POL103-Episode1

People fear because of unknowing. People want to take charge all the time.

May 31, 2014, Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier imprisoned by Taliban, returned to the US. The US government released 5 Taliban members as the exchange. People in the US, when he was just released, called him “hero”, and welcomed him back to home. However, many soldiers then told media that Bowe Bergdahl left on his own, and some soldiers died because of searching him. People started to question the fact of the issue.

The top reason Bowe Bergdahl walked away, from what I heard, is his “superhero complex”. Maybe he started seeking attention since long ago. I guess he may find the camp life in the US too boring to show off his capability, so he chooses to go to Afghanistan seeking some “adventure”. If he is not a soldier, he may do something similar to let others focus on him. A catalyst for his action may be the camp life, which is different from what he thought. Before he came to Afghanistan, he only joins the army for less than a year; also, he kept talking about the “leadership failure” of the US army, and I wonder what that really means.

Based on the above assumption, I understand his plan. I’m always a plain person, have nothing to display and nobody will notice me. If I am a boy want to be a superhero from young, I may think about walk away as well, but I will not risk my life to do that. It is putting myself into an unknown situation. Obviously, Bowe did not prepare well to face all the unknowing. For example, if I want to prove my vital capability like what Bear does in Man vs. Wild, at least I will try to learn as much I can to understand that place and predict what I may meet; then bring food, water, and all the tools I may need. It seems that Bowe does not understand what will happen after he runs away. His capacity cannot handle this adventure. He may never go to abroad, even immersed in a foreign culture before: he only knows a little bit local language, has no local friends (maybe he has, but at least did not help him in the beginning), and even forget to check the compass for 2 hours. As Sarah said, technically he could achieve his plan, but he overestimated how tough the environment may be and his mental state caused by that.

Speaking of mental state, there still many questions about his action. Was Bowe really in his senses at that time? He may just be overstressed when he was in the camp, then lead him to this almost unprepared action. First, the isolated of the environment. The remote location of OP Mest, the messy surrounding of it, the limited space of activity, and the boring daily routine without a lot of entertainment. I think anyone will be stressed under that situation. Second, the isolation from the group. As the radio mentioned, other soldiers said he frequently talks to the local people. When they heard he is missing, they thought Bowe is assuming them — let them freak out and call him “officer”. If Bowe gets along with other soldiers, others may assume he is forced to leave. I also question how effective the management of the US army camp is. Maybe there was corruption, abuse power, or bullying happened, but no one willing to say it. Although in the phone call interview Bowe sounds claim about the whole issue, the audience may never know what he really experienced.

If I can make sure my personal safety, I would like to go to Afghanistan. Because it has a culture that I unfamiliar with and really want to know more about (actually I don’t know much about the middle east area at all). I heard so many news talking about wars going on there, but I am just curious about common people’s life under the conflictions, without any media. For evaluate his decision, I still need more information, for example, the purpose of US troops in Afghanistan, the mission of Bowe’s camp; the purpose of Taliban; the role of local media and international media; the role of local government. For the decision of exchanging hostage, I wonder who are making decisions? Are the US deal with the missing soldiers? Is there anything precedent similar to this one? I still need to do more research.

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