POL103-Episode 11

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

When I was listening to the first episode, I wanted to know the reason behind his escaping. I felt he might protest something. Usually, no one will risk life, especially in a completely unfamiliar environment. However, I didn’t think about himself  – his mental state. I didn’t think about the military recruitment either. I did feel there will be something wrong if people blame everything on Bergdahl, this one person, but usually, I will not doubt whether there are leaks of the authoritarians. Well, in this case, if people really need to blame someone, then it may be the law of recruitment.

I thought about some upper superiors may use searching for Bowe as an excuse to deploy more missions, and that’s why many soldiers died and blame the missing of Bowe. However, I ignored the fact that Afghanistan is dangerous, and I somehow forget they are having a war there. Also, I did not think about maybe Bergdahl will be in Pakistan (so that no matter how hard they search in Afghanistan, it does not work out). Apparently, if there is a war, someone will be sacrificed. When I watched the show that six Bowe’s fellow soldier talking about his missing and deny he is a hero, I almost stand on their side. Because the ways they describe the whole issue were so vivid, I almost accept their explanation. I guess it is just so hard for me to imagine the real situation — I never been to the Middle East; I even never experienced a war. I can only rely on people’s words, which I usually will forget their limitation.

I dislike the career as a soldier, more accurately, almost anyone in the army. First, it is because they will kill people, and they need to prepare to be killed as well. I cannot understand the honor behind the killing. Second, it’s the fact that they must obey the rules — almost like a machine. After finishing the Serial, I understand that soldiers are people, too. They have their feeling and emotion as well. However, I hate the job itself even more. Not like other jobs that you can sometimes argue with your boss, soldiers must trust their superior and trust their fellow. Same as Bergdahl, even just think about these people are strangers, I feel I cannot trust them, not to say sometimes the superior will not tell you a mission’s real intention. For example, maybe other soldiers think they are searching for Bowe, but the real intention behind their mission is something else. In all, it sounds like soldiers not only do not have the right the choose their death, they may also don’t know why they die. The worst thing is that the bond with each other is so tight that there is almost no room for any mistake or error. What a cruel occupation.

I like how the Serial talking about “blame” for the ending. Based on my understanding, I made a very simple “blaming link” which eventually lead the blaming on Bergdahl. 

In my opinion, I think the whole story needs to trace back to the 9/11. The sadness and anger of the US citizens need a target to be blamed. After the propaganda (I’m not sure whether I can call it that, maybe advertising of the war is more appropriate?) of the US government, the target becomes more and more clear. When Bergdahl joins the army, people still blaming on Bin Laden and Taliban. For example, a lot of soldiers don’t understand why they spend so much time on getting along with the locals, they don’t understand why they cannot fight with the “bad guy” sooner; many even doubt the motive that Bowe talking with the locals, they thought Bowe is going to betray them. All these imply that their stereotype towards their enemy is so strong that impede them to understand the situation in a more comprehensive perspective. The soldier, I think just as most US citizens, simply think “we” are the Afghanistan government and local people and the US army, and the “others/the enemy” is Al-Qaeda and Taliban. I remember one person compares Bergdahl leaving the military camp to astronauts take off their helmet in the universe — how can a place people still living on it be compared with the universe(a place even without oxygen…). I believe that implies people do not, also do not want to, know about the more comprehensive version story about the war.

However, after the death of Bin Laden, after the US government recognizes the Taliban, the war is still going on. The situation becomes too complicated to explain with just a few words. (In addition, it is too hard for people to see the big picture only on the internet and the TV.) At that time, it seems nobody in the Middle East should be blamed. Just then, Bowe Bergdahl comes back, and the so-called “truth” has been uncovered, people then transfer their blaming to Bergdahl pretty quickly.  

This blaming link reminds me an interesting experience about the stealing of a cell phone. Last May, I went to the New York City to issue Finland visa, and I stayed in a senior student’s apartment which located at Brooklyn for that two weeks. One day, my cell phone was stolen by a man when I was recharging my Marta card in a station near the apartment. That man took my cell phone from my pocket really fast. When I realized what happened, he already ran away. I was really scared because nobody there I could immediately reach help. However, I cannot blame anyone because it is me choose to go to New York and choose the apartment to stay and choose that station to take the subway. I don’t know that person so I even cannot blame him. After the faculty in the station helped me call the police, the police asked me tons of questions about the crime. I repeated about ten times about the whole process, even it is really simple. After about one or two hours, I’m sure I cannot get my phone back. On the way back to the apartment, I was confusing. I was so confused why it is me that I can only blame the police, their inefficient on handling the case, blaming the inadequate infrastructure and equipment of the station, the fact they don’t have one monitor camera there. I think I kind of understand how helpless the New Yorkers are after the 9-11. They lost their families, friends, but they are unfamiliar with the murder who died as well. They need an explanation. They need something to blame.  

Back to my story, in fact, I should not blame because the police are coming to help me, and it just happens I went to the one station without a monitor. After I think about how diverse the New York is, how messy the Brooklyn area used to be. Also, I assume the person stole my phone is forced to do that. I don’t feel that confuse after I think about these. However, for the US citizens, even after knowing the big picture of the terrorism and saturation in the Middle East, even knows the war is one of those things that it’s hard to pin down who’s responsible, their anger cannot be quite down that easy. During the period of forgetting the trauma, people still need to blame someone — people want to take charge all the time —  and Bergdahl just a poor guy happened to be involved. On the good side, at least this whole issue makes the US army realize their leak of recruitment and retirement of the soldier. Thanks to the public, government and the media, the leak gets a chance to be fixed, so that we can prevent next Bergdahl gets missing.

I learned a lot from Serial. I reviewed the operation of the US government. I learned the operation of the US army. I learned the role that the media plays in the US society. Also, it makes me curious about the wars in the Middle East, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. I learned not to blame or complain right away. I learned to pay attention to a bigger picture. For Serial, if they can share more perspective from Afghanistan and Pakistan, that will be great. For example, how the people there see this? Will they feel sorry for Bowe or just don’t care at all? How the local media in Afghanistan report this? Maybe it is also important to tell people that many people in the world just don’t care about the whole thing.

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