Taliban 5 for Bergdahl may be Obama’s brilliant chess move
He's playing by his Rules for Radicals
President Obama’s unilateral and dictatorial trade of the Taliban five for one US soldier who likely is a traitor was made with planning, forethought, and purpose, and might be the best chess move of his presidency—playing by his own rules.
Five years and two days ago, Barack Obama gave a speech at Cairo University, in which he elocuted his desired goals and ends for the United States and his presidency.
The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.
For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes — and, yes, religions — subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared. [emphasis mine]
As Dinesh D’Souza documented in 2016: Obama’s America, Obama is the creation of his own family and past; one in which colonialism is the world’s evil, radical change is the only solution, change itself is the only constant, and change is brought about by the sort of activism which recognized any means as the path to its ends.
Obama may be actually be a brilliant master of ends and means.
We are unlikely to see a more comprehensive and effective use of Saul Ailinsky’s Rules for Radicals, played at the national level by a President. Obama’s memorized Ailinsky’s playbook and is running it page by page—he’s been rehearsing these last five years his whole life. I mean, here we are, conservatives, who live by our code of integrity, faith, and goodwill; we consider Obama as a rogue, and finally he’s playing his endgame where the roguishness is visible to all.
But to Obama and his core supporters, he’s not a rogue. To them, he’s a principled man achieving what he set out to achieve. It’s all about ends and means. Not all ends are worth all means in the radical’s book, but some ends are worth any means to achieve them. From the day that Obama sought his first public office in the Illinois Senate, representing that sliver of east Cook County bordering Indiana, through his carefully planned Senate campaign, to his presidency, his means are fluid, but his ends are unshakeable.
Radical leftists don’t give thought to what the “enemy” thinks about what they say (Rule #12). They only think about what those they wish to convince to their cause believe. Ridicule is the only communication with the enemy (Rule #5). Look how Obama has shamed and cowed Boehner again and again. It’s like watching Lucy pull the football from Charlie Brown’s kicking foot—we know the outcome, and now Boehner doesn’t even want to try anymore.
By radical activist rules it’s perfectly logical for Obama to have traded five vicious Taliban terrorists for Bowe Bergdahl’s return.
America must be unexceptional and equal to other nations
There’s no terrorist nation in Obama’s book, only oppressed nations acting to throw off their oppressors. Obama inherited the war in Afghanistan and he intended to end it, but he knew he can’t end it and still convince the majority of Americans he’s acting in their best interests, so he did what radicals do: become pragmatic and wait for opportunity.
Obama also wanted to close Gitmo, and signed an Executive Order to do so two days after taking office. It’s never been off his plate since then.
America will deal with any nation from Obama’s perspective since we are equal in all respects. Prior commitments and public opinion guide his steps, but the conviction of American unexceptionalism remains unchanged.
Public opinion is irrelevant – it’s all about power
Rule #1: Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. Obama ignores public opinion polls for the most part. Unlike previous Democrat presidents like Bill Clinton, he has no desire to be liked. The adoration of his core supporters means power to him, people who will do what he needs done. Personal loyalty is earned by commitment to the cause, and that loyalty is just as easily lost.
Obama seeks fragmented consensus from groups who advance his ends. The press, entertainment figures, groups with political axes, gay and lesbian advocates, and racial special interests are all used to further his goals. These groups come in handy, and line up with Rule #3: whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. The enemy is conservatives, because we believe in American exceptionalism, God and the superiority of Judeo-Christian morality above others in the world.
Rule #4 is fun sport for Obama’s proxies like abortion advocates, race baiters, and gay/lesbian groups, “make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” The “book” in our case is the Holy Book, the Bible. They love to throw it at us, knowing that grace demands our failure to be perfect. They love to celebrate our need for grace in our imperfection, and deny its abundant supply. Rule #6 is “a good tactic is one your people enjoy” so that one gets a lot of mileage.
Obama could care less about the view from “flyover country”. Those whom he or his proxies can convince on the cause du jour are enough reward.
Never waste a crisis – it’s an opportunity
The need to act is important, but only when there’s an opportunity to advance the cause. When Putin’s shock troops snatched Crimea, Obama saw no opportunity—hey Russia is equal to us, and they’re just acting in their interests—so Obama played golf at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.
The day after our embassy in Benghazi was attacked, Obama was at a fundraiser. What really happened that night might gather dust next to the files the Warren Commission sealed 50 years ago. Hillary was right, in Obama’s eyes “what difference does it make?” Obama skipped more than half his intelligence briefings, preferring to read them like a magazine on his iPad. It’s just news to him, unimportant unless it advances his ends.
When does Obama act? When it suits his goals. Obamacare got his personal attention, because building a power base requires that the country’s economy be centrally controlled. Healthcare is one sixth of the economy, and government entitlement spending is another third. The combination of these two is almost unassailable by private business’ ability to influence our economic direction. Healthcare became a crisis, banking became a crisis, unemployment became a crisis, and housing became a crisis.
A real crisis, like the IRS scandal, is answered with ridicule: it’s a “phony scandal.” The press is mercilessly leveraged to echo the president’s talking points and pound away at conservatives. It’s Rule #8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” For five years, it’s been one point after another, one conservative overreaction after another, and it’s always Fox News, talk radio, and the conservative bloggers who are chasing phantoms and inventing conspiracies, according to Obama’s radical army.
The IRS, VA, and why the Bergdahl trade was made
Two actual crises in Obama’s world, real threats to his ability to reach his ends, are the IRS scandal and the VA scandal. Lois Lerner’s folly is a loose thread in the tight-knit fabric of Obama’s power quilt. Congress has been pulling at that thread for a year and it might lead to some embarrassing revelations about internal goings-on at the White House. That’s something Obama has never tolerated: his is the most aggressive administration since Nixon in controlling information and access to the press, and leakers are hunted and punished.
The VA scandal is the result of Obama’s negligence and failure to hold his own cabinet appointees accountable, except when it furthers his own ends. This one aspect of Obama’s rule is the seed of every policy failure and diplomatic debacle on his watch (or while he was sort-of watching). Unless there’s something Obama wants done to further his goal of global equality of nations, American unexceptionalism, the new age of coexistence and cooperation, he lets his cabinet alone to do as they please. This is not leadership or statesmanship or servanthood. It’s the actions of a man possessed by his convictions, and willing to use any means to achieve his ends.
Everything else gets lip-service.
When PFC Bergdahl walked away from his platoon in 2009, the military did everything they could to bring him back, and some men died in the search. Our government always knew he was with the Taliban, and suspected it was his choice to be there. Obama didn’t pay much attention to a single soldier in enemy hands. Since 2010, the Taliban’s demands had not changed.
Ever since talks for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl began in November 2010, Taliban representatives had a consistent message for the Obama administration. Their priority was freeing a group of Taliban leaders at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for the captive U.S. soldier.
When the topic of swapping Bergdahl for top Taliban leaders was discussed in Congress, little support was found for the deal as contemplated by the Taliban. There was no reason for this opinion to change now. Bergdahl’s life was always in danger while he was being held—why would he be in more danger today than he was four years ago? Perhaps the Taliban was getting tired of waiting, and Bergdahl’s usefulness was waining, and the war was about over, and other things, like retaking power in Afghanistan were more pressing than embarrassing America.
So why now? Why all of a sudden, surrounded in secrecy, the president, on his own authority, in violation of the law, ordered this terrible trade?
It could be the best chess move Obama has ever made. And the filthiest.
Dissuading the press and Congress from its interminable and inexorable march toward the truth in the IRS and VA scandals required something truly horrific and all-news-cycle-consuming. Short of an earthquake or other natural disaster (which I’m sure was somewhere kicked around at 1am by Obama’s close circle), Obama had to come up with something shiny, and do it fast.
The shiny turned out to be the Bergdahl trade. Obama did it knowing Bergdahl was probably (and possibly knowing with certainty) a traitor. Obama also knew, that from a foreign policy and national security view, this deal was a pile of dog crap. But he was counting on that to draw the flies from his other piles of dog crap.
The deal furthers two of Obama’s sacred ends: showing America’s ability to treat Afghanistan and Muslim extremists as equals and brothers, thereby countering American exceptionalism, and closing Guantanimo Bay. If he could release the worst of the worst detainees, then it will be much easier on America when we release them all. That’s how his reasoning goes.
What’s the downside?
Those same pundits, bloggers, and conservative press will point their fingers and cry “wolf” (but there is a wolf!). That’s not much of a downside to Obama—it’s grist for his mill. The military will react negatively. Not much of a downside there, they are pawns or subordinates, whom he manipulates or discards at his will. American veterans will be disgusted. Not all of them—many groups were soliciting petition signatures to free Bergdahl as recently as January 2014. Many veterans signed the petition, because they didn’t know the facts (who would check?), only that a US Soldier was in enemy hands. Some of those veterans will become angry, some will hold back their venom with the thought “there but for the grace of God, go I”.
Congress might act to impeach Obama on his violation of the law to notify Congress of the prisoner swap. This is a low probability event. It likely won’t have enough public support given that the focus is on Bergdahl’s crimes, not Obama’s, and Obama holds all the cards in that game.
Now that Bergdahl’s home, Obama controls the information flow. It works to his advantage for the details of Bergdahl’s betrayal to leak out of the DoD. He will milk it for all he can, first by denying, then by pledging to get the truth, and finally by giving the military the mission to “do justice.” It’s likely that the military will conduct an Article 15 investigation and a court martial. It could take months, if not a year. During that time, Obama will have gotten some breathing room and the advantage of momentum.
Revelations about the Taliban, the negotiations, other prisoners at Gitmo, and the winding down in Afghanistan will be regular drumbeats, constant distractions from the real threat Obama’s administration faces. And you can bet that the 2014 election cycle will merit special attention and action from the president and his proxies. Just like in 2012, any means will be employed to keep a scandal from becoming a genuine threat. When Obama has the advantage of momentum, he uses it very effectively.
If there’s another terrorist act, and it is linked to the Taliban five—Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mullah Mohammed Fazi, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, and Mohammed Nabi Omari—that will be another crisis, but crisis management is what Obama and his aides live for. There will be another press cycle, and Obama will act, possibly taking out the very men he released with a drone strike. There’s good theater in a drone strike, especially when it’s a name Americans can identify.
Because we all know that it could happen:
Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,” Obama said during a news conference in Poland.
“That’s been true of all the prisoners that were released from Guantánamo. There’s a certain recidivism rate that takes place.”
I am impressed with his use of the word “recidivism”, like these men were found shoplifting beer on a Saturday night, and have done their two weeks of county jail time, and have been released as reformed, decent members of society. You see, that’s just the thing here: to Obama, it’s no different than a simple crime. To Obama, our American system is no better, no more moral, no more right or righteous, than any other in the world. Those men who seek to kill us wouldn’t do it if we stopped thinking we were so much better than they are.
We all know Obama is wrong, and monstrously so, to the world’s detriment. But to serve his ends, Obama will take the lives of those men he believes are our equal just as quickly as he would sacrifice the lives of his own men in Benghazi.
This is the president we have, one who believes he is not simply above the law, but that he is the law, and he will stop at nothing to achieve his ends.