The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him, veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose "selfish act" ended up costing the lives of better men.
"I was pissed off then, and I am even more so now with everything going on," said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. "Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him."
This is a report from CNN. There's something very unsettling about this case. Was he a deserter and did several men die trying to find him? And did his father really grow that Taliban-style beard as a show of solidarity. And why does Bergdahl Sr keep launching into Pashtu, and comparing his plight with that of the Afghans? It's very, very strange. In some ways it's a bit like the Brits capturing a few top-knobs from the Third Reich, and swapping them for a Nazi-captured Churchill.
Then there's the other side of the coin. When I was younger there were no such things as terrorists blowing one another up. Those in far-off lands lived their lives the way they wanted to, rightly or wrongly, and we did the same. I blame all the bloodshed in the world on politicians' squabble for one-upmanship. The British and American leaders in recent years remind me of the Crusades, when knights went off to kill the infidel. It's wrong, and no one has the right to interfere with another's culture. Here, in my nearest town, there was no nativity crib in the precinct because some wise men (nothing to do with Christmas) decided it would offend Muslims. The local Muslims, for their part (my driver is a Muslim) put Christmas tree up just the same, and every Muslim that I know tells me that they love Christmas.
Almost every day, until recently, our news broadcasts showed pictures of young people who have died because a know-all US president and a know-all British prime minister stuck their snouts into someone else's business. Even as I write this and listen to the lunchtime news, Obama is sending troops out to Eastern Europe. I met him in Chicago in 1998--my birthday--when he was just plain Mr Obama. He seemed very nice back then. What is happening in Sudan, Nigeria and Syria is dreadful, but we see only what they want us to see. A young woman is sentenced to death for being a Christian. A man 'legally' kills his wife, with his family's approval. These customs are barbaric, but there is nothing that anyone can do to stop them without causing misery for those given the job of trying to stop them. Our own houses need to be put in order before we start interfering with anyone else's. It sounds hard, but it's true. We just cannot take on everybody else's problems.
The war in Iraq was futile, as is the one in Afghanistan. All it has achieved is misery and the deaths of so many people who should never have been sent there in the first place. There would have been no need for Guantanamo Bay of our politicians had kept their noses out. 9/11 would not have happened. It's bullying, plain and simple. And bullies never like a taste of their own medicine. No doubt what really happened with Bowe Bergdahl will be explained, in time.