In Trading Burgdahl For Taliban Dream Team, Obama Pretends To Be Netanyahu

We're All Mad Here

“We put a premium on individual lives the way the other guys don’t.  That’s the difference between a civilized society and a barbarous society.  And we pay a high price for being civilized.”

 – Charles Krauthammer

A broken clock is right twice per day, and Charles Krauthammer is wrong once per year.  This happens to be that moment.

With reference to the unbalanced swap of one deserter for five Taliban henchmen, the comparison between this trade and the rescue of Israel’s Gilad Shalit is inevitably invoked.  It is an unfortunate comparison, as Shalit was a national symbol of Israeli solidarity and the double standards that are applied to Israel so regularly.  Was the return of Shalit worth over a thousand terrorist lives?  The answer was and is a painful yes:  A single Gilad Shalit is worth more than all the terrorists in the world combined.  Terrorists are less than scum.  They are the scum which scum wipes off their own shoes.

The only factor is the risk that these unwashed dirtbags will return to terrorism once freed, which they will certainly do.  But for Gilad Shalit rescue meant that a nationally cherished Israel soldier was allowed to return home to his family and friends, eat some good food, and sleep in his own bed again.  For Bowe Bergdahl it means…what exactly?  He is clearly unbalanced and in need of psychiatric attention.  What kind of person walks right off an army base in a foreign country without authorization, and without his weapon or uniform?  Either a deserter or a madman.  Bergdahl was apparently one or both of those long before his time with the Taliban.

But for President Obama, this seems to be a great moment of brazen ideology.  It is as if this administration deliberately seeks out ways in which it can make the USA look bad.

Along with this trade, Obama is pulling America out of Afghanistan with no exit treaty, but that doesn’t seem to matter to him because he’d rather this whole misadventure called the War on Terror just go away.  Thus Bergdahl gets rescued, and as a bonus, some of the top Gitmo detainees are free to walk out the door.  Obama gets a double victory: A poke in the eye of George W. Bush for getting us into a war that Obama didn’t have the heart to fight in the first place, and a slow closing of Gitmo, that great symbol of American brutality and arrogance.

But there’s even more than that.  Krauthammer rightly pointed out that Benjamin Netanyahu is the toughest guy currently running a country in the world today.  Netanyahu’s credibility is unquestionable.  Known by all who love him as Bibi, he was a team leader in Sayeret Matkal, an elite special forces unit in the IDF.  His older brother Yonatan was killed in a hostage rescue mission in Uganda.  He served in the Yom Kippur War, is a decorated soldier, and has been elected prime minister of Israel twice.  If there is anyone who has the spine – and accumulated wisdom – to orchestrate a prisoner swap of 1 to 1000, it is Netanyahu alone.  And unlike Obama, he is also extremely popular both in Israel and America.

Obama, on the other hand, is none of those things.  He has a laundry list of failures: He has cluelessly endorsed a plan to return Israel to pre-1967 borders and now recognizes the Hamas unity government.  He has reneged on American responsibilities around the world, starting with Poland and the Czech Republic and the withdrawal of our commitment to supply those countries with a missile defense shield to ward of Russia.  And what is the result?  Russia takes Crimea, the nest egg of Ukraine.

Obama has also allowed his own tough talk to be an embarrassment as Syria has used chemical weapons against civilians and children, after which it thumbed its nose at the west by holding “elections” – to use the term extremely loosely – in which the dictator Bashar Assad was reelected with a farcical 88% margin of victory.

Obama blames his every failure on Bush and claims every stroke of luck that occurs on his watch as his own personal success. It is no wonder he has a case of Netanyahu-envy.

But Bowe Bergdahl is no Gilad Shalit, America is not Israel, and Obama is certainly no Netanyahu.  Perhaps if America were trying to stave off an impending invasion by trading land for peace, then there might be some comparison.  Or maybe if there were an overwhelming outcry throughout the country for the return of Bergdahl, as there was for Shalit, then there might be a comparison.  Or perhaps if America was less than the strongest free country in the history of the world with a reputation to uphold, then there might be a comparison.  But no, Obama is tone-deaf to that sort of talk and reasoning.  America is just one more country in the world, nothing special, and certainly not above negotiating with a newly rejuvenated Taliban.  And why should Obama be obligated to consult with Congress about a swap like this anyway?  After all, kings don’t stoop to such things, and this is yet another teachable moment for the kids!

So it is actually a multiple win for Obama: He sticks it to Congress, insults the notion of a War on Terror, inches closer to shutting down Gitmo, and matches Netanyahu.  This last item has to feel satisfying to him.  If he cannot force the Israelis to play his game, if they are stubborn and determined to stand their ground despite his wishes, then at least this outgoing lame duck of a president can add another notch to his legacy belt and hold himself up against Netanyahu’s leadership.  He wins.

Now he can leave the Whitehouse with satisfaction.  Not only has he rescued his own “Gilad Shalit,” making himself the moral equivalent of Netanyahu and the Israelis, but he can head out and join the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement like any self-respecting liberal college professor should.

Not a bad move when you live in Wonderland.