Prisoners of War

I am happy to know that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who has been the only US prisoner of war in Afghanistan for the past five years, is back in the hands of the United States armed forces. I’m glad that he will be returned to his relieved parents after he has recovered from his long imprisonment.

I am, however, dismayed by the people who are saying that he should not have been exchanged for five prisoners that the US had been holding in Guantanamo. Exchanging prisoners of war is a long-standing practice, especially near the end of the war, which is approaching quickly from the perspective of US involvement. The problem is that, due to the machinations of President George W. Bush’s administration, many people do not consider these five men as prisoners of war, instead categorizing them as”detainees” or “enemy combatants.” In this way, they have skirted international law about how prisoners of war are to be treated and blocked moves to release them or even bring them to trial. This shameful behavior has to stop. Prisoners of war have to be called prisoners of war and justly treated as such, in accord with international treaties to which the US is a signatory. Congress, having authorized the president to conduct the war, should not intervene as they have been doing in what is essentially a military matter to be handled by the chain of command up to the commander-in-chief.

The other issue that critics are lamenting is that the United States negotiated with terrorists. However, the exchange was negotiated through a third party, the government of Qatar. The US did not directly negotiate with the Taliban. The US did not release the prisoners to the Taliban. Again, we have a problem with words and with history. The war in Afghanistan was fought against the Taliban, which was the ruling party at the time, because they were sheltering Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda was the terrorist organization against which the US-led coalition was fighting; the Taliban was the ruling party of the country in which many Al-Qaeda members were hiding. The Taliban who became US prisoners were fighting for the government of Afghanistan; while it fits the narrative of critics of the current administration to portray them as terrorists now, it doesn’t fit the fact that these five men were part of the ruling government of Afghanistan, which should make them prisoners of war. Although the Taliban no longer rules Afghanistan, it doesn’t change the fact that they once did.

I am sorry that some people are marring what should be a time of relief and joy for Bowe’s family, his hometown in Idaho, and the country. It’s time for all of us in the United States to pull together and help heal the wounds of war. We owe it to those who have been deployed so long and so many times to celebrate their service to our country and find peace back home.

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

7 thoughts on “Prisoners of War”

    1. Definitely complicated. I’m sure we will be continuing to hear more on the topic. Let’s hope for reasoned debate and accurate reporting, not political posturing.

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  1. I’m so happy for his family. I was amazed to learn he was still alive. That was wonderful news. My husband has fought in the War on Terrorism three times– a total of 2 3/4 years that we sacrificed our family life for the good of our country. Just yesterday I was explaining what happened on 9/11 to my little boys. They had no idea and yet that day has changed their entire life. There was a whole year they didn’t see their daddy, but of course, we are proud of his service. If we at least put a significant dent in the stronghold of terrorism, then it was worth it.

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    1. Thank you for the service and sacrifice of your family. There has certainly been a “significant dent” made. I hope that your husband will be able to be stay close to your family now, instead of being deployed to an area where you and your sons can’t follow.

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