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Bergdahl, Safer in Captivity than USA?

America can’t seem to forgive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for following his conscience.

Why? Probably because America -- collectively -- has ignored its own.

All these years of the US government perpetrating gratuitous global bloodbaths.

Bergahl is being scapegoated by a US-punked population that is misdirecting its anger over the unwinnability and colossal stupidity and criminality of the "war on terror" -- a chain of pathetic and brutal military misadventures with massive human, geo-political and economic costs.

In “The Disaster That Is U.S. Foreign Policy” Sheldon Richman writes:

America is not winning the war on terror because it was unwinnable from the start, primarily because its origins and nature were viewed through a distorting nationalist and imperialist ideology and thus were badly misunderstood. As a result, the U.S. government has killed countless innocent Muslims, seen the lives of thousands of young Americans snuffed out or ruined, and squandered obscene sums of money.

And what’s to show for it? A growing and spreading movement of extremists who want revenge against Americans. Thanks very much, ruling elite.


Jeff Huber, a retired naval flight officer, realized this several years ago: "Dead or alive, Osama bin Laden is the greatest strategist in the history of human conflict. With no navy or air force or anything that resembles a formal army, he’s managed to whip the world’s mightiest nation like a rented camel. Our economy is shot, the best-trained, best-equipped military in history has been proven impotent, and our moral standing in the world has gone through the sub-basement."

Once again, some little pisher comes along, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in this case, like those troublemaking traitors Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and dares to question the patriarchal authority responsible for such insane MASS depravity, criminality and destruction!!!

Well, the faux-patriots, amoral politicians and militarists, still-deep-in-denial guilt-ridden vets and soldiers, a massive and insidiously propagandist corporate media and millions of low-information, schadenfreude-feeding authoritarian-following Americans will make short work of him!!!

Missy Comley Beattie in “Safe at Home?” writes:

Bergdahl’s parents are receiving death threats from people who’ve judged their son to be a deserter, responsible for the deaths of fellow soldiers, instead of praising him as a man who saw the truth of war’s lies. Sad that Bowe Bergdahl may have been safer in captivity than at home in the exceptionally exceptional boiling pot of America.

Eric Margolis in “The Big Snub in Paris”:

Afghanistan joins Iraq as America’s second lost war: 22,000 US dead and wounded, emotionally damaged soldiers, hundreds of thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and $1 trillion down the drain. Both wars were waged on money borrowed from China and Japan, leaving the US with a mammoth foreign debt.

Sheldon Richman, aforementioned:

Those who back Obama still can’t bring themselves to say that the Afghan war was a stupid and that Obama’s 2009 surge — which accelerated the casualties — was stupidity squared.

My head says that I should sit back and watch with satisfaction this fight between conservatives and progressives. Both sides share the same flawed premises, so let them go at it until they fall down in exhaustion.

But my gut tells me that this fight will be get even uglier than it already is, and its consequences bode ill for the future, because no one in the mainstream is willing to question the deepest premises of American foreign policy and its inevitable disastrous consequences. In the larger scheme, the Bergdahl exchange is a sideshow.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl risked his life -- and sanity -- serving in Afghanistan. Beattie, aforementioned, shares a portion of his email to his parents on June 27, 2009.

I am sorry for everything here. 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 … We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks … We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them … I am sorry for everything. The horror that is america is disgusting.

Winston Warfield in “the Moral Rot of American Exceptionalism” addresses this written message from Bergdahl to his parents:

This remarkable statement comes from a formerly highly-disciplined soldier, trained to carry a SAW (squad automatic weapon) into combat, by all accounts what the national mythology reveres, a poster-boy for the new secular religion of American exceptionalism . It is also what no doubt has driven its true believers and priests into enraged apoplexy, including some in his own unit and possibly many veterans. The rage has turned into an avalanche of hate on social media, intimidating parade organizers in his hometown into cancelling his homecoming.


The American right-wing located in the Republican party, some liberals like Chris Matthews and Dianne Feinstein and some of his fellow soldiers are all calling for his head in a display of vengeful nastiness bordering on psychotic. Bergdahl’s motivations for walking away from the bizarre U.S. counterinsurgency expedition in Afghanistan, a “dirty war” seemingly without purpose or end, are being lost in the fog of infantile political temper tantrums.

Warfield makes reference to the “notorious” friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman, who sacrificed a lucrative NFL career to join up with the Army Rangers having been motivated by the 9-11 attack. Tillman’s remark to a soldier buddy in March 2003, “You know, this war is so fucking illegal” went viral over the internet. Tillman was accidentally killed by friendly fire during a botched mission but the Bush administration and military lied about the reality of his death and the reality of his attitude about the war to exploit him as a useful martyr for pro-war propaganda.

The late Michael Hastings’ 2012 Rolling Stone article about Bergdahl, explains Warfield, paints Bergdahl as a “perfect, highly-motivated foot soldier for ‘humanitarian imperialism', the perfect youthful idealist falling for the good-vs-evil fairy tale of American exceptionalism."

However, Bergdahl quickly became disillusioned. He perceived his unit and its leadership as profoundly dysfunctional. He and his fellow soldiers were put gratuitously in harm’s way due to leadership and bureaucratic incompetence.

Warfield attempts to put young Bergdahl’s psyche and situation in a clearer perspective. He speculates that there may have been an economic motivation for Bergdahl's decision to enlist, the proverbial “poverty draft”. Bergdahl’s Idaho parents reportedly had an annual earning at one point of only $7,000.

However Warfield suggests that given our glamorized “militarized” American culture particularly male youths yearn for adventure and though some may possess a strong moral compass they are naive and ignorant of “history and the world outside” as Warfield puts it.

That ignorance and historic amnesia is coupled with a desire to express one’s youthful need for excitement and adventure by joining the military, and in essence acquiring that excitement by deploying across the planet to combat zones. In the society of the spectacle, where young Americans are immersed in an entertainment culture, the world becomes a theme park or giant (real) video contest, where they can overcome their boredom in a spiritually dead consumerism by testing themselves in what they view as heroic combat in other people’s countries, riding to their rescue.

The “others” in those countries in essence become two-dimensional cutouts or foils for a live-action videogame with real risks and danger and excitement. The suffering resulting from American military occupation is not part of the consciousness, and rarely is noticed by soldiers immersed in the demands of survival against lethal dangers. It is instead often replaced with resentment and hatred for the ungrateful locals who either support the insurgents or are caught between them and American forces.

Warfield emphasizes that Bergdahl’s emotional and moral maturity are what have gotten him into this present media firestorm. He did not throw his moral compass away. He did not self-destruct though many have tragically done so and are doing so daily, due to the sustained horrors they were and are made to witness and/or participate in. He did not crack and become homicidal. Warfield writes:

Not surprisingly, many occupation soldiers, carrying in their heads the bright, shining lie of American benevolence and purity (and by extension their own), bedeviled by constant pressure from an unseen enemy and a civilian population unable or unwilling to cooperate, soon develop very negative attitudes toward those whom they thought they were “saving”. Atrocity stories about American soldiers murdering women and children, desecrating corpses and so forth start percolating into the national consciousness, like skunks at a garden party.

Let’s stop and think for a sec. The deliberate murders of innocent foreigners by US troops are pretty much accepted, forgiven and/or ignored by our government, media and majority of the citizenry. But questioning and refusing to kill? NOW THAT IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY, CLEARLY!!! Those who messenger and object to such gratuitous murder are turned upon with homicidal outrage by so many of the “good” citizens of America.



The true believers in American mythology, many veterans who have experienced much pain and loss as a result of their military service, are unable to tolerate this kind of dissent, for it raises agonizing questions, “Was it all in vain? Was I used for ulterior motives by my own government?” and lash out at dissenters. They are rounded up by clever political operatives and used to build campaigns of intimidation. This is what is happening now as the established political parties and their corporate media allies attempt to quash dissent.

Warfield points out that one of the biggest fears for the “neoliberal project of policing the world” is resistance by its own military. Warfield asserts that It was the GI resistance that played a “crucial” role in bringing to a close the Vietnam War invasion and occupation. Ending the draft was the plan of the US military and political establishment to reduce soldier blowback. They reasoned that volunteers would be more “docile” than draftees. They were wrong Warfield maintains.

Warfield concludes that the political and military establishment, working hand in hand with the corporate media, will “orchestrate” the coverage of Bergdahl and the prisoner swap to “snuff out” real healthy debate about US murderous imperialism.


As for Bergdahl, recovering from the trauma of first being at the mercy of a dysfunctional and criminal military, then five years of caged and torturous internment at the mercy of hostile Taliban captors, he now has to weather the trauma of a mass and merciless block of American enemies -- formidable enemies of him and his parents, not to mention truth, justice, empathy and sanity.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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nomad2's picture
Submitted by nomad2 on

"stupidity squared"
I've been trying to find a way of characterizing the Obama administration extension of the Bush wars. That 'bout does it. Bush's invasion of Iraq was stupid. Barack's escalation of drones in Afghanistan and rape of Lybia was stupidity squared. The destabilization of Ukraine doubles down on even that degree of stupidity. I guess that makes it stupidity cubed.