Monday, June 2, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl: Hero or Deserter

The Taliban has called it a victory. Exchanging Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five imprisoned Taliban leaders must feel like a great deal for them.

Since the Obama administration believes that exiting wars is an achievement, and since it does not care if its exit looks like surrender, the Taliban might have a point.

All indications suggest that the Obama strategy for the war on Islamic terrorism is appeasement. The administration does not say so, but actions sometimes speak louder than words.

For America, it is a bad deal. For the first time America has negotiated for a hostage. The act projects weakness and sets a very bad example.

The Obama Administration swapped five of the hardest cases at Guantanamo in a fashion that will encourage terrorists to kidnap more Americans to win the release of more prisoners.

From there the story gets worse.

By most accounts Sgt. Bergdahl was not a hero captured in the line of duty. Many of his fellow soldiers consider him to have been a deserter. They are especially galled at the fact that six of his fellow soldiers died trying to recover him.

The New York Post reports one of Bergdahl’s last emails to his father. It does not express love of country, pride in country or belief in the mission. Bergdahl’s words are chilling:

Bowe Bergdahl would detail his disillusionment with the Afghanistan campaign in an e-mail to his parents three days before he went missing.

“I am sorry for everything here,” he wrote. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.”

Bergdahl also complained about fellow soldiers. The battalion commander was a “conceited old fool,” he said, and the only “decent” sergeants, planning to leave the platoon “as soon as they can,” told the privates — Bergdahl then among them — “to do the same.”

“I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools,” he concluded. “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

Bob Bergdahl responded in an e-mail: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”

As for Bergdahls’ capture, his fellow soldiers have their own view of the situation.

According to Jake Tapper at CNN:

Former Pfc. Jose Baggett, 27, of Chicago, was also in Blackfoot Company, and said he was close to two men "killed because of his (Bergdahl's) actions."

"He walked off," Baggett told CNN. "He left his guard post. Nobody knows if he defected or he's a traitor or he was kidnapped. What I do know is he was there to protect us and instead he decided to defer from America and go and do his own thing. I don't know why he decided to do that, but we spend so much of our resources and some of those resources were soldiers' lives."

It would have been dubious to trade any Taliban commanders for an American hostage. But, trading them for a man that many of his fellow soldiers considered to be a traitor or a deserter goes beyond the pale. It undermines morale.

Of course, if Bergdahl had been a loyal and patriotic American, if he had been proud of his country and had believed in his mission… he likely would not have walked off into the night, would not have been kept alive for years by the Taliban and would not have been seen as a hero by the Obama administration.


John Taylor said...

An interesting distinction has been raised as to whether he was a hostage or a prisoner....

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, treason is the higher form of loyalty to the nation.

If a Nazi soldier in Poland or Soviet soldier in Afghanistan lost faith in the regime that rules his country and sent him to war, would we blame him?

I'm not saying US is like Nazi Germany or USSR, but the principle stands. A soldier can turn against the regime he serves out of loyalty to higher morality. Maybe he became cynical about stated American goals in Afghanistan. Maybe he lost faith in the Afghan regime allied with the US. Maybe he heard too many remarks from his fellow soldiers about how Afghans are a bunch of subhuman savages or 'muzzie' scum. After all, there were plenty of US soldiers in the Vietnam War who didn't merely badmouth communists but all 'gooks'.

After 9/11, we knew why we were there. But since then, we heard so much about democracy and human rights, but Afghanistan remains a quagmire of corruption and backwardness. So, why are Americans still there and how long should they be there? And how are the relations between US soldiers and Afghan villagers?
And is War on Terror a priority when American people are under assault from their own government. A baker in Colorado is being forced by the government and courts to bake 'gay wedding' cakes. Today, many companies can be forced out of business simply because they don't sign onto this nonsense called 'gay marriage'. How did this country become like this? Who are the elites who did to us? The Taliban certainly didn't do this to us.

Our media, as we know, don't tell us much in the way of truth and often distort the news. After all, the media promoted Obama as some messiah. The media persuaded 80% of Americans to believe in WMD and support the war on Iraq. The media tell us that illegal aliens are now 'undocumented immigrants' and that we are evil and 'racist' unless we give amnesty to over ten million who broke into this country illegally.

The media was silent about Saudi/Bahrain oppression of Shia protesters but made a big fuss about how Gaddafi was killing his own people. How morally selective.
And the media coverage of the Ukraine crisis was total BS.

So, it's easy to be cynical.

That said, if indeed this soldier lost heart in the US military complex and if he did desert as a form of protest, he acted irresponsibly and even immorally because he endangered the lives of his fellow soldiers. He should have found other more sensible ways to protest the war. After his tour of duty, he could have joined some anti-war group.
But if indeed he did desert his unit, he did something terribly wrong, and he's no hero.