Can America Fight a Thirty Years’ War?

Can America Fight a Thirty Years' War?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”

With this citation from Madison, Cong. Walter Jones is calling for a debate and decision on whether America should go to war in Syria and Iraq, when Congress reconvenes after Nov. 4.

Last week’s events make Jones’ request a national imperative.

For former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says we are heading into a “30-year war” against the Islamic State and the emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.

He faults Obama for not bombing Syria when Assad crossed his “red line” and used chemical weapons. U.S. credibility was damaged, says Panetta. “There’s a little question mark to, is the United States going to stick this out?” This new war is the opportunity “to repair the damage.”

Yet consider the man Panetta wants to lead the United States into a war to restore America’s credibility.

The president’s “most conspicuous weakness” is “a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause,” says Panetta. Too often, he “relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.” He “avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”

But with Hamlet as your commander in chief, why would you start a war?

And consider our allies in this new war.

Joe Biden has been forced to apologize to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates for saying at Harvard that both had been providing huge infusions of money and weapons to the ISIS terrorists who have beheaded Americans.

But what was Joe guilty of, other than blurting out the truth?

The terrorists of ISIS are today closing in on the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobani on the Turkish border, having overrun scores of villages. A hundred thousand Syrian Kurds have fled into Turkey.

Yet though ISIS warriors are visible right across the border, and Turkey has the second largest army in NATO, with 3,500 tanks and 1,000 aircraft, the Turks are sitting on their hands, awaiting what may be a massacre.

Why? David Stockman quotes Turkish President Erdogan this weekend: “For us, ISIL and the (Kurdish) PKK are the same.”

Erdogan is saying a plague on both their houses. To Istanbul, the PKK are terrorists, as are the ISIS fighters the PKK is trying to keep from overrunning Kobani.

The United States, too, designates both the Islamic State and the PKK as terrorist organizations.

Which terrorist organization do we want to win this battle?

Who do we want to win the war between ISIS and the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra front on one side, and Assad’s regime, which Obama and John Kerry wanted to bomb in August of 2013?

Whose side are we on in Lebanon?

This weekend, al-Qaida’s Syrian wing, Jabhat al-Nusra, lost 16 jihadists in an incursion into the Bekaa Valley. Who defended Lebanon and fought the terrorist intruders?

Hezbollah, which we have declared a terrorist organization.

Whose side are we on in the Hezbollah vs. al-Qaida war?

In Yemen last week, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, whom the United States has been attacking for years, sent a suicide bomber in an explosives-laden car into a hospital used by Houthi rebels, who have taken over the capital of Sanaa.

Are the Houthis America’s allies?

Probably not, as they have plastered Sanaa with their slogans, “Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews, and victory to Islam.”

The Houthis fighting al-Qaida, like Hezbollah fighting al-Qaida, are Shia, supported by Iran, which is on our side against ISIS in Syria and on our side against the Islamic State in Iraq.

But to Bibi Netanyahu, speaking at the U.N. last week, Iran is the great enemy: “[T]o defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power would be to win the battle and lose the war.”

Hence, the neocon war drums have begun to beat for U.S. strikes on Iran if negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program conclude Nov. 24, with no deal satisfactory to the United States.

But no matter how olfactory its regime, why start a war with an Iran that is a de facto, and perhaps indispensable, ally in preventing ISIS from establishing its caliphate in Damascus and Baghdad?

Since 1980, writes Andrew Bacevich, the United States has invaded, occupied or bombed 14 nations in the Greater Middle East — Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo, Yemen, Pakistan and now Syria.

The cost: Tens of thousands of U.S. dead and wounded, trillions of dollars lost, hundreds of thousands of Muslim dead and wounded, millions of refugees, Christians foremost among them. And for what?

Are we better off now than we were 30 years ago, with the Middle East today on fire with civil, sectarian, tribal and terrorist wars?

Congress should vote no on any new Thirty Years’ War.

Privately, Barack Obama would probably be grateful.

Remembering Nixon’s Catholic Coup: An Interview With Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan in Meeting With Nixon

By Sean Salai, S.J. – America Magazine

Patrick J. Buchanan is a political commentator, author, syndicated columnist, politician, and broadcaster. He was a senior advisor to U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. He accompanied President Nixon to China in 1972. Later he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996. In 2000, he was the Reform Party’s presidential candidate.

Mr. Buchanan is a regular on The McLaughlin Group and Fox News. He co-founded The American Conservative magazine and has been published in Human Events, National Review, The Nation, and Rolling Stone. He was an original co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire” and was a political commentator for MSNBC until February 2012.

Mr. Buchanan is a practicing Catholic who attends Old St. Mary’s Church in Washington DC, where he graduated from Gonzaga College High School. He holds a B.A. from Georgetown University and an M.A. from Columbia University. On July 29, I interviewed Mr. Buchanan by telephone about his new book, “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.” The following interview has been edited for content and length.

Why a new book on Richard Nixon?

This book comes out of my experience of working for Richard Nixon for eight-and-a-half consecutive years, from January 1966 to August 1974. My research began as a single book. But as I got into it, I recovered all of my old memoranda and that seemed to suggest that there was a book in and of itself about Nixon’s historic comeback before he became president of the United States. I had many recollections, many stories and many memos, and there were many incidents at the core of the 1960s. So I thought none of this could be done in a single book and I decided to write a second book about it. My first publisher wanted everything in one book, so I took this material to another publisher and they were delighted with the book that emerged.

Who is your audience?

It’s a tremendous story. It’s a story that even the old Nixon haters will enjoy because they would like to understand better how he did it.

The audience, I think, is certainly the people who recall those years and whoever wants an understanding of the politics and the people of that time. How did one of the most controversial figures of the post-Cold War era maneuver through the 1960s, one of the most turbulent decades in our nation’s history? It’s a human story and it’s a personal story of how this man came back from tremendous defeats and humiliations to pick himself up, leading a broken and shattered party back to the presidency of the United States, and from there to build a coalition that dominated presidential politics almost as long as FDR’s coalition. It’s a tremendous story. I mean, it’s a story that even the old Nixon haters will enjoy because they would like to understand better how he did it.

In the book you mention that Nixon rallied the Catholic vote, traditionally a Democratic bloc, into the GOP coalition. Why did American Catholics in the post-Kennedy era go for Nixon?

The Greatest ComebackWhat happened was that the Catholic community, which had voted 78 percent for Jack Kennedy and I believe 75 percent for Lyndon Johnson, in 1966 after Johnson’s great victory voted only 65 percent for the Democratic Party. They began to move to the Republican Party for reasons of morality and patriotism. The Democratic Party, particularly the dominant liberal intellectual wing, was becoming increasingly anti-war and almost anti-patriotic in the minds of many American Catholics. It was calling for cutting and running in Vietnam, almost calling for a victory for the Viet Cong. You know, “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is going to win.” And on the moral end, cultural and social issues, it was also beginning to move away from the Democratic Party of FDR and Truman—which was in many respects compatible with the social conservatism of my father’s generation. They began moving away on issues of morality like sexual morality, drugs, divorce and even abortion. So Catholics started moving away from them.

Voters saw Nixon-Agnew as a measure of stability and of a return to traditional values…

Another reason, of course, was the riots in the cities. The northern Catholics and ethnics, along with the southern Protestants, all saw the Great Society had been passed and enacted under Johnson. All these programs were supposed to benefit the poor, the working class and African-Americans. They saw that these programs had not brought peace to the cities, but the very opposite. So they sort of saw the country coming apart. Nixon, even though he had been the scourge of Truman and Kennedy—and of the liberals in the early 1940s and 1950s—suddenly emerged with Spiro Agnew as a symbol of stability. Voters saw Nixon-Agnew as a measure of stability and of a return to traditional values, and as something that was resisting the revolution. That movement began in 1968, but actually the Catholics left Humphrey and went back to Wallace before they came to us, and Humphrey was the one who gained 15 points that October and also brought in all of the undecided voters. Humphrey was 15 points behind in the polls on October 4, but he was dead even as of Election Day.

Was there a central issue that helped rally Catholic voters to Nixon?

Eventually, Nixon ran a very centrist presidency, not a Goldwater conservative presidency. He did not tear apart the social programs or the social safety net that a lot of Catholics favored. At the same time, he stood for peace with honor in Vietnam, against the demonstrators and the rioters—and against the liberal media. And I think many Catholics of that generation—conservative, traditionalist Catholic union folks—were much closer to Richard Nixon than they were to the elites demonstrating on the campuses or the rioters. They were concerned about the crime rate and all of these things factored into it. The amazing thing is to look at the figures. Nixon won 22 percent of the Catholic vote against Jack Kennedy in 1960, he won 33 percent in 1968 and he would have won more that year if Wallace hadn’t been in the race. I don’t think it would have been much more, but I think if Wallace had been out of the race we would have won the race going away. But in 1972, he won 55 percent of the Catholic vote against George McGovern, who Tom Eagleton called the candidate of amnesty and abortion. So cultural, moral and social issues brought postwar Catholics into the Nixon new majority.

Because of Watergate, many Americans have come to caricature Richard Nixon as a criminal, but you worked with him personally in the White House at that time. What’s your assessment?

That’s simply false. There’s no question about it, when this stupid break-in occurred at the Watergate, that the five who were caught and one or two others—Liddy and Hunt—went high up into the Committee to Re-Elect the President. But they had nothing to do with the White House. We didn’t know this thing had happened or had been going on, except maybe John Dean, and so Nixon didn’t know about it. But what happened was that the Watergate people who were involved in it, the people who were complicit and responsible, came running to old friends in the White House and said “save us!” So they concocted the idea that the president’s top aides were conspiring to save the higher-ups and let other people take responsibility. They let people say things, and they said things or didn’t say things, that rendered them complicit in what was considered a conspiracy. But the original offense was indeed a third-rate burglary.

Along with then-Father John McLaughlin, S.J., you were one of a few Catholics who worked in the Nixon White House. Did President Nixon, a Quaker, ever ask your advice on Catholic issues?

In one of my memos, I pointed out that the northern Catholics and the southern Protestants were our new majority that would help us realize victory.

Well, I volunteered it to him, as I say in my book. I told him in one memo that all of his emphasis on the Jewish vote and African-American vote wasn’t going anywhere because they were solidly in the Democratic bloc. They’re enormously loyal to the Democratic Party. Secondly, Catholics outnumber the Jewish vote seven to one, and they outnumber the African-American vote two to one. They’re far larger and more numerous and they’re in the process of moving away from the Democratic Party. Nixon often would talk about how the Italian-American vote was beginning to move. We had wanted to appoint an Italian-American and a southerner to the U.S. Supreme Court, partly with the idea of recognizing these folks and saying “you’re not outside the country club of America as far as we’re concerned.” So Nixon recognized this opportunity and I was pushing it even before he got into the White House. In one of my memos, I pointed out that the northern Catholics and the southern Protestants were our new majority that would help us realize victory.

Your book does include a lot of personal anecdotes about your relationship with the president. Did your Catholic faith have any other influence on your work for President Nixon?

I think the Catholic faith is consistent with the kind of conservatism I believe in. You know, I’m a traditionalist, I’m a Latin mass Catholic and I hold to traditional views of responsibility. I’m not a libertarian in the sense that I think all these social programs should be abolished in any sense. I’m familiar with Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno and all of those things that influenced me in Catholic school. I went through the nuns and the Jesuits. I mean, I had eight years of nuns and never had any other sort of teacher in my grammar school, and eight years of Jesuits in high school and college. These were pre-Vatican II orders and you could not escape that influence. It’s a part of who you are.

From a Catholic perspective, which of President Nixon’s policies do you believe was most significant?

I think Nixon genuinely believed he could bring peace for a generation.

It wouldn’t be so much his programs as the fact that I think Nixon genuinely believed he could bring peace for a generation. I think he had a utopian sense there, somewhat like Woodrow Wilson whom he admired. I think he wanted to end the war with honor, to get the Americans out of Vietnam. He wanted to preserve the freedom of South Vietnam. Initially he did. In 1973, all of the American troops and POWs were home, and the war seemed to be winding down and peace was at hand. It wasn’t until two years later, after Nixon was gone, that the North Vietnamese mounted their attack that overran Saigon. I think the whole idea of peace, of an end to the Vietnam War and of trying to ameliorate the Cold War with the Soviet Union were very large issues that were as important as any particular program that gave tax credits for parochial school kids—which I advocated for a long time and which we never seemed to be able to push through.

Prayer in public schools and other institutions has been a political issue in recent decades. What sort of prayer experiences did you have when you worked in the White House?

They had occasional prayer meetings and breakfasts of various members of the White House staff, and I attended several of them, but I can’t say there was a great deal in the White House when I was there. As you mentioned, I was one of the few Catholics there, and the president did come to my wedding at my grammar school church. Attorney General and Mrs. John Mitchell, I think Chuck Colson too and probably some of the others were there. So we brought them all into church once!

In your opinion, what were President Nixon’s greatest accomplishments?

Nixon ended the draft, desegregated the south, and he’s responsible for the 18-year old voting age that he signed into law.

Let me just mention a few. He ended the war in Vietnam, brought the troops home and brought the POWs home. He negotiated the greatest arms control agreement with the Soviet Union since the Washington Naval Agreement of 1921-22. He opened up China and ended decades of bristling hostility with the People’s Republic of China, bring them into the “League of Nations” if you will. He rescued Israel during the Yom Kippur War with an air lift. He brought Egypt out of the Soviet bloc and into the Western camp. He ended the draft, he desegregated the south, he’s responsible for the 18-year old voting age that he signed into law, he created the EPA, he created the Cancer Institute, he created OSHA for better or worse. He created the greatest political coalition since FDR. And he did most of these things in his first term, except for the Yom Kippur War, which would have been more than enough to make him one of the ten greatest presidents had it not been for Watergate—and all folks remember now are Watergate and China.

What were President Nixon’s biggest mistakes?

His greatest mistake is that he didn’t burn the tapes as I told him to! But seriously, his biggest mistake was obviously in mishandling the Watergate break-in and not realizing that it was an infection that could kill him politically. That was certainly a mistake. It may not sit well with the American community, but he also told me later that he should have bombed North Vietnam three years earlier, back in ’69 rather than in ’72. That might have ended the war earlier and saved more American lives. I think that weighed upon him. There might have been a more permanent peace that could have averted what happened to the boat people in Saigon and to the Cambodians who went through the Cambodian holocaust of the Khmer Rouge. Those are hard things to have on your conscience.

What was it like for you to accompany Nixon to China?

I think we went overboard in our efforts to show cordiality and friendship to those people. They were not a good crowd.

Surreal! There I was, the foremost anti-communist conservative in Nixon’s camp, and I’m over there writing toasts to a communist mass murderer like Mao Zedong. It was quite an experience and I’ll have to write about it in my next book, but I was very unhappy. I think we went overboard in our efforts to show cordiality and friendship to those people. They were not a good crowd.

What do you hope people will take from your life and writings?

Some of the ideas I had in the 1990s about staying out of these foreign wars and not submerging ourselves in a globalization that would mean the end of American manufacturing are still important.

Whatever they can! You know, I do feel like some of the ideas I had in the 1990s about staying out of these foreign wars and not submerging ourselves in a globalization that would mean the end of American manufacturing are still important. Also, securing America’s borders because of what I saw down there 25 years ago. Frankly, I think holding the line in the cultural war for the soul of America is also still important. I don’t think we’ve done any of these things and I don’t think we benefit from not having done so.

Do you have any final thoughts on the Nixon book?

It’s a very good read with lots of funny stories in it as well! Nixon was an incredible figure and an enormously interesting man.

Sean Salai, S.J., is a summer editorial intern at America.

Read more at: America Magazine

Nixon — Before Watergate

Nixon - Before Watergate

By Patrick J. Buchanan

It has been a summer of remembrance.

The centennial of the Great War that began with the Guns of August 1914. The 75th anniversary of the Danzig crisis that led to Hitler’s invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. The 70th anniversary of D-Day.

In America, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And this week marks the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Once again, aging liberals will walk the children through the tale of that triumph of American democracy when they helped to save our republic from the greatest menace to the Constitution in all of history.

Missing from the retelling will be the astonishing achievements of that most maligned of statesmen in the 20th century. And as this writer was at Nixon’s side for more than eight years before that August day in 1974, let me recount a few.

When Nixon took the oath in January 1969, more than 500,000 U.S. soldiers were in Vietnam or on the way, and U.S. casualties were running at 200 to 300 American dead every week.

The Greatest ComebackLiberalism’s best and brightest had marched us into an Asian war they could not win or end. Yet by the end of Nixon’s first term, all U.S. forces and POWs were home or on the way, and every provincial capital was in Saigon’s hands.

Nixon had promised to end the war with honor. He had done so.

Moreover, he had negotiated with Moscow the greatest arms control treaty since the Washington Naval Agreement of 1921-22: SALT I, setting limits on long-range ballistic missiles, and the ABM Treaty.

Nixon had gone to China and brought that enormous nation, then in the madness of its Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, out of its angry isolation.

He would rescue Israel in the Yom Kippur War at her moment of maximum peril, with a massive U.S. airlift and warning to the Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev not to intervene as Moscow appeared about to do.

At that war’s end, Nixon would pull Egypt out of the Soviet Bloc into America’s orbit, where Anwar Sadat would later negotiate a peace with Menachem Begin.

Golda Meir called Richard Nixon the best friend Israel ever had.

Though he took office with both houses of Congress against him and the media loathing him, Nixon ended the draft as he had promised, created the successful all-volunteer Army, and extended the vote to all 18-, 19- and 20-year-old Americans.

When he took office, only 10 percent of Southern schools were desegregated.

When Nixon left, the figure was 70 percent.

During Nixon’s first term, 12 Americans, beginning with Neil Armstrong, walked on the moon. No American has ever done so since.

Nixon remade the Supreme Court, naming four justices in his first term, including a new Chief Justice, Warren Burger, who replaced Earl Warren, and future Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Nixon increased Social Security benefits to seniors and indexed them against inflation, as he had promised in 1966. Scores of millions of retired and elderly Americans today enjoy a far greater economic security because of Richard Nixon.

Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, OSHA, and the Cancer Institute, of which he was especially proud.

During the first 25 years of the Cold War, America bore almost alone the burden of rebuilding Europe and Japan, the defense of the West, and the hot wars in Korea and Vietnam to halt the advance of communism.

As U.S. dollars poured out, allies began to cash them in for Fort Knox gold. Nixon ended Bretton Woods, shut the gold window, let the dollar float and imposed wage and price controls. For better or worse, Richard Nixon was the father of the modern economic era. No future president has undone what he did.

As coalition builder, Nixon is rivaled in the 20th century only by FDR. As this writer relates in “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority,” Nixon rebuilt his ruined career and reunited his shattered party after the LBJ landslide of 1964, and he led it to victory in a cliffhanger three-way race in 1968, the most violent year since the Civil War.

By 1972, that united Republican Party had rallied to its banners a coalition of more than 60 percent of the nation, giving Richard Nixon an unprecedented 49-state landslide and enabling Republicans to maintain control of the White House in 20 of the 24 years after 1968.

1968 had been the year of the Tet Offensive, the breaking of the Johnson presidency, the murder of Dr. King, race riots in 100 cities, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, and the shattering of the Democratic Party in the convention hall and the streets of Chicago.

By 1972, Hugh Sidey of Time was hailing the “cooling of America” in the Nixon presidency.

Then came Watergate.

Remember his other accomplishments, when hearing this week again of the horrors on the tape of June 23.

Blaze Books In-depth Interview With Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan on the Radio

Senior advisor to president’s Nixon, Ford and Reagan, three-time presidential candidate and syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan sits down with Ben Weingarten of TheBlaze Books to discuss why Tea Partiers should read a book about Nixon, the controversial “Southern Strategy,” President Obama’s Cloward-Piven foreign policy, whether there is any chance Republicans will not cave on immigration reform, how the Establishment/Conservative 2016 GOP presidential race might shake out, the Middle East and Israel and much more.

Listen at Blaze Books…

War Hero or Deserter?

War Hero or Deserter?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“We needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life.”

So said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, an Army sergeant in Vietnam, of Barack Obama’s trade of five hard-core Taliban leaders at Guantanamo for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a Taliban prisoner for five years.

The trade speaks well of America’s ‘s resolve to leave no soldier behind. And the country surely shared the joy of Bergdahl’s family on learning their son was alive and coming home.

But this secret swap, as well as the circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture and captivity, are likely to further polarize our people and poison our politics.

First, the price the Taliban extorted from us is high. We could be seeing these killers again on a battlefield after their year’s detention in Qatar. Other Americans may have to suffer and perhaps die for our having freed these five from Guantanamo.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar is proclaiming a “big victory” over the Americans, and it is a morale boost for the Taliban we are fighting.

As for the Afghan government, it was kept in the dark.

The message received in Kabul must be: The Americans are taking care of their own, cutting deals behind our back at our expense, packing up, going home. We cannot rely on them. We are on our own.

But as for the claim that we “never negotiate with terrorists,” it is not as though we have not been down this road before.

During Korea, we negotiated for a truce and return of our POWs with the same Chinese Communists who had tortured and brainwashed them. During Vietnam we negotiated for the return of our POWs with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong who massacred 3,000 civilians in Hue in the Tet Offensive.

Jimmy Carter negotiated with the Ayatollah’s regime to get our embassy hostages out of Iran. The Iran-Contra scandal was about Ronald Reagan’s decision to send TOW missiles secretly to Iran, for Iran’s aid in getting hostages released by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Bibi Netanyahu today insists that America not recognize a new Palestinian government that includes Hamas, for Hamas is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction.

Yet Bibi released 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011, many of them guilty of atrocities, in exchange for a single Israeli soldier held by Hamas in Gaza, Pvt. Gilad Shalit.

Yasser Arafat, Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela were all once declared to be terrorists heading up terrorist organizations — the PLO, the Irgun and the ANC.

And all three have something else in common: All became winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Today’s terrorist may be tomorrow’s statesman. The remains of Lenin and Mao rest in honor in their capitals. Jomo Kenyatta, founding father of Kenya, was once the chieftain of the Mau Mau.

When it comes to negotiating with domestic hostage-takers, do we not, along with training SWAT teams to take them out, train men to negotiate with them? How many of us, with a family member held by a vicious criminal demanding ransom, would refuse to negotiate?

Yet, if those released Taliban are indeed “hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans … on their hands,” as John McCain charges, why were they not prosecuted and punished like the Nazis at Nuremberg?

America has sent a message to its enemies by trading five war criminals for Sergeant Bergdahl: The nation with a preponderance of the world’s hard power has a soft heart.

And though America rejoiced with the parents of Sgt. Bergdahl this weekend, other troubling issues have begun to be raised.

Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, said on ABC that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction” and “was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield.”

But is this true? His fellow soldiers say Bergdahl was not missing in action, and not wounded. Disillusioned with the war, he walked away from his post.

In an email to his parents three days before he went missing. Bergdahl wrote, “I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools. … I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

For days, Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers were out searching for him, risking their lives to prevent his Taliban captors from taking him into Pakistan. U.S. soldiers may have been wounded and some may have died in the attempt to rescue their lost sergeant.

Did Sgt. Bergdahl defect, did he desert, did he collaborate with the enemy? We do not know. But these charges will have to be investigated.

For if they are not, or if they are proven true and Bergdahl evades all punishment, it would be a blow to Army morale and widen the gulf between the Army and commander in chief that was on display at West Point a week ago.

Sergeant Bergdahl, one suspects, is about to become a famous and representative figure of his country’s divisions in the Obama era.