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Timing Is Everything, Especially for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

At any other time in America’s history, Bergdahl’s story would have ended very differently.

by
Juliette Turner

Bio

June 14, 2014 - 8:48 pm
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Most Americans will agree that rescuing a prisoner of war is the right and patriotic thing to do; however, when this prisoner of war apparently converted to Islam and declared jihad while in captivity, the action turns from one of heroics to one of controversy and doubt.

Regardless of the reason behind Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s conversion and change (whether he did so to ease his captivity or out of free will), his actions while in captivity along with the release of five of the most dangerous Gitmo detainees drastically increase the security threat toward America.

This controversy is further muddled by the fact that Obama bypassed the law by not giving Congress a thirty-day notice before releasing the inmates from Guantanamo Bay.

Having just finished my second book, Our Presidents Rock!, it is interesting to contemplate how previous presidents would have acted if they were in President Obama’s shoes today. Would George Washington have negotiated the release of Sgt. Bergdahl? Would Franklin Roosevelt have released five of the most dangerous Taliban members in Gitmo? Would the military experience of Andrew Jackson and Dwight Eisenhower have influenced them toward compassion or chastisement for Sgt. Bergdahl?

First, George Washington — the general — would never have allowed Sgt. Bergdahl to walk off his base unarmed in the first place. Known for his military leadership and tight control and regulation of his army, Washington would have ensured that his men stuck to their positions and refrained from wandering into enemy range. Furthermore, Washington never tolerated any form of desertion, going so far as shooting men who attempted to desert during battle. Needless to say, Bergdahl would never have been a POW were George Washington still the chief commander of the U.S. Army today.

George Washington — the president — would have acted in the same manner as George Washington, the general: carefully contemplating, to the full extent, Sgt. Bergdahl’s actions on the day of his capture and his overall conduct while serving in the war before negotiating his release. Had Washington read the emails Sgt. Bergdahl sent to his father about being “ashamed” to be an America followed by his subsequent declaration of jihad, Bergdahl would have received great chastisement (to say the least).

Andrew Jackson would share Sgt. Bergdahl’s pain, in that he served as prisoner of war during the Revolutionary War. And that’s exactly where Jackson’s sympathy would end. Although both men experienced the same terrors of war, their responses to the situation differed greatly. Jackson, only a boy at the time of his imprisonment, refused to be intimidated or swayed by his British captors and instead displayed courage (or recklessness) far surpassing his young age. When a British soldier asked Jackson to shine his shoes, Jackson refused, receiving a large cut across his face from the soldier’s sword. Thus, upon hearing of Sgt. Bergdahl’s acquiescence to the request of his Taliban captors, Jackson would have shown no mercy.

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Top Rated Comments   
In the same way invaders are "undocumented citizens" I suppose.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Deserted and defected, aka turncoat. If he keeps with his conversion to Islam and/or then announces he is gay, he'll be on the fast track for Sergeant Major for sure! And then in about a decade or so, Senator from Massachusetts.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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But Bergdahl was NOT "rescued." He was exchanged for the Taliban Five, actually a much worse bargain than had he been rescued.

Obama did not want to run the risk of a rescue. Rescue of a man who had almost certainly deserted would also have been somewhat controversial, but nowhere near as outrageous as the handover of five notoriously dangerous enemies has turned out to be.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I might approve an exchange of five goats for his freedom.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Should we have made some effort to get Bergdahl back? Without any doubt.

My problem is with the means and motives for recovering him from his captors. We paid far too high a price, and the reasons were (from all appearances) more political gamesmanship than humanitarian.

From all reports, Bergdahl made some very bad decisions and may have quite intentionally deserted. It remains for the military justice system to determine his guilt. It also remains for that system to determine what is an appropriate punishment for his actions, if he is found guilty. Considering that he was quite possibly very badly treated by his captors, punishment of dishonourable discharge and loss of back pay during his time away might be justice enough in these circumstances.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Deserted and defected, aka turncoat. If he keeps with his conversion to Islam and/or then announces he is gay, he'll be on the fast track for Sergeant Major for sure! And then in about a decade or so, Senator from Massachusetts.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
How can he be a prisoner of war if he joined the enemy of his own free will? He walked away from the US Army.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the same way invaders are "undocumented citizens" I suppose.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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