Monday, June 2, 2014

Obama shows mercy to U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl

Army private and former POW Bowe

I realize that the circumstances of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl taken captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan five years ago are in dispute today.  But, President Obama took the right course when he offered a prisoner exchange to get Bergdahl back.  I think he showed mercy to Bergdahl despite the circumstances of his capture.

We have a he said / they said situation here.  Bergdahl said he lagged behind his unit and was taken prisoner when his unit was moving across some area of Afghanistan.  His fellow soldiers said he had deserted the unit when he was captured by the Taliban.

Regardless of the situation, he was a uniformed member of the U.S. military and had made a sacred commitment to our nation.  As President Obama has said, we are obligated to bring all our POW's home.

Once he is back in the U.S. we can investigate his actions when captured and if we need to take disciplinary action or dole out a punishment to him we can do it then.  I think five years as a POW of the Taliban is enough punishment for anyone even if he did desert his unit.

In the past, during the Viet Nam War, our POW's were shown on video making statements against the U.S., in other words, committing treason against the U.S. They were forced (we believe today) to deny their own country and claim how well they were being treated by their captors.  Should we have left them in Viet Nam because they made public statements against the U.S.?  Of course not.  We brought them home.

Was this a good deal that President Obama made for a prisoner exchange?  One U.S. soldier for five mid to high-level Taliban soldiers in their army?  I don't know as I can't say.  But, here is my thinking:  if we don't want the Taliban keeping our soldiers or our hostages in captivity for the rest of their lives, we can't keep our Taliban prisoners in captivity for the rest of their lives.

These five Taliban soldiers exchanged are suppose to be watched and not be part of the Taliban for a year.  I can live with that.  They are not suppose to fight against the U.S. again. Even if this does not happen, I still would want Bergdahl back.  

I don't think we should be keeping Taliban terrorists or soldiers imprisoned forever without due process.  To deny these men due process is a breach of our U.S. Constititution.  We have to let them go at some point, so why not get our U.S. soldier back?  The prison at Gitmo should be closed down anyway.

Congress is upset because it was not consulted about this?  Please, give me a break.  To have consulted Congress means we could be sitting here five years from now still trying to decide whether to have a prisoner exchange or not.  Our Congress is dysfunctional and only interested in gridlock.  They love to kick the can of decisions down the road.  Also, this is an election year. Few decisions by Congress are made in election years.

These types of decisions and the window for getting a prisoner exchange can be very small.  President Obama can't wait for Congress to dither over yet another decision and perhaps kick the can down the road.  

Here, President Obama did not dither, he took decisive action, and still he is criticized.  If it was your son or daughter being held as a POW, regardless of the circumstances, you would want him/her brought home.  Showing mercy toward a U.S. soldier in this instance is not a bad character trait for President Obama to have.

We are so quick to label this young soldier a deserter when we haven't really heard from him yet.  We are so quick to label everyone in our society and then we want to hand down a stiff punishment.

I think Bowe Bergdahl has been punished enough if he truly did desert his unit, and I admire President Obama for showing some mercy to this young man.


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