Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Friday, June 6, 2014


We traded with the Taliban for PFC Bowe Bergdahl.  "We don't deal with terrorists" was the immediate cry.  Now while this is a supposedly sacrosanct and oft repeated phrase, it is slightly more complex than that.  The fact is we have dealt with lots of "enemy" groups over the years. I am not defending the terms of the trade, I just want to make it clear before we get caught up in all the politics played on Fox, MSNBC and Capitol Hill,  that deals have been struck before.

The deal was struck with the Taliban.  The Taliban, who are truly vile in how they have treated their people, are not terrorists.  They may have supported Al-Qaeda by letting the terror organization set up in Afghanistan, but the Taliban are not on the State Department's terrorist watch list. Now while I agree that it is hard to imagine why this group is not on a watch list, they aren't.  The Taliban was the government of Afghanistan before the US went in.  The capture of Bergdahl would actually then make him a prisoner of war.

There is more.  This is not the first time we have negotiated with people who took an American or two hostage.  Jimmy Carter negotiated with the Iranians when the Shaw was over-thrown and Americans were taken hostage in 1978.  In perhaps the most famous of hostages for trade was the secret trading done during the Reagan administration when a trade was brokered for the same Iran hostages in exchange for weapons.  This became known as the Iran-Contra Affair.  Bill Clinton negotiated with Gerry Adams leader of the Irish Republican Army, which actually was on the State Department watch list.  During the Iraq War, Bush negotiated with Sunni insurgents working with and even paying people who had been killing American soldiers.  Even Nixon set up deals for prisoners of war at the end of Vietnam, bringing home 142 prisoners in 1972 for the first release.

I am not going to comment on whether the deal was a good one or bad.  Both sides have their points.  I don't know, and from what I've read, no one knows yet what exactly were the circumstances of Bergdahl's capture.  I do not know if the deal will encourage more attempts to capture Americans by the Taliban. The trade though is not really the breaking of any sacred American maxim.