While the specter of the parents of returning POW Bowe Bergdahl babbling, sobbing and conveying encoded, incoherent messages to their son on national TV was inappropriate and undignified (although not atypical of the pornography of public grief in this country)—the fact that the soldier’s government has worked to get him released from Taliban captivity is entirely appropriate. It’s a good thing that, as Reuters reports, “Army Sergeant Bergdahl, held for nearly five years in Afghanistan, was freed in a deal with the Taliban brokered by the Qatari government. Five Taliban militants, described by Senator John McCain as the ‘hardest of the hard core,’ were released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and flown to Qatar.”
But not if you ask the usual suspects.
Nothing much has changed since, in 2004, the neoconservatives at National Review had “grumbled about Israel’s ‘lopsided prisoner exchanges’ over the years. One ‘sofa samurai,’ … noted the startling disparity of exchanging 5,500 Egyptian soldiers, following the Sinai campaign of 1956, ‘for the lives of the four Israeli soldiers captured in the fighting,’ and over 8,000 Egyptians, after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in exchange for 240 Israeli soldiers.”
When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon released 430 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in exchange for three dead Israelis and one live one, people worried, and for good reason. Many of the prisoners were said to be very dangerous men. The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin would probably have supported the Sharon swap. According to Dr. Ganor, Rabin said categorically that when military action to free hostages is not possible, ‘real negotiations should be held.’…
… President Bush sat bone idle, never lifting a bloodstained finger to haggle for his countrymen beheaded … Abandoning hostages as the Bush administration did as a matter of ‘principle’ is … not an option, at least not an ethical one. President Bush bears the mark of Cain for looking on as Americans continue to be butchered. …” (“AFTER THEIR HEADS ROLL, AMERICA’S DEAD REMAIN FACELESS”)
“Bergdahl was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for medical treatment,” reports Reuters. “After receiving care he would be transferred to another facility in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. defense officials said, without giving a date for his return to the United States.”