Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bring our soldier home and let him heal

    When the news broke that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey would return to the U.S. and eventually to his family after five years of being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Sun Valley-area people erupted with joy and relief.
    People called this newspaper, called their friends, and announced to perfect strangers that Saturday was a great day because of the news that the young soldier was coming home. People gathered spontaneously in Hailey where they hugged, shed tears and smiled at the same time. A valley-wide celebration was immediately scheduled for later this month.
    Americans are proud of bringing our lost soldier home. Our nation and President Obama did what needed to be done as we wind down military operations in Afghanistan.
    Yet within hours of the announcement that the U.S. had traded five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay prison for Bergdahl’s release, some senators, military experts and broadcast media commentators shamelessly made Bergdahl’s release into a political football. The bloodhounds took up the cry and bayed on and on about so-called “questions” about the manner of Bergdahl’s capture and the exchange of prisoners. It was a despicable display of politics gone off the rails.
    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, insisted that the Obama administration erred in not providing 30 days notice to Congress before the exchange. He called the exchange “disturbing” and a change in U.S. policy of not negotiating with terrorists.
    Even Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said, “It is disturbing that these individuals would have the ability to re-enter the fight.”
    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Roger, R-Mich., said the White House made a mistake by negotiating with terrorists.
    So, what would these critics have preferred? That our nation abandon its soldier and leave him to rot in Afghanistan? It’s a good bet that Cruz, McCain and Roger would have gone into a self-righteous snit had the Obama administration failed to successfully negotiate Bergdahl’s release and would have accused Obama of heartlessly abandoning our soldier.
    The self-proclaimed critics have shamelessly and destructively put the administration and all Americans in a no-win position for some perceived political gain.
    As in all things in life, there is a time for joy, celebration and healing, and a time for reflection and examination. This is the time for joy and celebration, not for speculation and trial by sound-bite.
    The politicians, military experts and critics should stop their shameful bleating and let our nation, our local community and Bergdahl’s family enjoy the return of our lost soldier.
    Five years of captivity is enough. Bring him home. Leave him alone, and let him heal.

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