One of the great appeals of ideology, as opposed to thoughtfulness, is that it lends itself to simple, easy-to-follow rules of conduct, where "conduct" includes shooting your mouth off.
For example, who could object to this rule: Leave no soldier behind on the battlefield.
And for another, who could object to: Never negotiate with terrorists.
As we all know, no rule of conduct that is obviously, self-evidently correct could possibly conflict with another, equally self-evidently correct ruled. Morality, our self-appointed moralists assure us, is simply a matter of following clear rules. Do this, don’t do that, and you’re fine.
But then a soldier falls into the hands of (let’s assume) terrorists. Rule One says we must get him back by any means. Rule Two says we cannot discuss this with his captors.
This could be tricky. Who can we talk to? And in what way that doesn’t amount to negotiating with the terrorists?
A lot of folks are suddenly having trouble with this little poser. Others are not having any such trouble because they have useful amnesia. The Gawker site offers an amusing sampling of moral absolutists proclaiming first Rule One and, later, Rule Two in the case of Sgt. Bergdahl.
A neutral observer might be forgiven for inferring that the rule that the chest-thumping patriots are actually observing is: Whatever the President does is wrong, outrageous, and unpatriotic.
No question that the five Taliban members are a nasty looking crew:
But the critics overlook one salient point. Now that they are out of Guantanamo and free to take up their lives again, they have lost a certain, um, security. One may decide to retire from the terrorism game and open a Fiat agency over in West Doha (h/t: S. Freberg), another to settle down quietly to poppy growing, while the other three resume campaigning against all history since the 8th century. But however they choose to utilize their new freedom, they are all now far more apt to be disturbed by one of those terrible drone strikes that have become so worrisome in their part of the world in recent years.
Happy retirement, fellows; be a shame if anything were to happen to it.