It's been a while since I wrote something socially unpopular, so I guess I was due.
Almost everyone I know takes issue with the Bergdahl situation. I'm not even going to get into facet of who knows what. We are all partially informed, but I've mostly accepted that we will do everything with 100% certainty and polarization, regardless of the amount of information we have. So that's that.
However, I have an opinion that is rooted in my fundamental beliefs of patriotism and brotherhood. So, let me go on record and say that I fully support the decision to bring him home; even in trade for the 5 in Gitmo.
As for those five, let's make it simple. They are inactive graybeards. They've been in holding. They're out of the loop and out of the game. They were not air dropped into the mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan, never to be heard from again. They are in a compound in Qatar. For those who don't know, Qatar is a sovereign Arab Emirate that is basically the Switzerland of the Global War on Terror/GWOT; or whatever we are calling it these days. I heard The War Against Terror, but I refuse to acronym that one. Anyway, Qatar knows where its bread is buttered and it's not from war mongering. It's from the world's third-largest pocket of natural gas. So they don't want anything to upset the shawarma cart. These 5 antiques will sit in the compound, on which we will have a watchful eye, they'll rot. At least they aren't doing it on our dime anymore.
Now... for the real reason we're all gathered here today. Bergdahl. He's a traitor and un-American and a deserter right? He was a bad troop who left his platoon and doesn't deserve to be in the military anymore right? Maybe you're right on that. But does that mean that we let the enemy be judge, jury and executioner for us? We were gonna boot him out of the military anyway so he belongs a POW? He deserves to be under the loving care of terrorists, extremists, and generally bad people?
You bring him home. You ALWAYS bring him home. Dead or alive. Morally replete or bankrupt. Excellent troop or douchebag extraordinaire. You...bring...him...home. He signed on the line. He did what 0.4% ever do and that's put on the uniform. If he commits negative actions that deserve negative judgments, then WE pass them as a military and according to the uniformed code of military justice. We don't ever abandon one of our own. Who has been given the right to wave their hand and call someone unworthy? We have a system for that. We are not an emirate. Power doesn't rest on the shoulders of one Emir. We are not a monarchy. We aren't even an oligarchy, although the men of his platoon seem to think we are.
And if he is unfit for military service, does that mean he's unfit for being an American? All of those judging him... how many of you raised your hand and swore to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic? Maybe he didn't complete his part of the oath, but he stood up and took it. So, who is really ready to cast a stone. If he is unfit for military service, is he unfit for life? Is he not entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, just like every other American? You are ready to condemn him to death.
I've deployed. I was a communications guy in the Air Force. I sat in air conditioned server rooms and often had pools and Starbucks at my disposal. War is hell, right? Despite that, I've felt the pangs of distance. I've wiped away 6 months of middle eastern sand from the corners of my eyes. I've felt that ache of being away - and I had it EASY! What about the people who have it rough? I don't condone him walking away. I don't condone his behavior. I also wasn't there for it, nor have I endured whatever he had in his military role nor am I equipped to survey his mental and emotional landscapes and decided the quality of his faculties.
What I am sure of... is that from one American to another, one service member to another, one human being to another... I am not comfortable pulling on a black leather mask and swinging the axe. He deserved to come home from the enemy.
I think the biggest mistake is that we equate his freedom from his captors to exonerating him of his actions and they don't work in concert. He will be held accountable for his actions, as well he should be. Just remember who has the right to judge and punish him. It's not you and it's not the enemy.