Bergdahl Desertion Ethics

BoweSo Bowe Bergdahl is being tried as a deserter! Fancy that—and yet Susan Rice, the President’s National Security Advisor, told the nation, as the President was trying to pretend his decision to trade terrorists for the disturbed American POW wasn’t the cynical effort to overshadow the then raging VA scandal and to tamp down veteran groups’ rage that it was, that Bergdahl  “…served the United States with honor and distinction…”

Either Rice knew this wasn’t true—and if she were competent in her job, she would have to, wouldn’t she?—and was lying to the American public, or she didn’t know whether it was true or not, but asserted that it was true anyway, which is also lying to the American people. She is, as we already know, willing to do this—lie. And her punishment from the President, who promised transparency, for such a high profile and embarrassing lie? Nothing. What does this tell us? It tells us that Barack Obama doesn’t put a very high priority on being truthful with the public that elected him..

You know, I don’t object to making a prisoner trade to free an American soldier, even an awful one like Bergdahl, if that is the reason why it is done. I can accept it if our leaders level with the public, as in: “Sgt. Bergdahl is far from a model soldier, and may even be facing charges. But he is an American citizen, and we do not abandon our own. Even a flawed American soldier is more precious than five terrorists.” These leaders, however, don’t level, because they fear that if they did, the full disgrace of their incompetence would be known. Just as Obama doesn’t hold Rice accountable, the news media and the President’s party don’t hold him accountable for this putrid, contemptuous treatment of the American people, and Democrats allow incidents like this to rot their values from the inside out.

That’s the revolting culture that the charges against Bergdahl confirm, for those not completely rotted.

Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board confirmed the analysis of Ralph Peters, a retired army officer and former enlisted man, who wrote in the National Review,

“Both President Obama and Ms. Rice seem to think that the crime of desertion in wartime is kind of like skipping class. They have no idea of how great a sin desertion in the face of the enemy is to those in our military. The only worse sin is to side actively with the enemy and kill your brothers in arms. This is not sleeping in on Monday morning and ducking Gender Studies 101.”

The Times editors, however, don’t think Bergdahl should be punished at all, because—wait for it!—he’s suffered enough:

“…This anger is understandable. But trying him for desertion and misbehaving before the enemy — for allegedly engaging in misconduct that endangered his unit — stands to accomplish little at this point. A conviction would most likely deprive a traumatized veteran of benefits, including medical care, which he will probably need for years. A dishonorable discharge would make it harder to rebuild his life as a civilian.”

When did liberals decide to excise accountability from the list of ethical values? If a deserter, any deserter, isn’t punished and severely, it establishes the precedent that desertion on the field of battle is not deserving of punishment. It undermines military culture, leadership, values, discipline and effectiveness—admittedly not high priorities with this anti-military President–and with it U.S. security. How can the Times say punishing Bergdahl “accomplishes little”? It punishes a deserter, guilty of a crime only exceeded by siding “actively with the enemy and kill[ing] your brothers in arms.” Never mind, says the Times. Never mind that six honorable soldiers died searching for him; never mind that the U.S. had to loose five dangerous terrorists on civilization to get him back from a predicament entirely of his own  creation: he suffered as a prisoner of the Taliban.

The Times is proposing a transitive punishment theory: we should retroactively delegate the enemy to handle U.S. military discipline.


Sources: New York Times, TIME


42 thoughts on “Bergdahl Desertion Ethics

  1. “When did liberals decide to excise accountability from the list of ethical values? “


    It has been an unspoken (well, sometimes very outspoken) tenet of modern Leftism to ditch all the old societal standards of conduct and punishment. You can rest assured that military culture falls squarely in the camp of “old fashioned” and therefore “wrong”…

  2. Mutiny, Desertion, Treason, fighting with the enemy, providing aid, etc.

    Yep. Death penalty worthy.

    While not even deployed…at home, in the states, in relatively comfortable setting, we had a soldier not show up to formation one morning. Days passed, weeks — he was gone over half a year. He was finally listed as “deserter”.

    Well, about 7 months or so, he saunters back and reports for duty. He was immediately arrested and shocked he was confused why things were so serious. His platoon leader informed him, in front of his platoon that his conduct warranted being put in front of a wall and shot. He nearly started crying.

    Too bad. Not understanding the seriousness of military crimes does little to lessen the harshness of punishment. He was not in the miltary a few days later. Hopefully the rest of soldiers got a calm education that even though the civilian world may grow lax on standards and enforcement, those tasked with the ugly duty of war can’t afford to do so.

    • We once had a guy check onboard our boat wearing dungaree uniform pants that he cut into shorts. It wasn’t long before he was sent to CCU; correctional custody unit, a means of trying to whip a sailor back into shape via NJP by having him split firewood for a month. It didn’t take. They finally canned him when he popped positive for methamphetamine. At his court martial, they asked him “how could you do this?” He responded “with a lighter”. He didn’t like the Navy, apparently.

      • According to the UCMJ, this guy is guilty of at least a couple of general court-martial/capital charges. If you can be shot for falling asleep on watch during wartime, I’d say he’s more than earned it.

          • Well, the Times reveals incompetence then because, since the Army’s founding, it has shown it often takes in bad eggs by the dozen and changes them into good people more often than not.

            • Bad eggs even slip through the cracks after a SSBI. I wonder how many people in this administration have had even minimal vetting?

          • Do they think there’s a blood test for this sort of thing, I wonder? Hopefully, this administration hasn’t stuck its tentacles too far into the military justice system. Even if you’re clinically insane, that would only be considered a mitigating factor, from what I understand.

            • ‘Sane’ and ‘Insane’ are legal terms, Joe, and I do not believe that are, in fact, applicable in military courts.

              • I should have specified that. I should have said that here’s a level of disassociation with reality in which someone is considered to not understand the wrongfulness of their actions, determined by whichever side’s clinician makes a stronger case. We’re all insane; it’s just a matter of degree.

  3. The left no longer cares that we know their agenda. They can be as open about as they please. No one can seem to do anything about it. This is a slap in the face to every person who served in the military. They know it and they know we know it. They send the likes of Marie Harf, Susan Rice, Josh Earnest and Jen Psaki out to lie knowing it doesn’t matter how incompetent and stupid they are. I’m convinced it’s a purposeful “Up yours.”

    • Well, they’re firmly entrenched pretty much everywhere, and they’re children. When the hard reset comes, and come it will, and the land of make-believe crumbles to the ground, they won’t be laughing as hard.

  4. A novel by a fella with the unlikely name of John Ringo, entitled THE LAST CENTURION addresses the issue of liberalism and reality-testing. Good read, and civilization nearly falls because of their lack of same. Spoiler alert: the lack of adequate reality-testing comes as a result of a mutant strain of H5N1 (bird flu) that has become human-transmittable and kills at 60-70%.

  5. The New York Slimes opposed the war from the get-go and only has use for soldiers when they are villains or victims, so they can point up how bad it was for the US to enter an elective war. As far as they are concerned this poor guy was just caught up in a war he didn’t start, decided he didn’t want to leave his bones in a foreign land or kill the brown man for the powers that be who stole an election, and sensibly said “screw this, I’m outta here,” then bore his trials with patience and courage like armchair warriors like Bush and Cheney could only dream of. In a few years he’ll probably be teaching at some far-left university or or making $50,000 a pop on the lecture circuit telling his story to credulous undergrads. Meantime the real heroes will be at best living quietly, at worst getting a daily dose of hate on social media. Then again, after you are called “baby killer” for the 20,000th time it kind of loses its impact.

    • “In a few years he’ll probably be teaching at some far-left university or making $50,000 a pop on the lecture circuit telling his story to credulous undergrads.”

      This, of course, assumes he does not spend the rest of his life in Leavenworth, which is what SHOULD happen.

      I sense a certain bitterness, possibly stemming from returning from a foreign country via airplane, many years ago?

  6. A retired judge advocate and brigadier general sums it up .

    Assuming, as your editorial does, that Sergeant Bergdahl did desert his post in combat in Afghanistan and was also chargeable for misbehavior before the enemy — perhaps two of the most serious offenses a soldier in combat can commit — then the Army has no reasonable choice but to submit these extremely grave charges to a court-martial.

    Not to do so would make a mockery of the needs of discipline, a mockery of the military justice system, and would be an insult to his comrades who did not desert.

    All the matters you point out for not convening a court-martial are matters the court-martial can and should consider in determining the punishment in the sentencing phase of the trial.

  7. I know I’m a little late to the game, but I’m going to approach this a little differently. I’m going to empathise with Bowe, and then insist on punishing him anyway,

    Bowe is 27 now, he was exchanged a year ago after spending 5 years in Talban ‘care’, and assuming that he didn’t desert after his first week, and assuming some kind of training before deployment… This young man was 20, maybe 21, when he enlisted. This puts him squarely in the timeframe where the military was actively going into the poorest districts in America and lying to potential recruits. Did he make an informed decision? Could he? 20 is awful young to make the decision to put your life in danger for any reason. And so, I sympathise.

    It doesn’t change the fact that America has a need for an active military, and tolerating desertion would create a precedent that could demolish military discipline. This is very similar to that baseball story from last week, the point isn’t to punish the individual, if that was the point, the punishment IS disproportionate, the point is to set an example. I just hope this example takes.

    Every generation needs its’ example. In my hometown, and I can’t imagine it’s amazingly different elsewhere, it happens every five or six years, a car with a number of intoxicated teenagers goes off the road and someone dies. Leading up to the ‘example’ there’s this curve where kids think it’s cool to drink in public, and drive home like asses. Then someone dies, their mortality hits them, and the community gets sombre and smartens for a few years.

    It doesn’t help that the example is being actively undermined… And that’s the tragedy of this…. Undermining this example per se makes it more likely of reoccurring. Could you imagine if the constabulary came out after an incident of fatal drunk driving and said to the community, “no no, it’s not that big a deal to drive drunk, this kid actually had a seizure.”?

    • In addition to the lives lost trying to find him, can you imagine how much blood and treasure this will cost us by putting those 5 villains back into circulation?

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