By Ernie McCray
My goodness, a man, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, gets released from a 5 year imprisonment in Afghanistan, and there are those who want to condemn him, as a traitor, allegations that are no more than speculations based on shaky observations.
“He walked away from his duty! And people died looking for him!” people say as though in war it’s out of the ordinary for someone to freak out and want to flee and maybe say to his foe “I don’t want to shoot another one of y’all anymore! I can’t stand to see another child run in fear when I walk near them. I can no longer stand to see them shake in their pants, ever again” – aka “consorting” with the enemy. We’re human beings. We’re supposed to care. It’s in our nature somewhere.
If we paused for a moment couldn’t we consider that if the Taliban gave Bergdahl a single sandwich in those five years he was in their hands that he was more of a drain on their resources than any kind of aid to them? And, in war, don’t soldiers die all the time while “looking for somebody?” Can we try to understand?
Bergdahl, unless he grabbed a bunch of Taliban by the hand and led them to our secret hiding places, is a “victim,” not a traitor. Everybody deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq has been victims. Duped with tales of making a difference and making people free. Victims any way you look at it to me.
Their victim-hood can be traced to the likes of war criminals, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their billionaire friends who can send a child off to war in the blink of an eye. Money grabbers extraordinaire.
And we haven’t had one decent national conversation about these unsavory folks who got us into the mess in the Middle East, breaking all the laws governing war in the process, yelling, as their noses got longer and longer and longer, “They’ve got weapons of mass destruction!” No, they’ve got people in the area who will strap themselves with bombs that blow up cafes and sidewalks and a few innocent people. It’s us who have the big stuff. Remember, “Shock and Awe?” It was a war based on the most brazen of lies.
When somebody did speak up, like Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq, hateful forces yelled and screamed insults into her grieving face. Michael Moore shared some news we could use, some things we needed to know about the wars and we dismissed him as “exaggerating the facts” while the war continued to rage.
So how can we even think of calling Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl a traitor to his nation when he was caught up in a hostile futile environment that was orchestrated by war criminals? They’re the betrayers. The harmers. The recipients of the profits from the war industry. The liars. Traitors to us all.
This whole unfortunate situation should make us look deeply at our fascination with armed conflict, something we don’t like to do as I don’t know how many times I’ve been in the streets with protestors chanting “No More War” or singing “Give Peace a Chance” while people drive by giving us the finger or calling us commies or cowards or accusing us of not supporting the troops (as though trying to prevent or end wars isn’t the ultimate support anyone could give the troops) or suggesting that we love America or leave it…All this in a nation, the United States of America, where we are free to think. Courtesy of those “forefathers” we love to talk about.
I remember Dwight Eisenhower, a highly decorated general and president of the United States, coming away from World War II saying in a loud and clear and animated and sincere voice: “War settles nothing.”
I agree wholeheartedly and we should end them so that we have no more poor soldiers, many of them teenagers right out of high school, who have to travel the road from confinement to condemnation. We should leave Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl alone. Victims of traitors deserve compassion.
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Dana Levy says
A very well reasoned piece. Thanks for bringing this perspective to everyone’s attention. I was drafted in 1966 and did most of my two years in Germany (not at war during the 60’s, at least in that country) as my brother was already in Korea and they wouldn’t send two brothers to a war zone at the same time back then. But, I did become weary of the “service” during my time and if I hadn’t made friends with a bunch of great guys from all over the country, it would have been a much worse period in my life (at age 20). I spent 4 months in Ethiopia during my active duty time temporarily reassigned from Germany and that was a culture shock (at best) and it was not a vacation scenario. Although I can hardly relate how it must be in a real war zone, I did get shot at, albeit from quite a distance, and it was scary. Somalia didn’t like Ethiopia (neighbors) and we were working the border zone between the two countries which was in dispute. I couldn’t get close enough to the ground. Not at all like the live fire range in BASIC Training. I am sympathetic to all who serve and come back to the “world” and try to readjust. This soldier, who was a prisoner for 5 years, is no different than you or me. He deserves and earned our respect by just being in the service and should any of the “sensationalized” allegations finally be proven to be factual the Army will deal with them and we should leave it to them to judge. Disillusionment and mental exhaustion (used to be called battle fatigue) are real tangible depressive emotions and need to be considered in all aspects of this situation. It seems real easy for the “FOX News” groups to pile on this poor guy when he is just now “free” again. They love to dwell in the basement of human emotions and exploit our basest fears and prejudices. Wonder if any of the “boys and girls” on Fox ever served in a war zone, more or less in any service to their country. We should all look inward and put ourselves in his shoes before joining in the “public media stoning” of this American Army soldier.
bob dorn says
So on point, and good to hear, Dana Levy. I’m also made to wonder at the intensity of all these posers who run to war from their couches.
Hmm. This is always a tough call. No one knows the whole story of what Bergdahl did and we may never know. My feeling is if, and I stress “IF”, he actually abandoned his post and other soldiers died trying to find him, we should all at least have some understanding to the animosity others may have and cut them some slack. At the very least the surviving family members of the individuals killed trying to find him. Sometimes being tolerant included tolerating the intolerant.
Anna Daniels says
This isn’t a tough call. We don’t leave our soldiers behind and we don’t know the whole story. Full stop.
I agree we don’t leave our soldiers behind. Not saying should have done anything different and yes we DON’T know the full story. I stressed that at the beginning of my post. The though call part comes into play as to whether or not we should think of him as a hero or deserter (since we don’t know the full story). Even if he is a deserter we still don’t leave them behind so we have no disagreement on that. That being said, other soldiers died so I we should cut some slack for those who have some animosity
Dana Levy says
We don’t have to cut any slack to any blow-hards that seem to want to castigate Bergdahl on any level right out of the chute. You seem too eager to, howeverblandly you couch it, fan the flames of hatred, suspicion, and denigration of someone and something that you know nothing about. Innuendos, put forth by non credible people with no substance to back them up either, and “palm reading” supposition results cast upon us by other non credible sources is what makes this so tragic. Let it be and wait for a final accounting by competent investigators and leave the alleged misconduct and bleeding for the families of soldiers who may or may not have died doing their jobs to the professionals in the legal field of the Army judicial system under the Military Code of Justice. Don’t fail to remember the other ultimate sacrifices made by 4486 brave Americans in Iraq and 2325 (minus the alleged 6 in this case) in Afghanistan for a cause which has neither merit or reason. We can and must do better and war is NEVER the answer.
“We don’t have to cut any slack to any blow-hards that seem to want to castigate Bergdahl on any level right out of the chute.”
Oh I think if some of those “blowhards” are actual soldiers or more specifically, family members of soldiers killed trying to find him I think we can. If they turn out to be wrong then they are wrong. I’m no more accusing him of being guilty or abandoning his post then making him out to be a hero. I will wait and see and hold my own conclusion when the dust settles.
Dana Levy says
I’ll just finish my diatribe with the statement that the “soldiers” and “family members” are just as ill informed and simply guessing, just like you seem to accept all their accusations and innuendo as gospel. No slack allowed until facts are actually officially presented and proven to be true, not character assassination as you and they seem to prefer, thus getting their catharsis , by either having an axe to grind or a chance to shoot their mouths off on TV or print, regardless of one’s affinity or relationship to the subject. It is always easier to make accusations and apologize later rather than take the more reasonable approach and wait to see what actually IS the truth. My final caveat is that war is HELL and strange things can and do happen all the time in battle zones. How are we or others able to even passably assess his mental and physical condition at the time from so great a distance or expect the “soldiers” who were there to be objective in their assessments? Time will be the only leveling factor in this case, and, no matter what the outcome, it is a tragedy perpetrated on only one of thousands of our soldiers in a quite muddled war with no achievable goals or direction of purpose.
“just like you seem to accept all their accusations and innuendo as gospel. ”
I didn’t say anything to that effect. Don’t put word in my mouth. Regardless I get the point of your post so we will just have to agree to disagree.
bob dorn says
Give up, goat.
Those “actual soldiers” all signed a non-disclosure agreement. Odd that the only ones breaking that agreement are speaking only to GOP operatives (as reported last week by Rachel Maddow at MNBC).
I hear you, Ernie. It is indeed unfortunate that after however many years humans have been alive, after all of our “progress”, we still have one foot in the cave, throwing rocks at each other. At this stage, I have pretty much given up any hope that it can be different. Making properly peaceful decisions is hard enough for me as an individual, so I cannot fathom how difficult decision making must be for our politicians. I imagine if enough people were willing to pay the price of saying “Hell NO, I won’t Go” there might be a change, but what kind of change is hard to say, because there will no doubt always be people who won’t agree that their rights end where “your” nose begins. It is easy (and good) to say that war is wrong, but to avert it usually requires force used against the factors that want what they want regardless of “your/our” rights. (This also includes the leaders in our own country who make decisions based on how much they stand to gain, rather than on what is “right” or peaceful). Thank goodness there are people like you who, despite the slim odds of ever making any large scale change, continue to look for a deeper cause to suffering and the subsequent approach to relieving it. You have no doubt made a big difference in the lives of a lot of people with your positive attitude. Thank you.
Joyce Valenzano says
You, sir, are the embodiment of compassion and intelligence. Thank you!
Thank You, Ernie McCray, for making this very simple and eloquent point.
stan levin says
It pains me to see so many ugly vindictive posts about a soldier and even his parents written mostly, I suspect, by non-combatants with little compassion. At this moment no one is privy to the whole truth of the matter . Lighten up …. let justice be done.
Stan Levin ….
Korea War veteran
Isaac Artenstein says
GOP Strategists Are Arranging Media Interviews To Attack Bowe Bergdahl
(from the Huffington Post)
Don Bacon says
We must consider that these so-called “soldiers” are immature humans, chronologically somewhere between children and adults, who are put in ungodly situations that few of us can imagine, along with some bullshit lies from our elders about keeping America free etc. etc.
Researchers have recently found that the human brain matures later than they thought, at about age thirty give/take some depending on genetic makeup and environment.
So cut these “young men” some slack, and remember how stupid we were (speaking for myself, at least) in our twenties. It wasn’t our fault!