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Lions for jackasses, pt. 2: Mike Rogers still angry that we brought home our POW

by: Eric B.

Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 09:52:54 AM EDT

 Two weeks ago, conservatives and various rightwingers were enraged that the president hadn't yet brought home Afghanistan war POW Bowe Bergdahl. As we all know, that all changed once the president did that. Now, they're enraged that he did. Mike Rogers, who quit Congress in part because he said he was sick of the partisanship, a week later continues to try to make a partisan issue out of it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're very clear. You've -- you've been very clear. You said you would never have made the trade.

But what about that bedrock principle of the soldier's creed, I will never leave a fallen comrade?

ROGERS: But the problem, George, is that hostilities haven't stopped. Normally, that's if the hostilities have stopped. There are other options. And this was what so angered for those of us who have followed this for years. This was not the only option that was available to...

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, folks.

The "soldier's creed" that we never leave a fallen comrade doesn't apply to just when hostilities have ended. Not to the soliders and not historically. Here is a quick, top-of-the-head list of people with whom we've conducted prisoner exchanges during active hostilities: The British during the Revolution, the North and South during the Civil War, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon during the 1980s, Somalia, Iraq and previously in Afghanistan. The last three, by the way, were with people we branded as terrorists and the Vietcong were we to fight them today would no doubt be branded a terrorist organization by the likes of Mike Rogers on the Sunday morning shoutfests. The idea that we only try to get our people back at the end of hostilities is ahistorical and silly.

Also, this is Mike Rogers backseat mission planning done by people on the ground based on intelligence they have on hand. What other options were available to them? Obviously he's talking about a rescue mission. It would be great if someone asked Mike Rogers just how many American lives he would have been willing to sacrifice as an alternative to giving the Taliban its people back ... which we're going to have to once we leave (that is, unless we want to find ourselves in the company of powers that don't return POWs, a club that counts as its excellent members the North Koreans and Soviet Union ... given Rogers' position on the national security state however...). Anyway, you get the point ... Mike Rogers thinks that we should have risked American lives and expensive and critical military equipment rather than give the Taliban back a handful of its own.

Before we get ourselves out of the weeds on this, it's useful to reflect on just who we gave back. As usual, John McCain said they were five Hitlers. Has there ever been a prisoner exchange the last 20 years that John McCain hasn't been front and center in saying we gave the enemy back its Hitlers? Turns out that in this case, the gang of Hitlers are mostly middle aged political officials, some of whom were cooperating with us or had joined the Afghan government. It's the Taliban Drean Team, apparently if you're talking about old friends you visit with after washing down a Lunesta with a glass of bourbon.

Back during my first deployment in the service, we arrived in the Adriatic shortly after NATO had bombed the piss out of the Serbs to bring them to the table and hammer out the Dayton accords. During the air war, an F-16 was shot down by the Serbs and we sent in a rescue mission to get him back. The incident later inspired a terrible film starring John Hackman and Owen Wilson. When we arrived, the entire theater was still jacked up on testosterone over that, even more than all the bombs we dropped on bad guys. Why? Because of the idea that we never leave anyone behind and that we go in as soon as is possible and get them back. It wasn't just about honor, either. It was about morale and instilling in people the faith that not only were the other people in your unit behind you, but that the United States had made it a national priority to get you back as quickly and safely as was possible.

That priority, the last week, has been pissed down the drain. The people who a decade ago bellowed at everyone who opposed the Iraq War for not plastering the backs of their cars with magnetic decals that say "Support our Troops" this decade have made that support a very conditional thing. When I say that this is a national disgrace, you have no idea how big a one I mean.


Eric B. :: Lions for jackasses, pt. 2: Mike Rogers still angry that we brought home our POW
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Mike's just warming up the mike . . .
Establishing his brand for his talk radio stint. He's rough, tough, he wants fight and he can't get enough. He could have waited until he's off the public payroll before he does his promos, but he could be sure that no one else in media would call him on it.
He mention his Marine brother yet?  

Charles Pierce took a few swipes at Rogers this morning
From his Monday What Are the Gobshites Saying These Days? feature:

You may remember Mike. He's the one whose sense of civic duty is so profound that he's giving up one of the most important intelligence posts in the Congress to engage America's enemies in a more direct way...by being a radio talk-show host.

And this:

I'm sorry, but is Mike Rogers one of those Republicans who mysteriously slept through the 1980's?  One thing's for sure. He's got the drive-time patter down.

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

tradition is what you make of it
I don't like to use the word "conservative" to describe the pathetic remnant of white males who puff up the Republican Party.  A real conservative is defined in large part by his or her respect for history. This crowd is ahistorical in the worst way.  Most of them believe in a plastic, Disneyland version of history that can be shaped to support any argument they happen to want to make at any given time. E.g., America does not negotiate with terrorists not because America does not negotiate with terrorists, but instead because negotiating with terrorists is un-American.  America waits until the end of wars to exchange prisoners because American ground troops were gone from Vietnam when McCain came home and the Vietnamese prisoners weren't shown on television when they headed back north to start fighting again.

You forget that we also negotiated prisoner exchanges with the Nazis and Imperial Japan
As well as the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, to secure the release of Francis Gary Powers.

And back in the early 60s there were some who questioned whether Powers was just a downed U2 spy plane pilot who needed to be freed -- or a Communist collaborator.

But even his detractors never said he should be left to rot in a gulag.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison

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