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Bowe Bergdahl Release: Email Exchange Reveals Extent of US Failure In Afghan War

Bowe Bergdahl Release: Email Exchange Reveals Extent of US Failure In Afghan War

Bowe
Bergdahl Release: Email Exchange Reveals Extent
of US Failure In Afghan War




'The US army is the biggest joke the world has
to laugh at,' wrote Sergeant Bergdahl in an
email later published by Rolling Stone magazine



By Patrick Cockburn




June 03, 2014 "ICH"
- "
The
Independent
" -

It is a bitter indictment of an army in trouble.
It was written by the American soldier Bowe
Bergdahl in his last email to his parents sent
just before he walked off his base in eastern
Afghanistan on 30 June 2009.



Within
hours, he was picked by the Taliban who held him
for five years until his

exchange for five senior Taliban leaders

held in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay.



“The US
army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh
at,” wrote Sergeant Bergdahl in an email later
published by Rolling Stone magazine. “It is the
army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies.
The few good SGTs [sergeants] are getting out as
soon as they can, and they are telling us
privates to do the same.”



Sgt
Bergdahl had joined the army when it was short
of soldiers to send to Afghanistan as part of
the “surge” in the number of combat brigades
there. With too few men, it had started to issue
“waivers” to recruits facing felony charges or
drugs problems who previously would have been
turned down for the army. For Sgt Bergdahl, a
crack shot, well-educated and with a romantic
vision of what professional soldiering involved,
disillusionment set in fast.






His
company was understrength and demoralised. He
complained that three good sergeants had been
forced to move to another company and “one of
the biggest shit bags is being put in charge of
the team”. The commander of his battalion was a
“conceited old fool” and other officers were as
bad: “In the US army you are cut down for being
honest... but if you are a conceited
brown-nosing shit bag you will be allowed to do
whatever you want, and you will be handed your
higher rank.”



Sgt
Bergdahl had taken seriously the
counter-insurgency strategy supposedly aimed at
winning the “hearts and minds” of Afghans.
Instead, he found that US soldiers regarded
Afghans with aggressive contempt: “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.”



He
spoke of seeing an Afghan child run over by an
American heavy-armoured truck, an event which
his parents believe may have led him to leave
his base. His father responded to his last
message with an email in which the subject line
was titled: “Obey Your Conscience.”



The
life stories of the six men – five Afghans and
one American – exchanged this weekend shows how
quickly the mood of armies in Afghanistan can
switch from full confidence in victory to
frustration and defeat. In the summer of 2001
the Taliban rightly believed they were close to
taking over the whole of Afghanistan as their
enemies were penned into the mountains of the
north-east.



But
9/11 changed all that and by November the
Americans were cock-a-hoop that they had won an
easy success. Eight years later Sgt Bergdahl’s
reasons for going Awol illustrate how far
Afghanistan turned into a demoralising and
unwinnable war for the US.



The
Taliban had also seen hopes of victory turn sour
in a much shorter period. Mullah Mohammed Fazl,
also known as Mullah Fazel Mazloom, was the
leader of 10,000 Taliban fighters held
responsible for massacres of Hazara and Tajiks
in northern Afghanistan.



He
surrendered to the opposition Northern Alliance
in 2001. With him was the governor of Balkh
province, Mullah Norullah Noori. They were taken
to the battleship USS Bataan and then to
Guantanamo.



Ever
since exploratory talks started between the US
and the Taliban, the first demand of the latter
was for these two men to be released. Other
prisoners include Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa
who was a founding member of the Taliban in
1994. In these early days after the fall of the
Taliban, an over-confident US saw no reason why
former Taliban leaders should be conciliated.
Among those senior Taliban security official
reported to have vainly reached out to the
Americans are the two remaining detainees.



Who
could have imagined at the end of 2001 that 13
years later the US would be exchanging prisoners
with the Taliban? For the US, getting back their
only prisoner detaches them further from
Afghanistan, the handover of the five leaders is
a sign of their legitimacy and strength.





© independent.co.uk

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