Obama’s detachment from reality
Of the many skills that President Barack Obama posseses, self-awareness is not apparently one.
Witness the latest round of damage control from the White House, this time over its controversial swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five of the filthiest thugs in the realm of al-Qaida.
The swap has quickly evolved from a tale of heart-rending presidential leadership to full-fledged Washington scandal as more information has made its way into the public light.
It has been said that human life is priceless. Thanks to the Obama-orchestrated prisoner swap, however, we now can assess its value in relative terms at least.
One American soldier equals five jihadist murderers, at least to the authors of this prisoner swap.
Five for one? To the list of skills that the president and his men lack, add this one – the ability to negotiate.
Making the proposition more dubious, Bergdahl, it increasingly appears, was captured by enemy fighters only after deserting his post as an act of rebellion against an America he grew to revile. The soldiers who served alongside Bergdahl have been the harshest critics of the Taliban deal. Their sharp words triggered the political stampede.
The Rose Garden ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents didn’t help matters much. Any wagers on whether or not the White House would like to call “do over” on that one?
Thanks be to Allah, Mr. Bergdahl? No, you clown. Thanks be to the men who followed the president’s instructions and put their life on the line to execute the deal and bring your son home. Thanks be to the six American soldiers who died trying to locate your son when he first, allegedly, fled his post.
I’m pretty sure Allah wasn’t in on this one.
The more important criticism of the deal has centered on the national security risks associated with cutting loose five of the most dangerous men in global jihad. The president insists that Qatar, intermediary in the deal between the administration and the Taliban, will ensure that the five radical warriors don’t return to the battlefield.
“Obama said he received assurances from Qatar’s government that it would restrict the future movements by these detainees, who have been involved in terrorist operations,” USA Today reported.
This, too, is spurious in the extreme.
Think on this from the Atlantic Monthly during the president’s first term:
“On Sunday, WikiLeaks revealed a State Department cable last December that labeled Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich Gulf nation, as the Middle East’s ‘worst’ participant in counterterrorism efforts, the New York Times reports. According to the cable, Qatari security was ‘hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals.’”
Even if you think that a five-for-one swap in favor of the Taliban was a good deal, and even if you think that the release of an alleged deserter is worth the national security risks associated with negotiating with terrorists, on what planet does the “last place” team in the Middle Eastern Conference counterterrorism standings constitute a good-faith enforcer of the agreement?
Why only planet Obama, of course.
If the touchstone of the Reagan foreign policy was “peace through strength” and “trust but verify,” the current administration’s approach might be better described as “peace through weak” and, in this case at least, “just trust Qatar.”
No wonder Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton are going out of their way to let it be known that they were opposed to the prisoner swap during their time in the administration.
Which brings us back to the lack of self-awareness the president and his men are exhibiting as they try to spin away political outrage.
According to Politico, “The White House has been surprised by how much attention has remained on the questions about Bergdahl ... All this, Obama aides say, is in their minds a proxy for the hatred toward the president.”
When you read statements like this, it becomes clear that the walls of the White House are closing in on the administration. This swap is highly worrisome at best, and outrageously foolish at worst. For the White House to pretend that is not the case suggests a level of detachment from reality that is worse than any of us could’ve known.
Josh Penry is a former minority leader in the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.