You may have heard by now that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who wandered off to take a piss circa 2009 and ended up as a guest of the Taliban ever since, is back in the warm embrace of a nation that isn’t sure if it wants to kick the crap out of him or hug him until his eyes pop. And then kick him anyway because we were worried sick about him. And what’d we have to give up for Sgt. Bergdahl? Some dudes who’ve been at Guantanamo so long they don’t matter to the war anymore.
Much of the barely informed commentary has come from sources like The Daily Beast on what we’ve given up to get Bergdahl back. I’m not going to belabor that point, but I do recommend taking the time to read Kate Clark’s report on these five gents. Bottom line is that the fearmongering Lake and Rogin perpetuate is, while not completely baseless, the kind of rhetoric that played well circa 2001, but now sounds like the prattling of people with a vested interest in keeping the war going on for like, ever.
But today isn’t about the Pentagon’s favorite outsourced PR outlet. It’s about Bergdahl, and why all those calling for his head on a pike and that we shouldn’t have traded Gitmo detainees need to figure out how to shut the hell up. Because while he may be a young man whose goal in wandering off into the dark in 2009 was to desert, and for that you think he’s a dick, the fact is…he’s our dick.
“I will never leave a fallen comrade.”
Because private citizen Bergdahl found his way into a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) once upon a time and raised his hand and swore an oath and put on a uniform means one thing: he’s a brother in arms. A comrade. Maybe a misguided comrade, a brother who got lost along the way, and who put a lot of other people in harm’s way looking for him after he went missing, but a comrade nonetheless.
That doesn’t mean I’ll leave him behind if I think he’s a dick, or I don’t agree with him, or I’m pissed that a lot of people worried about him over the years, and think maybe he wandered off on purpose and deserves what he got.
It means we’d move heaven and earth to bring that comrade back home again. It means we’d do whatever we can to give his family closure. It means we’d never leave him behind.
I know a few who won’t be coming home to anyone ever again. None of them were the kind of man who’d leave their unit and go off into the darkness alone. But it’s not about what we believe about Bergdahl. It’s about what we’d do for every one of our brothers and sisters in arms, and we never leave them behind.
Even if we think he’s a dick.
Also published on Medium.