PFC Bergdahl’s disturbing video

It was  pretty disheartening to open up today’s newspaper and read about Army Pfc.  Bowe Bergdahl of Halley, Idaho, who for nearly three weeks has been in the custody of  Taliban-affiliated militants on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. His captors have reportedly threatened to kill Bergdahl if the United States does not withdraw  its forces from Iraq – an extremely hefty demand, considering our presence there is now running on eight years and many billions of dollars invested in counter-terrorist actions and local development.

A video released by his captors shows the soldier in relatively good health, though he demands that the U.S. remove its forces from Afghanistan, calling their efforts their futile. Bergdahl laments that he’ll never see kiss his girlfriend again, just the sort of publicity his captors are looking for.

The 23-year-old, ballet dancer turned soldier appears to be in a very tenuous situation, barring some type of drastic military commando mission. The prospects for his safe release are very slim. Even nearly a decade after the brutal Taliban government was toppled, they are still very much a force to be reckoned with, particularly because Pakistan is politically much weaker than it was when we invaded.

It’s said to think of what may happen to Bergdahl. His family released a statement through the Pentagon over the weekend asking for people to pray for him. He’ll need all the prayers he can get if he is to make it out of there alive. Although I’m not sure I believe there’s anything real or lasting we can provide to the disparate people of Afghanistan, this man certainly does not deserve the indignity of being taken a hostage. Because the United States generally doesn’t negotiate with hostage takers, it’s unlikely much can be done diplomatically to free him.

I hate violence, but I suppose if it takes Army Rangers banding through windows and shooting men to get him back, I suppose that’s alright. It’s hard to imagine any type of rational negotiation that would be able to impress upon these guys to let this kid go.

There certainly is a big divide between us and the tribal-based Muslim world that is pinched between the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. We have a very hard time communicating them and have a different set of values that is hard to navigate, even with guns, tanks and jet fighters. Not to make judgments on the hard work of American and NATO armed forces, it appears that so little can be achieved that will last a long time.

It’s sad to think that this young guy may never see his girlfriend again or be back at home in Idaho with his family. I’m amazed at how serious some people take certain conflicts that they’d be willing to snuff out the lives of others with so little thought. Ultimately, killing PFC Bergdahl will do nothing to improve the lot of Afghanistan. It will only add to the tension. On the other hand, our killing Taliban people to get Bergdahl probably wont help much either.

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