consensus

The Bergdahl Consensus

Silly blog title, isn’t it? There is obviously no consensus opinion on the prisoner swap whatsoever. Or, that seems to be the case, anyway.

In fact, the usual theatrics revolving around the trade seem to piss people off on their own. Those people need to remember what country they live in: everything here is a circus, especially the politics. We care about entertainment more than any other value, at least, we do if pleasure is categorized as a form of entertainment. Is the feel-good activity of self-righteous bullshitting possible to lump in with masturbation and eating Chicago-style pizza? Sure, just without the wholesomeness.

But there seems to be less energy here than on other issues. To state the obvious, I agree with Mr. Faith at Vice.com, in that article above, except that – for possibly the first time ever – he’s putting more stock in political team-backing and not enough in the simple gut reaction of everyone who’s been paying attention. Halfway intelligent foreign policy moves don’t generate this kind of heat from the right, nor this kind of timidity from the left. There’s something unusual about this one.

So let’s list off the important features. Bowe Bergdahl was, by all accounts, a terrible soldier with the judgment of a retarded gerbil, and we need not discuss the soldiers killed searching for him to verify it. The five detainees were probably dangerous and might very well go back to their vocational calling now that they’ve been released. Does that matter? Since we lack the balls to make any real decision on what to do with them – won’t kill them, won’t try them, won’t throw away the key to their cell, and won’t release them scott free – the answer is largely no, at least not as much of a difference as the right wing says. But it’s bad enough to admit that the main thing keeping the logic of a trade intact is your own inability to decide things. In any case, the basic probabilities of the trade seem to point towards Bergdahl’s release likely getting a soldier killed by one of the five released detainees, thus making for a mathematically hideous trade: one sped for at least one soldier who might not be a sped.

Added to this basic situation is the additional issue of legitimacy. The United States is now negotiating with the Taliban as if it was an empowered institution, one which might have a claim to authority in the country we currently occupy. Vice didn’t seem to want to talk about that as if it mattered, and neither do a lot of other media outlets.

And of course, the rhetoric about bringing home troops looks like political spin, since civilians have been left to rot in Afghanistan and no one is really happy about the entire deal. For once, empathy for the foolish didn’t get the best of America.

So while we might have some disagreements here, I don’t really think anyone thought this was a great trade, including those on the left. They defend the sentiment, but it’s obviously a defensive posture; I’ve heard and read very few people defend the trade on clearly rational terms. In fact, I’d say we can make a consensus out of it. Unity at last! What did this united America say when news of the Bergdahl trade hit the airwaves? Simple. America said:

 

“Well, that was fucking stupid.”

 

Anyway, I’m not fully back into writing yet, I just threw this together before going off the radar for a week or so. It’s been a good break, and it’s not over.