LOS ANGELES, June 30, 2013 — Another reminder that America is facing a global war on terror comes in the person of Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho. On June 30th, 2009, Private First Class Bergdahl (since promoted to Sergeant) disappeared in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. Since then, he has been held captive by the Taliban. This is the same Taliban the Obama administration is considering removing from the list of terrorist organizations.
The Taliban initially held Bergdahl for a $1 million ransom and demanded the release of 21 Afghani prisoners. Those demands were not met, and the Taliban backed down from threats to execute him. Exactly four years after his capture, the Taliban has offered to release Bergdahl in exchange for five radical Islamist terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay.
At an event in Idaho in 2010, the Bergdahls gave attendees yellow rubber bracelets with their son’s name on it. The entire room fought back tears listening to Bowe’s father Bob Berghdahl describe the pain he and his wife Jani are going through waiting for their son to come home.
Yet it is with the deepest sadness possible that some people in that room have views on the Bergdahl situation which will disappoint his parents. There is nothing left for those people to do but ask for forgiveness in advance. The right thing for the Bergdahl’s is to have their son safe and sound. A deal is on the table. Yet their son swore an oath to protect America. The right thing for America is for our leaders to bang their collective fists on the table and yell, “No deal!”
The Taliban have kept reducing their demands. America should make a counter-offer. If the Taliban harm one hair on Bowe Bergdahl’s head, America should end their way of life. Collateral damage should not even be a consideration. The Reagan administration provides a guide.
Iran held American hostages for 444 days because they knew Jimmy Carter was too weak to stop them. The hostages were freed the day President Ronald Reagan took the oath of office. They knew he was serious, and acted accordingly. This was Reagan at his finest. Yet even the Gipper had his low point. In 1986, The Iran-Contra scandal nearly brought down his presidency. America did negotiate with terrorists, and paid a heavy price for it.
President George W. Bush waged an aggressive war on terror after 9/11, and the Taliban was crushed. Yet now the revitalized Taliban has calculated, rightly or wrongly, that President Barack Obama will give in to their demands. This must not happen.
Another guide would be the nation of Israel. Arab terrorists from Hamas to Hezbollah kidnap Israeli soldiers. They then ransom one soldier, sometimes alive, sometimes dead, for up to one thousand Palestinian terrorists. In 2006, Israel gave in to the blackmail. Kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit came home. The freed terrorists returned to the battlefield and their Jihadist commitment to the destruction of Israel.
Israel’s desire to save a life has already resulted in the deaths of many more innocent Israelis. America cannot go down that self-destructive path.
As former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton observes, this entire situation involves bad and worse options. The worst option is emboldening enemies sworn to our annihilation. The moment such a ransom is paid, the next round of kidnappings will be plotted.
If this administration is not willing to crush terrorists who kidnap American citizens, then voters can find leaders who will. The kidnappings will stop when the price of doing so outweighs the benefits.
President Obama has used predator drones to kill terrorists. He should remind the Taliban of this as quickly as possible. The only acceptable counter-offer should be a message backed up by the credible use of force.
Return Bowe Bergdahl to his parents, or else. Period.
May the Bergdahls one day forgive anyone agreeing with this column.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
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