LYONS: Presidential appeasement

Trading terrorists, and common sense, for a deserter

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Just a few days after memorializing the lives of our lost heroes, President Obama made a shocking announcement that he was releasing five hard-core Taliban terrorist leaders in exchange for the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an Army deserter.

Susan Rice, of Benghazi “talking points” fame, described Sgt. Bergdahl almost as if he were a returning hero and thanked him for his honorable service. What nonsense. Customarily, “no one left behind” only applies to honorable men, but for Team Obama, it didn’t apply to those who fought for their lives on a rooftop in Benghazi. According to numerous reports from his fellow soldiers, not only did Sgt. Bergdahl desert his post, he may have provided valuable information to the Taliban, as attacks on his fellow soldiers significantly increased after his defection. I am sure that none of these fellow soldiers will be lining the streets of his hometown to welcome his return. My own view is that he should be sent to Fort Leavenworth and held in custody until trial by court martial.

Compounding his potential acts of treason, at least six and possibly more good American servicemen lost their lives looking for him. We need to know what the position of the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was on releasing these hard-core terrorists, who most certainly will return to the battlefield to kill more Americans, or worse. After all, they are very senior Taliban.

As Americans, we cannot ignore this senseless act by our president for his own political expedience. It is no wonder the United States is becoming irrelevant in world affairs and is so contemptuously dismissed by the likes of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and the corrupt Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who refused to meet with Mr. Obama on his surprise Memorial Day visit to our troops.

With the Middle East in total turmoil plus aggressive action by Russia in Ukraine and China looking to expand its reach in the South China Sea and East China Sea, the continued unilateral disarmament of our military forces makes absolutely no sense. At the same time, Mr. Obama’s announcement that all U.S. forces will be out of Afghanistan by 2016 was welcome news to the Taliban, and certainly to the just released five hard-core terrorists.

In his recent speech at West Point, Mr. Obama, while reiterating his Afghan withdrawal plan, did not mention that our counterinsurgency-style war on terrorism has not worked. Declaring that we will only conduct strikes when there is “near certainty of no civilian casualties” may sound good in the faculty lounge, but it is used by our enemies to our net disadvantage. In that sense, no one should forget the tragic Resolution 17 mission, which cost the lives of 25 elite SEAL Team 6 warriors. Besides not using Special Warfare MH-47 helicopters, the restriction on not allowing suppression fire for fear of civilian casualties cost the largest loss of our special elite warriors in their history. Some experts think we should have been out of Afghanistan in six to nine months. Trying to impose democracy on a tribal society never should have been an objective. History will prove revealing.

To understand Mr. Obama’s release of the five terrorists, you have to go back to when he took office in 2009 and thought he could change the dynamics of the Middle East by engaging our enemies. In his 2009 Cairo outreach speech to the Muslim world, he stated he considered it part of his responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam. He signaled U.S. support for the Islamic uprisings. In effect, he dumped our allies in the global war on terrorism — and nobody even noticed. In Libya, we facilitated the arming of al Qaeda-affiliated militias, leading to the Benghazi tragedy. Our federal laws were violated.

The Obama administration, in implementing its new direction, totally embraced the Muslim Brotherhood even though its code is to destroy the United States from within by our own “miserable hands.” It must be understood that there is no difference between the objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. Any distinction lies only in the tactics they use to achieve their objectives: Destroy the United States and replace the Constitution with Shariah law. For years, the Muslim Brotherhood has been able to penetrate our national security agencies, and now it is institutionalized. It is the same type of penetration the communists were able to achieve in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s to influence our policies and operations.

We will never achieve our objectives in the war on terrorism until we accept the fact that it is Shariah law that fosters radical Islam. Such an ideology is totally incompatible with our Constitution and our concept of freedom. However, with his release of five hard-core terrorists, it is clear the president will continue to subvert our Constitution until Congress finds the courage to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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