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Define irony: Bowe Bergdahl, deserter, returning to active duty - and a paycheck

Bergdahl in a video taken by the Haqqani Network
Bergdahl in a video taken by the Haqqani Network
Photo by: media handout/haqqani

According to multiple sources, deserter Bowe Bergdahl is about to be returned to active duty. Following his “rescue” on May 31, 2014, when the United States traded five high-ranking members of the Taliban for his release, he began the process required to assimilate into Army life once again. That process included debriefings, interviews and 6 weeks of on-post therapy and counseling. A military spokesman claimed it is normal procedure to return a service member such as Bergdahl to active duty at the end of what they call the “therapy phase.” Army spokesman Don Manuszewski told media Bergdahl’s duties will be “commensurate” to his rank, which begs the question, which rank? The rank he had achieved prior to his desertion, or the rank he was promoted to while living with members of the Haqqani Network?

“Soldiers, when committed to a task, can't compromise. It's unrelenting devotion to the standards of duty and courage, absolute loyalty to others, not letting the task go until it's been done.” John Keegan

And in related news, as the Army returns the man who deserted to active duty in the very military he vocally disparaged, they may also be handing over $350,000. The lump sum would be tax-free and deposited into his bank account by the Army upon the conclusion of their investigation into his disappearance. If they conclude he was a prisoner of war and his disappearance was not desertion, the money will be all his. Which begs the question, since the Army decided within months of his initial disappearance that he walked away of his own free will, will they really let desertion/not desertion be the deciding factor, or will concern over public opinion win out? After all, despite the military community’s disgust at Bergdahl’s behavior, there are still quite a few relatively uninformed members of the public who automatically believe that $350,000 is Bergdahl’s, free and clear, no questions asked.

It seems the price paid for Bergdahl’s desertion and his years among the people he felt our military was somehow wronging is already more than high enough. Attempts to locate and rescue him resulted in an undisclosed number of deaths, maimings and at least one crippled service member. There are currently fourteen men known to be dead as a result of Bergdahl’s desertion, including: PFC Justin Castillas, PFC Aaron Fairbarn, PFC Matthew Martinek, 2LT Darryn Andrews, PFC Morriss Walker, and Staff Sergeants Clayton Bowen, Kurt Curtiss, and Michael Murphrey. The blood of our services members and the suffering of their families who have been left behind seems an astronomically high price to pay for a deserter.

As for the idea of returning Bergdahl to active duty – he’ll be stationed at Army North headquarters at Fort Sam Houston in Texas – there is certainly some irony to dropping the man right back into the life he openly despised. One Army official even went so far as to make the rather incongruous statement that a return to active duty would be made easier on Bergdahl due to his being constantly guided and supervised by members of his unit. These are, of course, the men Bergdahl called “an army of liars, backstabbers, fools and bullies.” One does not need to strain their imagination far to guess just how Bergdahl feels about this.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Henry David Thoreau

And then there is the concern no one in the mainstream media seems willing to voice: is Bergdahl a sleeper? After all, he repeatedly expressed his disdain not only for the US Armed Forces but for America in general. “I am ashamed to even be [A]merican,” he wrote to his parents. He shunned contact with the men in his unit, was reprimanded and disciplined for slacking in his duties, and spent all his free time in his tent using Rosetta Stone programs to learn Pashto and Arabic. His father’s bold displays showing support for the very terrorists responsible for slaughtering Americans apparently reach back years; the Muslim roots in the Bergdahl household seem to begin with Bob Bergdahl and creep through Bowe Bergdahl. Victor Hugo once said “men become accustomed to poison by degrees” and in much the same way, certain ideologies and resentment in a household can create the belief they are not only good and true but defensible at great cost.

Despite the attempts that have been made and will undoubtedly continue to be made by the Army, only one person will ever know the full truth of what happened the evening of June 30, 2009: Bowe Bergdahl. The full consequences of trading not one but five dangerous terrorists for him will also never be known by any one person, but odds are the American people will see at least some of the fallout in the years to come. And if there is any risk from bringing Bergdahl back to active duty a mere two months after his return to the bosom of the country he apparently hates, well, it will not stay hidden forever. There is simply no way to predict the potential events of the coming months at the hands of a callous deserter.

“Bad men cannot make good citizens. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, are incompatible with freedom.” Patrick Henry

To those who frown and say in disapproving tones Bergdahl should be given a chance, that he spent five years in apparent captivity and is, after all, a member of our military, and deserving of the benefit of the doubt: sometimes giving someone yet another chance is not unlike handing them another bullet because they missed you with the first mag. There is a vast difference between allowing for a second chance and offering a hundredth. The reality is Bergdahl is a deserter; there is a practically endless stream of evidence proving it. Bergdahl’s apparent shame and hatred of America has always been well documented. He ran off into the night like a coward, and as a result, good men died.

We have already paid too high a price for an ungrateful man, and thanks to this administration’s going behind the backs of Congress to facilitate an incredibly lopsided trade, this nation does not yet know the full price it will pay. Obama has returned a man to our soil who was unwilling to stand alongside his fellow soldiers and fulfill the duties he volunteered for, and we are not meant to question the brilliance of the man in the White House. Nothing lends greater strength and control to those in positions of power than the silence of those they govern. Stop for a moment and question why Obama was willing to make such a clearly terrible trade when he is unwilling to obtain the release of our Marine being unlawfully detained in Mexico? It is high time to cease giving your silent approval, because that’s what silence is: approval. How staggering, how drenched in the blood of the lost, does the price have to become to appall the average American? It seems Bergdahl made his choice five years ago when he deserted: he did not want to be an American. Stop offering your silent approval. Speak up and speak out, and tell Bowe Bergdahl to...

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” Benjamin Franklin

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