In a new piece on Lawfare, Benjamin Wittes shares his thoughts on the deal that secured the release of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban prisoners, freed from Guantanamo Bay prison.
“Was it the right move?” he asks.
I don’t know. I certainly don’t think, as Marty Lederman put it on Saturday, that it is “truly wonderful news.” Ask me in a couple of years whether it was a good idea—when we know if any constructive dialog with the Taliban developed out of these contacts, when we know how the US draw-down in Afghanistan went, when we know whether and how the released detainees reengaged with the fight, and when we know exactly what the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance really were. The people who did this deal didn’t have the luxury of remaining agnostic about its merits that long. I will not criticize them.
At the end of the day, as we all know thorny national security issues don’t just involve the military; political-military considerations invariably bleed into them. If the senior military’s leadership views are going to be just constrained to military advice … who is thinking about issues from that broader perspective?