Prisoner of war exchanges are historical
June 10, 2014
Sarah Palin and some of her comrades at Fox are saying we should have left Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to the Taliban because of the allegations against him that he left his post while on duty. Patrick Murphy, a former Democratic congressman, had the right response to them.
Said Murphy, "Bergdahl should be judged here in America, not prejudged and left to rot."
Charles Krauthammer, a Fox commentator, said, "Our first "iron clad' obligation is to get our prisoners of war back, the second obligation is, if you desert you are subject to military discipline. I would say free him, then try him."
If there is enough evidence to support a trial, I would agree with Krauthammer
Personally I think if he is guilty of wrong doing it is even more of a reason to bring him back to face charges. We can't let convicted deserters walk free. Trading five Afghanistan Taliban prisoners of war who had not been charged with any crime, to get Bergdahl back to face justice, if necessary, is a price worth paying. After all these weren't al Qaeda criminals being held at Guantanamo; they are Taliban insurgents. And what if he's innocent? Have Palin and Fox friends forgotten that innocent until proven guilty is the law around here? That doesn't seem to matter to them; evidently they would still let him rot with the Taliban.
Then there are those that say since we are not technically at war there is no basis for a prisoner exchanges. That's just poppycock. This military action we are engaged in has been called: WWIII, or WWIV, if you consider the cold "war" a war. It has been called the Long War, the Global War on Terror, and the War against Al-Qaeda. The war on terror has been named Bush's War on Terror. On Sept. 16, 2011, at Camp David, President Bush used the phrase "War on Terrorism" when he said," This crusade — this war on terrorism — is going to take a while." Republicans have always stated we are at war.
All the talk about war with terrorists has nothing to do with this exchange. Make no mistake we were at war with the Taliban in Afghanistan and the exchange of Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban insurgents was correctly a prisoner of war exchange, which is within the Commander in Chief's province.
According to the Esquire digital edition, George Washington negotiated the first prisoner of war exchange because he needed his troops back to fight the war. He had to know some enemy prisoners might rejoin the war
against him. In 1812, President Madison faced the same situation. By the third year of the War of 1812, thousands of Americans were being held captive; enemy soldiers were traded with the enemy for American soldiers. Abraham Lincoln authorized the trading of rebels for the return of Union prisoners; they were conducted by field generals on an ad hoc basis.
A treaty was negotiated at the Geneva Convention in 1929 regarding the treatment of prisoners and the exchange of prisoners after a peace treaty is signed at a war's end. The treaty was ignored for the most part
by both Germany and Japan in regards to prisoner treatment. Operation Big Switch at the end of the Korean War brought many American prisoners, but not all, home. I personally knew one of these prisoners in Arkansas;
he took me hunting. His family said he was never the same after the treatment by the Koreans. The Geneva Accords have been ignored by many of our enemies, especially by the terrorists. If the charges against Dick Cheney and crowd of torturing prisoners are correct, our hands are not clean in this regard.
In 1973 John McCain was released according to the Paris Peace Accords and the Geneva Accords regarding the exchange of Prisoners. Enough said.
Members of Congress were informed of this possible exchange in 2011. I am disgusted with them; They know very well that the law they passed regarding release of Guantanamo detainees was written in a fit of hysterical paranoia to prevent the president from closing Guantanamo and trying criminal prisoners in the U.S. Krauthammer, with whom I seldom agree, said basically the same thing on Fox. He went on to say, "The one area where the president holds the upper hand in this dispute, is that in matters of war and peace, he's the Commander in Chief. And I think a prisoner exchange is in the province of his presidency." He's right.
Let's avoid terms like "hero" or "traitor." Bergdahl's a very young soldier and should be treated accordingly.
Glen McAdoo, a Fallon resident, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.