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MurphTheSurf3 On June - 6 - 2014
The photo of strong young soldier being projected by media outlets is misleading. The man in this photo taken by his captor is the haunted figure returned by the Taliban.

The photo of strong young soldier being projected by media outlets is misleading. The man in this photo taken by his captor is the haunted figure returned by the Taliban.

My tentative conclusion: Sgt. Bowe Robert Bergdahl, a 22 year old Private when he was captured, had a breakdown of some sort, choosing to walk off unarmed into hostile territory having given his most precious possessions away and having provided his family with what appears to be a farewell e-mail, a suicide note.

He was home schooled, very involved with his church’s youth program and loved outreach to the needy, He got a GED in his early 20’s; studied Buddhism, martial arts, fencing, ballet; did not own a car choosing to bike for environmental reasons; and then joined the army in 2008. This decision appears to have surprised many.

After basic training he went to infantry school.

Bergdahl’s unit was sent to an outpost called Mest-Malak in Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. Bergdahl began learning to speak Pashto, and, according to Specialist John Fry, a member of Bergdahl’s unit Bergdahl “began to gravitate away from his unit”, spending “more time with the Afghans than he did with his platoon”.

Bergdahl’s father described his son to military investigators as “psychologically isolated”

He seems to me to be a brooder who had great affection for a fellow soldier in his remote outpost – and thus saw the war’s impact on local people’s.

His friend, First Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw, was killed by a roadside bomb near the village of Yahya Kheyl (Yaya Kheyl), not far from Bergdahl’s outpost. Bergdahl’s father believes Bradshaw’s death darkened Bergdahl’s mood leading into depression. Bradshaw’s death may have led Bergdahl to see the Afghans as an occupied and terrorized people- with the U.S. as the occupying power and himself as an occuper.

We know that he mailed his most personal effects to his family a couple of days before he disappeared. His final e mail to them read:

“The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be american. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting…..The system is wrong. I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools…I am sorry for everything here. These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live. We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks… We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them…I am sorry for everything. The horror that is america is disgusting…There are a few more boxes coming to you guys. Feel free to open them, and use them.”

THIS CERTAINLY HAS THE APPEARANCE OF A SUICIDE NOTE- an effort to explain to his family why he was about to do what he did.

He walked off, abandoning  his post,  leaving his weapons, and armor behind. I suspect he expected to die and was captured instead.

Hastings, Michael (June 7, 2012). “America’s Last Prisoner of War”. Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/…Who is Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl? http://www.kboi2.com/…

Who is Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl? http://www.kboi2.com/…

White House defends prisoner swap in tense Hill meeting http://www.politico.com/…

Written by MurphTheSurf3

Proud to be an Independent Progressive. I am a progressive- a one time Eisenhower Republican who is now a Democrat. I live in a very RED STATE and am a community activist with a very BLUE AGENDA. Historian, and "Gentleman Farmer."

34 Responses so far.

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  1. Helloise says:

    Hi Murph! I followed the yellow brick road and arrived at this wonderful destination, so thank you for that. Your thesis makes a great deal of sense. More on that soon after I get some much needed sleep, but wanted to say hello. Helloise

    • Fergie1 says:

      Hi Helloise and welcome to The Planet! Good to see you here and I look forward to ‘seeing’ you when you have had your zzzzzs!
      I hope to see many more of my HP friends here. I tend to come in and out and don’t post as often as on that “other” site with which I am very pleased to have cut ties quite some time ago. There are really good people here -- a real joy to get to know.

      • Helloise says:

        Great to see you, too! I’ve just gotten here, as I’m going through a really busy patch, but was happy to see old friends even in a quick perusal. I imagine there will be more as the word is spreading. I hope to “see” you soon.

  2. Thanks for the article Murph! I’m glad I got to know a little bit more about this young man.

    I don’t know if he was trying to die or what his actual goal was, if any. It certainly sounds like he had given up all hope for any good to come out of what he was doing as an American soldier.

    I find it interesting that he studied Buddhism. As you most surely know, Buddhism is all about ridding one’s life (and other’s lives) of suffering. I am sitting here wondering why he decided to become a US soldier. Maybe he really believed in what America is trying to do over there. I also have to wonder myself, what ARE we trying to do there?

    I don’t know what he saw and what he did, but the letter certainly suggests that we, as a military power were NOT doing anything remotely noble. Is his description of how our troops treat the Afghan people true? Is it widespread among our soldiers or just among those he served with?

    Everything about war, in my opinion, is ugly and abhorrent. There is nothing of beauty in it. Is our involvement there really necessary? I know how the Taliban treats their women and it is most horrible. I know from all the stories I’ve read and videos I’ve seen. Are we there to save the women and children and make Afghanistan a better place or are we there under some delusion that our presence there will make US safer here at home?

    Whatever the answer to those questions may be, I think we are engaging in futility. We are not going to change centuries old, fanatical religious beliefs and behaviors, and we are not going to make Afghanistan a better place. Any changes for the better have to come from within. I sometimes think our military presence there is making things worse, not better. I have little doubt that this young man thinks the same.

    • Nirek says:

      KT, I echo what you say. I truly hope he gets home safely and his family ends its suffering. Why can’t people wait to find out what happened and leave the family alone?

      • Because they are vultures Nirek. Circling the unfortunate and trying to sniff out any sort of ammo they can use to further their twisted agendas. These people who do this don’t give a shyte about other people. They only care about advancing their careers and keeping their places in the corporate structure. They are sick people, very sick people.

  3. Wallysmom says:

    Finally glad to be here, reading a blog by one of the best commentators — Murph, another refugee from HuffPo who wants to talk and have meaningful dialogue instead of reading about someone’s nipple slip and the Jenner/Kardashian latest idiocy.
    The fact that the Republicans have dashed to remove all “Free Bergdahl” references from their webpages (Congressional and otherwise) proves the hypocrisy and the sad fact they cannot understand the trauma that soldiers, like Bergdahl go through in these bloody, meaningless conflicts. They insult so many who have come back with PTSD and injuries that will change their lives for ever. The faux outrage over the VA debacle is yet another. We should be happy he is home. Perhaps even learn something from what we ask others to do for us.

    • Nirek says:

      Wallysmom, I have to say that Murph is one of the best commentators.
      Let me also welcome you to the Planet.

    • Fergie1 says:

      Hi Wallysmom! Nice to see that you have left the tabloid that is now HP.
      How appalling that ” the Republicans have dashed to remove all “Free Bergdahl” references from their webpages (Congressional and otherwise)….”.

      What is being thrown out there about Bowe Berdahl is abhorrent. Would these people say the same thing if they walked in his shoes? And I mean “personally” walked in his shoes. I’m not talking about all the other men and women there, I’m talking about what was going on in mentally and emotionally for HIM. No one knows why he walked off and what ensued. How ws he being treated by his platoon? We don’t know anything. And yes we should indeed be glad that he is no longer a captive of the taliban. I am just in fear for him and his family and what the rest of his life holds when so many can’t even embrace him with kindness. He was only 22 for crying out loud. President Obama did the right thing and those who want to use Berdahl as a political football should hide their heads in shame.

      • Wallysmom says:

        Thanks. Pretty upset with a comment recently made by our Senator, Richard Blumenthal, about the error of the White House in regard to notifying Congress about the Bergdahl release. He speculates that it may have been illegal. Not the wisest approach for a Democratic senator in a blue state. It is not as much about the process as it is the rightness of the action. I think, or at least I hope, Blumenthal may have thrown out the question to get the debate over with before the Republicans run with the Impeachment Ball. The Senate did know about the possible release of Gitmo detainees for Bergdahl back in November. But because some of their constituents are back home whining, it’s an election year, they are looking for cover. Had it been 2013, I doubt the bruhaha would have reached this level. But then again, it’s Obama. He can’t even chew gum without hearing about it.

    • Kalima says:

      Hello Wallysmom, and welcome to The Planet.

      Hope you will enjoy the freedom and open conversations here.

      Nice to have you aboard.

  4. Nirek says:

    Now Bowe’s parents are being threatened!

  5. monicaangela says:

    I agree with your article Murph. I believe this is the reason Bowe is getting the backlash he is getting from the media and mostly right wing politicians…how dare he tell the truth about what he feels about the situation in Afghanistan. How dare he not be a gung-ho supporter of everything that happens in Afghanistan publicly if not privately. How dare he choose to disagree with his “superiors.” How dare he expect to be considered a true American and not follow the party line. How dare he not continue to go along with atrocities he has witnessed due to American aggression. How dare he not continue to be an obedient worker bee, how dare he, how dare he, how dare he….

    My heart is heavy with sympathy for this young man who IMO has done no more than what many, many other soldiers have done, problem is, he lived and what he did has become a public controversy, a political football, with apparently no concern for him or his family by those who are making a issue of it. This makes me truly sad.

    I believe this young man deserves better from the citizens of this nation, no matter what many believe he has done to “disgrace” the uniform. I say he will always be remembered as a hero by me, first because he enlisted, and next because he, through it all, remained true to himself a quality I admire in a human being.

  6. slightlycrazy says:

    the article in rolling stone, which i highly recommend, reveals a young man profoundly troubled and not really equipped to deal with the overwhelming reality, especially the clash between his american ideals and the afghani truth.
    the right should be ashamed. but no. and now they’ve discovered the president chews gum. impeach him!

  7. S-Man says:

    As I mentioned in OT, Hammity and Creepy Crowley have put on the most shameless display I’ve seen yet.

  8. AdLib says:

    Considering his note, it is pretty ignorant to just knee jerk proclaim that he’s just a deserter who deserved to stay in captivity.

    Complexity is not a forte of the MSM or the RW, everything has to be simple mided, black and white (sometimes literally).

    As I’ve mentioned before, all the facts should be respected but there is only one person who knows the reasoning and state of mind of Bergdahl and until we hear from him, we only have part of the story.

    • Nirek says:

      Ad, the “great bill O’Reilly” was assassinating the character of Bowe’ Dad Bob. Saying that he looks like a Muslim because he wears a beard.

      Now a lot of people who watch Bill on foxsnooze will repeat that and it will be treated as “fact” by the MSM.

      CNN has shifted to the “right” and is almost as bad as foxsnooze. IMO

      • AdLib says:

        Nirek, it’s disgusting but these are the depths that the RW have sunk to. Anything related to anything Obama does must be demonized into someone or something to be detested.

        Really? That’s all they’ve got left, that hollow shell of a party and all those hollow shells of human beings supporting them?

        Guess so…

  9. escribacat says:

    That certainly explains why his fellow soldiers are complaining about him now. He wasn’t one of the boys and they possibly knew what he said or thought about their behavior in Afghanistan. I think his “charges” about their behavior are more important than the Bergdahl story itself. Do American soldiers in Afghanistan go around running down children and treating the locals like sh#t? I’d like to know.

  10. CAdawn says:

    I question why he wanted to join the army and why the army accepted him. Any recruiter, worth his salt, would have questioned his Buddhism. I agree with your tentative conclusion of him wanting to commit suicide by Afghans.
    He was disillusioned by the war. I still question why he volunteered. I’m glad he’s out of Afghanistan and getting help. It will be up to the military to determine his fate.

  11. seehowtheyrun says:

    Very well reasoned Murph. I agree with you. I think it does sound like a suicide note. Of course the right is condemning him: he spoke the truth.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Thank you. Others here have disagree which is fine of course, and several have brought up other perspectives but none of us have taken the point of view of the right winters.

  12. Nirek says:

    CL, I have a great deal of respect for you and Murph, both of you make sense. We don’t know what he was thinking at the time and will not until he tells us his story. I just know that war effect each person differently.

    I reserve judgement until all the facts are open to us. My guess is he is a man with a conscience. That is not a bad thing. In fact there should be more like that.

    ☮☮☮

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      I suspect that your understanding will be the one that emerges….and that conscience without an avenue for positive action led him down a dangerous path.

  13. Nirek says:

    Murph, I almost think he was the only one who had his head on straight. Except that he walked out into a hostile area of this world defenseless. I think he may still do what so many returning veterans have done, commit suicide.

    My younger brother had a brother in law who did just that. Returned after a couple tours and killed himself at home. The horrors veterans of wars see and experience can drive one to do awful things.

    If not for the wisdom of my Dad I may have taken some other path and hurt myself or others. Dad was a WWII and Korean War veteran and career soldier. He retired after 24 years service as a First Sgt. with so much wisdom. He made me talk to him about what I experienced and he shared his experiences with me. I’m eternally grateful to my Dad. May he rest in peace.

    ☮☮☮

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      You had a broader context and a wisdom figure to walk you through your withdrawal and your Dad was part of a generation that very much believed that their wars were crusades. I think that the case for both WWII and Korea is strong in that regard.

      In Vietnam it got murky but some, like you, came through because you walked with someone else. The Gulf War joins the list of small, good wars for most. But both Afghanistan and Iraq are different. Afghanistan’s first 16 months is much like the Gulf War and then it turned into a neo-con ploy for expanded national power and jingoism. Iraq was never anything but a cynical grab for geopolitical gain and oil.

      War is horror but war without any sense of its necessity and honorable outcome is a source of ongoing despair.

  14. choicelady says:

    Murph -- there is no question he was disillusioned, but he’d walked off the base several times before and always returned. His life in Idaho was made up of long walks, solitary ones, around his countryside. There are reports he was apparently captured in the latrine -- not that he’d strayed.

    We need to know a whole lot more, but I for one give him kudos for hating where he was when he thought he was headed there to help the people, not kill them. I don’t necessarily read this as a suicide note because I don’t think he’d do that to his family. But it is the mark of a man who might go for a long walk -- something he’d done before with NO opposition -- to clear his mind and determine how he could reconcile his conflicting responsibilities.

    I am very glad he’s safe again. I am horrified at how quickly he has been scapegoated. He clearly did NOT desert or turn traitor because if he had, the Taliban would have paraded him through the streets, put him on video, shoved it in our faces. None of that happened because he did nothing to betray his oath to serve. He may have hated what he found, but it appears he stood loyally with his nation anyway. More power to him.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Excellent commentary. What caught my attention was his sending his personal effects back home combined with the tone of his notes to his family.

      You have added a couple of pieces of info that I did not see: his being captured in a latrine- one near his outpost? The idea that this walk was just like the others- except he was on guard duty he had to set aside his weapons, his ammo, his armor.

      I also have to wonder what he was thinking when he enlisted, and especially when he went to the combat school. It seems to me that he was an idealist but the army does not seem to be a good fit.

      His wandering off- did no one stop and consider what that might mean. I have also read a lot of speculation about how much the loss of his friend shook him to his roots.

      No, there is no evidence that points to desertion. No evidence of traitorous behavior.

      And yes, those who say there is, especially those who argued just a few months ago that everything should be done to get him released, are vile.

      • choicelady says:

        I have read, who knows if it’s true, that he thought he’d be doing rebuilding work with the Afghan people. Hopelessly naive, yes, but there it is. They never should have sent such a sweethearted man into combat -- that should have made him eligible for support not combat work.

        He was in uniform (photos taken early on prove that) but if you’re going for a walk or to the latrine, you would probably NOT take your gun etc. We don’t know what all he sent home, maybe stuff he’d picked up somewhere, and maybe his worldly possessions. Maybe he WAS suicidal, and maybe just confused. But he did not hand over his loyalty, and that is absolute fact. We’d have known it if he had. Even John McCain made a pro-Vietcong video after torture. Nothing of that nature happened with Bergdahl. Worst I can think of him is that he was in way over his head. That’s not a sin.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          Again, absolutely on the mark. I am sure that I will be doing another version of my story sooner than later. When I do may I weave your insights into that effort. I think you may know his heart better than I do (or at least point out another interpretation for his actions that I missed entirely).


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