Wineke: Bergdahl debate comes from blind hatred for Obama’s actions
I never thought that bringing an American soldier home from enemy captivity would be a bad thing.
But, then, I never really considered that anything President Obama does will be considered not only bad, but unpatriotic and grounds for impeachment.
So, when the president announced that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be released after spending five years as a Taliban captive, I just assumed that most of us would think, “that’s nice” and go back to complaining about the weather.
The first response, issued in a matter of minutes, was vitriolic, but not insane. The United States released five Taliban leaders from our prison on Cuba in a trade for Bergdahl. The critics said that would just encourage the Taliban to take more American prisoners because, now, prisoners of war have value.
I’m not sure that’s true, but it’s not insane.
The reason I’m not sure it’s true is that there aren’t a lot of Americans wandering through Afghanistan waiting to be captured and because the Taliban seems far more interested in killing American soldiers than in capturing them. Still, the argument is worth considering.
Quickly, the argument took a new turn: Bergdahl isn’t worth rescuing.
Within hours of the president’s announcement, a Republican-leaning public relations firm found soldiers who had served with Bergdahl who would go public with their accusations that he had deserted his post and that several American servicemen had died in the quest to find him.
Are those accusations true? And, if they are true, are they relevant to the principle that, as we end the war in Afghanistan, we should bring all our soldiers home?
We don’t know. We know his colleagues in Afghanistan have opinions, which is their right. But we don’t know Bergdahl’s side of the story. We know the government can’t speak about the record because, should Bergdahl be charged, any official comments now could make it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.
Nevertheless, some of the politicians who, until last week, had been hailing him as a hero who must be rescued whatever the cost, are now denouncing him as a coward.
FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly has gone even further. Actually, all of Fox News seems to have taken the plunge. They also question the patriotism of Bergdahl’s father, who grew a long beard and started learning Afghani languages in the hopes of showing unity with his son.
O’Reilly said Robert Bergdahl “looks like a Muslim.”
He doesn’t look in the least bit like a “Muslim.” He looks quite a bit like one of the characters on “Duck Dynasty.” None of this is relevant to whether his son deserved to be rescued.
Finally, Obama critics say the five Taliban leaders released are “terrorists” who are responsible for the deaths of thousands. That’s not so clear, either.
It seems the five were leaders of the Taliban, which, when we went to war, was the governing Afghanistan. We invaded Afghanistan and removed the Taliban from power, which may have been a good thing but which does not, necessarily, make its leaders “terrorists.”
The facts are complicated, though the blind hatred for anything President Obama does is pretty simple and pretty un-American.