Bowe Bergdahl: What Should Be the Consequences?

It's the ongoing question that doesn't seem to have a right answer, or really, an answer at all. What should happen to Bowe Bergdahl? The Army soldier who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was captured/imprisoned by the Taliban for five years.



During his recent/ongoing trial, he pled guilty to desertion. He claimed that he walked away on his own, rather than being ambushed like he'd previously reported. (BTW is he in trouble for lying?! How many extra hours of investigating did that cause?)

As for why he did it, here's where things get sketchy. Bergdahl claims his unit was mismanaged. That his leadership was corrupt, lazy, and worse. Whether these claims are true, we will never know; it doesn't matter. US soldiers don't desert. They don't abandon their posts, and they certainly don't tell the enemy insider information.

If captured, their instructions are to survive and learn as much as you can. The end.

Besides, even if there was terrible leadership, he could have approached the situation differently.

Instead, he wandered into Taliban country with the belief that he would not only be safe from harm, but the recipient of American justice. He also thought he'd be the next Jason Bourne. This is due to the fact that Bergdahl suffers from schizotypal personality disorder, which causes paranoia, hallucinations, de-realization, transient psychosis, and unconventional beliefs.

It's why he was rejected from the Coast Guard. (Though it's unclear if he was diagnosed at the time.) It's why he should have never been allowed to join the Army in the first place. (For more info, check out season two of the podcast, Serial.)

Which brings us back to Bergdahl's fate.

He's been called a hero. Why? I'm not sure. It's true the man is not fully stable and that he endured five years as a prisoner, but it was also his decision to leave safety. Maybe he deserves an insanity ruling, but a hero? I just don't see it.

Meanwhile, those involved with the case are worried he won't get a fair trial due to President Trump's comments calling Bergdahl a traitor who should be shot. Harsh? Maybe. But this isn't Trump's first jaw-dropping comment, why should this one hold more weight than the rest?

If Bergdahl doesn't get a fair trial, it's not from what the President said, it's because he let down soldiers. He's being tried in a military court, after breaking military laws. He caused permanent and severe injuries to soldiers; he deserted his fellow men – the complete opposite of what he was trained to do. How will he get a fair trial when those judging him are the very ones he let down? Not to mention, what happens to him if he's put in Leavenworth? How will he be treated by fellow military prisoners?

The court likely has the same fears, and ultimately, they're the reason his fate is being put on hold. In the end, I don't much see the difference between military prison and a psych ward … so long as he gets a discharge and a lifetime separated from the public.