Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The Bergdahl Release Is Just the Beginning

by Victor Davis Hanson // The Corner (National Review Online)

Photo of Bergdahl via Wikicommons

Photo of Bergdahl via Wikicommons

There has been a lot to think about during these years of Obama’s foreign policy. But the problem is not just the existential issues, from reset to Benghazi, but also the less heralded developments, such as young non-high-school graduate Edward Snowden’s trotting off with the most sensitive secrets of the NSA, the “stuff happens” outing of a CIA station chief in Afghanistan, and the failure to destroy the downed drone that ended up in Iran.

In the latter category falls the mysterious prisoner swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five top Taliban inmates, given that even at this early juncture there are lots of disturbing questions: Why not as the law demanded consult Congress on the releases from Guantanamo, or at least the congressional leadership? Why swap some of the most dangerous and important members of the Taliban hierarchy? What exactly were the circumstances of the original departure of Bergdahl (in 2009 two military officials told the AP that Bergdahl “had just walked off” with three other Afghans), and why were other soldiers requested not to disclose what they knew about the nature of his departure or the costly efforts to find Bergdahl? What exactly is the present U.S. position on trading captives for prisoners/hostages? Do we really believe that the released terrorists will be kept another year in the Middle East?

All of the above may prove to be irrelevant concerns, and it is certainly good to have a U.S. soldier out of the hands of the Taliban or its allies. But right now the problem is that Susan Rice, given her past proclamations about Benghazi, is not a credible official to assure the public about the past and present status of Bergdahl or the nature of the swap. And given the president’s past neglect of enforcing settled laws and his most recent efforts to circumvent the Congress on energy matters, the present end around on Guantanamo likewise stains the entire episode.

The picture may change as more information is collated, but the Bergdahl incident seems to fit the iconoclastic pattern of a Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden, unlikely loners who voiced anger at the U.S., and likewise whose actions ended up changing the most sensitive areas of American security. Otherwise it is the same old, same old: Susan Rice goes on TV to assert the “truth,” Barack Obama circumvents the law and ignores the Congress, and, as in the Pat Tillman case, the military initially does not wish to disclose the full details surrounding a disturbing episode. Meanwhile, we are back to the VA . . .

 

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

11 Thoughts on “The Bergdahl Release Is Just the Beginning

  1. Claude Lumpkin on June 3, 2014 at 10:00 am said:

    An excellent and (as always) highly intelligent synopsis of another extremely perplexing development under the Obama administration. It is disturbing to see such incompetence displayed at the highest levels of our government. Six good young American soldiers were lost in the efforts to recover an alleged deserter, who did not want to serve our country and wound up being where he wanted after leaving his duty station pursuant to unauthorized absence.

  2. Al in Bama on June 3, 2014 at 10:04 am said:

    Feeling Obama knew full well that Bergdahl would become an object of scrutiny. They left him there until convenient in order to release the top 5 from Gitmo. Now all are focused on the deserter, and not why 5 top terrorists are free. He was an excuse – not the reason [for the ‘swap’].

  3. David Seward on June 3, 2014 at 10:19 am said:

    It may be that we will see more of this kind of thing from Obama as his term begins to run out. I believe this may be the beginning of a flury of lawless moves by Obama. Congress certainly hasn’t done a thing to stop him so he feels emboldden. His radical agenda and base are clamoring for more.

    • Dean on June 3, 2014 at 7:15 pm said:

      This was clearly a move to divert attention from his lukewarm West Point speech, and ongoing Va fiasco. It is evident that it was done in haste. Now it just looks like the White House is grasping for anything it can get its hands on, in order to survive. That’s a very dangerous position to be, panicky and at the helm. God help us all.

  4. Philster on June 3, 2014 at 10:59 am said:

    If I had to guess, I would say that the high-level Taliban commanders were exchanged quasi-secretly for an American because that’s the only way they could be released. Don’t forget, the lawyers Obama appointed to keep the Gitmo detainees locked up were working to free the Gitmo detainees when they were in private practice.

    Obama’s appointees really want to close Gitmo. They would never be able to close it as long as these 5 Taliban were incarcerated there. Exchange them for an American POW? Problem solved.

  5. andy on June 3, 2014 at 11:27 am said:

    Don’t know what to say because it is a “repeating” record. Funny that one of the commenters mentioned about Congress. What Congress? Bunch of scarecrows who only want to stay in power and just try to “getting along”. We have an imperial president, not a republic. I have no hope for the country and this is a person that came from a third-world country that is seeing a great country being destoryed by a bunch of commie. Man, where are the real leaders? HC, JB, CC? Really?

  6. Bryan on June 3, 2014 at 1:05 pm said:

    BO goes out of his way to secure the safety of perhaps a traitorous soldier but when it comes to securing the safety of the U.S Ambassador and 3 brave Americans in Libya, his effort was indifferent.

  7. G the H on June 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm said:

    Say what you will about the man, but depending on how eloquently he is able to put the blame to George Bush for his dissatisfaction with America, coupled with a yet unrealized desire to enter politics, we may be hearing a lot about Bergdahl in twenty to forty years. Who can tell, he may even achieve the office of U. S. Secretary of State.

  8. Al Hoove on June 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm said:

    This whole Bergdahl episode is just one weird thing right after another. But then, so is the life of BHO. This exceedingly weird individual has brought his whole inexplicable weirdness to bear in so many facets of national doings, from Fast and Furious to Benghazi to worsening economics for black Americans to bragging about his efforts to skyrocket energy costs, to the increasing atrocity of the VA, etc. ad infinitum.

    It’s less, “oh, this is weird” and more, “what weird thing is he going to pull next?”

  9. I hope Mr. Hanson takes the opportunity to analyze and comment on Obama’s celebrated “previous presidents have had to deal with similar postwar exchanges of prisoners.”
    I am unable to comprehend it.
    To me the short (for Obama) statement made no sense. It was a collection of comments disconnected from the subject and some truly trite irrelevant platitudes. To think an individual so lacking in knowledge and perspective on war, and both its social dynamics and nuts and bolts, historically, is demoralizing at best and despairing at worst.Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful Nation on earth?

  10. Michael Fine on June 8, 2014 at 10:20 am said:

    I propose this for our US military mantra “We leave no one behind who hasn’t left us behind”.

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