Guest column: Ready to explode

The trade for prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl was just another saga in a War on Terror that is just beginning, writes Jeffrey B. Lewis.

By Jeffrey B. Lewis

We got up at 6 a.m. as usual and were on our way to an early morning seminary class. On the radio, they were reporting that an airplane had just struck a building in New York. It was unclear at that time which building was hit. When I arrived home and turned on the TV, I realized it was the World Trade Center. I will never forget watching as the second plane crashed into the South Tower; later, as the towers collapsed, I was stunned, outraged and filled with grief. This one act of terror took almost 3,000 lives. On September 11, 2001, the world as we knew it had changed forever.

In the aftermath of that terrible event, President Bush, in a speech to a Joint Session of Congress on September 20, 2001, declared “The War on Terrorism.”

For the last 13 years, our nation and the world have been fighting The War on Terror. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost; millions have been terrorized and displaced. It was our goal to stop the scourge of terrorism, a noble goal to be sure. Yet with every effort we make to eradicate the threat of global terrorism, it appears only to embolden the enemy. They grow stronger and are unwavering in their resolve.

With civil war in Syria and Iraq being overrun with Sunni fighters, a military government in Egypt, unrest in Libya, the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran, the continuing struggle in Afghanistan, the entire Middle East is a powder keg, ready to explode.

On May 31, Bowe Bergdahl from Hailey, the only known prisoner of war in Afghanistan, was released after five years by his captors. The authorities have initiated an in-depth investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and capture of Sgt. Bergdahl.

Bergdahl was part of a prisoner exchange orchestrated by the Obama Administration. In exchange for his release, the U.S. released five Taliban commanders. I was under the impression that we were trying to capture or kill these terrorists, not play a game of catch and release.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said he was “extremely troubled” and that “this fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages.”

Today the administration would have us believe that the world is a safer place. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that this exchange would not put the lives of Americans at risk. How can a rational thinking person believe that by releasing these enemy combatants back onto the world stage and giving them another opportunity to kill is in our best interest?

The War on Terror will never end.

It’s just the beginning.