From the same people who brought you, "They hate our freedoms," "Saddam Hussein is an imminent threat," and "Liberals hate America," come the latest gems from Congressmen Mike Rogers and Ted Cruz. Rogers recently commented on the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by stating,"If you negotiate here, you've sent a message to every al Qaeda group in the world...That is dangerous." Not to be outdone, patriotic Senator and climate change expert Ted Cruz articulated his foreign policy expertise by stating, "The idea that we're now making trades, what does that do for every single soldier stationed abroad?"
As for the precedent of trading something of worth to terrorists for the release of a hostage, President Reagan already set that precedent in 1985. As summarized by the Cold War Museum, Reagan gave a lot more to terrorists than Obama in negotiating to bring home Americans:
This "arms-for-hostages" proposal was in direct violation of the Boland Amendment passed only a year prior. One specification of the deal made in July 1985, was that over 500 anti-tank missiles would be sent to Iran from Israel in exchange for American Reverend Benjamin Weir...More trade of military weapons for hostages continued, resulting in the release of all of the American hostages and an accumulation of over 1500 American missiles of various types in Iranian hands.
Approximately thirty million dollars were recorded as received from the Iranians; however, only about twelve million of this ended up in the proper hands...
Eventually, the world learned of Reagan's actions regarding the Iranian arms deals through a Lebanese newspaper and a great deal of questioning arose. Though Reagan denied any knowledge of what was occurring in Nicaragua, Mr. North stated that both Reagan and his Vice President Bush knew of the events and their cover-up.
Whereas Obama released five Guantanamo detainees in order to get back an American soldier, Reagan gave Iran "500 anti-tank missiles," "over 1,500 American missiles," and "approximately thirty million dollars." Furthermore, Reagan's arms deal was illegal and done without the knowledge of Congress.
As for the terrorists that Cruz and Rogers warn might commit future attacks, groups like Al-Qaeda are constantly recruiting new members to make up for the people we kill or capture. According to the Brookings Institution, recruitment as well as "mergers and acquisition" are the primary reasons these organizations continue to grow:
But in fact, much of al Qaeda's growth in the last decade has been the kind of expansion that any American businessman would recognize: They've systematically tried to absorb regional jihadist start-ups, both venerable and newly created, and convince them that their struggle is a component of al Qaeda's sweeping international agenda -- and vice versa...
Al Qaeda also has web and media specialists who produce recruitment and fundraising videos, recruiters who try to identify potential new members at mosques and other locations, trainers who teach how to use small arms and make improvised explosive devices, and other experts in its global Rolodex, all available to help a new local franchise...
The most vexing dilemma for U.S. counterterrorism policy, however, concerns groups that may be moving toward al Qaeda but have not yet made the leap. Many al Qaeda affiliates always hated the United States and its allies, but their focus was local for many years. Because the groups had some ties to al Qaeda, George W. Bush's and Barack Obama's administrations began to target them and encourage others to do so. As a result, the groups became more anti-American, creating a vicious circle.
Brookings also examined regional terror groups and states that, "Terrorist groups that succeed politically, like Hezbollah and Hamas, are firmly anchored in local realities and politics, and their success comes in part because their ambitions are limited." For every terrorist we kill, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban will simply have their "web and media specialists" produce the necessary propaganda needed to either gain new recruits, or merge with smaller groups. Detractors of Obama's decision to free Bergdahl shouldn't worry about the people we set free. They should focus on "the most vexing dilemma for U.S. counterterrorism policy" revolving around how these groups grow and recruit.
Regarding Sgt. Bergdahl possibly being a deserter, let's assume for a moment he indeed was a deserter. Rep. Duncan Hunter, in a March 2, 2014 CBS News article, explains the worst case scenario for Bergdahl in regards to desertion: "It's hard to imagine any circumstance where his captivity won't be viewed as time served...The first order of business is securing his release and I don't think it does an ounce of good to begin contemplating that far ahead when the focus is on getting him home." Even if his capture by terrorists was the result of a breach in conduct, there's already been "time served." His return home should be celebrated, not politicized and demeaned by those who claim to "support the troops."
I am happy Sgt. Bergdahl is back at home with his family and I would have traded a lot more to get him home sooner. My support of our troops entails the belief that any soldier taken prisoner should be returned home as soon as possible, regardless of the hyperbole surrounding the terrorists we trade for his or her release. Whether or not Bergdahl was a deserter is irrelevant to me. Like Ted Cruz, I've never experienced the emotional and psychological stress of battle and I thank Sgt. Bergdahl for doing something I never had the courage to do (risk his life for the country). I would have traded all the 149 prisoners in Guantanamo, every brick in that facility, and sold weapons to Iran like Reagan in order to get him home sooner.
There are 1,642 personnel still missing from the Vietnam War according to the National League of POW/MIA Families and I would support any steps to find these Americans as well.