President Obama’s Bergdahl debacle is being defended on the grounds that the end of past wars have entailed the exchange of all prisoners. This is an errant argument, for three reasons.
1. The Taliban is not a national government but a terrorist organization, and its terrorism is not contained by geographic boundaries.
2. Peace will not be the outcome of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan — just ask the Taliban.
3. Thus, this is not the end of a war but a removal of U.S. forces from a combat theater in a continuing global conflict against transnational terrorists, including the Taliban.
Even if one believes the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan ends the war and the Bergdahl-for-Taliban-terrorists exchange is “what always happens when wars end,” history contradicts this argument.
After World War II, the Allies removed the insidious governments of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, replaced them with nascent democracies, liberated their own prisoners of war, and (Stalin’s regime excepted) released Axis prisoners of war. But not all of them.
Some were tried and jailed or hung as war criminals. That is what happens at the end of a war in which free people defeat evil: