Not surprisingly, President Barack Obama’s decision to negotiate with the Taliban to obtain the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the Haqqani network by agreeing to release five Afghan Taliban prisoners to house arrest in Qatar has been pilloried by his political opponents.
The list of criticisms is long: that the president didn’t provide adequate notice to Congress, that the U.S. intelligence community identified these five Taliban captives as among the most dangerous being held in Guantanamo, and that Bergdahl was — at best — a complicated individual for whom to strike a bargain with America’s enemies. But at the heart of these attacks is a central complaint: that America never negotiates with terrorists and that it sets a bad precedent for the United States to make deals with enemies who have American blood on their hands.
Sorry, but this claim is without analytic or historical merit, and it completely ignores the positive aspects of the release.This article was originally published in Foreign Policy.