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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Jani Bergdahl, mother of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, reacts as President Barack Obama speaks about the release of her son, during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Saturday, May 31, 2014. Bergdahl, 28, had been held prisoner by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. He was handed over to U.S. special forces by the Taliban in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees held by the United States. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A lot of punditry over one soldier ...

What people don’t get about POW’s release — Fred Kaplan | Slate

" ... Many columnists and congressmen make a big point that America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. Well, sometimes America does, but the key thing here is that the Taliban delegates, with whom U.S. officials have been negotiating in Qatar over the fate of Sgt. Bergdahl, are not terrorists. They represent a political faction and a military force in Afghanistan; they are combatants in a war that the United States is fighting. In other words, Bergdahl was not a "hostage" (another erroneous term uttered by Rogers). He was a prisoner of war, and what happened on May 31 was an exchange of POWs. ..."

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Obama desperate to call something a victory — Rich Lowry | The National Review

" ... Let Bergdahl’s parents and friends rejoice and his hometown in Idaho welcome him with open arms. But let’s not pretend that his return is some national triumph. ..."

Getting out of the Taliban-fighting business — Joshua Keating | Slate

" ... If all goes according to plan, by the time these five can get back to Afghanistan, they won’t pose much of a threat to U.S. troops because there won’t be that many U.S. troops there for them to fight. ..."

Freedom for Sgt. Bergdahl, at a price — New York Times Editorial

" ... Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel distinguished between negotiating with terrorists and retrieving prisoners of war from enemy hands. Hagel has a point in a murky world where enemies are increasingly nonstate actors. Other countries, including Israel, exchange prisoners. But Obama’s decision is likely to make it harder for the United States to implore other countries not to negotiate with terrorists in the future. ..."

It’s time to focus on Bergdahl’s freedom — Robert Ehlert | The Idaho Statesman

" ... Though our posture at times has been to never negotiate with terrorists or the enemy, that is a black and white rule that ignores all the gray reality smothering and shrouding the bitter truths of war. Does such negotiation make Americans higher targets as hostages? That is a What-If world. Bergdahl was a captive in this world. ..."

Leave no soldier behind — Kansas City Star Editorial

" ... There are upsides in this episode, and on balance they outweigh the negatives. An American POW is on his way home, and the full story of the Bergdahl enigma will eventually be known. Also, contrary to Republican fears of Taliban blowback, there could be long-term positive consequences for U.S. relations as Afghanistan lumbers toward its difficult future on its own."

The noxious, necessary deal with the Taliban — Chicago Tribune Editorial

"The choice facing President Barack Obama with respect to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was terribly unappetizing. He could leave an American soldier at the mercy of his Taliban captors, who had held him for five years. Or he could give up five Taliban inmates confined at Guantanamo Bay. In the end, Obama decided the first option was even worse than the second. ..."



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