We traded five mid-to-high level prisoners associated with the Taliban – men considered dangerous to our national security – for Bowe Bergdahl. On the one hand, “leave no man behind”…right on. On the other hand, are the five prisoners we released going to be responsible for (dozens of? hundreds of? thousands of?) American casualties in the future? It’s a scary thought. I do not know what I would have done if I were President Obama and was presented with this trade scenario.
According to a recent VeraQuest omnibus survey, however, the majority of Americans feel that, in general, the U.S. should not trade prisoners considered dangerous to our national security, for American POWs (43% say trade, 57% say do not trade). I have to wonder if this is the result of the post-9/11 world that we live in, where threats to our national security feel more real than ever. I would be very curious to see what this survey result would have been, say, 15 years ago.
In terms of opinions among the two main political party affiliations in our country, a strong majority of Republicans (72%) feel the U.S. should not make such trades, while the majority of Democrats (55%) feel the opposite – that we should swap prisoners in such situations.
In terms of the Bowe Bergdahl case, specifically, we have the added twist of Bergdahl being captured after allegedly deserting his unit. There’s been no verification of this as of yet, though several of his fellow soldiers have come forward calling him a deserter.
If a soldier deserts his/her armed forces unit, Americans feel even more strongly that a prisoner swap should not be made (in this scenario, only 27% say trade, versus 73% who say do not trade). Sentiment is nearly universal among Republicans (84% say do not trade). And Democrats – who had been in favor of swapping prisoners under normal circumstances – now swing in the opposite direction (64% say do not trade for a deserter).
About two-thirds of Americans (67%) go on to say that if it is determined that Bowe Bergdahl was, in fact, a deserter, he should still be punished for his crime. The remaining third (33%) believe that five years in Taliban captivity is simply enough punishment.
If it is determined that Bergdahl was a deserter, do you feel that he should still be punished? To what extent does the 5-for-1 aspect of this prisoner swap affect your opinion of the Bergdahl trade, if at all?