The news of the repatriation of Mister Bergdahl for the price of however many innocents those 5 released terrorists will kill hit the airwaves and intertubes pretty hard yesterday. It caused me some reflection that bordered on, but did not cross into, despair. But first, the anger.
On the basis of what I've read, heard and generally learned I'm convinced that Mister Bergdahl is at best a deserter and possibly a traitor. The final evidence is still to come out but for the nonce I am disinclined to give him any benefit of the doubt. Go visit This Ain't Hell for more. They're doing bang up work. BTW, I refuse to give him a rank nor refer to him in any way as a member of the American Armed forces until he explains his actions 5 years ago and what he's been doing in that time. The President freed 5 pretty hard core jihadis to bring that person home and initial indications are that he did it in violation of current law that requires him to notify Congress 30 days prior to the exchange taking place. None of that is a surprise. The President is working pretty hard to destroy the military and has done a fair job to this point. But that's nothing new either, is it?
I entered the military service of my country in March 1977. That was a bare few months after Jimmy Carter took office. I remember those years very well. The Army was in the process of a little self destruction in the wake of Vietnam and our disastrous decision to end it on an ignominious note. Basically the politicians spit on the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of our men and women who gave so much when asked and then were denied the honor and fidelity their courage had earned. No wonder that the Army started to come apart at the seams. Morale was low, leadership virtually non-existent. Virtually, not completely. There was still a core of dedicated officers and NCOs who managed to hold things together and were the seed upon which Reagen grew our modern military. The very ones who have steadily kicked ass and taken names everywhere so tasked.
But under the current political leadership we're seeing more of the same. We left Iraq to it's own devices only to see it backslide into massive sectarian violence and an unsettling relationship with Iran. We're about to do in Afghanistan just about what we did in Vietnam in 1975; leave with our tails firmly tucked between our legs. There (probably) won't be any dramatic, last minute helicopter flights full of refugees for the nightly news but anyone who thinks the Taliban won't be firmly back in control about 5 minutes after we leave isn't paying attention. I know we're leaving about 10,000 in country but all that does is open the door for an actual repeat of those infamous helicopter rides, a few more flag draped coffins and more veterans for the VA to fail.
Now, lest I be called hypocritical, I want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan but only because we've already screwed both of those pooches. Staying at this point is throwing away more precious American lives to no good result. The chance for a total victory is long past. The problem is those very lost opportunities and the men and women we've sacrificed, once again, on the altar of political expediency and failed foreign policy. And this Bergdahl mess is the cherry on top. Pay any price to get this person back but screw our veterans and the people we sacrificed in Libya.
We have refused to fight to win. We have demoted and run out of the military combat commanders who at the very least had their fingers on the answers. We have pushed our combat veterans and wounded warriors aside and relegated them to second class status. The bureaucracy sustains itself at the cost of the very lives of our best and brightest. Veterans and their supporters are incensed at their treatment by the VA and this administration answers that outrage by trading enemy combatants for a questionable soldier? What message is being sent here? That's easy. It's the same one Jimmy Carter sent. A view that every fascistic leftist in this country has always held.
Contempt. For the military, for the Constitution, for America. For anyone not of their political and cultural persuasion. I remember this country under Carter. I remember what the Army was like. I can sum it up with one word.
Despair. A feeling that everything we loved and honored was dead and gone. Kinda like right now. Our Vietnam veterans were treated deplorably once they came home. Fortunately that's not the case with our current returning vets, at least so far as public support is concerned. Led by those very same Vietnam Vets we have publicly hailed our returning heroes even if this administration has used them as political pawns to be given no more than lip service. Even that is starting to come apart as the true feelings of the far left in power come to the fore. Take a gander at Mister Bergdahl's father with the sitting President in the Rose Garden. If you can stomach it. I won't link to it.
But I also remember the feeling when Reagan was elected. I remember those officers and NCOs who kept the faith and were ready, willing and able when the call came. They formed the core of what became once again the finest military in the history of the world. I remember an administration that actually did the work of the American people and took the fight to the Soviets and won. I remember the rekindling of hope and the death of despair.
I remember the "Shining City On The Hill" speech and the stir it gave my soul. I remember the return of Americanism and the idea that we are a special breed, not to be found anywhere else in the world. I remember the return of pride and discipline to my beloved Army. I remember Poland and Walesa and freedom in the Eastern Bloc. I remember when the wall came down. I remember the abject defeat of our bitter enemy the Soviet Union.
I remember a robust economy and the end of gas lines. I remember Reagan's 'joke' about the bombing starting in 5 minutes and how our enemies were never really certain whether or not he was serious (I think he was). I remember a foreign policy that contained a lot more 'Thou Shalt Not' than 'Please Forgive Us'.
I remember God's sacrifice on the cross and his promise to always be with us. To never forsake all who believed. I know how all this ends (We win).
And the despair passes like a gentle breeze.
Surrender, however inevitable defeat may seem, is never the answer. Courage and tenacity are. Reagan beat Carter in the general election and then beat him again when he took America to new heights. He erased everything Carter had ever done and stamped 'Failed' all over his presidency. We can do the same. This President will not be in office forever. His term expires in little more than 2 years and we have mid term elections in a few months. There are signs that the GOP has heard us though whether or not that lasts beyond next November remains to be seen. At least there are a few among their numbers who can be counted as solidly in the corner of American exceptionalism. I have stated loudly that I am no longer Republican but that doesn't mean I'm not working actively to return them to our core values and thereby return myself to their fold. Maybe we can win at the ballot box and maybe we can't. I don't know. I do know that we cannot win a battle we refuse to fight.
I will take the mortal example of Reagan and the immortal one of Jesus to heart. I will keep my faith, I will never surrender to hopelessness or ennui, I will support and defend and I will smack the ever loving crap out of anyone who thinks that harsh language, fascism and political power trumps freedom, individualism and morality.
Courage, faith and hope. We owe them to those who proceed us.