Good question. I'm prior military, lost several close friends in the war on terror, with my son active duty, and my father a former POW. I'd say that gives me the right to an informed opinion on a deserter. Many (most?) of us on FR are prior military or have close relatives in the service. We judge because we have been there - without desertion, without treason, and without unnecessarily endangering our units.
We do not raise our kids with the idea that all moral choices are equally valid, from heroism and fidelity to treason and homosexuality. We raise our kids with values, for most of us biblical values, and Bergdahl's conduct does not measure up to what we ourselves did when we were bored with duty, or when we were unsure about a leadership decision. Bergdahl's conduct does not measure up to what we would want our children and grandchildren to recognize as acceptable.
We are humans, endowed by God with a sense of right and wrong, and tasked by God with teaching our children the difference between good and evil. That gives us the right and the duty to judge reprehensible conduct.
Great post, Sir.
The main problem I see with this editorial is that it engages the matter on the ground that The Regime has chosen. I listened to SecDef Hagel testifying before the Armed Services Committee yesterday. As each Democrat began questioning, the opening remark related to never leaving a soldier behind. It was so noticeable, that I began to comment “DRINK!!” on the Live Thread when I heard it.
I believe we simply let that alone. There is nothing to be gained, at this point, by arguing the merits of whether or not Bergdahl was worthy. That time WILL come. If we have that discussion now, we are taking the bait that The Regime has thrown out in order to diffuse the prime issue that we KNOW to be of urgent concern.
How did the five Taliban go from being on the “never release” list to a year’s all expense sojourn in Qatar? THAT is the question that must be answered first.
Very good post. (and thank you for your service)
Your point about moral relativism (one choice is as good as another, they are all personal and for one person to decide whether it is good or not) is spot on.
We are endowed by God with a sense of right and wrong, and when we deviate from that for our own purposes, it is weakness and sometimes evil.
I went into a Universalist “church” once for a craft fair, and there were a lot of things indicating activities for children. A sign, aimed at teenagers said “Nobody can tell you what is right and wrong. That is for you to decide, and only you.”
I looked at it, and turned it over and thought “My God. What a thing to tell a child!”
My Dad flew in 3 wars, dying in the third. I’ve flown combat over Iraq and did a ground tour in Afghanistan. My SIL did 2 tours in Marine Infantry in Fallujah. My daughter did a tour in Iraq with the Marines. My son has done 2 tours, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Both of my nieces are married to men who have done tours in Iraq. My only nephew is in Afghanistan now.
So yeah, I feel free to judge someone whose behavior was totally unacceptable. I feel free to say we could have left him to die in Afghanistan because anyone who deserts is...well, a DESERTER. The penalty for that can be death.
And when I was in Afghanistan in 2007, I never met ANYONE who didn’t understand what might happen if you fell into the hands of the enemy. None of us sought it out. Most of us planned to keep a few rounds left to shoot ourselves if we were about to be captured, per Kipling:
“When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.”
And if Bergdahl wanted to ‘go to his Gawd like a deserter’, then I’m willing to let him.