I think this Episode is the most important one so far, because it describes all the reactions of the US side, from both individual’s perspective and organization’s perspective.
Technically, the military will “bring everybody home”, but the critical part is the fact Bowe voluntary escaped, and everyone knows that. I definitely think the main actors like FBI and CIA are on the US side. If Bowe was just kidnapped accidentally, I believe most officials would be really angry toward Taliban and will try their best to find him out. Besides, this kind of issue of a soldier never happened before, not like other kidnappings, no one seems to want to take the risk to add pressure to their friend Pakistan. I believe no country will want the US to send tons of military within their territory just for searching one person. Clearly, Pakistan will feel threatened. The US doesn’t want to lose this friend, so I guess that is also why they hesitated.
In addition, the main actors have other cases to care about, maybe regarding millions of lives. If I am the commander of any department, like CIA or FBI, I may not provide my limited resources, like drones for an unimportant person. I may even want to hang up this issue as long as possible. If he dies during the captivity, that is good, because I may not need to think about it anymore and don’t have to waste my resources, also maybe he is already a member of Taliban; if he can wait until we find him, that is also good, because he gathers enough information about Taliban, maybe he will be useful. I may wait until Taliban negotiated with us first, and then consider whether I want to help.
I used to think CIA is the most important agency because it can gather information from foreign countries, it has connection everywhere, and they can make the decision. However, in the Episode, it says “SOCOM was trying to put together plans. (SOCOM is Special Operations Command, which runs elite units. Think Delta Force or Navy SEALS.)…I mean, you had CENTCOM that assumed SOCOM had it. You had SOCOM that assumed the State Department had it. And months later, after a lot of meetings, I’d finally figure out that the State Department assumed that the military had it.” It that CIA is just for providing information, and SOCOM is the one that should make the decision. In addition, I don’t think the military can do anything really helpful without command.
It is not surprising for me to see the inefficient of the response mechanisms here because similar issue happened in China many times. For example, at the beginning of governance haze, it involved ministries of environment, public health, transportation, etc, and they all just passing the buck, because no one cares about this issue before. But because of the pressure from those more powerful officials, they eventually work together and make the sky in Beijing much clearer. I actually kind of surprised how deep this episode goes, at least the responsibility can be traced here.
I think the way to make it works more efficiency is using the pressure from public opinion. If I am a commander of any department of National Security Council, I will feel stressed when the media made it public. For example, if I back to home and my son asking me why I cannot rescue that guy. In this Episode, I cannot remember what is the reaction of the media. I know both Taliban and Bowe’s father tried to use Youtube to communicate but is the public paying attention at that time? If the media write something like the corruption of the government and military lead to the delay of rescue, I think the public will condemn.
For what Bowe’s father did, I understand the anxiety as parents and I believe he has the rights to upload the video. But I think for the individuals, except adding pressure to the US government, the video cannot really help. The Taliban may be excited about the video because they know US people care about it and Bowe is worthy of negotiation, and they may ask for more they want with the US government for exchanging Bowe. I think they can do more, for example, negotiate with captors or pay ransoms, only if they are under the supervision of US government. Because their action will not only represent for themselves but also represent the US, especially considering about talking with a territory group. I don’t think their action will become a crime because the military and the government will stop them from anything improper, for example, they confiscated Kim’s passport. The negotiation should be among officials, and It is more about diplomacy, and I am curious about Pakistan’s reaction.