Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A POW's release and China's reaction

The strange case of Sgt Bowe Bergdahl

In 2009, Sgt Bowe Bergdahl went missing from his forward operating base (FOB) in Afghanistan.  The details of this seem to be murky since the Army has not come out with its official version.  Former soldiers who were with Bergdahl at the FOB have no problem calling him a deserter.  On NPR yesterday, one of the soldiers said that Bergdahl's night vision goggles, body armor and kit were all nicely stacked by his bedside indicating that Bergdahl left under his own accord.

If the testimony is accurate, then why is the White House, DoD and the media all calling Bergdahl a POW?  He walked off on his own and it sounds like he may even have remained on his own for an extended period of time.  If he was "captured", was this something he intended to happen?

Moreover, why was it necessary for President Obama to bypass Congress and free five detainees/prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl?  Why were the terms of the exchange that Bergdahl remain at Landstuhl for 30 days before being returned to the CONUS?

I am happy for his family that he is being brought home.  I am saddened for the families of those soldiers that were killed looking for Bergdahl when he first went missing.  I hope they did not die in vain.

But the whole story has a very strange feel to it, like something Rod Serling would've written about the insanity of war and our perceptions of soldiers and heroes.  Reports are that Bergdahl may have forgotten how to speak English.  I say bullshit.  Foreigners are constantly immersed in other countries and cultures without forgetting their native tongue.  Something else is at play here and I don't think we will ever get the straight story.

And why was one soldier worth five detainees/prisoners suspected of the worst crimes?  And why now?

"Officially, Obama and other top leaders are calling Bergdahl’s return a victory, a promise kept that the United States never leaves a prisoner of war behind. ”We’re committed to winding down the war in Afghanistan, and we are committed to closing Gitmo. But we also made an ironclad commitment to bring our prisoners of war home. That’s who we are as Americans. It’s a profound obligation within our military, and today, at least in this instance, it’s a promise we’ve been able to keep,” Obama said."--Defense One

Perhaps effecting Bergdahl's "release" was a prelude to closing GITMO.  If they worst of the worst are no longer there, then Obama can make the case to close more easily.  But it so doing, he has now changed the game without realizing it.  Since at least the 1980s, it was understood the US would not negotiate with terrorists.  Apparently this is no longer the case.


China perhaps cut through the bullshit of the Obama Doctrine better than anything I could write:

“As U.S. power declines, Washington needs to rely on its allies in order to reach its goal of containing China’s development,” Maj. Gen Zhu Chenghu, a professor at the National Defense University, told a TV station.

“But whether it will get involved or use military intervention once there is a territorial dispute involving China and its neighbors, that is another issue,” he added.

He said that this depended on the U.S. ability to project power, citing Ukraine as an example.

He said, “we can see from the situation in Ukraine this kind of ED” –which he explained in Chinese was a military abbreviation for something that may have meant “extended deployment” – “has become the male type of ED problem – erectile dysfunction.”

So instead of multilateral partnerships that will allows the US and its allies to exert influence without direct intervention, China sees the Obama doctrine as analogous to ED.  Isolationism or extreme intervention seems to be the point of Obama's West Point speech.  I seriously doubt in the 21st Century global economy that the US can completely isolate itself.  It didn't work in the early 20th Century so what makes Obama think it will work any better today?

No comments: