June 6th, 2014

The Bergdahl exchange defense emerges

The best defense is a good offense, and after a couple of days of initial scrambling the administration and its defenders have fastened on their approach to defending Obama on Bergdahl.

It consists of the following:

(1) Trying various lies on for size: we did it for this reason; no, we did it for this reason; well, actually, it was for this reason…

(2) How dare you slander/libel Bergdahl this way, a brave fighting man who has suffered greatly? You must hate our troops, unlike President Obama.

(3) Those who served with Bergdahl and are criticizing him are “swiftboating” him unfairly, just as the Swift Vets did to Kerry (who is now Secretary of State, by the way, in an interesting historical harmony). This charge of “swiftboating” has the effect of simultaneously dissing Bergdahl’s former colleagues in the military and Kerry’s as liars.

(4) You are flip-floppers! Why, some of you have changed your minds! This ignores the fact that a person could have been in favor of a Bergdahl rescue deal without being the least bit in favor of this Bergdahl rescue deal, so much worse than anyone previously had contemplated.

(5) There’s plenty of precedent for exchanging prisoners of war, and that’s all this was. This ignores the fact that there is absolutely no precedent for giving up five enemy combatant prisoners of this magnitude to obtain a hostage—not a prisoner-of-war—who went AWOL, deserted, or defected voluntarily to the enemy. Especially when hostilities are still ongoing.

The sad thing, the very sad thing, is that these sorts of approaches have worked in the past, and they may work now.

16 Responses to “The Bergdahl exchange defense emerges”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    They’re using the trial lawyer attack, ala John Edwards. Something has to stick emotionally and make people pay the damages, so that Edwards can make millions. Somebody.

  2. Eric Says:

    It’s going to work because the Right sucks at the activist game.

    Note that the debate has been safely funneled into Bergdahl minutia while the by far most consequential aspect – the virtually unconditional release!!! of 5 senior Taliban commanders – has been crowded out and reduced to a sidenote.

    Obama set the trap and the Right has rushed pell-mell into it.

  3. Ann Says:

    Eric,

    I agree that it would help if the Republicans could get their act together, and that the emphasis should have been on the outrageousness of releasing the five Taliban. But it wasn’t just them going all in with the Bergdahl story — the MSM has been all over it. I’m thinking especially of Jake Tapper at CNN. It was his reporting on it, I think, that gave it the prominence it now has.

    It seems Republicans/conservatives are screwed no matter what we do.

  4. Mac Says:

    Another diversionary tactic I’ve seen: “Iran-Contra!” The application is unclear but it’s shouted loudly.

  5. Yancey Ward Says:

    Just wait. The real problem are Bergdahl’s former comrades, so the next slander will be that they are just homophobic.

  6. Yancey Ward Says:

    Also, I am betting the IRS is looking at Bergdahl’s former comrades for some tax audits.

  7. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Note that the debate has been safely funneled into Bergdahl minutia while the by far most consequential aspect – the virtually unconditional release!!! of 5 senior Taliban commanders – has been crowded out and reduced to a sidenote.” Eric

    True. However Obama may yet pull defeat from the jaws of victory. There’s speculation that Obama plans to shut down Guantanamo and release all the prisoners. No exchange, just release them all. If so, there’s no escaping the charge that Obama cares less about the undeniable danger he’s placing Americans in and no denying that he’s giving aid and comfort to our enemy in a time of war. Treason, plain and simple. Nor will all the denial in the world change that reality. That’s the real outrage, as Andrew McCarthy explains:

    “the federal criminal law that makes material support to terrorists a serious felony. The president has knowingly provided personnel—key, experienced, highly effective jihadists—to terrorist organizations that are still very much at war with the United States. That is material support to terrorism.”

  8. Ackler Says:

    Yancey,

    Homophobic and/or racist. If all else fails, Bergdahl will reveal (or it will be revealed on his behalf) he has an African American great great grandparent. In this era of Elizabeth Warren, merely stating it is enough. In this era of George Zimmerman, the media may impose any ethnic label they choose to suit desired ends.

    So the biracial Bergdahl is a victim of racist slander. Jeez, why are Republicans so RACIST?????!!!!!

  9. Eric Says:

    Geoffrey Britain,

    Indeed.

    To paraphrase (because I don’t remember the wording or provenance), we may be tired of war, but that doesn’t mean the war is tired of us. This isn’t a kid’s game we can quit because we’re weary. The War on Terror is over either when we end the enemy as a threat to us or the enemy ends us as a threat to him.

    Our soldiers are weary, it’s true. However, they haven’t been sacrificial lambs. They’ve been in the arena fighting the enemy as our champions while simultaneously building the peace for future generations.

    Yet they’ve been more effective than many credit them.

    To wit, here is the industry view from David Schanzer, Director of the Triangle Center of Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy:

    As the 9/11 attacks demonstrated, al Qaeda was a powerful and dangerous organization 12 years ago, but is now a shell of what it once was. Central al Qaeda and its affiliate organizations around the globe still aspire to execute attacks inside America, but their capabilities to do so are dramatically diminished. The threat is present, but no longer acute.
    . . .
    What is the trend today? Is terrorism being used less now than it was a few years ago, or are we just not hearing so much about it?

    The decade since 9/11 has seen less terrorism (of all ideologies) than other recent decades. There were 168 attacks in the ten years after 9/11, but in the 1970s, there were 1357 attacks.

    In the months after the 9/11 attacks, there was a general expectation-and dread-that 9/11 was just the first of many terrorist attacks inside the United States. Yet the total number of attacks since then is relatively few. Why is that, do you think?

    The counterterrorism strategy against al Qaeda that has been executed since 9/11 has been extremely effective. We eliminated the safe haven that al Qaeda enjoyed in Afghanistan and captured or killed hundreds of senior leaders and thousands of rank and file militants. It is also important that governments in countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who were on the sidelines prior to 9/11, joined the fight because they felt threatened by al Qaeda as well. We have also tightened our visa issuance process and border security (at a great cost to our international image and economy) so that it is much harder to enter the United States, especially from certain countries. . . . we have crippled the organization that attacked us on 9/11 to the benefit of the United States and the world.

    In other words, President Bush handed to President Obama a counter-terror campaign that was firmly progressing toward the end of the enemy as a threat. Obama simply needed to stay the course from Bush.

    Had Obama done so, it’s not unreasonable to conjecture that instead of worrying about the consequences of Obama’s virtually unconditional release of the 5 most dangerous, senior Taliban commanders back into the world community, we might right now be looking forward to the imminent end of the enemy as a threat.

    Obama has negligently squandered the dearly won progress earned by our soldiers. As a result, the enemy “crippled” under Bush has been resurging in the gaps opened by the diminished American leadership under Obama. Now this – the shocking, virtually unconditional release of the 5 most dangerous, senior Taliban commanders back into the world community goes beyond fumbling away his presidential inheritance. Obama actually seems to be trying to reverse the trend of the War on Terror in favor of the enemy.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Eric,

    Terrorism expert David Schanzer is playing fast and loose with the facts.

    “The decade since 9/11 has seen less terrorism (of all ideologies) than other recent decades. There were 168 attacks in the ten years after 9/11, but in the 1970s, there were 1357 attacks.”

    In the same article he states,

    “The Global Terrorism Database operated by the START Center at the University of Maryland has the most comprehensive listing of terrorist incidents around the world from 1970 to 2011. The database identifies 104,689 attacks over the past 42 years. There were 5008 attacks in 2011 alone, an all-time high”

    Worldwide, a more honest List of Islamic Terrorist Attacks consists of 23,118 deadly terror attacks since 9/11.

    The list of Islamic Terror Attacks from September 11th, 2001 through 2014 is at the bottom of the linked page.

    And while it may be true that al Qaeda has been seriously weakened, it’s only a temporary weakness. The ideology from which al Qaeda springs is alive and well.

  11. parker Says:

    “The ideology from which al Qaeda springs is alive and well.”

    One day there will be a jihadist massacre at a shopping mall or elementry school or sporting event. Next there will be a nuke in a shipping container at a major port.

  12. Bob From Virginia Says:

    It is Fox News leading the attack on the prisoner swap and we all know what they are like. If it were not for
    Fox the whole thing would be forgotten by now. There is not a smidgen of proof that the exchange was a lousy idea and that Bergdahl liked being held in prison.

    Shame on Fox and all honor to our glorious and brave man-g-d.

  13. Susanamantha Says:

    Would FDR have exchanged Himmler, Goering, Goebbles, Eichmann, et al., for one US soldier, deserter or not? No.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    He would have exchanged them to Stalin, for Soviet spies, yes.

  15. Tonawanda Says:

    Eric: Note that the debate has been safely funneled into Bergdahl minutia while the by far most consequential aspect – the virtually unconditional release!!! of 5 senior Taliban commanders – has been crowded out and reduced to a sidenote.

    This is a great observation.

    But when one of these enemies does something harmful, it may be much more than a sidenote.

    It makes me wonder if BO got a promise of no enemy action from these guys until after January, 2017?

    Also makes me wonder (facetiously) if he got a promise of being warned when and where the nuke will explode so BO can be far away.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    Tona, the length Qatar said they would lightly house arrest the 5 Taliban mass murderers was around 1 year. That’s enough to get past the 2014 elections, half way to 2016. The Ticking Clock of Doom.

    In 2015 Summer, if the Taliban launches a renewed offensive, Kabul might fall by the time a new President (or the old one) is sworn in. Thus preventing any policy changes until then.

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