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Tempest over the Bergdahl deal is mostly irrelevant

REUTERS
The whole flap about Bergdahl is nothing more than a sideshow.

All of a sudden the American public has become aware that there is a war going on in Afghanistan. Why? Because the Obama administration traded five Guantanamo prisoners for one American soldier (Bowe Bergdahl) who’d been held captive for five years.

The American public has had little or no interest in this war for 12½ years now except to cluck disapprovingly that it “seems” such a waste. And indeed it is. Now Congress is up in arms because President Barack Obama neglected to inform it about the prisoner exchange. Never mind that Congress had no authority to approve such a deal — only the right to be informed 30 days in advance. Additionally, new information discloses that this prisoner exchange has been in the works for over a year now, with the participants involved clearly named; thus this is not “new and surprising” to either the press or Congress.

Fox News has jumped in as expected, with the continuing hope that it can get some traction on damaging the president. Benghazi, the IRS flap and the VA issue are getting tiresome, and insufficient for the damage hoped for.

The American public is questioning the deal because on the surface it seems too weighted in favor of the Taliban. Their previous involvement has been limited to little stickers on their car: “Support our Troops.” Now they are suddenly aroused.

A need for closure

But this war has to be ended, and closure has to be effected. And that includes the return of our only American soldier in captivity — regardless of the details of his capture, not to forget he is still an American citizen. We do not easily abandon any of us.

As for the five Guantanamo prisoners, they have been held captive for 12 years — and never even given a trial. In fact the whole efficacy, legality and administration of Guantanamo has been in question for over a decade now, and simply imprisoning a couple hundred alleged terrorists without even a military-tribunal trial is antithetical to our system of justice. If they have indeed committed offenses against our country, try them. Establish their guilt, and punish them accordingly.

Unfortunately, most Americans really do not care about “justice” for these people — but that is not what our country is all about. The reality is, we have already released dozens of those prisoners over the years for various reasons, mostly because their alleged crimes were never established. Some were held for years and eventually found to be not guilty of any crime, or in some cases the wrong person was imprisoned.

Col. Morris Davis (Ret.), the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo for two years, calls the prison a travesty and the so-called justice system employed there inadequate; he, incidentally, supports the prisoner swap.

The Taliban will remain long after we leave

Were the five who were released in this exchange bad guys and dangerous? Probably, but now it appears that of the five, four were actually not serious Taliban fighters. But the reality of Afghanistan — as it was in Vietnam, Iraq and other similar ventures — is that the Taliban will be there long after we leave; and with the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Karzai regime (even if replaced), the Taliban will likely take over.

So what were we to do? Stay there forever? And will adding five “bad guys” to the mix going to change anything? Absolutely not.

The whole flap about Bergdahl is nothing more than a sideshow — an opportunity for the congressional hawks to score some points, and an opportunity for Fox News to damage the president (again). However,  for the American public, it could be a legitimate opportunity to begin a cogent discussion about what this war was really all about. 

In late 2001 it was about striking the government that harbored Al-Qaida. But later it was about a tiny percentage of our population called back to duty tour after tour; billions in wasted treasure; no clear goals, thus no possibility of any sort of “victory”; and propping up a corrupt government in an obscure Asian country that will likely be in chaos after we leave, just as it was in 2001 after the Russians left.

What is really needed now is for us to get out of Afghanistan as Obama promised he would; deal with Bergdahl appropriately after we get the true facts of his capture; revisit the whole issue of Guantanamo’s value; and most important, have the politicians, Fox News and the other critics quit posturing and start talking about things that matter.

Myles Spicer, formerly of Minnetonka, lives in Palm Desert, Calif. He spent his business career as a professional writer and owned several successful ad agencies over the past 45 years.

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Comments (68)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/10/2014 - 08:33 am.

    Amen

    …to Mr. Spicer’s piece. I would only add that it would have made sense, and saved us thousands of lives and billions of dollars, if we’d simply paid attention to the example the Russians so thoughtfully provided to us in the previous decades – when we were supplying weapons to the very same murderous Afghans who now make life shorter and more miserable for their fellow Afghans as well as the American forces still stationed in that Medieval part of the world.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/10/2014 - 01:46 pm.

      Ray, do you remember why we went in there?

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/10/2014 - 03:24 pm.

        Theoretically to kill or capture Bin Laden, and then a few months later to provide a warm-up exercise to Iraq, and then disperse among the grateful peoples western democracy and goodness, and then oh-by-the-way Bin Laden isn’t that important, and then free the women, and then to prop up a corrupt, unpopular and incompetent government, and then ineffectually bite the ankles of the opium trade, and finally stand up an army and police force that really doesn’t seem to want to stand up to the Taliban.

        Any other reasons?

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/11/2014 - 10:08 pm.

          Actually

          The author had that part correct.

          “striking the government that harbored Al-Qaida” and disabling the terrorist training camps they sheltered.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/10/2014 - 08:35 am.

    Yes, yes

    None of this is important. Go back to sleep, America.

    • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/11/2014 - 12:57 pm.

      As an FYI

      I did not use the word “important” — I used the word “irrelevant”.

      Irrelevant, because it changes nothing regarding the futility of this venture; nor the travesty of Gitmo; nor the lasting influence of the Taliban after we leave.

      Notably, just today there is evidence about the futility of our Iraqi venture, as sectarian warfare continues and the government is destabilized. That is likely the outcome in Afghanistan — and the Bergdahl prisoner exchange will not change that at all.

      All the flap about its ramifications is now mostly theater.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/11/2014 - 10:19 pm.

        Relevant

        I think all of this is very relevant.

        Our volunteer military has engaged on foreign soil those who want to engage in their Holy War, while helping women and girls to live lives where they can go to school and improve themselves.

        Now that we are pulling the military out and the Jihadists will be free to do as they wish, where do you think they will change their focus too.

        FYI, we have ~30,000 personnel in South Korea

  3. Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 06/10/2014 - 08:38 am.

    They were for him before they were against him

    Funny how short the collective memory is of the Republican party truly is.The elder Bergdahl gave a talk at a Republican fund raiser in Idaho a couple of years back (he is a life long Republican), where the chairman of the RNC, Steele, told him, they(the Republican party) was going to do what they could to help secure the release of Bowe. But now, with the brain trust at Faux news has turned the tables and decided the young Bowe is a traitor or deserter or something outside their encompassing umbrella and is no longer part of their family..

    The Supreme Court has said about the Presidents (any President) authority as Commander in Chief to deal with prisoners is a “fundamental power”. So, his trade, while a red herring to the right is nothing but bluster. I’m sure we will hear more about the 30 day notice to Congress, but, he was under no such obligation to do so.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/10/2014 - 09:47 am.

      It was another perfect “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” issue for Republicans.

      No swap = abandoning US soldiers to the enemy (McCain, Ayotte, Imhofe–all were pushing for action a few months ago).

      Swap = letting terrorists go for an unworthy traitor.

      Outrage might be more credible if it weren’t always turned up to an “11” on every issue.

    • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/10/2014 - 05:19 pm.

      BTW

      I tuned into Fox the other day, and they actually had assembled a panel of veterans who simply excoriated Bergdahl. It was essentially a de facto trial — and Bergdahl was tried…convicted…and (with the help of some suggestions by Megyn Kelly) sentenced!

      Never mind that this was all done without most of the facts that are slowly leaking out now; but Fox never misses a chance to burn Obama, and they did not want to miss out on this one for sure.

      As a side note, I too am a veteran, and quite cognizant of the UCMJ which I believe will be a better forum for investigating and trying Bergdahl than Megyn Kelly

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/10/2014 - 09:45 am.

    Wow. That was some world-class apologist work, right there.

    But how about the fact that of the 5 Taliban prisoners released;

    1 “commanded the main force fighting the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001, and served as chief of army staff under the Taliban regime. He has been accused of war crimes during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s.”

    1 was the Chief of Taliban Intelligence, and a member of al Queda intelligence.

    1 was “directly associated” with Osama bin Laden and was connected to the deaths of thousands of Shiite Afghans.

    1 “was a member of the Taliban and associated with both al Qaeda and another militant group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. He was the Taliban’s chief of communications and helped al Qaeda members escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/31/us/bergdahl-transferred-guantanamo-detainees/

    Obama has had direct responsibility for these sworn enemies of America for 6 years. If you believe they deserved a trial, complain to Obama.

    It seems that this scheme was in planning for at least a year, and members of congress from BOTH parties had objected to it. THAT is why Obama excluded them.

    Obama’s obligation to inform congress wasn’t a suggestion, it was *the law*; remember the law?

  5. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 06/10/2014 - 09:54 am.

    The Army Times from yesterday has a great article about this situation, basically saying, let our justice system do its job.

    http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140609/NEWS05/306150012/Opinion-Don-t-judge-Bowe-Bergdahl-s-Pentagon-s-job

  6. Submitted by myles spicer on 06/10/2014 - 11:02 am.

    Thomas

    I disagree with your analysis of the “importance” of these released prisoners. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say you are correct.

    Now as an analogy, presume the CEO of a powerful important company was imprisoned for 13 years for some alleged offense. Then he is released. Do you think for a minute he could or would return to his old job? What about those who succeeded him? Would they lay down and let him return to power? And what about currency — could or would he know or be aware of changes, new strategy, etc?

    Additionally, the Taliban are NO threat to America, only sadly to the future of the Afghan people. But…that will be their problem.

    While I do not believe these were the “baddest of the bad McCain claims — the reality is they have had most of their fangs removed simply by time; and as I state adding 5 more Taliban in Afghanistan will not change the true dynamics of that country’s future

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/10/2014 - 01:45 pm.

      I did not analyze their importance, Myles, I quoted CNN and provided a link.

      Obama himself has admitted these sworn enemies of America are likely to return to their work

      “Is there a possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,”

      http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/obama-bergdahl-deal-circumstances-american-soldier-back-article-1.1814986 <-Link, not my analysis You are free to marginalize, or even ignore facts Myles, but not create them to suit your narrative.

      • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/10/2014 - 02:50 pm.

        The facts…

        Well, as a Californian, I happen to get the LA Times, and would urge you to read the article in the Times that Neal Rovick refers to and has linked. In that article it gives a DETAILED background of each of the five released prisoners, including their past jobs with the Taliban. Sure, they are likely “sworn enemies of America”, but I remind you, the Taliban have never threatened us directly — the only reasons they are killing us is because we are on their turf. Once we finally leave Afghanistan, their threat to America will diminish (note Viet Nam).

        Additionally, you have not really responded to my thesis that their absence for 13 years makes them far less dangerous and less effective as Taliban operatives. The Taliban today is not homogeneus, but quite fragmented — and their integration into today’s Taliban is not a slam dunk by any means

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/10/2014 - 09:05 pm.

          I read the article Myles. It’s the DETAILED opinions of a journalist. It doesn’t cite any sources other than the writers unsubstantiated insights. But even he admits there is an accused war criminal in the bunch. To that, you add your own unsubstantiated opinions on how they might be re-integrated by their comrades.

          Did you read the CNN link? That is where you will find substantiated fact, not opinion. 13 years is a long time…to plot revenge.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/11/2014 - 10:44 pm.

          Family/Tribe Matters

          Your comparison to a US company is pointless, corporations don’t have loyalties.

          However families and tribes do. The question is who are these people related to…

          Imagine a culture where family members stone a woman for embarrassing the family. I haven’t seen that happen at any corporations. Usually they pay them to go away.

          By the way, I think they are killing us because they want their power back, so they can go back to keeping their women barefoot, pregnant and hidden. So much for defending the weak and supporting women’s rights.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 06/12/2014 - 02:22 am.

            What does the GOP

            ideological tenet have to do with this, John?

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/12/2014 - 11:24 am.

              What…

              Please elaborate

              • Submitted by jason myron on 06/12/2014 - 01:27 pm.

                Obviously…

                keeping their women barefoot, pregnant and hidden. Not a day goes by when the GOP reveals their obvious contempt for women. Maybe you missed the last few years…it’s been in all the papers.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/14/2014 - 01:20 pm.

                  Try 2

                  My first response had a link to the video of the Afghan men sitting around as a woman was shot for having sex with some man… Of course that man wasn’t there being executed with her.

                  My point was the GOP’s views against reverse discrimination are nothing compared to what these girls and women face. Comparing them is very incorrect and callous.

          • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/12/2014 - 09:42 am.

            From the bottom…

            Actually, I did note that it will be sad for the Afghanis if or when the Taliban gain power. Everything you said about their abuse of women is correct. So…what are WE to do about that? Stay forever to be sure they do not get control of the country? That is simply absurd. We have already been there 13 years, and what has it gained us?

            I defend my analogy about the loss of their power and prestige by being out of the loop for so long. No, they are not wedded to tribes etc. Most of the five were political functionairies or officials in the Taliban movement. The issue of “tribes” was a non-factor in their jobs. I urge you to read the details of their positions in the link to the LA Times, it describes exactly what they did when captured.

            As far as “loyalties” in corporations…you’ve got that right!

            • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/12/2014 - 11:21 am.

              Obama’s apologetic supporters have cited this LA Times piece many times ( http://www.latimes.com/world/afghanistan-pakistan/la-fg-taliban-prisoners-20140606-story.html#page=1 ). In addition to it’s appeal to Myles et. al., I noted that it has been cited by all of the usual leftist internet sites; “Truthout”; “DemocraticUnderground”; “Buzzfeed” & etc.

              I decided some fact checking was being called for.

              That it is nothing more than the unsupported opinions of a journalist has already been pointed out, but who is that journalist? What warrants an interest in what he thinks?

              The journalist in question is a Pakistani fellow named Rahimullah Yusufzai. He is famous as being the last person Osama Bin Laden trusted enough to grant an interview to. Here’s a picture of the two sitting together.
              http://www.newslinemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/IMG_9741.jpg

              Yusufzai scored the interview through a acquaintance; Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

              http://www.rferl.org/content/gandhara_interview_journalist_on_pakistani_taliban_future/24093796.html

              Sometimes fact checking missions end just that quickly….I’ll stick with the CNN analysis.

              • Submitted by jason myron on 06/12/2014 - 02:41 pm.

                Buzzfeed

                is leftist? Who said that …a spittle- flecked Mark Levin?

              • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/12/2014 - 03:58 pm.

                Hagel’s response

                Thomas, you forgot to mention one other ramification of the prisoners’ release as noted by Chuck Hagel today. Should they return to the battlefield, they can and will be tracked (yes, we have the ability to do that) — they will place themselves in harms way again. The potential result might just be…..death.

                More importantly, five more guys in the Taliban will not change the outcome of events in Afghanistan one whit; and we have an American home. Is he guilty of something? Do not rush to judgement, the fact will emerge. The right will not let this go unfinished.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/12/2014 - 11:33 am.

              Are you a Conservative

              This statement seems pretty selfish if you are a Liberal.
              “We have already been there 13 years, and what has it gained us?”

              So what has it gained us:
              – A warm fuzzy feeling that we have helped millions of women and girls live a life where they have the right to an education and better life.
              – It has prevented the “terrorists” from using that area for training.
              – It has given the “terrorists” non-civilian targets to focus on.
              – It has focused the efforts of “terrorists” away from American soil.

              How much is peace on American soil worth? Priceless…

              • Submitted by jason myron on 06/12/2014 - 01:41 pm.

                What freaking planet do you live on?

                You neocons are all the same…blissfully unaware of reality while immersed in your bubble. It doesn’t affect you directly when you keep all those pesky facts and dead bodies abstract. The Iraq war will go down as the biggest foreign policy blunder in this nations history. We sent America’s finest over there to die for nothing…all at the behest of a clueless president who had the gall to have himself flown onto an aircraft carrier like he just flew the last bombing sortie himself, give a quick “thumbs up” under the Mission Accomplished banner for a nice photo op, and moves on. I can only imagine the screams of protest from your side of the fence if Obama had pulled that stunt. “non-civilian targets to focus on”….what an unbelievably callous thing to say. Who do you think those “non-civilian targets” are, John??? They’re the sons and daughters, husbands and wives. Pathetic…

                • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/12/2014 - 02:18 pm.

                  I was one who spoke out against the Iraqi campaign from the start; I always believed our fight was in Afghanistan. The fact is, if leftist protesters could have contained their arguments to the war, instead of a parlaying it into a hate-filled, anti-American chorus, I might have joined them in marching. Sadly, today, Obama is abandoning the country to a re-energized al Queda, and yes it does look like our troops will have died for nothing.

                  I have several friends who fought in Fallujah. Seeing it fall has angered them greatly and disgusted them completely.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/12/2014 - 02:31 pm.

                  Volunteers

                  I think those “non-civilian targets” are volunteers, and that most of them believe in the mission, value what they have accomplished and like helping other people who have it much worse than we do.

                  Likely they see the Afghanistan and Iraqi civilians as victims who deserve military protection as much as us lucky Americans do. They see little girls as little girls no matter where they were born.

                  Or do we have some secret draft going on that I have not heard about.

                  • Submitted by jason myron on 06/12/2014 - 03:58 pm.

                    They didn’t volunteer

                    to be collateral damage from an ill advised war staged by chicken hawk neocons. Once again, your callous disregard for human life is sickening, not to mention your Carnac-like qualities in divining what those “non-civilian targets” think about anything. But as I stated, it’s so easy to rationalize ideology like yours when you dismiss the blood, guts and loss as something OTHER people volunteered to do. Just so none of the actually icky stuff soils the hem of YOUR garment, right John? I wonder what combat vets would think of your post that reduces their service down to target practice for an enemy on foreign soil, all for the privilege of listening to people like you complain about paying them a living wage when they come back to the world and have a tough time finding work due, according to you, to their poor choices in life.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/14/2014 - 01:23 pm.

                      4 years and Out

                      Correct, the folks in 2001 didn’t know what they were getting into to. However 13 years later, every enlistee knows the score and volunteers anyway.

              • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/12/2014 - 03:47 pm.

                Wrong

                The Taliban have NEVER threatened American soil. Presuming everything you say is correct, the conclusion to be the good guys and continue to “do right” would be to stay there…maybe forever …and assure the Afghanis of the life they now have with our presence. Which, by the way, is not so good either.

                • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/13/2014 - 07:44 am.

                  “The Taliban have NEVER threatened American soil.”

                  “You (the BBC) and American puppet radios have created concern. But the current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause – that is the destruction of America…This is not a matter of weapons. We are hopeful for Allah’s help. The real matter is the extinction of America. And, Allah willing, it [America] will fall to the ground…”[

      • Submitted by jason myron on 06/10/2014 - 03:04 pm.

        So what?

        What’s truly laughable is the GOP’s desperate attempt to paint these geezers as some sort of super criminal “Legion of Doom”…like Obama released Hitler, Goebbels, Goering , Mussolini and Tojo all in one fell swoop. I’m sure you’ll be here complaining when Obama vaporizes them out of existence with a Hellfire drone strike if any of them ever do wheel themselves out into the “battlefield.”

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/10/2014 - 03:05 pm.

        Creating facts

        I’ll bet you complained until you were blue in the face when the Bush administration released over 500 Taliban prisoners. I’m sure you were truly outraged when you learned that one of them is a suspect in the Benghazi attack (of course, almost 1/3 of the prisoners released by Bush went back to attack Americans, so perhaps we should not be surprised).

        The fact is, the men who were released were a threat to the US while the US was in Afghanistan. They fought Americans while we were in Afghanistan, but since the US is leaving, the risk of harm from them is less. The US was attacked by al Qaeda, not the Taliban.

        Your hatred of all things Obama has messed with your reading comprehension in other ways. For example, it has led you to confuse an “absolute possibility” with a “likelihood.”

  7. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 06/10/2014 - 02:23 pm.

    Thank you, Myles — at last, something that makes sense. The shouting over the Bergdahl trade is nothing but the usual congressional theater: clouds of hot air blown out at screeching volumes with little if any factual basis. The howling jackals of the media (I was one for 43 years) are amplifying all this blather to overwhelming and obnoxious levels.

    What we know is that Bergdahl for some reason went “outside the wire,” unarmed, in an extremely dangerous country (if you even can call that geographical encirclement of tribes a country). Next thing we know, the Taliban has him. Did he desert or was he just stupid? Maybe someday we’ll know; we don’t know now.

    As Myles says, giving up a dozen terrorists held (w/o trial but now as POWs either) for a dozen years isn’t gonna make much difference; we could capture hundreds and there’d be plenty more left or recruited. And the Taliban has been nuts to fight; all it has to do is wait until we leave and then take over.

    As for supposedly not leaving our people behind: It’s the right principle and the right action for O to have taken. But it’s not consistently been applied. Scores of U.S. aviators were captured in Vietnam, seen alive in captivity, and not released with the 7XX others in 1973. Many remained unaccounted for. Did we leave them behind? Absent more information about their fates, it seems that yes, we did.

    • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/10/2014 - 03:38 pm.

      Couple of useful points

      First, this is the typical media feeding frenzy — I call it the crisis du jour. Hungry for content, the media glooms onto whatever is “hot” that day and won’t let go.

      Secondly, yes this is a “rush to judgment”, and that is totally un-American. Let’s get FACTS, and try any prospective crime or violation of the UCMJ properly, and punish accordingly

      Finally, I think in a perverse way the 5 for 1 trade says something about how we value our citizen’s value compared to that of the Taliban. I recall the Israelis 1000 for 1 trade, and thought how badly it reflected on Hamas.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/10/2014 - 09:45 pm.

    yeah, these five guys a REAL threat

    I’m so tired of all this cowardice. 5 guys are no threat to the United State of America. The Taliban NEVER attacked or even threatened to attack the United States. Get a grip and dial down the hysterics.

  9. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 06/11/2014 - 03:03 pm.

    Once upon a time

    …main stream media were investigative and researched well, before spinning out a story..

    Now we hear national news dogs barking out half truths and yes, mere speculation… a careless, copy-cat process that could be defined as over-the picket fence speculative gossip told among a gaggle of media types who tell-by-embellishing…not facts man, but to entertain their audience, the listening public, with a strange manipulative word play which seems to satisfy even with mere hearsay as its hallmark?

    Charlie Rose is a great example the other night…as he interviewed very top-of-the line newsmen -real pros, hey.

    The panel of veteran ‘pros’ speculated, but with few investigative tales to tell. Who needs facts,eh? Who needs clean-cut news to drool out when you have a feasting audience ready to listen?

    It captivates an audience I suppose…that’s all that matters anymore. Safer that way too. Who needs due-process when its been stained by speculation. Just may be, all we want to know?

    And the press keeps on fooling around if it pleases the people who like it that way?

  10. Submitted by rolf westgard on 06/11/2014 - 04:42 pm.

    Thanks, Myles

    for an excellent article.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2014 - 07:38 am.

    It is irrelevant

    Just all the other “hot button” republican/tea party/reactionary issues. These poor bastards are going into the election thinking that they’ve got the American people by the tail, but all they’re really doing is bouncing around in an echo chamber of their own making.

    I say: “let em bounce baby”. Give us ten more votes to repeal Obamacare, five more Benghazi investigations, and all the hysterical cowardice you can muster about these five guys Obama just released. We’ll take the general election thank you very much.

  12. Submitted by myles spicer on 06/12/2014 - 09:52 am.

    News today…

    Well, today we find that Iraq is entering chaos. About 5 years ago, I wrote a similar article relating to Iraq as this one on Afghanistan. It predicted once we leave, sectarian violence (centuries old) will return to that country. And it has.

    Now we have a similar situation in Afghanistan — a waste of blood and treasure to reshape an Asian/Middle Eastern country into some sort of working democracy. The odds of that working are somewhere between tiny and non-existant.

    Sure, conflict violence, extreme Islamic law, and the other ills that may befall this poor country are bad and wrong — the question for Americans is what can we do about this and at what price?

    As it is said, if you do not learn from history you are doomed to repeat your mistakes. So it is.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2014 - 10:41 am.

      And Americans don’t care…

      Right or wrong American’s have never really cared about these countries we invade, from Nicaragua to Viet Nam, to Afghanistan it’s a big: “Whatever.”

      These neo-cons keep thinking that they can win elections by whipping hysteria over foreign policy but the vast majority of Americans have never cared and can’t even find a lot of other countries on a map. Sometimes you can generate some fear by mongering it but never lasts very long. Where was all fear about falling domino’s in 1975? How many Americans even know that the guys we fought a secret and illegal war against (The Sandinistas) in Nicaragua ended up winning the elections and running the country anyways? And Nicaragua was supposed to be a great neo-con victory!

      And yeah, now in Iraq, the guys that actually attacked the US in 2001 are going to end up replacing the guy who had nothing to do with it… smooth move neo-cons.

      Some people never get tired of being wrong, but let’s start remembering as a nation who these guys are. A great man once said: “Don’t get fooled again.”

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/12/2014 - 11:44 am.

        Relative Concerns

        On one hand, you are frustrated by low wages, corporate greed, job off shoring, global warming, mining issues, etc.

        Yet you are seemingly indifferent to the plight of people in other countries who face very real and immediate problems.

        I agree the USA can not save everyone, however ensuring school girls aren’t shot on the way to school or stoned for dating the wrong man seems much more important than many of the trivial problems within the border of the USA.

        Priorities are an interesting thing.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/12/2014 - 12:36 pm.

          If you care about girls not getting shot going to school, you are in favor of a more intrusive government with the inherent right to interfere in matters, and in this particular case, intrusive government against the sincerely held religious beliefs of a large portion of the people of that part of the world.

          It’s a very large world to police. What about India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, on and on….

          Don’t you think that a government built to be intrusive on a world-wide basis will be intrusive in its own land also?

          Magical wishes don’t make for good policy.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/12/2014 - 02:24 pm.

            Requirements

            “sincerely held religious beliefs of a large portion of the people”

            So you actually believe the majority of people in Afghanistan don’t want the girls to go to school and learn? Really?

            Afghanistan met the 2 requirements for American involvement. There was a US interest at stake and a Humanitarian need. Most of the other examples you give only meet one of the requirements.

            That is one of the delicious ironies… Liberals want big government to enforce “fairness” here, yet seem to be able to close their eyes to the plight of others that have it much worse than our unluckiest.

        • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/12/2014 - 03:51 pm.

          You forgot to mention

          Several times Karzai has threatened to kick us out. He is very ambiguous about our continued presence in HIS country. Is that the thanks we get for committing blood and treasure to the support of a corrupt regime? No…it is time we leave this pathetic country and let them deal with their future themselves.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/16/2014 - 10:36 am.

            Lost Causes

            I don’t mind leaving them to their issues, I mind the fact that Liberals are calling this a waste and we stop trying, while demanding that we spend more money on welfare, etc.

            America spent money and lives to give the Afghan and Iraqi people a chance at better lives. They unfortunately are finding it hard to break old habits, thus to Liberals here it is a waste.

            Yet we spend hundreds of billions each year trying to help those who are not willing to change, and the Liberals just ask for more.

            I find it inconsistent.

            • Submitted by jason myron on 06/16/2014 - 01:40 pm.

              Who’s not willing to change?

              you’re vilifying American citizens in the same breath as giving Iraqis and Afghans a pass for “unfortunately finding it hard to break old bad habits.” You’re either willfully obtuse or just plain mean spirited against the poor. Yeah, I’d rather spend billions to help the poor n this country than billions + American lives so Halliburton can rake in more corporate profits as we lumber into regions of the world that have been at war for thousands of years in some ludicrous attempt to whip a little American- style democracy on them. The money and lives spent WERE a colossal waste. The only “lost cause” is getting that reality across to people whose only personal sacrifice to these pointless wars is finding room on the bumper of their Suburban for a “we support the troops” ribbon.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/16/2014 - 07:14 pm.

                As I said… Inconsistent.

                It is good to spend money on one group of humans to provide a safety hammock, so they can “not learn”, stay addicted, and/or not work.

                And wasteful to spend money protecting a different group of humans from religious power hungry zealots.

                How do you rationalize this belief that one group of humans is more important than another?

                • Submitted by jason myron on 06/17/2014 - 12:23 pm.

                  You tell me

                  you just did in your comment.

                  • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/17/2014 - 05:01 pm.

                    Incorrect

                    I support trying to help both groups as long as they are willing to show an effort to improve. (ie a hand up, not a hand out)

                    Per my G2A post…
                    “I am very sad that things are going poorly in Iraq. Just as I am sad when an alcoholic falls off the wagon, an abused spouse goes back to their abuser, a student wastes a free K-12 education opportunity, etc. Does it mean that interventions that provide people a chance to change their lives are a “waste”? I guess I see Afghanistan and Iraq as a significant intervention that may or may not work. I guess I am not agreeing that it was a waste.

                    Whereas I see waste in supporting people who refuse to change and improve decade after decade. That is kind of like going back to Iraq multiple times and expecting different results. That I agree would be a waste.”

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2014 - 10:33 pm.

          Twisted reasoning and misdirected criticism

          I didn’t say I was indifferent, I said the majority of Americans are indifferent, and they are. Beyond that, if the poor people of Afghanistan are such a concern for you, I can only assume that you objected vehemently to the diversion of resources from Afghanistan to Iraq which led to the failed attempt to stabilize Afghanistan in the first place? I know I did.

          By the way, I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit that protecting kids in our own schools, who are getting massacred, is a priority of mine.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/16/2014 - 10:24 am.

            I agree

            I don’t think it was an either/or situation. I am not sure either can be “stabilized” given their religious and other cultural issues.

            I agree with protecting our own school children also. Though I am pretty sure our solutions look very different.

            • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/17/2014 - 08:56 am.

              Either or…

              We could have stabilized Afghanistan, and wouldn’t have had to stabilize Iraq if we didn’t destabilize it with a pointless invasion in the first place. We could’ve dropped 400,000 troops into Afghanistan, we had NATO partners. We could’ve trapped most of the Bin Laden’s forces in Tora Bora AND decimated what was left of the Taliban along the border. We could have established the security that would have allowed construction of infrastructure and delivery of government services. The Taliban may well have been forced to evolve into a political party rather than an insurgency. And with that kind of force in Afghanistan we would have had far more leverage on Pakistan. But we know what actually happened.

  13. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 06/12/2014 - 09:08 pm.

    it’s a rush job

    The Obama administration chose these top five Taliban commanders for the trade with Bergdahl because it was the fastest way to get to a feel-good public relations stunt. The administration wanted something quick to distract the public from the incompetence and deceit shown in the Veterans Administration and other scandals in which Obama is floundering. The administration didn’t take the time to check out the accusations of Bergdahl’s desertion or even the odd sympathy Bergdahl’s dad professed for the enemy. It was all hurry, hurry, hurry and make a deal.

    • Submitted by myles spicer on 06/12/2014 - 10:57 pm.

      Wrong…

      It was not at all “hurry, hurry, hurry” — this deal has been in the works for over a year! The NY Times reported this proposed exchange –WITH THE NAMES OF THE FIVE PRISONERS — in 2013. And Bergdahl’s father went public with a potential prisoner swap last year as well.

      RE “accusations”, those can and should be handled when the facts are known, and (if needed) a trial is held according to the UCMJ.

      Re the VA, one major reason for the overload is the added number of vets needing care from these two disastrous wars. The Neocons did not figure that into their calculations when they decided on these specious ventures.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 06/13/2014 - 03:11 pm.

      Sure, Rosalind…

      that’s a perfectly good explanation for the tricorn hat crowd, but for those of us that reside in reality, not so much.

    • Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 06/17/2014 - 04:48 pm.

      Rush Job

      With all due respect, do you have a a shred of evidence to support any of your assertions?

  14. Submitted by colin kline on 06/13/2014 - 08:07 pm.

    5 for 1

    I heard a commenter on NPR (I didn’t hear who it was) that it is possible to implant tracking devices in humans. This may be why we let 5 high ranking prisoners go. Maybe I mis-heard what was said but It brings up another point-that we probably don’t have all the information that those who make those types of decisions do and therefore shouldn’t be so judgmental.

  15. Submitted by myles spicer on 06/13/2014 - 10:28 pm.

    As a matter of fact…

    Chuck Hagel did note that should these five return to the battlefield, they would “be putting themselves in harms way”

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