From Benghazi! to Bergdahl!

Well, you can already hear conservative licks smacking over the way the retrieval of Sgt. Bowe Berghdahl is creating a fine media narrative: men needlessly lost their lives trying to find an anti-American deserter, and now Barack Obama has traded five arch-terrorists to bring the anti-American deserter safely home.

The exchanges to secure Bergdahl is an issue where opinions obviously vary: if you think we’re still in a War on Terror in which the Taliban is functionally equivalent to al-Qaeda and a direct threat to American security, you think it’s a very bad idea. If you think otherwise, and that direct negotiations with the Taliban are the only way to ensure stability in Afghanistan after our troops are removed, and if you furthermore think it’s past time to shut down Gitmo, then you probably aren’t upset by the exchanges.

As for Bergdahl himself, there are less legitimate grounds for all the yelling and screaming. He has never been formally charged with the crimes he’s now being accused of committing. He was actually promoted while in Taliban captivity. So far as the U.S. Army is concerned, he’s a prisoner-of-war who was indeed in danger of being left behind. So for anyone to express fury with the administration for following a strict policy of securing U.S. military personnel and bringing them home to face whatever praise or blame they deserve is even stranger than hinting this president should be impeached for failure to take enough proactive steps to protect those killed in Benghazi.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.