First Things First
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is an American solider and he's coming home. There is no downside to that. This exchange ends years of torment for Bargdahl, his family, his fellow soldiers, and his friends. The commitment to do everything within our nation's power to bring home our prisoners of war is something that we can never turn away from. Every American should be thrilled.
The Messy Part
Within milliseconds of the announcement Twitter erupted with both cheers and the predictable assertions that "Obama negotiates with terrorists!". I do not share this viewpoint but it will be widely accepted by many.
I can understand the anxiety but prisoner exchanges are (and always have been) a normal component of conflict. It's quite easy to work with absolutes when adhering to them requires no personal sacrifice but would you be so adament if this were your son,your husband, your brother, or yourself? Could you also stand in the President's shoes and turn your back on Bergdahl? If you can answer "Yes" to those questions without deep reflection then, quite frankly, you probably haven't put enough work into your opinions to justify anyone's giving them much thought.
And the Even Messier Part
The circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's capture are still very unclear:
Bergdahl told his parents he was "ashamed to even be American." Bergdahl, who mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books, also wrote: "The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong."
The Associated Press could not independently authenticate the emails published by the magazine in 2012. Bergdahl's family has not commented on the allegations of desertion, according to Col. Tim Marsano, a spokesman for the Idaho National Guard. Marsano is in regular contact with Bergdahl's mother, Jani, and father, Bob, who has grown a long, thick beard and has worked to learn Pashto, the language spoken by his son's captors.
A senior Defense Department official said that if Bergdahl is released, it could be determined that he has more than paid for leaving his unit - if that's what really happened - "and there's every indicator that he did."
Perhaps Bergdahl was disillusioned. That alone would not make him a traitor. Countless soldiers have endured war feeling exactly the same way. Does that matter today anyway? I don't think so. Investigators will piece it all together with him once he is safety home and has had some opportunity to recover. Job number one was getting him home. A thorough understanding of his motivations and actions will come later.
Welcome home Sergeant Bergdahl.
Blogs of War
– John Little has been breaking national security news and leveraging thousands of conflict, intelligence, security, technology & political sources to provide level-headed analysis in a complex news environment since 2002. He is also the host of the national security and technology podcast Covert Contact.