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"I Made A Horrible Mistake"

Whose Decision Threatened Soldiers' Lives More: President Bush's or Bo Bergdahl's?

We don’t have much to rejoice over these days, but it seems appropriate to send out three-cheers to Army Colonel Jeffery R. Nance, the judge who handed down the Solomon-like Bergdahl sentence and who, thus, has elevated himself to the much-vaunted position of “adult in the room.” He’s especially worth honoring when you consider the absurdities going on in Guantanamo, where a Colonel in charge of trying one of the bombers of the USS Cole put a Brigadier General in jail for contempt because he would not go along with an outrageous decision. The action was so authoritarian in nature and the flak so loud, that General John Baker, the number two lawyer in the Marine Corps, has been freed. So let’s give a shout-out to both Colonel Nance and General Baker for having the backbone to exhibit modern “profiles in courage” in the context of post-9/11 military courts going rogue. Given the incredible regime of secrecy citizens live under and the gang sitting in the White House, these days it’s individual cogs like these brave officers who stand between us and a tyrannical point-of-no-return.

We might do a bit of ju-jitsu on Nancy Reagan and encourage more people in the system to “Just Say No!” Mutiny as national service.

The Bergdahl case is especially instructive.

Here you have a fellow who joined the US Army who ends up in Afghanistan. He was involved in enough “combat” to earn a Combat Infantry Badge (CIB), something that is not awarded lightly. In fact, Four-Star General Stanley McChrystal, famous for The Surge in Iraq, did not have a CIB; instead, he wore an Expert Infantry Badge, which meant he was very good at being an infantryman, maybe even a genius at managing infantrymen, but he was never in real combat. So Bergdahl was not a slouch in Afghanistan. Was he mentally not the most together person? Maybe. Did he have some kind of gripe about his superior out in the field that he deluded himself into thinking it was a wise decision to walk to the main base through hostile country to report it? That seems to be the case. The merits of his grievance aside, who out there thinks, once he was captured for straying from his unit, that anyone in the military command was going to give any credence to his grievance? At that point, the gravity rule for accountability factored into the case and Bergdahl was dog meat in the chain of command.

Under the Obama administration, martial pride and the political value of blood vengeance were not the top priorities; diplomacy was more important to Obama. And though it would be wrong to say “peace” was President Obama’s main goal (he did a lot to sustain perennial war and to increase drone killings), he wasn’t so enamored with calling for blood vengeance as a goose-stepping political tactic. In fact, it’s interesting to ponder what might have been Bergdahl’s sentence under President Obama’s more “progressive,” less blood-thirsty regime. Not under pressure to counter an outrageous White House, might a small prison time have been the moderate order of the day? Under Obama, a profile in courage posture might not have been an issue. We can speculate ‘til the cows come home; the point is, there may be a welcomed backfire-effect in the system thanks to Donald Trump’s love for viciousness. From the vantage point of an ex-enlisted-man nobody, I wonder if we're seeing an upper-level brass version of the response one often heard from soldiers in Vietnam when they did something officially against the rules: “Hey! Send me to Vietnam.”



story | by Dr. Radut