Last week, the United States Army charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was traded in a prisoner swap for five high-level Taliban commanders last year, with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
The entire situation has turned out to be another black eye for President Obama’s foreign policy.
It is known, and was known at the time of the swap, that Bowe Bergdahl is not a hero to the United States. He is a deserter. He left his military outpost in Afghanistan in 2009 and was then captured by the Taliban and kept as a prisoner for five years. His desertion prompted searches by military units that put the lives of other soldiers in unnecessary danger. Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have gone public saying that he purposely deserted and that members of his battalion lost their lives trying to find him.
The Obama administration, which remains riddled with foreign policy failures, attempted to take advantage of an unfortunate situation and spin it for a political victory. This is not the first instance of such political antics. Presidential hopeful and Florida Senator Marco Rubio stated during an appearance on “On the Record with Greta van Susteran:” “I think [Obama] has a history of miscalculation and misjudgment, or quite frankly of just refusing to accept the facts of what’s happening. They are always more interested in the domestic political spin and getting credit domestically for something than they are in the truth of it. Time and time again, we have seen them fail as a result of that.”
The White House painted the picture of a captured hero whose return was a victory for the United States, even bringing Bergdahl’s parents to the Rose Garden in an effort to score some points for Democrats just in time for the midterm elections of 2014. Susan Rice, National Security Advisor for Obama, stated that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
The President authorized the trade of the “Taliban Five” in an effort to continue his promise of closing down Guantanamo Bay Prison and, perhaps most egregiously, engaged in all of this through a deal with the Taliban, a threat not only to the American people, but also to our allies in the Middle East. Not to mention the president’s actions did not follow the correct legal proceeding of notifying Congress at least 30 days before, not only a slap in the face to checks and balances, but also to the American people, who put their representatives and senators in office. This angered members of congress on both sides of the political aisle, especially the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which was headed by Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
It seems that the only thing the president cared about was a political victory and not his primary responsibility of safeguarding the people of the United States.
The first rule of dealing with terrorists is not to negotiate with terrorists. While the ideal outcome would be to return all captured Americans home safely, the way in which the president orchestrated this particular situation is fundamentally flawed. When terrorists are swapped for Americans, as in the case of Bergdahl, it sets a precedent that capturing Americans overseas will serve as leverage for terrorists to achieve their goals, be it ransoms in the form of money or a prisoner swap.
Money will simply go toward funding more terrorist operations that put more lives in danger and prisoner swaps will return dangerous people to the battlefield.
Bergdahl will now have to defend himself in court. His maximum punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice would be for his charge of “misbehavior before the enemy,” which could lead to life in prison. Legal analysts claim that it is likely that Bergdahl serves less than five years if convicted, and with the possibility of a presidential pardon, who knows if Bergdahl will ever be punished.
The president’s attempt at polishing his political image has allowed for the release of dangerous terrorists, set awful precedents for terrorist dealings in the future and endangered American lives and citizens of allied countries.
If Obama truly wants to improve his image regarding foreign policy, I would suggest he sets his potential legacy aside and focuses on standing up to Iran and their nuclear desires, standing by our ally Israel and working to defeat terrorism. All of which would make the world safer for the United States of America and all global citizens.