Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is a name every American should know.
Usually I like to focus on local stories, which only rarely are given the amount of coverage in the media to allow citizens to be informed about what government does and have the information they need to make solid decisions about who should serve as an elected official. That’s where this blog seems to fit in the world. There are hundreds, if not thousands of blogs and other sites that cover issues of national and international importance and for the most part I leave it to them to focus on what they do best while I keep the microscope focused closer to home.
When it takes a British newspaper to alert me to an American soldier being held captive inside the territory of a nominal US ally however, I have to break out of that local shell. This makes my blood boil, and I can’t assume my friends and neighbors are going to stumble across a foreign newspaper to learn about what our government is failing to do to rescue American POWs. Leaving them ignorant about this utter atrocity seems unconscionable.
Sergeant Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in Afganistan in 2009 and is reportedly being held captive by the Taliban not in Afganistan, but Pakistan. Yeah, the same Pakistan that was unknowingly allowing Osama Bin Laden to hide less than a mile from a major headquarters of the Pakistani intelligence services and whose forces engaged in a firefight with American soldiers recently that lasted several hours. These utterly untrustworthy allies have been on the receiving end of billions of dollars of foreign assistance for years, as well as getting gifts of our military equipment, training and support. In return they have done little more than pay lip service to support our efforts to stabilize Afganistan, and quietly provided support for our enemies.
Granted, it has been a challenge for the Pakistani military dictatorship (an unflattering, but accurate description for what has passed as government there since it broke away from India) to even provide lip-service support to the US, and the current relationship we have there is in many ways a relic of the bygone Cold War chess board. Much of the Pakistani public isn’t terribly enamored with the United States and more closely aligned with radical Islam, but there is a pretty decent sized element of the population that doesn’t want to live in the seventh century, looks to the rest of the world for trading partners and the opportunity to raise the country out of persistent poverty and misery, and would seek to westernize as India has done while retaining their local customs and culture. Part of the country looks to the past, and part to the future, with governance over the past few decades being a balancing act between them using a fairly brutal intelligence agency and an unanswerable military as a hammer to pound down internal threats when deal-making wasn’t possible.
This is a totally crappy environment for American diplomacy to operate in. Of course that crappy environment is hardly unique, as there are probably more nations in the world where battling ideological factions are held together into a nation by inwardly-directed military force that controls government than free nations where the army is subservient to civilian authority. So while it’s a challenge, it’s hardly a unique one.
The key to working with such broken nations is to establish some clear understandings about what American engagement requires. Sure, we’ll help as much as we can, but you chart a course towards democracy with a defined timeline, and if you expect military assistance you act as our friend rather than a sleazy trader trying to secretly play our interests off against those of others. You make a clear choice, and stick with it, but don’t you dare play patsy with us or it’s not going to end well.
Here’s the “not end well” from my perspective, and with the Bin Laden debacle and now American soldiers being held as POWs in Pakistani territory I think we’ve well passed the straw for this camel’s back. Pakistan values nothing more than its nuclear weapons. If they’re going to act like serial buttholes, we’re going to make at least some of those nuclear weapons go bye-bye. It’s pretty clear to me that this regime, or especially whatever regime might end up replacing it in the near future has not and will not demonstrate the kind of responsible behavior that should go along with possession of a nuclear deterrent. We know where these systems are located, and we have the resources needed to make them disappear.
I am certain Pakistan would get the message loud and clear. The rest of the would would as well. As a nation we can tolerate a lot, but when any nation provides safe haven for terrorists holding American servicemen captives in their territory, they either resolve that problem darned quickly or we’re going to deliver a hard consequence. No excuses, and no BS. Just get ‘er done.
I want Sergeant Bergdahl home right now. If the current occupant of the Oval Office was worth a damn, he’d make that happen. If not, this is a plan for his successor to make that happen and ensure no American servicemember is ever held captive within the territory of a supposed friend or ally ever again. Keeping this quiet, screwing around for several years and getting nothing accomplished, and demonstrating to Pakistan and every other nation on the earth they can get away with this crap only encourages more of it.
Get Sergeant Bergdahl home now. Now.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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