. For the Massachusetts area and other East Coast Indian tribes, they’ve been acculturated to the extent that individuals have to fight for the recognition of being a member of the Wampanoag tribe and so on by demonstrating the provenance of X-percentage of Wampanoag blood in their bloodlines. I’d say that about answers the question of whether or not acculturation occurs and will occur.

        • Flowerknifu_us

          In 2014,there are still Tribes in the World. dependent upon modern means, to destroy the modern life, that they profess to hate.

          Try not to confuse Blood Lines with Tribal Culture.

  • Cappy1437

    If Obama had a son he would’ve been just like Bowe Bergdahl.

    • William James Ward

      If Satan had a son it would be Obama……………William

      • Lanna

        Obama works for evil…he is part of the plan to bring the world to the next level of chaos and change, globalism, collapse, and unrest, before the antichrist comes on the scene. The Devils advocate…

  • Anukem Jihadi

    I wish I could believe that they’re just naive and sure some are but the fact of the matter is Obama is a Chicago hood.
    The more ham-fisted they are the more people assume they’re clueless idealists. Why would you mess with that winning recipe?

  • nomoretraitors

    I gotta wonder if this “administration” is putting as much effort into getting Sgt. Tamorheesi back home. Maybe he needs to send messages home to his family how disgusted he is with America. Maybe they’ll move then

  • http://americansforpetraeus2012.org JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

    We believe this is an orchestrated effort by Obama to destroy America as we know it and begin to replace it with an atheistic,Islamista,Communistic societal merger. This is not as outrageous as it sounds. By combining rabid leftist/communists with semi-moderate Muslims, he has snookered honest, but gullible people into a rulership . Unless Obama is removed from office, this nation will be an “unknown” quantity in 10 years !!!

  • Flowerknife_us

    Just another way for the President to stick it to the Military. Those who served with Bergdahl him know of his character. Such a perfect match for the President.

  • William James Ward

    Obama is aiding our enemies, the jihadists of any stripe are his hero’s
    and it is time to call him on his treason, we are at war with Islam
    because Islam is the enemy of all who are not their followers or
    slaves, not to hard to understand. Killing Americans is what Obama
    wants, Americans are either to blind, drunk, drugged or behind and
    8 ball so big they will never see the beheading sword coming.
    William

  • liz

    Obama really is about as confused as Bergdahl.
    He combines the discordant characteristics of naivete and “shopworn idealism” with cynical, calculated political maneuverings and serial lying.
    “Profoundly delusional” definitely applies. Maybe that’s why he has such an obsession with releasing criminals and terrorists from prison – deep down he knows he should be in there with them.
    Why are we allowing this mentally ill person to run the country?

  • joba

    good article in certain areas but over done…don’t agree with all his points…especially about Putin

  • truthtroll

    you know-nothings need to go read the RS piece that Michael Hastings did on Bergdahl back in 2012 that this article mentions.

  • truthtroll

    Those Talibans are seasoned killers? really? where’s the evidence?

    “Fazl is the only one of the five to face accusations of explicit war crimes and they are, indeed, extremely serious. One would also want to say that Wasiq was deputy head of an agency which carried out torture – except that torture has always been carried out by Afghan intelligence whoever has been in charge and, indeed, this has been no bar to close cooperation with it by the U.S. and other countries since 2001. There is no or little evidence of criminal wrong-doing against the other three men.”

    The same piece from AAN details how four of the five surrendered at the beginning of the U.S. invasion, “in return for promised safe passage home or had reached out to the new administration in Kabul.” In fact, virtually the entire Taliban surrendered within months of the invasion, leaving the U.S. military with a war but not an enemy.

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/four-myths-about-the-bowe-bergdahl-swap-that-must-be-destroyed-20140605#ixzz33tL1QG38
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