WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Afghanistan is not behind us; Bergdahl episode, textbook example of political tone deafness

For a lot of Americans, U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is in the past tense: Been there, done that.

Tell that to the families of five U.S. service members (and one Afghan) killed in a possible "friendly-fire" incident. Coming under attack from the Taliban, the troops had requested air support, and the requested aircraft may have bombed them.

Even as President Obama tries to wind down U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan (against Congressional "hawks"), this incident underscores how U.S. service members remain in harm's way. And can one honestly tell the families that those lives were not lost in vain? Somewhat comparable to the last couple of years of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and the "Vietnamization" of that war.

I think the Bergdahl / Afghan Taliban prisoner swap has to be seen a bit through that prism. Since the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is ongoing, another American - dazed by war - could walk off; the Taliban could take another U.S. prisoner; etc. Meanwhile, more valiant Americans could suffer horrifying injuries - saved by brilliant new medical technology in the battlefield - only to be ill-served months or years later in the V.A. medical system. It is a numbing cycle.

Without arguing the merits of engaging in a decidely lopsided trade -- Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban operatives -- it would appear the White House's handling of the Berghdahl episode will serve as a textbook example of how NOT to handle such a sensitive matter. The administration managed to alienate friend and foe in Congress. And the polls show Americans oppose the swap by a margin of about two-to-one.

(As further evidence of the ultimately futility of costly U.S. military interventions - unless the U.S. is prepared to stay in a country indefinitely - Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, has fallen to jihadists believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an al-Qaeda splinter group.)

Read Michael Gerson's column in The WASHINGTON POST about the Bergdahl mess---


Posted at 8:02am on June 10, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Tue, Jun 10, 2014 9:52am
When you have to make a decision you know may be controversial, you make it... You have two choices... One, do what you think is right and face the incoming fire... or two, do what you think is wrong and receive no fire at all...

As someone who has done both, the first option is the harder, and I think more in tune with one being responsible.... Though sometimes the consequences were life changing, I have never regretted any of my controversial extremely tough decisions... To this date, I still regret the cowardly decisions made because I didn't want to deal with all the criticism....

This was a decision between shades of gray. We can argue whether what we see is a light gray or dark gray ad infinitum. But while we are arguing... others are doing.

Tue, Jun 10, 2014 10:53am
Is this true? I don't usually believe MSNBC because it is American, but apparently Senator McCain left in the middle of the Senate Hearings on Bergdahl to hold a press conference saying he was not being informed... (The press conference was pre-scheduled)...


Also, Republican Saxby Chambliss skipped a hearing to go on TV to lambast the fact he too was ill-informed, and had not been given enough information...

Kinda shows the sincerity of their complaints, doesn't it? They couldn't care less about the facts.....

While on this trend, another bust on McCain, is that how on earth can a senator - who is a veteran himself - be so clueless as to the condition of the VA in HIS HOME STATE? In a functional government, McCain or Senator Flake should have been the FIRST line of defense in discovering this problem, since his constituents would have been bombarding him with requests for help.... McCain is now a joke.

Tue, Jun 10, 2014 12:19pm
kavips: I agree... McCain has been a joke for quite some time. Not too long ago he vouched for the Syrian rebels... assuring Americans the group had been vetted and should be trusted/backed/armed by our government... only to find out many of these "rebels" McCain had his picture taken with at the meeting were actually al-Qaeda.

Since we are bringing home U.S. forces anyway... why not actually surprise the jihadists and pull ALL our men/women soldiers home immediately... especially now that the price-tags on U.S. forces have gone up dramatically as bargaining chips?

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Jun 11, 2014 8:23am
Kavips and EarlGrey: I agree, McCain has been a joke since 2008 when he nominated Sarah Palin as his V.P. and he's gone downhill from there as EarlGrey pointed out the episode with the Syrian rebels.

Also agree McCain is an embarassment to all us Vets, that if anyone should have had veterans' backs in protecting their best interests, it should have been Senator McCain. Good name for him, Senator Flake.

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