Wednesday, June 11, 2014

E.J. Dionne: "Why The Rush To Rancor Over Bowe Bergdahl?"

Considering the Bowe Bergdahl controversy, E.J. Dionne recounts Republican flip-flops on his rescue, including that of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); the "rush to rancor" before all the facts are in, and the denial of responsibility to armed service members, a stance criticized by Gen. Stanley McChrystal:

...what’s truly astounding is how many Republicans raced to turn Obama’s commitment to bringing home a POW into an outrage. It tells us something that so many GOP politicians first tweeted warmly about the good news, only to take their tweets down and replace them with the party line that we never negotiate with terrorists, that Obama had endangered the nation, etc.

Four months ago, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he could support the kind of trade Obama made to get Bergdahl back. When it happened, McCain declared, “I would have not made this deal.” McCain is a national hero who spent more than five years in captivity during the Vietnam War. He may have let his unhappiness with Obama’s overall Afghanistan policy get the best of him.

And there is no defense for the rush to judgment on Bergdahl’s own behavior. Those who served with him and are angry with him because they believe he walked away from his base have every right to challenge what Bergdahl did and insist upon accountability. But why can’t commentators safe in their studios and offices have the decency to withhold their verdicts until all the facts are in? Bergdahl volunteered to fight for his country. This should at least earn him the chance to explain himself before the pundit mob descends.

...retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of our forces in Afghanistan...offered the sanest and most balanced take on this controversy I have heard.

“I think the key thing in a case like Sgt. Bergdahl’s is you first understand there’s a responsibility to our service members, and that’s very clear-cut and nobody should argue about that,” McChrystal said. “We know we have a responsibility to get them or their remains, and we go to great efforts to do that.

“And then, there’s a responsibility on individuals, service members, back toward their nation and their comrades, and we should demand that and we should check into that. But we as a nation, instead of politicizing something like this, we as a nation, should look at it and say: Okay, [it’s a] complex problem, how do we handle this in a way that brings us together? Because it actually makes us look weaker to our allies, it makes us look confused to our foes, and if we were very united on something like this and we just said: ‘America doesn’t leave its people but we do have a high standard,’ then I think we’d come out better.”

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