The wanderers — Obama and Bergdahl

The team leader of Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon the night he went missing says that when he searched for Bergdahl, he heard a radio report that an American was wandering around looking for someone who spoke English to take him to the Taliban. The report came from the area where Bergdahl was believed to be, and the soldier concluded that the American in question was, in fact, Bergdahl.

Bergdahl’s quest to find the Taliban strikes me as a good metaphor for President Obama. Like Bergdahl, he has wandered away from familiar confines — traditional, shared notions of how to conduct American foreign policy — in search of exotic enemies with whom to talk. Such enemies include not just the Taliban, but also Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas.

Like Bergdahl, Obama ignored warnings from those to whom he was similarly situated. In Obama’s case, candidate Hillary Clinton found Obama too eager to meet, without preconditions, with enemies the U.S. has shunned.

Presumably, Bergdahl went looking for the Taliban in part because he viewed them far more sympathetically than others do and in part because he believed his personal qualities would impress them at least enough to get a fair hearing. I believe that Obama’s wanderings in search of our enemies has the same basic roots.

In Obama’s case, I’m pretty sure the second strand — belief in his transcendent personal qualities — predominates. This may not be true of Bergdahl, who is probably more naive about the world and perhaps less naive about himself. However, both Bergdahl and Obama seem to have a somewhat messianic self-image.

Bergdahl’s outreach to the Taliban worked out badly for him and for America. Obama’s various attempts at outreach jeopardize only America.


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