The Facts About The Bergdahl Controversy
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Politics and Activism

The Facts About The Bergdahl Controversy

The Facts About The Bergdahl Controversy

I think we all can agree on one thing about the United States’ participation in war overseas: it is incredibly confusing.

For the generation born into the Persian Gulf war, Iraq war or the war in Afghanistan, we have constantly heard the word “war,” but never truly understood it. We want to be patriotic and support our country, but we struggle to comprehend exactly what out country is fighting for. This is not the fault of an American citizen. Since 1990, the United States military has fought in over a dozen wars on foreign soil. Yet, the youngest generation of American citizens has not witnessed any war. Growing up on Army base Fort Stewart in Georgia, I was surrounded by soldiers,including my grandfather, father and stepfather. Yet, until recently, I neglected to ask any of them about why they were deployed. 

It is easy to confuse the many countries we refer to as the Middle East. Currently, the United States is still engaged in the war in Afghanistan and a few subsets of the war on terror. To be clear, the war in Afghanistan is different than the Iraq war. The Al-Qaeda insurgency is taking place in Yemen. Today, I want to focus on Bowe Bergdahl and the part he has played in the war in Afghanistan.

Here are the facts. Bowe Bergdahl is a sergeant in the U.S. Army. He was deployed with an airborne unit out of Fort Richardson in Alaska. On June 30, 2009 the Taliban captured Bergdahl. On May 31, 2014, Bergdahl was released to Delta Force troops in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees. Bowe Bergdahl is alive and healthy. Six soldiers in his unit died in the attempt to find and retrieve him.

Unfortunately, these are the only facts that every American can agree on. The controversy and outrageous discussion about Bergdahl revolves around the way in which he became a prisoner of war (POW). Many believe that Bergdahl wandered into the desert in search of the Taliban. This idea is supported by an email that Bergdahl wrote his parents which states that the U.S. Army is horrifying because of their “self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in” and that he is “ashamed to even be American.” With comments like these, the public is claiming that Bergdahl may have wanted to join or help the Taliban. His comrade, Specialist (SPC) Jason Fry, stated that Bergdahl preferred studying maps of Afghanistan to socializing with his peers. SPC Fry also explained that Bergdahl said, "If this deployment is lame, I'm just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan."

With statements like these and confusing emails and conversations initiated by Bergdahl, the American public lacks trust in, and is outraged by, the U.S. government for releasing five terrorists to retrieve a soldier who believes “America is disgusting.”

A new development in this exchange has emerged that suggests Obama’s decision to engage in a prisoner swap to release Bergdahl may have been illegal. Prison transfers from Guantanamo Bay require 30 days notice to Congress. No such notice was given. There is also discussion amongst legal scholars who assert that the release of five Taliban commanders is considered “aiding the enemy” and against the law.

Although I cannot tell you which side of this argument is correct – and there are many – I can give you the facts and encourage you to seek your own. For those of us who are able to vote, it is our duty to seek the information surrounding all facets of our government’s decisions. Some see Bergdahl as a tortured, recovering POW. Others consider him an American enemy. It is up to you to decide which you think he is.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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