Wednesday, June 4, 2014

White House Messed Up By Politicizing the Bergdahl Release

Walter Russel Mead observes:
However shady this whole affair may be, one can’t help but be glad that this young man is reunited with his family. And we at AI feel little desire to judge the actions of a troubled young man facing combat; nor do we think parents should be harshly condemned for every remark made while living with their loved ones in the shadow of war. But it was the White House that politicized this family and brought them under a spotlight better left unlit. Rather than let Sgt. Bergdahl quietly return home, the White House turned the klieg lights on the Bergdahl family, and left them blinking in a glare that did not serve them well.

Whatever else this episode may be, it is not a clear win for the United States or for the increasingly rattled and off-balance Obama Administration. Nor will it endear the President to veterans who are disgruntled about the ongoing scandal of VA fraud and incompetence.
As more comes to light concerning Bergdahl's initial disappearance and suggestions the Defense Department had information concerning his location for some time, it appears that the latter issue--distracting the public from the VA scandal--was the primary impetus for trading for Bergdahl.

As for Bergdahl, himself, I choose to withhold my judgment. I initially welcomed the release. Now, the value of the trade is being questioned given Bergdahl's apparent desertion of his post. However, we haven't heard from Bergdahl yet. It sounds as though he deserted his post, but we don't know if he realized after the fact that he had made a mistake or still considers himself as one of the Taliban. Justice requires that he be tried and punished if he deserted. Mercy requires us to accept him back if he is truly penitent of deserting to the Taliban.

His difficulties with English do not surprise me. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ("Mormon"), I frequently see missionaries returning from foreign language missions that have spoken little or no English for two years and that have difficulty expressing themselves in English, even though they have maintained contact via letters and emails with family and friends. For someone to have not used English for 5 years, with no contact with English speakers, the difficulty of returning to thinking in English and speaking English would be even greater.

Although Bergdahl's father has made completely outrageous comments, and appears to have converted to Islam, I still want to see what happens now his son is back. He may have stupidly thought that by adopting a pro-Islam, anti-war stance, he could curry favor with the Taliban and gain his son's return.

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