In light of the recent America-Taliban prisoner exchange it can be helpful to consider prisoners of war throughout history. Conditions have varied based on time and place, but the 1648 Peace of Westphalia it seems that more POWs were simply executed or enslaved. After Westphalia and the Geneva Convention, prisoner exchanges became more common.
It seems there is some controversy over whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was deserting when he was captured by the Taliban in 2009. If there is sufficient evidence to support such a claim, then I hope Bergdahl is prosecuted appropriately.
However, it's still good to have an American POW released. Some people are responding to this prisoner exchange as if it were a hostage negotiation with terrorists, but I don't think the same rules should apply to POWs and hostages.
"If you negotiate here, you've sent a message to every Al Qaeda group in the world -- by the way, some who are holding U.S. hostages today -- that there is some value now in that hostage in a way that they didn't have before," Mr. Rogers said on the CNN program "State of the Union." He added, "That is dangerous."
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a video released in 2010. Sergeant Bergdahl was freed on Saturday in a prisoner swap with the Taliban. Credit IntelCenter, via Associated Press
But Ms. Rice said: "Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield. We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle, and we did that in this instance." She was speaking on the ABC program "This Week."
It's hard for me to say if it was wise to trade five "senior Taliban commanders" for Bergdahl, but I'll give the President the benefit of the doubt.