The prisoner swap the United States made with the Taliban is angering a lot of Americans. I for one do not like the idea that five of the worst Taliban leaders are now free. But some of what else is angering so many people is hearsay.
Granted, much of the criticism of Bergdahl is coming from members of his unit and others who know him, and these people are probably in a very good position to know about his character. On the other hand, Bergdahl has not faced any sort of investigation since the swap. It seems premature to declare him guilty before he has had a chance to state his case, to be heard and considered by the military. Sure, it could well be a simple matter of formally declaring him a deserter or a traitor, but until he has had his "day in court" I don't believe we can say with certainty that he is either of those things.
Innocent until proven guilty in America, not the other way around. If the military finds him guilty of any of these accusations, then I believe it was not a good trade. Until then, it is what it is.
Should the United States engage in negotiations with outfits like the Taliban? I think it depends. Certainly, if they demanded something like a small/tactical nuclear weapon in exchange for prisoners, we would say "No". For money? Sounds like another "No" to me. For some of their people we're holding prisoner? That sounds like a better way to go. It seems to me we have been able to nail their leaders every so often, and I trust that we will be out to find and kill these five guys we just let go. Don't give them anything they can use to promote their ends through destruction, like weapons, or money to buy weapons. Get our guys back, give them some of theirs, and then show them who's best at tracking people down and getting rid of them.
"The United States does not negotiate with terrorists" is another right wing slogan, and little else. Fully supporting that statement is somewhat akin to supporting Grover Norquist's pledge to not raise taxes. Full support of either necessitates taking the stand of "under no circumstances". And there are going to be circumstances in which we will have a chance to get some of our people back. And as I understand it, we have an obligation to bring our people home whether they are dead or alive, whether they have done right or wrong.
I don't believe this controversy will cost Democrats elections in November. I also don't believe the tragic episode at the embassy in Benghazi will cost the left appreciably. What is problematic for the Democrats is the craven way in which the Republican party is using these things as ways to make people angry enough to donate money to right wing causes. So many people on the right hate the president so much they are willing to do and say anything to defeat him, and they have an army of millions of incurious supporters at their disposal.
They will even say things like "Bowe Bergdahl is the worst person to wear the uniform" while conveniently forgetting that Nidal Hasan wore a uniform too. They will refuse to admit that they were for this prisoner swap until it was made... and of course now they are "angry" and coming out against it. Why is this?
It is because today's right wing tends to suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder, also known as O.D.D. or ODD, a problem usually found in children. Here are some of the behaviors associated with the disorder, from MayoClinic.org:
- Hostility directed toward authority figures
"These are behaviors which can cause the child to regularly and consistently:
"- Have temper tantrums
- Be argumentative
- Refuse to comply with requests or rules
- Annoy other people deliberately
- Blames others for mistakes or misbehavior
- Acts touchy and is easily annoyed
- Feel anger and resentment
- Act aggressively toward peers
- Have difficulty maintaining friendships
- Have academic problems
- Feel a lack of self-esteem
"In addition, the child isn't likely to see his or her behavior as defiant. Instead, the person will probably believe that unreasonable demands are being placed on him or her."
It seems to me a lot of these characteristics fit today's right wingers.
Again, this is a condition which occurs in childhood. If you wonder why trying to reason with today's right wingers can be like trying to reason with 10-year-olds, this could go a long way toward explaining that.
What causes ODD?
"- A child's natural disposition
- Limitations or developmental delays in the ability to process thoughts and feelings
- Lack of supervision
- Inconsistent or harsh discipline
- Abuse or neglect
- An imbalance of certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin
So if you think their behavior is odd, well... it IS.