Saturday, June 14, 2014
Thoughts on Bergdahl: Yes, One Man Is Worth It
Lately, the media circus has focused on one particular no-win situation, that of U.S. Army Sgt. Bergdahl who was recently released from 5 years of Al-Qaeda captivity. It would be nice if we could simply sit back in joy and relief that one of our own has been saved from the enemy, but as life would have it, nothing is ever quite that simple.
Did Bergdahl desert his post? Was he just taking a leisurely stroll while on watch (which would still amount to abandoning his post)? I don't have the answers to these questions, and until an investigation is completed, neither will anyone else. Legally, we have to figure out whether or not President Obama violated the law by not notifying Congress prior to Bergdahl's release. We have to determine whether there truly were safety concerns and extenuating circumstance that warranted a different approach. For that, we won't have the answers until an investigation is completed by Congress.
Important questions that need to be answered, but for me the more pressing issue involves America's very soul: was it worth saving one man for the risk of endangering others and weakening America's opposition to global terrorism?
A lot of pundits have been vocal about why it is American policy is never to negotiate with terrorists. A lot of Republicans have cried foul that by conducting a prisoner exchange--one that seems to heavily favor the enemy--America now appears weak to our enemies. To those men and women I ask this: do you really think that terrorists consider America to be strong in the first place? Are you truly all that concerned with how America is perceived by whack-jobs who are willing to strap bombs to their chests and blow up school buses full of children? Perhaps we should be more concerned with actually being strong than appearing to be strong.
Then some say, "this sets a dangerous precedent. Now Al-Qaeda will try harder to capture more Americans. They've already stated that they will try harder!" Here's another question: do you honestly think that before this incident, capturing an American was not a high priority on Al-Qaeda's to-do list? Taking hostages is a staple of terrorism, regardless of the organization or its cause. If Al-Qaeda truly had the capability to capture more Americans, they would have been doing that long before Bergdahl's release. The incentive to capturing Americans is creating a sense of terror, and that incentive remains. Prisoner exchange is not even really a bonus for them, because the ultimate goal is breaking our spirit.
So when I ask myself, "was one man worth it?" I answer: yes. Am I pleased about how everything unfolded? It probably could have been handled in a better way, but ultimately I'm glad that someone in our government stood up and said "yes, one man is worth it." Whether or not you agree with how Obama went about it, bringing Bergdahl home shows the terrorists that they have not won.
Their goal is to dehumanize us--to break our resolve and bring us down to their level of horror and inhumanity. Now, we have shown them--and the world--that America still has a soul and, to some degree, that we still believe that no one is ever truly expendable.