Without fanfare Army Sargent Bowe Bergdahl, the much ballyhooed soldier swapped by the United States for several hardened terrorist prisoners, was recently charged with desertion. This came as no surprise to those in his unit who believed the young man had voluntarily become a “captive” of the Taliban. It seems his five-year stint with the other side made him a bit homesick. And, our ruling class youngsters in the White House also were infected with a bit of hubris that they now likely regret.
Why didn’t the administration speak to anyone from this man’s unit? Basic due diligence could have prevented this unfortunate situation. We could have applied our resources to “rescue” someone a bit more deserving of our attentions. Among the scores beheaded, burned and otherwise mutilated by the Islamic extremist community, in all of its various iterations, might Butler University graduate Peter Kassig have survived if benefited by the White House’s focused attention that instead found its way to the erstwhile Bergdahl?
While a bias for action can be a very effective and highly valued quality, it can lead to an overconfidence, even conceit, which blinds us to hazard. If one presumes that the failure of decision making in the Bergdahl exchange was precipitated by naiveté and not a willful disregard of clear warnings, the example points to the mistaken hubris of taking action simply because one can and not because one should.
For the time being, Bergdahl remains presumed innocent of the charges against him. And while we can wonder if the resources expended in pursuing his release could have been elsewhere applied, it is only human to rejoice for his family, knowing that in spite of challenges to come, he is safe from brutal mutilation and death. Even if justice is blind, shouldn’t judgement keep its eyes open?