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Belmont Club

A Clash of Cultures

June 4th, 2014 - 12:29 am

According to NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd, the White House expected “euphoria” over the release of the last American soldier held captive in Afghanistan and was completely blindsided by the wave of outrage with which the Bergdahl swap was greeted.  Todd’s account is shown below:

Ralph Peters also noted the White House miscalculation and puts it down to a basic misunderstanding of military culture among the president’s advisers.  They expected the country as a whole to be delighted by the same things that pleased them.  They were shocked when it didn’t happen.  Peters writes:

Congratulations, Mr. President! And identical congrats to your sorcerer’s apprentice, National Security Adviser Susan Rice. By trying to sell him as an American hero, you’ve turned a deserter already despised by soldiers in the know into quite possibly the most-hated individual soldier in the history of our military.

I have never witnessed such outrage from our troops….

Exhibit A: Ms. Rice. In one of the most tone-deaf statements in White House history (we’re making a lot of history here), the national-security advisor, on a Sunday talk show, described Bergdahl as having served “with honor and distinction.” Those serving in uniform and those of us who served previously were already stirred up, but that jaw-dropper drove us into jihad mode….

The president, too, appears stunned. He has so little understanding of (or interest in) the values and traditions of our troops that he and his advisers really believed that those in uniform would erupt into public joy at the news of Bergdahl’s release — as D.C. frat kids did when Osama bin Laden’s death was trumpeted.

Both President Obama and Ms. Rice seem to think that the crime of desertion in wartime is kind of like skipping class….

President Obama did this to himself (and to Bergdahl). This beautifully educated man, who never tires of letting us know how much smarter he is than the rest of us, never stopped to consider that our troops and their families might have been offended by their commander-in-chief staging a love-fest at the White House to celebrate trading five top terrorists for one deserter and featuring not the families of those soldiers (at least six of them) who died in the efforts to find and free Bergdahl, but, instead, giving a starring role on the international stage to Pa Taliban, parent of a deserter and a creature of dubious sympathies (that beard on pops ain’t a tribute to ZZ Top). How do you say “outrageous insult to our vets” in Pashto?

Even Bowe Bergdahl is unable to rise to the president’s defense. He is now being held incommunicado at Landstuhl Air Base. And perhaps it is all as well. Just now the Taliban emailed journalists video showing the actual handover with Bergdahl curiously less than euphoric himself:

The video, emailed to media on Wednesday, shows Bergdahl in traditional Afghan clothing sitting in a pickup truck parked on a hillside. More than a dozen Taliban fighters with machineguns stand around the truck and on the hillside.

Bergdahl is seen blinking frequently as he looks at and listens to his captors.

If you watch closely, Bergdahl was patted down before he shambled onto the helicopter.  There is no joy on his face, no “euphoria” even with him.  Maybe he thought he was going to Russia, now that we’re on the subject of misunderstandings.  Anyway, Germany is pretty close to Russia so he might think he’ll wind up in Moscow, which, as everybody knows, is like Afghanistan, which is like Idaho.

But what is the president now to do?

The standard advice proffered to speakers to defuse the hostility of an angry audience is to back off and issue a mea culpa. So can we expect Barack Obama to come out and eat crow? Whaaat?!  We are talking Barack Obama here, and The One is never substantively in error. Plus, as Gordon Lubold and John Hudson at Foreign Policy write, “The Bergdahl Bargain Was Just the Beginning.” Obama’s been waiting to do this for years.  There’s too much riding on this to back out now.  As Evan Perez at CNN notes, the Bergdahl swap was part of Obama’s plan to close Gitmo. So expect him to double down:

(CNN) — President Barack Obama appeared to have his most promising window yet in the coming months to keep his promise to close the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Then he made the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl swap….

In the weeks before, administration officials and Democratic aides working on the closure issue were optimistic that they could find a way to remove the most difficult congressional restrictions when a new law is approved later this year….

The Bergdahl exchange muddled the administration’s claim of laying the blame on Congress for blocking the Guantanamo closure. Obama demonstrated that he believes he is justified in releasing prisoners without congressional approval.

Administration officials have said Obama prefers to work with Congress to carry out the closure.

Some Democrats also have expressed qualms about Obama’s handling of the Bergdahl swap.

Sen. Diane Feinstein said she would like Obama to brief the Intelligence Committee. Levin said he plans to question administration officials about what impact the 30-day notification would have had on the prisoner exchange. Still, he said the administration satisfied the law.

For now, the Democratic legislators are lying low in the teeth of the storm. But when the heat dies down, they will arise from the long grass and begin stalking forward once again.

But this cuts both ways.  If Bergdahl was a miscalculation, then it potentially applies not only to him, but to the whole class of transactions of which he was but the start.  Suppose the brilliant war-ending plan Obama has conceived — which his advisers assure him will be greeted with euphoria — is instead met with revulsion by the public? What then?

After all, if Obama can err — just between you and me now — in one thing, he might err in others. Maybe he erred in Ukraine, Syria, the VA, etc. It sure seems like it. So erring in the process of closing Guantanamo as part of his plan to Wind Down The War could be a possibility also.

“Winding down the war” with the enemy still attacking you in the field is usually known in military circles by the word “surrender.” Yet here is where the cultural disconnect identified by Ralph Peters may strike again. Just as Obama and his minions could see nothing wrong with desertion and collaboration — in Peter’s words, seeing it as nothing more serious than skipping school —  neither may they see anything particularly objectionable about that other cardinal taboo word in military culture: surrender.

So what if America surrenders? What’s the big deal? Here, take this Obamaphone and move on.

The White House can’t see the problem. Simply can’t. Just as they couldn’t see the Bergdahl storm coming. Surrender to them is merely another way to demonstrate their moral superiority. As with Bergdahl, they probably expect euphoria to follow in the wake of their cherished surrender. But boy, may they be in for a surprise.

But I think Peters is only half-right,  because the indignation is spreading past the military, to people who aren’t even American. The sheer magnitude of the backlash goes beyond the military culture. True it began there; where its effect was to loosen tongues and spread what had heretofore only been whispered in the closed society of soldiers to the general public.   But once out there you did not have to be a soldier to understand the meaning of perfidy, hypocrisy and betrayal.  That was self-evident.

Suddenly even the man in the street knew it was all fake. The quavering voice, the studied solemnity, the pauses hinting at manly sentiment barely under control —  that entire repertoire of Obama magic was revealed as contrived, a sham; just an act to take the gullible…you. It was a betrayal so basic it can only be compared to a girl finding out her boyfriend had the clap and was purposely planning to spread it to her. It was like a girl finding that the man kissing her hand was at the same time abstracting the diamond ring from her finger. Then everything which once seemed noble — the uplifted chin, the slow rotation of the head, the suggestion of muted but burning empathy — stood out for what it was: a huckster’s con.

No one likes to realize he’s been a fool. Nobody likes to be had. And too many of us have been fools of the worst sort.  Until today when they caught a glimpse of the man Barack Hussein Obama really is. They should never forget what they saw, for the plastic features will reconstitute themselves into the same beckoning smile before long, a mask stretched hard over the bone.

Recent items of interest by Belmont readers based on Amazon click-throughs.

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
Children of Arbat
Hill 488
How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them: 11 Rules for Winning the Argument
Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality
Storm Over The South China Sea

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Top Rated Comments   
The left is constantly confusing one thing for another. Condescending snideness for real humor. The welfare state for authentic charity. The apparatus of state for authentic religion. Contempt for authentic Christianity as a shibboleth signifying intellectualism, instead of what it really signifies, which is vulgar bigotry.

Envy as a virtue instead of a vice. And, as you point out, ruthlessness as intelligence instead of what it really is - sociopathy.

Obama's rise and presidency were supposed to be the shining example of the virtues and successes of affirmative action. Instead, he is an object lesson and a definitive example of its irredeemable failure. Those whose worldview is deeply invested in perceiving affirmative action as a positive will go through whatever contortions of logic and dishonesty they must to preserve the narrative. Mental laziness of the that type is rampant amongst our current education and information industries and is a hard thing to shake, apparently.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Respectfully disagree with your conclusion BFTP. Immigration is a prize, just not the big kahuna.

The biggest prize is the bought votes of the 40%+ of the population who are publicly funded in some way and who must be kept on the reservation every two years. Everything this administration has done has been to keep that core fat and happy and loyal, from the Stimulus (biggest bribe in history) to Obamacare (get those doctors to charge you less so you can have more money to spend on housing, trinkets, vacations, etc.) to endless unemployment benefits (never have to do what a jerk boss tells you to ever again) etc.

For the most part, as long as their magic checks never go away, they will support Obama in particular and the Democrats in general. However, around the fringes of this group there have lately been defections. In the current American consciousness, part of compensation is health care paid for by someone else. The VA scandal has badly rocked the notion of the value of that. It has also called into question the viability of their signature change to the American way of life represented by massive government regulation of the healthcare industry.

Hillary's distancing herself from this swap is a big tell.

I'm sure that in the minds of the White House geniuses this swap was a threefer. Reassure veterans that the welfare of military personnel matters a great deal to the Democrats, give some photo ops of Obama the great military leader for the low information voters, and, as frosting, toss a philosophical bone to the ideologues in the NPR-listening pseudointellectual community regarding Guantanomo . Other than making the NPR moonbats happy - the thing that is least important and was cared about the least - he has failed utterly. It may be that the other two groups aren't impressed that much by this and are actually turned off or even angry. How that translates into voting patterns remains to be seen, on a personal level I am skeptical that it will be large, but it could be enough to affect an election. A lot of personally conservatives veterans who stayed home last time because they were afraid that Romney and Ryan would take away their VA benefits will no longer have that deterrent. Obama has proved that his party is far worse in the real world.

At any rate, at this point the big prize here for the Dems is keeping the coalition together, not adding to it. I know that the number of voters that typically vote D in presidential elections doesn't vary too much over time. But these scandals in the face of a never-ending recession (said recession being, it is becoming increasingly clear even to the not-so-bright, a means of keeping as many people as possible dependent on government largesse and loyal voters for Democrat candy men) may finally be denting the shiny exterior. I don't guess that very many of the people who voted for Obama in 2012 will ever vote for anyone who is fiscally conservative. I can see something like the Bergdahl scandal pushing a lot of sideliners and LIV's to be more likely to vote R next time.

While I am as opposed to illegal immigration as anyone on this board (mostly for reasons that have to do with culture, not voting habits or economics) they have to win elections now. I get the notion of the possibility of permanent majority if sweeping amnesty is enacted. But if Obama keeps bunging up things and has a slow bleed of his core constituencies in the publicly funded coerced sector and LIV sector, he may bleed just enough to affect the next presidential election. We shall see.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"This beautifully educated man"

Col Peters himself falls into the trap of letting the Left define the terms of the debate. It is like discussing wine with the French. (Yes I know Beetlejuice.) First you accept all the definitions expected and then the only thing to disagree on is whether the California wine is fit for cooking.

Obama may be expensively credentialed. We still have no idea who paid for those credentials. There is very little evidence that he is educated, We have one cliche ridden student paper article with his name on it from his time at Columbia, and almost nothing else. His former colleagues and students at the University of Chicago have, if they have spoken at all beyond offering a rueful nod, offered little evidence of intelligence.

There have been a string of security failures under Obama. Misjudging the nature of Boe Bergdahl and the opinions of other soldiers and intelligence officers, that is to say people who take security and trust very seriously, is a related error. There is a rumor that among the many records regarding Obama that have been suppressed are those relating to his own attempt to gain a clearance that may have been denied.

Barack and Michelle Obama both held licenses to practice law in Illinois. Both surrendered their licenses, which is unusual. If either had been nominated by some hypothetical POTUS to sit on the bench as a judge then it would be normal to have those circumstances reviewed. If someone declared bankruptcy and was sued for fraud the facts would be examined before they could be appointed to a position on the Federal Reserve. The hiring of Turbo-tax Timmy was an early demonstration of Obama's tone deafness at best or deliberate contempt for legitimacy in similar circumstances. Obama was accepted by the Democrats, including senior figures whose assurances the public relied upon, and given a position to manage the military diplomatic and intelligence communities without any review of whether he himself was fit, not qualified which is the choice of the electorate but fit which is the responsibility of the leaders who ideally would function as Electors, for the office. In America we cannot have candidates reviewed by some official body, like the Iranian mullocracy does. We do expect the Best and the Brightest to demand some review to avoid a scandal and give their opinions to screen out the simply unfit.

Why would the Democrats allow this disaster to unfold? If each disaster has been a cover to distract from a prior debacle as we have suggested then what disaster is developing that will sweep Bergdahl off the screens? My guess is Immigration. The terrorists for a deserter scandal is a twofer because it not only drove attention from last weeks nightmares, remember them?, but it provided a forward shadow for the administration's next moves. Right now tens of thousands of illegals are crashing over the borders. We are being invaded. Obama is by executive fiat and in defiance of the law and the Constitution aiding and abetting this. Immigration is the big prize.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (147)
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I do not buy this since there were a number of advisers telling him not to do this. If they thought people would be over joyed with an exchange they would all have been for it. This adm does not care what anyone thinks about what they do and they are going to push the envelope(break the law) until someone stops them. Do you know anyone that is going to stop them? Sure isn't going to be congress they are too scared of being called racist. More to come from this bunch I can assure you.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't even know why I'm surprised that he's surprised. The president is SO out of touch with the public, the military, and the rule of law, that he actually expected we would all rush out of our homes and into the streets to praise him. This has gone beyond sad. Tragic doesn't even describe it. Maybe farce comes close. We've gone down the rabbit hole.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"If Obama can err..."
Would that he only erred. I'll take that any day over effing up. Specacularly. And repeatedly.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is it going to take to convince people here and elsewhere that we have our own Emir, the great Emir Hussein al-Hawaii, who will set things right (if it be Allah's will)?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Only A Lawyer ...

A lawyer on radio said that the USA have a contract with all military personnel to bring them back home whatever the cost. Nonsense!

Contracts can be broken if the context changes sufficiently ... for example, by acts of God. A soldier intentionally and voluntarily leaving his post changes the context of his contract. Subsequently, risking the lives of those doing their duty to rescue that “deserter” from his own folly adds injury to insult.

Obama’s trade appears political. Whilst claiming another victory in the midst of another defeat, Obama drives home his point by rescuing the last American soldier in Afghanistan. Now, he can go back to beating up on Switzerland.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
If I did not know better, I would say that the 'Far Right' (thinking of O'Reilly's mockery) is right about Obama. The self-interested Centrists continue to claim that this regime is legitimate. What has the Administration provably done that proves Richard's points, and more?

Operation Fast'n'Furious, that included an incident in which Mexican criminals using weapons obtained from the US accidentally murdered scores of kids celebrating high school graduation;

Endless attempts to bring about immigration amnesty, and fiat actions towards that end, combined with personalized, targeted attacks on those like Arizona Gov. Brewer that oppose the failure to protect the borders;

Open advancement of the African-American grievance agenda represented by Sharpton, the Panthers, and others; combined with attempts to ruin symbols of opposition to that agenda, such as Zimmerman;

Open support of the Muslim Brotherhood, support of efforts to oust Mubarak and implant Morsi, support of Morsi. Open support of Hamas rule in Gaza, attempts to provide Haniye nearly one billion dollars; combined with humiliation of Bibi Netanyahu, hectoring of Israel, and now support of the PLO-Hamas 'unity' government, topped by insistence that Israel accept Hamas participation in Jerusalem elections;

Demonizing the right wing; assigning Catholics and Evangelicals to the category of potential domestic terrorists along with Orthodox Jews, combined with a ritual and institutional denial of the realities of Islamic theology and its connection to Jihad and Jihadists; workplace violence monikers to describe self-professed Jihad attacks;

Vast spending against the professed will of the American people, including 'stimulus';

The ObamaCare fiasco, again against the will of the people, rammed through Congress in the manner of the 'stimuli';

Neutering of the military, removal of independent officers, the Bergdahl affair, VA neglect...

What else? What else? What else?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
This column so captured the essence of our zeitgeist with this sham of a President that it should be read by Americans everywhere. Best thing I have read in a very long time. Bravo.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I really think we need to figure out exactly what it is about the Bergdahl fiasco that finally got the MSM speaking against the Lightbringer. They've been covering for him from the time he became a candidate and have glossed over things that are arguably worse than the prisoner exchange. So why have they finally agreed to air criticisms of the Annointed One at this stage in the game. Was their something particularly heinous about this affair? Or was this just the straw that broke the camel's back?

If we knew what had finally gotten the MSM to do their jobs and criticize the administration, we'd know what aspects of other affairs to emphasize to get the MSM hammering on the administration. Then maybe we could get Obama to behave more responsibly.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Could is simply be that the media is just pivoting into campaign mode for HRC?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The speculation that Obama really does want to close Guantanamo Bay is very disturbing. Only a few days ago the head of the UK's counter-intelligence said that Edward Snowden had alerted Jihadis to the means by which the forces of law and order could find them. Now he said "There are dark patches on the radar" - that is, the clues have gone. So we are more at risk than before. Along comes Obama with a plan to release more jihadis. He really does not care about our safety.
Nor does he care about the military. Who had the great idea to promote the private to sergeant? I bet you it was no-one in the US Army. In the army they knew that Bergdhal was either a deserter or suffering a mental breakdown or AWOL for some reason. A man like that does not deserve a promotion. So the politicians (ie Obama) forced the US Army to promote him. Any army that rewards disloyalty builds a rod for its own back. Loyalty is crucial for an army. Rewarding disloyalty is insane for an army. If the government forces the US Army to do promotions like that then military culture has been replaced by political expediency. Every successful army believe in discipline and loyalty. But not Obama's army.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"They expected the country as a whole to be delighted by the same things that pleased them."


They expected the country as a whole to be delighted with a heart-tugging jingoistic narrative that their consultants and PR flacks told them the country as a whole would be delighted with. As for their personal druthers, they would be pleased to see Bergdahl - a United States soldier, after all - dragged dead down the streets of Kabul behind a Toyota pickup truck outfitted with an anti-aircraft gun and driven by Taliban "freedom fighters".
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I expect you're right NOW - after this has blown up in their faces - but I doubt that was in the mind of any administration official when they thought they were going to be hailed for their brilliant diplomacy and their dedication to saving our captive soldiers.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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