An old friend of mine from college and prodigious reader of this space, Wexford Edsel Beauregard IV or “Web” for short, was none too happy with yesterday’s blog about the Sgt. Bergdahl business. Web works at the Defense Department in Washington and fired off a rather pithy e-mail upbraiding me for accusing the administration of making a terrible deal. “There’s just so much about the whole thing that you don’t understand,” he explained. The following is an excerpt.
“Doug, you’re a perfect example of what’s wrong with the world today; people with blogs spouting off the first thing that pops into their uninformed little heads when they don’t know what they’re talking about. This was a fragile negotiation, years in the making, with layers of nuanced shades of gray and I for one feel that the administration did an outstanding job of turning a very weak hand into a winning outcome.”
Well, after that opening paragraph, I had no choice but to call him and hash it out. But first, a little background on Web. Thirty years ago when we graduated from UofR, I went into business and Web took an entry level job at the DOD. Web comes from a long line of civil servants, so this was his dream job. He quickly made quite a name for himself, rising through the ranks in record shattering speed. In three short years he rose from his entry level Hack position to Hack First Class, and then blazed from Assistant Flunky to Senior Flunky, then from Pointless Functionary to Executive Functionary. Thirty years later Web is Director of the Office of Unnecessary Paper Shuffling, so his resume speaks for itself.
Me: Ok Web, where did I go wrong? I mean, on the face of it, it looks like a terrible trade.
Web: Listen Doug, you don’t actually think that the only thing we got out of this deal was Bergdahl do you?
Me: Well, yeah, that’s what I read in the paper.
Web: I happen to know the rest of the story. But you have to swear to keep this on the QT.
Me: (lying through my teeth)…Sure!
Web: Yes, we exchanged Sgt. Bergdahl for five Taliban fighters. But that was just window dressing. We secured one concession after another out of those clueless Taliban negotiators!
Me: I’m intrigued, what??
Web: For starters, they agreed to provide our guys with lamb kebobs and fresh naan every Tuesday and Thursday night.
Web: Not only that, but they also caved on our demand for access to unlimited goat cheese.
Me: Are you telling me that our soldiers will be eating food provided by the Taliban???
Web: Not just food Doug. We secured huge, and I mean HUGE discounts on some of the finest Opium in the world. Nothing but the best for our troops, that’s our motto here at the DOD.
Me: I can’t believe this.
Web: This is how things get done in the real world Doug. Sure, some of the guys in Bergdahl’s unit will be sore that the deserter gets treated like a hero and all, but when the vast majority of our guys are high as kites, chowing down on lamb kebobs, they are going to love this deal, believe me.
So, there you have it. I stand corrected. See, I knew there was something else going on!