(By American Zen
's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
"Your son's out now. If you really don't, no longer want to look
like a member of the Taliban, you don't have to look like a member of
the Taliban. Are you out of razors?
" - Brian Kilmeade
, Fox "News"
To those of us who don't relentlessly look at everything from a
political prism, the POW trade of five Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe
Bergdahl was a geopolitical masterstroke. Regardless of his countless
war crimes for which he is and will surely be found guilty, Barack Obama
can always look at this and say this was an unqualified humanitarian
success. As combat operations appear to be winding down in Afghanistan
the five detainees were, according to international law, set to be
released, anyway. And Sgt. Bergdahl, our government has known for years,
was ailing. The only question remaining is, Why had the Obama
administration been dragging its collective ass to secure Sgt.
But the stars were aligned just right, with Jupiter in the 2nd
House and all that and the Obama administration, partly to make the
Democrats look good in the midterms, finally got around to doing the
right thing. If the Bergdahl family was merely an incidental beneficiary
of this midterm maneuvering, who cares, right? One would have to be the
worst kind of idiot not to see the political opportunism and fortuitous
timing behind this. In Washington DC, even the weather is never prone
Yet it seems the worst kind of idiots are the ankle biters on Fox,
Pajamas Media, Breitbart and other right wing methane convection ovens
who have turned on the Bergdahl family in a way that recalls the far
right extremists in the Bergdahls' native Idaho. Hair product storage
facility Brian Kilmeade not so subtly suggested that Robert Bergdahl's
beard qualified him as a terrorist sympathizer. This is all so much
manufactured, canned outrage. Sources of the late Michael Hastings
warned that the GOP would turn this into a Willie Horton political football
should Bergdahl be released during an election year and it and their flying monkey squadron are making good on their threat.
It's hard for anyone in the reality-based community to follow this
frayed skein of logic coming from the seedy side of the tracks. The
official GOP line is, "We don't deal with terrorists", which is exactly
what the GOP has been doing since the days when Bush was still
accidentally walking into the broom closet of the Texas Governor's
Mansion (anyone remember UNOCAL and Enron's part
in a certain gas pipeline?).
The conservative pundits' official line is... Well, it's hard to
wade through all the conspiracy theories but apparently our first black
President made it well nigh impossible for the right wing to give Bush
the credit for releasing Bergdahl or, for those ultra hard liners, St.
Ronnie of the Jelly Bean. Ergo, if they can't grab the credit for facilitating
the release of the last American POW in Afghanistan, might as well shit
on the accomplishment itself. Sour grapes, in other words.
Damned if he did, damned if he didn't.
Since January 20, 2009, the Republican Party had immediately
gone from "loyal but principled opposition" to immature contrariness,
damning the president for stealing their thunder and always prepared to
damn him if he didn't. One can perfectly imagine the GOP turning this
into political hay if Obama hadn't secured Bergdahl's release and we
would've been treated to an endless news cycle loop of chyrons from Fox
demanding, "Why did Obama leave Bergdahl to die in Afghanistan?" and
"Obama abandons last American POW in Afghanistan," while the right wing
and its punditry would've rallied to the Bergdahl's family's side in
And the racist Republican Party was determined to make hay out of this one way or the other just as surely as they cynically used Pat Tillman
for their own ends even though Tillman himself had demanded they not.
And that's because the Mitch McConnell/Jeff Sessions/KKK wing still
running (for now) the establishment GOP cannot tolerate the thought of a
black man doing a better job of governance, as well as the occasional
humanitarian action, than them.
The facts don't matter to these foam machines any more than they
would to a lunatic asylum patient painting pictures of Reagan with
their fecal matter. The facts are as follows:
Not all the Muslim detainees belonged to the Taliban.
According to international law, as our combat role in
Afghanistan winds down, our interest in their freedom fighters
officially should also wind down.
All five men will be confined in Qatar for at least a year and their actions strictly monitored.
Less than 90 Taliban militants have been released during Obama's
presidency, as opposed to over 350 during Bush's two terms.
Once more, with feeling: Sgt. Bergdahl's life was in imminent danger.
And the only thing we can safely take away from the right wing's
reaction to the POW exchange is not what they mean to say but what they
are in actuality saying:
"We don't give a flying fuck about the troops and will gladly
abandon them if the Black Guy so much as even mentions helping them out.
If we can't take credit for it, we'll be damned if we'll let the Uppity One
get it. And we will vilify anyone and everyone who benefits from it."
In light of this latest faux scandal, the blocking of VA and
embassy security funding bills, the Walter Reed mess and the other VA
scandal that actually started with Republican intransigence, any
pretense the GOP makes to loving and supporting the troops should earn
no more than bitter laughter and spittle in their direction.
Because the Republican Party has proven time and again they
don't give a damn about the military or their families, will send them
off to reckless, needless wars without adequate armor, will short change
them on their medical care when they return, cynically use them to
partisan advantage even to the point of lying to their families and will
use them as political footballs when they decide the time is right. And, in case you doubt me, Henry Kissinger pretty much said it all
for the Republican Party 41 years ago.
Despite these palpable and inconvenient truths, the military has
been since time immemorial a conservative voting faction. Let's hope
that changes by Election Day this year and let them remember at the
polls the position the Republican Party had decided to take with Bowe
Bergdahl and his family.