We called her Hanoi Hanna. All she ever did was make us mad. Subsequently we brought the hammer down hard on the enemy.
The juxtaposition of conflicting propaganda is called the “fog of war.” The concept was introduced by the Prussian military genius, Carl von Clausewitz in his book titled, “On War.” He wrote, “War is an area of uncertainty; three quarters of the things on which all action in war is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty.”
My thoughts turn to the events surrounding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban and recently exchanged for five hardened terrorists incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have repercussions for the rest of our forces and all Americans by giving terrorists a strong incentive to capture Americans. Is this an essential alteration of American policy that will threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come? It took years to solidify the resolve, never to negotiate with terrorists. It appears we are back to the starting point. Where’s the wisdom in releasing men who are likely to continue to prosecute violence on American soldiers and American interests?
The fog of war was never more evident than it is today. There is a strong rationale that trading Bergdahl for the terrorists was the only logical moral alternative. We did deliver on our solemn vow to our men and women in uniform to bring all Americans home. I am happy for Bergdahl and his family that he is home. Whether or not he deserted his unit, all Americans should come home. President Obama has asserted that Qatar will assure the five terrorists will not be a threat to American interests. I have no faith in that agreement.
I find it ironic listening to the political talking points on bringing home the last American soldier when, after the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, we left Vietnam and did not demand a full accounting of American prisoners of war.
Obama’s contention that releasing the five terrorists will open the door for peace in Afghanistan is absurd. The world is a dangerous place; consequently it has been a disastrous year for Obama’s liberal world order. Not since the end of the Cold War have so many crises erupted in so many places: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s relentless push in the East and South China seas, and the surge in jihadist violence and terror from Boko Haram in Nigeria to the religious war that now engulfs Syria and Iraq. This is not what Americans thought the world would look like in the third decade since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
My confusion doesn’t subside relative to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Did the Taliban get the better part of the deal? According to the Wall Street Journal, there were five Americans killed or wounded attempting to find and rescue Bergdahl. I hope he will be worthy of the sacrifices made to bring him back and worthy of future American deaths who will die at the hands of the released prisoners.
The fog of war is dark and dense. Uncertainty! Thus, I understand Carl von Clausewitz’s contention, “The first thing needed is a fine, piercing mind, to feel out the truth with the measure of its judgment.”
I am doubtful that our leaders have that acuity of thought.
--JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a retired professor of education and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at doctorjoe.us.