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Yesterday (June 1st), President Obama agreed to release five Taliban fighters in exchange for one American soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held prisoner for over five years. The tiny nation of Qatar was used as an intermediary to avoid direct contact/negotiations between Washington and The Taliban. Qatar also agreed to hold the five men in-country for one year before allowing them to return to their countries of origin. Naturally, Republicans went into hysterics, as Republicans tend to do with everything “ter’ist related” ever since they dismissed a warning entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” back in August of 2001. Call it “over-compensation”. Call it “Operation Restore Fake Belief that Republicans Are Good at Security”. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. Ever since that major F-up on their watch, now every threat… real or imagined… becomes a “hair on fire” event. “The President negotiated with terrorists??? We don’t negotiate with terrorists! It only gives them an incentive to take more hostages!”

Nonsense.

A few thoughts immediately crossed my mind:

  • The decision to hold the released detainees in Qatar “for one year” isn’t some random number. That’s well after U.S. forces are scheduled to depart from Afghanistan. So if they “return to the battlefield”, WE WON’T BE THERE… well, not very many of us anyway. There are currently just under 33,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and after the end of this year, that number falls to 9,800 for one year and reduced dramatically every year after that. So if they’re planning on killing Americans on the “battlefield” (note to GOP, the entire country is a battlefield), it’s going to be slim pickin’s.
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  • Bergdahi was held for FIVE YEARS before a deal was struck for his release… and only then because of our impending departure. Capturing American soldiers in hopes of using them as collateral is not unlike thinking you can get rich recycling aluminum cans. A lot of time and effort for very little payoff.
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  • “Return to the battlefield”? Has anyone bothered to check the ages or condition of these men to see if they are even CAPABLE of “Returning to the battlefield”? Most have been held for almost a decade and they weren’t “kids” back then. Photos released of three of the Detainees arriving in Qatar yesterday/Sunday show these are no “young soldiers” ready to rush out and join the fighting. Most appear to be in-or-around 50 years of age. It is highly doubtful any of these men will be rushing out to rejoin the fighting… not now and especially not 12 months from now when they leave Qatar.

America has a looooong history of “prisoner exchanges”… dating back to before there even was a “United States of America”. General Washington was in charge of “prisoner exchanges” with the British during the Revolutionary War, and local governors negotiated with local Indian tribes… not just to exchange prisoners, but to stop them from attacking villages… so this is nothing new. But “negotiating with terrorists” is FAR broader than just a simple “prisoner exchange”… it can include giving them money and/or weapons. But we didn’t do that (THIS time). Can’t imagine what Republicans might have done if an American president had done something as reckless as “trade arms for hostages”.

Quick note: Yesterday, June 1st, was the official start of hurricane season, and NOAA, the National Weather Service, released their estimate on the number of storms we can expect to see this season. So this may be a good time to go back and re-read my post from five years ago: “Global Warming will mean FEWER mid-Summer hurricanes, not more”. To date, it’s been spot-on.


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