Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why the prisoner exchange is a big issue for the neocons

We're hearing all kinds of hysteria about the prisoner exchange that resulted in the release of Sergeant Bergdahl. The media is indulging claims about Bergdahl's state of mind, whether or not the President was required to consult with Congress prior to finalizing the exchange and stories about soldiers who may have died trying to rescue him. But that's all hyperbole designed to gin up the anti-Obama base. I propose that the real issue for conservatives actually centers on the other side of the exchange...the release of the 5 Taliban detainees from Gitmo.

Ken Gude writing at Think Progress is one of the few journalists who got to the heart of the issue with an article titled Why the Five Taliban Detainees Had to be Released Soon, No Matter What.
The United States is engaged in an armed conflict in Afghanistan against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces authorized by Congress under the 2001 Authorizations to Use Military Force...President Obama recently announced that the combat role for the United States in the armed conflict in Afghanistan will end this year and all participation will completely cease by 2016.

When wars end, prisoners taken custody must be released. These five Guantanamo detainees were almost all members of the Taliban, according to the biographies of the five detainees that the Afghan Analysts Network compiled in 2012. None were facing charges in either military or civilian courts for their actions. It remains an open question whether the end of U.S. involvement in the armed conflict in Afghanistan requires that all Guantanamo detainees must be released. But there is no doubt that Taliban detainees captured in Afghanistan must be released because the armed conflict against the Taliban will be over.
One question I've had about all this is whether it would have been better to simply be forced to release these detainees once the war in Afghanistan was over - or whether releasing them now to Qatar with security precautions in place is the smarter move.

But all that aside, President Obama has been clear that it is time to take the United States off the permanent war footing that was launched by the Bush/Cheney administration after 9/11. Here's how he talked about that two years ago:
My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda...

This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.
As he's said more recently, the United States no longer faces an existential threat. We have to be vigilant about the ongoing threat of terrorism, but the time for war is over.

Following 9/11, the neocons counted on having a replacement for the Cold War in an ongoing global war on terrorism. That's because in order for their military adventurism to sell, Americans need to be convinced that we have a powerful evil enemy that threatens us.

As President Obama ends that war, we can expect the neocons to ramp up the fear rhetoric to try and convince us its not over. Unfortunately, Sergeant Bergdahl has just become a pawn in that game. We need to remember that he is not the issue. We're all glad he's home. But there are bigger issues at stake. Its finally time to end indefinite war.


  1. How many neocons are left anyway? Seems like most of them got swallowed up by the extreme right that just wants non-stop scandal mongering to feed their outrage-for-dollars business model.

    1. They are alive and well in the likes of Bill Kristol, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, etc.

    2. They don’t have the ear of the president anymore and, perhaps more notably, the http://www.newamericancentury.org site is dead. So, while the individuals live on, they do not seem to be _organized_.

    3. The only neocons I'm concerned about are the ones with the last name Clinton. While McCain et al may have microphones and camera time, Barry Schwartz is correct: they no longer have the ear of the President. What was that African proverb about lions not turning around to look at small dogs barking?

  2. Thanks again SP! You bring it right to us every day! This post made my day in case anyone missed it!!

    p.m. carpenter's commentary today:
    "This Congress has been criminally negligent to the point of treason.

    In short, this Congress sucks--and about its constitutional rights, I just don't give a damn anymore. It abrogated its rights long ago. When did it last give a damn about the citizenry? About its general welfare? About unemployment? About healthcare? About fair taxation? About keeping lethal weaponry from lunatics? About navigable roads and safe bridges? About freeing an entire underclass of workers from the shadows?

    When did this Congress care about anything but jockeying for power and undermining Obama's?"

    - See more at: http://pmcarpenter.blogs.com/p_m_carpenters_commentary/#sthash.VyqJ1guP.dpuf


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