OUR VIEW: Everything must be done to free Idaho soldier Bergdahl

June 23, 2013 

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Make no mistake about it, the ugly business of war is indeed a business.

We don't like the fact that words such as "buy, sell and trade" are used in the same breath as human lives - especially when it involves an American and an Idahoan who wears the uniform.

But transactions of war in fact could involve the fate of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey. We hold our breath and hope a deal for his release is imminent.

We don't much care about the official posture of the U.S. State Department and nearly all the presidential administrations that "we don't negotiate with terrorists," because that is one of the biggest falsehoods ever fronted in the diplomatic and wartime discussions. We do negotiate. We do make deals - though the details rarely are made public.

Saving the life of an American citizen, especially the life of one of our soldiers who has been held by the enemy for nearly four years, constitutes a worthy bargain. We should be willing to trade a million gallons of face-saving goo or whatever it takes to retrieve Sgt. Bergdahl.

We hope any and all chips are on the table.

There is no overabundance of honor in the Afghanistan war outside of the integrity supplied by the U.S. men and women and allied troops who arrived there to do a difficult bidding under extreme circumstances. They have served honorably and carried out a vague and perplexing mission that we are still at a loss to define.

Parachuting our best and brightest into the midst of an international Hatfield versus McCoy mess has wrought little more in these times than it did when the Soviets learned their lesson decades ago.

Now granted, there are volumes of things we will never know about the negotiations and top secret talks underway. We don't need to know exactly what is being exchanged for any pound of U.S. flesh.

A call to Sen. Jim Rische's office confirmed that he is indeed very close to whatever is unfolding, but out of respect for the delicate nature of the talks he must remain silent.

Our sense is that if we must temporarily release a platoon of Taliban hooligans - whom we can track down and deal with later - then so be it.

In the meantime, we need to communicate to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that he can check his indignation and hurt feelings about peace talks and prisoner swapping into some bunker bank until Bergdahl is free.

We have shed enough American blood for freedom-loving Afghanis, but Karzai makes us weary.

The American people are done with wars fought over principles we hold dear in places where nobody cares.

The mission to negotiate the safe return of Sgt. Bergdahl - and any future U.S. hostages anywhere in the world - trumps any other concern arising around the two-bit dictatorships that we prop up in freedom-parched lands around the world.

Call in every resource, every chit and snitch it takes to make this deal happen.

Let's stop pretending that anything matters more than the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

It is his face that needs saving and not some worn out State Department protocol.

Our View is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman's editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.

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