Monday, June 2, 2014

The Long Voyage of Bowe Bergdahl.

The late Michael Hastings wrote about Bowe Bergdahl in Rolling Stone two years ago. The piece painted a picture of a complex young man who was actively seeking a life of edgy adventure. He was born, raised, and home schooled in Hailey, Idaho. It is a town of 7,900 plus souls near the resort area of Sun Valley. Up until now Hailey's most famous, or depending on how you look at it, infamous, native son was the poet turned fascist, Ezra Pound. Of course Pound didn't stick around long. His family moved when he was only 18 months old.

Bowe Bergdahl desperately wanted to do the same thing. So much so, Hastings pointed out the U.S. Army was actually Bergdahl's second choice. He had, prior to his enlistment, tried to join the French Foreign Legion, but they turned him down. He also fantasized about becoming some type of hybrid mercenary in Africa in order to teach villagers how to protect themselves from people like Boko Haram and The Lord's Resistance Army.

In the end he settled on the American army and began his training for deployment in Afghanistan. According to Michael Hastings he arrived with the bright eyes of an idealist. He studied the language of the Afghans so he could communicate with them and even Russian military manuals in order to see how they failed. An officer described him as quiet and well behaved. Others began to call him, SF for special forces because of his intensity. Unfortunately, if Hastings was correct, Bergdahl found himself in the midst of a company of fuck ups from the top down. Try to imagine the characters of the cartoon strip Beetle Bailey with real guns preparing for actual combat.

Hasting writes the situation was so bad Bergdahl believed his company was unfit for combat. Shortly before the outfit shipped out he told one of his few friends in the unit, "If this deployment is lame, I'm just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan."

The deployment turned out to be lame indeed. The commanding officer was canned, leaving an inexperienced sergeant in charge. What little discipline was left in his platoon disintegrated. Morale went to hell and the soldiers were openly hostile toward the people they were supposed to be helping. It didn't take long for Bowe Bergdahl's idealism to turn into bitter disillusion. In emails sent to his father he complained about incompetence, dishonesty, and the miasma of military politics which, he alleged, rewarded brown nosing suck ups and penalized honesty and innovation. Ultimately he began to question the entire conduct of the war.

Not long after a unit vehicle ran over and killed an Afghan child--a tragedy apparently shrugged off by at least some of his comrades--he grabbed a compass, a bottle of water, and took a hike toward the mountains of Pakistan.

He didn't get far.

That was in June, 2009. A couple of days ago, the Obama administration traded five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay for the only U.S. soldier taken prisoner by insurgents in Afghanistan.

It took less than 48 hours for the shit to hit the fan. Right wing hacks all over the place are screeching to the heavens that Barack H. Obama traded five mass murderers for a--take your pick--traitor, deserter, or AWOL. A "We the People" online petition calling for Bergdahl's court martial has, as of a couple of hours ago, been signed by a little over four thousand people.

John McCain is yapping about the, "hardened terrorists" who were let go. Ted Cruz speculated we've just set a price on the heads of American service people and yokels like Jim Inhofe are complaining Obama didn't give congress 30 days notice before he released someone from Guantanamo. Representative Buck McKeon, R-CA the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has promised there will be hearings.

Well sure there will be. And each and every republican will get up and say Barack Obama broke the law and he should be censured, or impeached, or whatever it is you do with a guy who isn't a fellow tea party savant.

Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel says the deal was struck to save the life of Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier and citizen. It was, in his words, that simple.

The five Taliban who were given up for an American sergeant will be in living in Qatar for at least a year. Intelligence sources call them gray beards. In other words, they're old and out of the loop. The Taliban is calling the exchange a, "great victory."

Despite all this political nonsense his parents and the population of Hailey are ready to welcome Bowe Bergdahl home with open arms.

That would be unlike a guy on FOX named Ralph Peters, who a couple of years ago, after the Rolling Stone story hit the stands, said the Taliban should save the U.S. not only a few bucks, but considerable time and effort by executing him.

Such is the nature of the right wing.

Thankfully, there are a few people left who refuse to cave into that sort of jingoistic bullshit--much to the relief of Bowe Bergdahl's mother and father.

sic vita est


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