A nation in distress: An interpretation of Bergdahl

american-flag_half-mastI originally decided I was going to keep quiet on this most recent incident until all the facts have been weighed out.  From the beginning, I thought that there was a lot more to this story than what was being reported by the American mainstream media. While I could do what a lot of other right-leaning blogs have done and simply laundry list all the current articles dealing with the whole affair, I have decided to simply do commentary based on what has already been reported.  Firstly, why SGT. Bergdahl as a captive?  For the nearly thirteen years at war, why was he the only “captured” service member in custody?  In the military history of the United States, there have always been scores of service members captured, regardless of the precautions taken by the theater command.

I believe that the answer to this question is two-fold.  Firstly, we now hear from members of Bergdahl’s unit that he actually abandoned his assigned position, walked into a civilian Afghan area, and actively sought out members of the Taliban, stating often to them that he had become disillusioned by the American war efforts.  Bergdahl was not captured on a battlefield, injured in combat to be immediately seized by a hostile force, but actively sought out the enemy. It has been reported that he even taught the Taliban how to make IEDs to be used against the forces of the United States and allies. We have heard that as few as five to as many as eight men from his unit paid the ultimate sacrifice to find him.  Evident of his desires to walk away from his post was that all his military gear and his weapon were left behind.  He had begun to mail his personal effects home, and even stressed in communications with his father that he was disillusioned, not proud to be an American, and other statements showing that he was less than sincere in his efforts to serve his nation as a combat soldier. It has been stated by members of his unit that the Taliban attacks against his unit increased in intensity and in accuracy shortly after his disappearance from his unit.  It has been suggested that he gave the Taliban crucial information that may have resulted in the deaths of even more American soldiers than the ones that died trying to find him.

Daniel Pearl (1963-2002). Beheaded for being an American.

Daniel Pearl (1963-2002).
Beheaded for being an American and Jewish.

The second reason he was “held” in captivity can be understood because of what happened to Daniel Pearl in 2002. An American journalist, Pearl found himself captured by the Taliban and was later executed by beheading; a video of that act was actually placed on YouTube and paraded around the world by numerous Islamic militant groups. The sole reason he was executed was because he was an American Jew and he refused to convert to Islam; his captors also claimed he was beheaded because the United States did not give into his demands.  Daniel Pearl, his Islamic captives knew, was of no significant value to the United States.  He was not a governmental official, was not a flag ranking officer in the American military, and they were aware that he was not a bargaining chip. He was executed because he was an American and he was Jewish and refused to bow to Allah.  Bergdahl has been said to have converted to Islam, speaks Farsi Arabic, and his father, Bob Bergdahl, who often issued pro-Taliban tweets on Twitter, and even praised Allah in Arabic at the White House for the release of his son.  In other words, SGT Bergdahl was a fellow Muslim which made it against the Quran for another Muslim to slay. Bergdahl’s Islamic conversion and his knowledge of his unit’s position, equipment, and camp perimeter defenses made him valuable to the Taliban.  When he was of no more use to him in the battlefield of Afghanistan, he became the means to secure the release of the Taliban’s five top leaders in custody with an American administration willing to close Guantanamo Bay and end an unpopular war in Afghanistan.

September 11, 2001.   The whole reason we are at war.

September 11, 2001.
The whole reason we are at war.

I have repeatedly said that the United States, at least our citizenry, has a serious problem with short-term memory.  Last week, and even before that when the story about the exchange first broke, the Obama administration, even Mr. Obama himself, came out and said America has a fine tradition of not leaving our men and women who fight for this country behind… When I first heard this claim it seriously disturbed me because the United States has left soldiers behind.  In 1973 our nation left nearly 2,646 soldiers behind in the jungles of Vietnam (the remains of some nearly 400 have since been recovered). When the Korean War ended, the United States left 8,276 missing servicemen during that conflict.  It is fundamentally wrong for this administration to claim they did not want to leave Bergdahl, an apparent traitor, behind when there are still men from other American wars that have died who actually fought the nation’s enemies to be buried in some unknown grave in a foreign land or to remain as POW/MIAs even into modern times.

What about the various reports that have surfaced about American service members dating from World War II through the Cold War that have been imprisoned in the former Soviet Union concentration camps.  Do not they deserve a reunification with the United States since they were not allowed to return home after the ending of hostilities? Our own Department of Defense and National Security Council officials have admitted that scores of American servicemen were held by the Soviet Union.  Do not they deserve to be repatriated with their homeland?  At least Russia is a recognized nation with a recognized government; the Taliban is not a nation nor has it ever been recognized as one.  Again, yes, the Obama administration is correct in that our nation has negotiated for the return of prisoners of war; however, both Japan, Germany, North Korea, and North Vietnam were all recognized sovereign nations with whom we were at war with.  The Taliban is not a recognized sovereign entity nor a recognized government, but an organization of Islamic terrorists.  It would be the equivalent of the United States government negotiating with mobster Al Capone or Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa. The United States will negotiate with other nations, but never criminal enterprises.

Is the United States in crisis?  The best answer for that is when the nation’s past becomes distorted by its politicians to cover up wrong policies or as a means to justify actions that are unpopular with the American public, yes, our nation is in crisis.  By this administration’s actions with the whole Bergdahl situation, I am afraid that there will be more American servicemen and women killed, we will see more like Daniel Pearl, who would rather be murdered than to betray their faith and their nation, and we will see more justification of even more reckless policies through more distortions of American history and traditions.

Alan Simmons

Alan Simmons is an adjunct instructor of history at Henderson Community College. He has been teaching at the college/university level since 2004. Within the scope of his degrees, his areas of emphasis are U.S. foreign policy, public policy history, political history, and U.S. history.

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