In discussing last week his decision to eliminate essentially all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the time his term of office ends, President Obama declared: “This is how wars end in the 21st Century — not through signing ceremonies but through decisive blows against our adversaries, transitions to elected governments, security forces who are trained to take the lead and ultimately full responsibility.”
Actually, how Barack Obama ends wars is by what amounts to surrendering to our undefeated adversaries, undermining elected governments by emboldening those determined to destroy them and abandoning local security forces who lack the capability to prevail.
The president’s exchange this weekend of “prisoner of war” Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five of the world’s most dangerous jihadists is a microcosm of his way of waging — and losing — wars. Consider the following features of this odious act of appeasement and its rollout.
- The exchange was unbalanced: We purchased at exceedingly high cost the freedom of an American described by his comrades as a deserter. It appears that by abandoning his sentinel’s post in the dark of night, he not only jeopardized lives but allegedly cost the lives of numerous other servicemen.
Treating Bergdahl as some sort of heroic figure because of his five years in self-induced captivity is a further assault on the principles of integrity, discipline, and honor that have been central to the character and culture of the U.S. military for generations. This is not an accident. Destroying that culture happens to be a well-established feature of Team Obama’s social engineering of the armed forces.
- The price paid to achieve Bergdahl’s freedom was to release no fewer than five of the Taliban’s senior commanders to the custody of Qatar. Let’s take what’s wrong with this picture, piece by piece.
First, the Qatari government is on the other side in the War for the Free World. It is a bankroller of al-Qaida in Syria (and perhaps elsewhere): the enabler of the Muslim Brotherhood, the underwriter of the enemy’s propaganda arm, al Jazeera, etc. Trusting the Qataris to be helpful to us with regard to anything having to do with jihad is worse than willful blindness; it is national security malfeasance.
Second, the best case is that these guys will be out of the fight for one more year. Since the administration won’t say what restrictions will be imposed on them in the interim, however, it is a safe bet they will be doing whatever they can to contribute to their terrorist organization’s return to power as soon as possible. But even if that were not the case, in the long war the United States is abandoning, a year is nothing for those determined to defeat us.
- To complete this exchange, President Obama violated the law, something he has done relentlessly in the course of his presidency. (To appreciate just how often, see Andrew C. McCarthy’s splendid new book, "Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.") The fact that Eric Holder’s Justice Department gave Chuck Hagel’s Defense Department a fig leaf for doing so by claiming extenuating circumstances — namely, concerns about Bergdahl’s deteriorating health — does not alter the reality that Obama and company did not conform to the statute requiring a 30-day pre-notification to Congress.
- Adding insult to injury is the fact that Bergdahl does not seem to be ill, let alone near death’s door. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said on Sunday that he is “in good health” and he has reportedly been released from the hospital in Germany where his medical condition was assessed post-release. Of course, he may have lingering psychological problems, but then that may have been the case before he deserted. Either way, there is no justification there for the president ignoring the law.
- Speaking of Susan Rice, her interviews on two Sunday talk shows this weekend vividly called to mind the notorious, serial appearances she turned in on five such programs in September 2012. Now, as then, she was the dutiful — almost robotic — spinner, relentlessly sticking to her misleading, if not patently fraudulent talking points.
Two years ago, Rice engaged in what amounted to lying about the murderous attacks in Benghazi, by insisting they were the result of a video, not jihadist attacks. This meme, we recently learned, was manufactured by a man who is now her Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes. It was explicitly designed by him to deflect politically problematic attention in the run-up to the 2012 election from questions about the president’s claims that al-Qaida was on the path to defeat, and other national security frauds.
This weekend, Rice reprised her role as untrustworthy flack by relentless insisting we have a “sacred duty not to leave anyone behind” — a duty that neither she nor any other senior Obama administration official seemed to feel while the Benghazi attacks were underway. All the while, she deflected questions that would have illuminated the reality of the Bergdahl exchange — the exorbitant price we paid, how the exchange was conducted under false pretenses, the dire implications with respect to strengthening our enemies and the lack of real justification for violating the law.
With the Bergdahl exchange, Americans are on notice: Unless this episode proves to be a very costly one for Team Obama, the president is on a trajectory not only to lose Afghanistan, as we previously lost Iraq. He will also ignore statutory inhibitions on releasing the rest of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay and close that facility, foreclosing its use by a successor. The upshot of all this will be to establish that the way Barack Obama “ends wars in the 21st Century” is going to get a lot more of us killed.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for The Washington Times, and host of the nationally syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio. Read more reports from Frank Gaffney — Click Here Now.
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