One of my favorite movies is A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. The scene and line most people know, delivered by Jack Nicholson as Colonel Jessep, is the famous “you can’t handle the truth!” But read the rest of the quote; it’s insightful and oddly relevant. It’s a little lengthy (oxymoron?) but consider my post today in light of Colonel Jessep’s words-
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
I’ve heard a lot lately in the news and on social media about the prisoner exchange that was recently brokered to free U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban members being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The first reactions I heard and saw surrounded one of two points: either people thought it was wrong to free multiple “terrorists” in exchange for one POW (especially when you add on the fact that he may have been or was in fact a deserter); or it was that President Obama was wrong in not notifying Congress of his actions prior to the exchange. Those were essentially the only thoughts I heard on the matter. As with most pieces of controversial news I typically wait at least a few days to let the details surface. My opinion on the exchange does not at all center on whether the exchange was fair or legal or safe or militarily beneficial or done with the correct order of operations. I don’t care that it was President Obama who more-or-less orchestrated the exchange, nor do I care who Sgt. Bergdahl is or who the supposed terrorists are for that matter.
My opinion, if you will, is that it is an absolute travesty how Americans reacted to the situation. I think that too often when we hear about controversial news we start pretending we just started a chess game. We want to gather the pieces, sort them out, figure out who our opponent is, develop our strategy and begin. We want to be right about the issue. We want to have some quip or comment ready to share when the issue comes up at lunch. Regarding this issue, the prisoner exchange, all the comments I saw and heard were as if human lives do not matter. The “terrorists” being illegally, unethically, unconstitutionally, and unjustly held at Guantanamo Bay, are humans. They have parents and wives and children. I read several posts and comments that amounted to, essentially, “…one POW is not worth freeing five terrorists” OR “they’re (the terrorists) just going to do it again” OR “if I were President I would have them shot” OR “that POW was a deserter anyway, he doesn’t deserve to be saved.”
We’re playing chess with human lives. For many people it seems as though neither the five Taliban or the American POW’s life are worth saving. I read some posts that basically said since Sgt. Bergdahl deserted that he doesn’t deserve U.S. protection, while at the same time saying the five Taliban members do not deserve to live. So what are we saying? They should all die? People spout off opinions about human lives as if they are pawns being shifted around the board.
To one post I read I commented… “What crimes did the terrorists commit? What are their names? Where are they from?” I imagine a lot of people could not tell me the answer to any of those questions without doing some digging. That being said, why in the world are so many Americans so trigger-happy and vocally in favor of continuing to detain these five men? If you don’t truly know who they are or why they are being detained then I question your morals if you’re advocating continued detention; even more so if you’re in favor of killing them. I don’t know the men’s names, or what they did.
Here is what I do know- hundreds of inmates have been held at this particular detention center for decades. They are horrifically tortured and interrogated regularly. They do not get a chance at a public trial or legal assistance. We are told by politicians that the men being detained are terrorists and a threat to our security (and radical Islamists…but don’t be a bigot). They’re “taliban” or “al Qaeda” or any other group who supposedly threatens Western security. As a result the majority of Americans give their tacit approval of what goes on at Guantanamo Bay. To that I ask how Americans would react to their brother or dad or son being abducted, indefinitely detained, tortured, beaten, and interrogated without a public trial. Would that be okay? What if the abductors said he was a terrorist? Even if he was and you knew full well he had done something wrong, would you be okay with him being taken and imprisoned without a trial? If not, why are we okay when it happens to other people? Because they’re not American? Because they’re supposedly terrorists or a threat to national security? I challenge readers, especially Christian readers, to consider your stance on this topic- are you okay with prisoners being tortured and oftentimes murdered at Guantanamo Bay simply because politicians tell you they’re bad men? Is that ethical?
Here is the reality that a lot of people do not want to hear, and I’ll close with this…most, if not all of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, were abducted by the U.S. from their homeland or some other territory that is not the United States; and at the same time you must consider that no American soldier in modern times has ever been taken as a POW while serving within the United States. No more foreign wars means no more POWs.