Commentary about the prisoner-swap negotiated between the United States and the Taliban of Afghanistan has already devolved into the type of bumper-sticker debate that emerges in the era of 140-character analysis on Twitter.On one side, those who condemn the Obama administration for “negotiating with terrorists.” (28 characters.) On the other, those who praise it for making sure that “no soldier gets left behind on the battlefield.” (47 characters.)As usual, reality is more complex. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier held by the Taliban for five years.In other words, it had many of the features of a real government.
“This will be a different kind of conflict against a different kind of enemy,” he said in a radio address on September 15, 2001.After all, Bergdahl did not have a GPS device attached to him, and the military’s efforts at finding him in the past had failed. What, exactly, could the military have done that hadn’t already been tried?There is no question that, by insisting that the United States should never negotiate with a particular type of enemy holding American soldiers, the government would be abandoning the commitment implied by the Soldier’s Creed.This is why, even after Staff Sergeant Keith Matt Maupin was believed to have been killed sometime after his capture in Baghdad, soldiers continued putting their lives at risk while searching for him; his remains were eventually discovered after four years.The concept of bringing home American soldiers is deemed so important that the military maintains a unit known as the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is charged with identifying the remains of missing soldiers and getting them back to the United States.