Free Markets, Free People

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 06 Jun 14

This week, Michael, and Dale talk about Bowe Bergdahl and the economy.

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One Response to Observations: The QandO Podcast for 06 Jun 14

  • I have distilled down the strategic issues with the Bergdahl swap:
    1) How strong are the Taliban now? If they are not very strong, and not a true threat to Afghanistan, then the swap makes sense. If they are still a major danger it makes less sense. I heard on the radio that Afghanistan now has a 300,000 man army, and that the Taliban are simply no longer the threat they once were. Maybe we’re not up to date in weighing the true threat.
    2) Are we still in negotiation with the Taliban for a peace deal? If so, you can view the swap as negative – giving away bargaining chips, or positive as a confidence building mechanism. Note that Obama attempted this CBM strategy with Iran, and aren’t we supposed to be seeing some results soon? I notice its dropped off the media map.  If negotiations are not really going anywhere, then the swap makes more sense.
    3) US troops level. If we are going to be down to a small footprint, located in Kabul, where chances of attacks or kidnappings are pretty low, then the deal makes more sense. I mean, how many other soldiers have been captured in 13 years there? Not many. This is probably not for not trying.
    4) There are several other civilian captives. I think an effort should have been made to include at least some of them, especially given that the Taliban got to choose their choices. Perhaps that was attempted, or perhaps different groups held them. Still, Haqqani had to hand Bergdahl off to the Taliban, so this is not insurmountable.
    Mis-steps from the White House with this incident.
    1) The dad ‘s dress and behavior. Its a free country and I get where he may want to understand his son’s captors to gain their sympathy, but he raised some hackles. Now, that is actually not a big deal either, EXCEPT that our Islamist enemies might interpret this very differently. They may view this as evidence that they are winning the hearts and minds “See! We really can get them to convert and become part of a Global Caliphate!”  A lower key ceremony might have been in order.
    2) Susan Rice characterizing his service as “with distinction.” I have this feeling that the WH knows what they are doing when the sent her out. They want another Benghazi scandal where its not a clear cut scandal but muddled, and thus the Right looks like crazies.
    3) 30 days issue, and subsequent lies about that like “the Taliban would have killed him if this was leaked” when the Taliban told AP about this deal in December 2013.
    4) No consultation with Afghanistan. Maybe the new president coming in makes that less of an issue.
    I think the main issue has been the WH handling of the affair, not the actual trade. Par for the course, for them.
    Land mines:
    1) Bergdahl’s actual story will generate much more sympathy when all the details of his captivity come out.
    2) Alternatively, if he collaborated this looks worse. Bright side is you can now charge and punish him.
    3) Taliban 5 flout 1 year rule, or become part of a genuine increase in Taliban strength. If one of these guys machine guns a girl’s school in 2015, we will look pretty bad.
    4) More videos to drop. Everything from Taliban 5 claiming to be tortured to Bergdahl captivity videos.
    Overall, I think I have evolved to much greater acceptance of this deal, realizing that most of my grips revolve around the WH handling of it and not the deal itself.