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If you want to understand why it's the case that on the one hand, the U.S. public and the majority of Congress turned against the war in Afghanistan a long time ago, and yet on the other hand, it's been so hard to end the war, this week's warmonger media storm against the diplomatic rescue of U.S. prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been very instructive.

It's been known for years that a key step towards ending the war would be exchanging five Taliban prisoners of war at Guantanamo for the release of Sgt. Bergdahl.

There has never been any serious dispute of the case that this would be a key step towards ending the war. I challenge anyone to find a counter-example to my claim.

The political forces that are trashing the deal to rescue Sgt. Bergdahl are the same political forces that got us into the Iraq war. They are the same political forces who want to keep the Afghanistan war going indefinitely. They are the same political forces who want to keep the Guantanamo prison open indefinitely.

Again, I challenge anyone to provide a single counterexample of someone in Congress who voted against the Iraq war, or who has been a leader in trying to end the war in Afghanistan, or who has been a leader in trying to close the Guantanamo prison, who is now trashing the diplomatic deal to rescue Sgt. Bergdahl.

So, you might think, that if it's obvious that the prisoner exchange was a key step towards ending the war, then the majority of the population who have long been telling pollsters that they think the Afghanistan war should end would see this as a slam-dunk: exchange the prisoners and end the war. And therefore, the prisoner exchange should have been relatively uncontroversial.

Recall that when the last U.S. soldiers left Iraq in 2011, there was an attempt by Republican warmongers to stoke public outrage. It went over like a lead balloon. The public was done with the war, and wanted the soldiers to come home.

But that's not how it has played out in this case - at least, that is not how it has played out so far.

Instead, there's been a warmonger media storm, that has confused a lot of Americans about the essential fact that this is a key, necessary step towards ending the war - the result that the majority of Americans have long said that they want.

I know this from my own personal correspondence. Just Foreign Policy put up a petition at MoveOn backing the diplomatic deal to rescue Bergdahl. So far, there are about 14,000 signatures on the petition. For comparison, a recent petition we did backing Rep. Peter Welch's letter urging President Obama to resist pressure to transfer manpads to Syrian insurgents also got about 14,000 signatures. So, among our core base of people who support diplomacy and want to prevent more war, our level of support has been about the same.

What's different is my correspondence. I'm getting a fair bit of hate mail from people claiming that Bergdahl is a "traitor" (not true, as far as we know) or that he caused the deaths of U.S. soldiers (also not true, as far as we know.) Some of these people write things like, "I want to end the war and close Guantanamo too, but..."

Here's the good news: we can turn this around. I got similar hate mail a year ago, when we pushed back on the media storm that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a "traitor." (Isn't it sad how glibly some people throw that word around?) Today, the climate has decisively changed. There are certainly still people who bash Edward Snowden, but you don't find people today saying, "I want to end NSA blanket surveillance, but Edward Snowden is a traitor."

Similarly, I predict, we can now get people who want to end the war in Afghanistan and to close the Guantanamo prison to understand and accept that this is a necessary step towards doing so, and to stop repeating Fox News talking points. Sooner rather than later, people who want to end the war will understand that trashing the diplomatic deal to free Sgt. Bergdahl is a Republican warmonger thing. And when we can confine trashing diplomacy to end the war to the Republican warmongers - as trashing diplomacy with Iran was confined to the Republican warmongers - such trashing will become harmless, and ending the war can proceed.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went to the Senate floor and gave a speech strongly defending the Administration's diplomacy to rescue Sgt. Bergdahl and denouncing Republican critics as hypocrites. If we can get enough Democrats to #StandWithReid, we can close the prison and end the war.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.

6:36 PM PT: Key development:
Senator (King): Officials Had Reason To Believe Bergdahl May Have Been Killed Had Deal Been Leaked


I support President Obama's use of diplomacy to rescue Sgt. Bergdahl.

91%45 votes
8%4 votes

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great diary, thanks! n/t (3+ / 0-)

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:55:06 PM PDT

  •  Where has everyone been the last five plus years. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert Naiman

    Now because of a prisoner that they could have got out five years ago, everybody is antiwar.  Yay.
    It doesn't work when it's not real.

    "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:02:35 PM PDT

    •  I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This could have happened long ago, and it should have.

      But the blowback now is showing why it didn't happen before.

      •  Truthfully, I'm glad the kid is coming home. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler

        But I'm not happy about how this is being painted, with Obama making people "proud", when he's the one who advanced this war in the first place. He's the one who assassinates people with drones.  He started a proxy war in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, or at least it happened on his watch.  And now people want to give him credit for saving this kid by "diplomacy" and paving a way to close GB and end the Afghan war.  
        I'm not buying that.  I'm looking at it from a different angle than the right/left one being forced on his by our political theatrical company.  I'm wondering what they're really up to because everything they do is to advance the imperial agenda. People get sidetracked and think everything is going to be OK.  It's not.

        "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:15:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  re: truthfully (0+ / 0-)

          I empathize with your frustration, but I don't think it's accurate or helpful to see Obama as all one thing or all the other, nor the Empire as monolithic. I don't think that helps understand what's going on or helps people to fruitfully intervene. You can always say that whatever happens is in the interests of the Empire. They start a war, they end a war, it's all in the interests of the Empire. And, in some sense, that's true.

          But some things are more in the interests of a kill-more-people version of the Empire, and some things are more in the interests of a kill-fewer-people version of the Empire, and the way that members of the public who want to kill fewer people have influence is that they ally with the faction that wants to kill fewer people at a particular juncture, regardless of the motivations of the faction that wants to kill fewer people.

          Right now Obama is trying to end the war, and some Republicans are trying to keep it going, and so I don't have a shred of qualm (is that legal English?) against allying with Obama against the Republicans on this, even as I struggle against Obama on other fronts (e.g. the drone strike policy.)

          And, in general, I think the dynamics here show why even in struggling against Obama on the things where he is clearly bad, like the drone strike policy, one has to take these dynamics into account - a big part of why he is bad on the drone strike policy is the climate that he is facing that is evidenced in the warmonger media storm against the deal to rescue Bergdahl. This is submerged when we say that "Obama is doing the drone strikes." Of course he is doing the drone strikes, he is responsible for that. But there is a tremendous pushback on efforts to reform the drone strike policy coming from the same people who are now pushing back against the Bergdahl deal. And reforming the drone strike policy requires defeating these forces, not just trashing Obama.

          I'm not saying that one should hold back on criticism of Obama on that front; only that portraying the situation as all about Obama being bad is not going to help us win in terms of killing fewer people.

          Everything is not going to be ok. But this deal is definitely in the direction of making things better. I have been advocating for this for a long time; it's not like I'm in favor of this because Obama is doing it; I was in favor of it for a long time before Obama did it. Consistency requires that I strongly defend Obama when he gets major flak for doing the thing that I have long called on him to do.


  •  Do they really think we can leave human beings (4+ / 0-)

    in limbo in Cuba forever? Someone needs to make them say it.

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:04:56 PM PDT

  •  commander in chief can end it when he wants to (0+ / 0-)

    Congress can authorize war but cannot refuse to end it.

    The winning side (and I'm talking about the Presidential election) does not need to fear doing the right thing because the losers object...else what's the point of winning that election?

    Dear NSA: I am only joking.

    by Shahryar on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:14:16 PM PDT

    •  So, you think the NDAA's provision for notice (0+ / 0-)

      is not constitutional?

      I wonder if that is the President's position.  If so, what is his justification for signing it?

      •  He addressed that in his (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        signing statement, January 3, 2013:

        Section 1028 fundamentally maintains the unwarranted restrictions on the executive branch's authority to transfer detainees to a foreign country. This provision hinders the Executive's ability to carry out its military, national security, and foreign relations activities and would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. The executive branch must have the flexibility to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers. The Congress designed these sections, and has here renewed them once more, in order to foreclose my ability to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. I continue to believe that operating the facility weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies, and strengthening our enemies. My Administration will interpret these provisions as consistent with existing and future determinations by the agencies of the Executive responsible for detainee transfers. And, in the event that these statutory restrictions operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my Administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict.
            Whatever you think of signing statements, he's used them just as prior presidents did.

        -7.25, -6.26

        We are men of action; lies do not become us.

        by ER Doc on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 04:31:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Seems to be too much group think here (0+ / 0-)

    Whether or not the solider was a good soldier or not is beside the point if the POTUS broke the law and if swapping prisoners is good policy.

    Is your position that the 30 day notice in the NDDA is unconstitutional, that it didn't apply in this situation, or something else?

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