Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Saving Private Bergdahl

The New York Times is struggling with the notion that trading five hard-core terrorists for Bowe Bergdahl has backfired on the White House. Somehow Mr Bergdahl's "vanishing" (as the NYT calls it) has put Mr Obama on the "defensive." How could that be?

As I read the story, Mr Bergdahl is at best a deserter and at worst a defector. How is that this White House, so full of clever youngsters who know how to spin the politics of the day, cheered on by newspapers like the New York Times, so utterly failed to anticipate that some Americans might object to the freeing of a brave soldier at such a trivial cost? That the cost was not trivial, and that the soldier far from heroic, is a possibility never considered at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave or at 620 Eighth Avenue.

These are institutions marinated in the philosophy of 1968, when draft dodging was seen as a necessary and indeed heroic act. Thus neither Mr Obama, nor any of his clever spinmeisters, nor his enablers in the media, ever considered the fact that many Americans think of desertion as a crime--indeed, a capital offense. It will be interesting to see which view prevails in the months ahead.

(And yes, I realize that Mr Bergdahl's rank is now sergeant. He was a PFC when he "vanished"; evidently he was twice promoted while in the control of the Taliban, and presumably he now stands to collect five years' back combat pay.)

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