While Walt was wondering what to make of the swap of one (1) American deserter for five (5) top Taliban commanders, something else happened. This weekend, five American servicemen were killed in Afghanistan...apparently by members of the Afghan armed forces.
An official statement of the so-called "international coalition" called the killings a "friendly fire" incident. Walt takes this to mean that the killers were not the dreaded Taliban or al-Qaeda, but the very people the US occupying forces are there to serve and protect. America's friends, you might say...or not. After all, with friends like that...
This latest demonstration of the folly of leaving American troops in the sandpit even one day longer comes hard on the heels of Obama's Rose Garden "victory lap" in celebration of the 5-for-1 prisoner swap. Woohoo, sez the Prez, we brought home this courageous hero who was "captured on the battlefield" after serving with "honour and distinction". [Actually it was Susan Rice who said that. Ed.]
OK, Susan Rice said it. But Obama told a war-weary nation that even though he was going to leave some 10,000 American soldiers in the line of (friendly) fire for another couple of years, they need not fear being left behind! Unless of course they're dead, in which case they'll be brought home in body bags -- still not left behind!
The controversy surrounding the Bergdahl deal is not about one confused and reluctant soldier. (Bergdahl flitted around with ballet and Buddhism before joining the army, but became disillusioned with the invasion of Afghanistan about 90 seconds after arriving there.) Rather it is about President Hussein Obama, his foreign policy in general and his conduct of the war in particular.
The prisoner swap represents -- or should represent -- a moment of truth for all Americans, including Susan Rice, Chuck Hagel and the Prez himself. The war is over. America lost. Again. In 2016, unless a new president [Hellery Clinton? Ed.] extends the mission again, the Americans will finally leave. Afghanistan will remain as it was -- a benighted wasteland of warring tribes. The expenditure of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives will have been for naught -- a total (and criminal) waste.
Further reading: "White House's Handling of Bergdahl 'a Joke'", by Dr. Charles Krauthammer, in National Review Online. And yes, we do have the video.