Who’s Really the Traitor Here? Thoughts about Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl

by on June 10, 2014 · 13 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Culture, History, Military, Veterans, War and Peace

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl

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

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Mike Hall June 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm

OK Ernie, I won’t call him a traitor, yet, and will accept that maybe he freaked out, although his comrades don’t recall him freaking out, and maybe he just didn’t want to shoot innocent children anymore. I do think calling him a hero, which was done by most sources initially, is too much. Unless we are deciding that harming the enemy by consuming its meager resources that he risked sacrificing himself for some nobler cause. We haven’t seen the mention of that by anyone except you. We should have him back, perhaps not at the cost of other lives, but we should have him back regardless so he can face justice and eventually praise, indifference, or punishment. As a veteran who followed the rules regardless of my personal disapproval of our involvement in the invasion of Vietnam, as I think you are too, I have a right to expect due process for my fellow comrades.

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avatar Richard Menze June 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Wow. Once again you speak right out of my brain.
Well said Ernie. I rode my bicycle through Camp Pendelton the other day and just shook my head at the people outside carrying signs condemning him. Guilty without a trial..That is America? Not the one I learned about in school. But, as you said, he is not the guilty one. They put him in an untenable situation and then condemn him because he doesn’t behave as GWB and Cheney demand. He truly is a hero for whatever his actions are.

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avatar Mike June 10, 2014 at 9:44 pm

This has been Barack Obama’s war since 2008, not GWB and Cheney.

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avatar Ernie McCray June 10, 2014 at 10:40 pm

It’s all of their wars, Obama right now, for sure, but there hasn’t been a war since World War II that should have been and that didn’t segue into all the wars; they’re all a continuum of horrors – for which our children pay.

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avatar Marc Snelling June 11, 2014 at 9:45 am

There is plenty of blood for everyone’s hands. Obama is presiding while this war continues but he is not the one who told the world massive lies to start it. He is not the one who told the enemy to “bring it on”. President Cheney and shill GWB’s hands are covered with blood. Obama’s level of responsibility will never change that.

Stories like Bowe Bergdahl’s show the US has already lost the war. When US soldiers don’t care about running over a child on a dirt road in Afghanistan we’ve lost our own ‘hearts and minds’.

“Enduring Freedom’ is the longest war in the nation’s history by far. Obama says he is ending it in 2016 when it will then by a 15-year war. Twice as long as Vietnam. If it can be ended arbitrarily like that then it’s really an occupation or a lost war.

The fact that Bowe’s father had to try and negotiate for his son’s release shows how screwed up this war and both administrations are. If the government really cared they could have negotiated his release years ago.

Bowe’s father instilled a conscience in his son based on centuries of Calvinist beliefs older than this nation. And that’s what makes him a ‘traitor’? One Nation Under God until we go to war, after that you are supposed to ignore your conscience and follow orders you know deep in your heart are wrong?

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avatar Aging Hippie June 11, 2014 at 9:51 am

First off, we’re a secular nation with a secular government, and when you volunteer to join the armed forces, you agree to follow orders, even if they conflict with your personal religious beliefs.

Second, we don’t leave our soldiers in the hands of foreign governments. If a soldier is to be tried for a crime, he or she must be tried here, under UCMJ, not in a Shariah court in a foreign country.

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avatar Marc Snelling June 11, 2014 at 10:57 am

God, Country, Corps goes the saying. You don’t just agree to follow orders over personal beliefs and that is why conscientious objector status exists.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 11, 2014 at 10:59 am

Then don’t join. But if you join, and you don’t follow orders for whatever reason, then the consequences should fall on you, and personal religious belief should be no defense.

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avatar Marc Snelling June 11, 2014 at 11:42 am

Why? Obeying orders is not a viable criminal defense. ‘I was only following orders’ didn’t work for the Nazis nor has it worked for anyone since. The UCMJ recognizes the difference between legal and illegal orders.

The problem with your argument is that the military spends a lot of money building up their image to convince recruits the mission is noble and righteous. It isn’t until they see the reality on the ground that their beliefs are challenged.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I’m not saying Bergdahl was wrong, I don’t think he was. But say he had been. It still shouldn’t make any difference, we should always get ALL of our POW’s back at the end of every war.

If the UCMJ recognizes the difference between legal and illegal orders, why is Chelsea Manning in prison?

Godwin for the Nazi analogy.

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avatar Mike Stosh June 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Walking away from your post in a war zone is an offense of some kind. Was he going to 7-11 for some smokes ? He should be tried for leaving his post, dishonorably discharged and sentenced to time serve.

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avatar Ernie McCray June 12, 2014 at 11:03 am

Even if he was not in his right mind at the time?

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avatar Aging Hippie June 12, 2014 at 11:23 am

No matter what he did, or why he did it, he should not just be left in the custody of a former enemy after the end of a war. We didn’t do that in Vietnam, even though McCain was clearly a traitor.

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