Deserters, Traitors and Captives

The US wrangled the release of Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army soldier. Handily it also got rid of five Taliban folks who’ve been out of circulation for 13 years, and had nothing to do with the Afghan war. (I’m not saying they’re not bloody murderers, its just that we haven’t been able to convict them, deport them, or do anything else with them.)

Some military folks are saying he was a “traitor,” that he “went AWOL.” I’m not sure how that’s relevant to the joy the family has of his being returned. I’m sure the military court of justice will do what it does with all soldiers: try the facts of the case.

I don’t pretend to know what really happened the night he was captured. I _do_ know that PTSD has terrible effects on soldiers: getting drunk, suicidal actions, running away… these are all part of that kind of reaction. What was he like before this? A sane person would not go past the fence into enemy terrain just for giggles. Something drove him, if he indeed did this, out.

The politicians, safe and smug, are throwing stones at President Obama’s actions. Leaving no one on the field of battle is immensely important, no matter what the circumstances. The Israeli army went to great lengths, returning literally thousands of dangerous prisoners to their homes, to regain the remains of soldiers.

I say welcome home, Bowe. You’ll have your day in court, but also the rest of your life as a free man. And to your former comrades-in-arms: take a step back and think about all your partners who killed themselves, instead of “just” walking out into the night past the fence.