Editorial — June 5, 2014

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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The recent exchange of five Guantanamo detainees for an American soldier is a head scratcher of a quandary.

On one hand, Republicans are arguing that any such exchange puts all Americans at risk because the Taliban knows they can now trade.

On the other hand, the U.S Rangers are most associated with the old expression that no man will be left behind.

But what if that soldier willingly walked away from his post back in 2009?

What if the people being exchanged are touted as dangerous Taliban fighters?

It’s a dilly of a question, being muddied by the usual partisan bickering in the United States. There can’t be any semblance of an intelligent discussion in the U.S. anymore because the political divide is now so great.

We’ll start by reminding our Republican friends that Ronald Reagan, a man who would now be branded a traitorous liberal by the extreme right for his views, traded missiles for hostages in Iran.

And we’ll remind our Democrat friends that the bill for this transaction could be paid in future fatalities.

Let’s start with what we know.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was apparently captured by his post, near the Afghan town of Yahya Kheyl in Paktia province, on June 30, 2009.

The current versions of the story include that he was either going to the latrine, fell behind on a patrol, was drunk or outright deserted.

There has been a lot said about it, but it’s all opinion. And even Bergdahl may be reluctant to tell the whole truth when he comes back.

We’ll likely never know.

The latest news to come out of this situation is that an American and a Canadian are also being held in Afghanistan.

Joshua Boyle of Canada and his then-pregnant American wife Caitlin Coleman were foolishly travelling through Afghanistan, during a trip that had taken them through Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrygystan, when they disappeared in October of 2012.

Videos were subsequently emailed to her father but kept secret, until Bergdahl’s release.

And they’re not alone.

Vanity Fair did a sensational piece on journalists Austin Tice and Jim Foley who have vanished in Syria.

Nothing has been heard from either man since.

When someone puts themself in harm’s way, whether it’s a soldier, a pair of young travellers or a journalist, what is their nation’s responsibility?

And what if that person is considered tainted by critics?

Some men who Bergdahl served with have suggested several soldiers died searching for the American, although other sources say they are is essence blaming him for every operational death that occurred in that area during that time period.

The Taliban quickly trumpeted the release of the five men as a significant victory. The released prisoners may well be responsible for more American deaths in the future.

As part of the deal, the five men have to stay for a year in Qatar, where officials say they will be monitored. Even American officials concede that four will likely end up back on the battlefield eventually.

In the meantime, they won’t be prevented from communication with other Taliban officials.

Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Bergdahl is apparently in stable condition at a military hospital in Germany.

Sometimes it’s a good thing not to be the person who has the final call.

 

Prince Albert Daily Herald

Organizations: Taliban, U.S Rangers, Vanity Fair Prince Albert Daily Herald

Geographic location: United States, Guantanamo, Afghanistan Iran Paktia Canada Kazakhstan Tajikistan Syria Qatar Germany

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