The Controversial Email From America’s Last Prisoner Of War

Rolling Stone on the strange and sad saga of Bowe Bergdahl, the final U.S. prisoner of war being held by the Taliban. After sending a goodbye email to his parents stating that he was “ashamed to be an American”, Bergdahl walked off his base in Afghanistan three years ago:

The Taliban captured 26-year-old Bowe Bergdahl on June 30th, 2009, and since that day, his parents, Jani and Bob, have had no contact with him. Like the rest of the world, their lone glimpses of Bowe – the only American prisoner of war left in either Iraq or Afghanistan – have come through a series of propaganda videos, filmed while he’s been in captivity.

Bowe’s own tour of duty in Afghanistan mirrored the larger American experience in the war – marked by tragedy, confusion, misplaced idealism, deluded thinking and, perhaps, a moment of insanity. And it is with Bowe that the war will likely come to an end. On May 1st, in a surprise visit to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, President Obama announced that the United States will now pursue “a negotiated peace” with the Taliban. That peace is likely to include a prisoner swap – or a “confidence-building measure,” as U.S. officials working on the negotiations call it – that could finally end the longest war in America’s history. Bowe is the one prisoner the Taliban have to trade.

What Bowe found in the Army, according to his parents, was a “deception” – one that started from the moment he was recruited. Bowe had been enticed to join the Army, they say, with the promise that he would be going overseas to help Afghan villagers rebuild their lives and learn to defend themselves – “the whole COIN thing,” says Bob, citing the shorthand for America’s strategy of counterinsurgency. “We were given a fictitious picture, an artificially created picture of what we were doing in Afghanistan.”

On June 27th, he sent what would be his final e-mai­ to his parents. It was a lengthy message documenting his complete disillusionment with the war effort. He opened it by addressing it simply to “mom, dad.”

The e-mail went on to list a series of complaints: Three good sergeants, Bowe said, had been forced to move to another company, and “one of the biggest shit bags is being put in charge of the team.” His battalion commander was a “conceited old fool.” The military system itself was broken: “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 what ever you want, and you will be handed your higher rank… The system is wrong. I am ashamed to be an american. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools.” The soldiers he actually admired were planning on leaving: “The US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at. It is the army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies. The few good SGTs are getting out as soon as they can, and they are telling us privates to do the same.”

In the second-to-last paragraph of the e-mail, Bowe wrote about his broader disgust with America’s approach to the war – an effort, on the ground, that seemed to represent the exact opposite of the kind of concerted campaign to win the “hearts and minds” of average Afghans envisioned by counterinsurgency strategists. “I am sorry for everything here,” Bowe told his parents. “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 then referred to what his parents believe may have been a formative, possibly traumatic event: seeing an Afghan child run over by an MRAP. “We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks… We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them.”

Read the rest at Rolling Stone

17 Comments on "The Controversial Email From America’s Last Prisoner Of War"

  1. charlieprimero | Jun 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |

    Hopefully this can serve as a warning to other kids.    Don’t fall for the indoctrination stomped into your head during fifteen thousand hours of government schooling.   There is nothing noble about killing people for the benefit of some Bankster’s geopolitical money play. Educate yourself.

    •  All together the wrong idea. Fix the problem. This administration can’t fix it and seems to be making it worse kick them out and replace them.
      The US army is broken, fix the bloody problem ASAP or else they will continue to get worse and the US will suffer a mutinous criminal Army.

  2. Funny, I knew the army was full of racist, homicidal, idiots without ever joining….shame he had to go over there and ultimately get himself captured to find that out.

  3. Redacted | Jun 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm |

    It’s a shame he didn’t wait to come home where he could tard rage on the internet about how great/terrible Ron Paul is.

  4. Hadrian999 | Jun 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm |

    I can’t feel sorry for this guy, nobody with any sense joins the paratroopers to build schools, either he was an idiot or he is trying to make himself feel better

    • Hadrian999 | Jun 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm |

       I wont knock him for joining up but he should be honest and accept responsibility for the decision. soldiers fight to enforce the will of their sovereign it’s not much different if that is a president or a king or a drug lord

      • Jin The Ninja | Jun 7, 2012 at 10:56 pm |

        i agree with you, but i think perhaps he was young, naive, and under the influence of the deep nationalism many americans subscribe to. at least he came to realisation afterwards. but you are right anyway.

      •  First you can’t feel sorry for a fellow countryman because he was dumb to join.  Then you “wont knock him for joining…”.  And then you lay the blame on him for having been deceived purposefully by an organization that his entire family believed put honor first.  Should the soldiers of early 1940s Germany fought like mindless drones to enforce the will of “their sovereign” (herding women and children into gas chambers)?  He joined the army – he didn’t sell his soul.

        •  You are wrong. He did sell his soul. To join the military is to give up your own free will and become a tool of THEIR intentions. What we need to do is stop pumping our children full of patriotism and teach some humanity. Is anything our governments do worth dying or killing for? I think not.

          • mannyfurious | Jun 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm |

            I don’t know. I don’t think he sold his soul, or if he did, he certainly didn’t do it on purpose. These military recruiters are very good at their jobs. I was brought up in a strictly anti-imperialist, anti-military household and after I graduated from high school, these fuckers had me about two minutes away from signing my life away. If it weren’t for my older brother essentially telling me to snap the fuck out of it and introducing me to a couple of his buddies who had served in the past and who told me how fucking shitty it is, this could’ve been my story. 

            It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of adventure and being a “bad ass” or whatever. I mean, as an 18-year-old male, it’s easy to get seduced. It’s like, “Go to college, get drunk, deal with a bunch of date-raping douchebags and end up in debt, or go to the Army and be a bad motherfucker on a bunch of adventures.” It’s stupid and delusional and wrong, but how are a bunch of kids with no idea of reality supposed to understand that?

          • Jin The Ninja | Jun 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |

            i also very much agree with what you said here- there is no ready answer, it’s very much an ambiguous thing- his joining, his service, his disillusion. it cannot  be illustrated very easily,  cannot be simplified to one thing or another.

          • Collin Clark | Jun 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm |

             You are an idiot Tepes. What is humanity? Please, enlighten us with you rainbow surfing “unpatriotic” euphoria of what you think humanity is. Life is chaos, life is sick and twisted, what have you done to counter this craziness in life other than say “we need teach some humanity”.

        • Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

           joining the military is a choice he had every right to make, I made the same choice but i don’t buy his sob story about thinking he was joining the peace corps, he was an infantry paratrooper, that is a violent trade he knew what he was getting into, the whole “i was deceived” is a cop out

  5. Unfortunately all is fair in love and war……doesn’t make any of it right…..but if you willingly join the military and there is a war taking place you must be ready to accept the following negative possibilities:
    1. I, in all likelihood, will be sent to fight in the war. 
    2. There is a possibility of me getting injured in fighting said war. 
    3.There is a possibility I might be killed in fighting said war. 
    4. There is a possibility I may be captured by opposing forces while fighting is said war.
    None of these are pleasant prospects but they are the reality of volunteering to join the military of any country….I hope this young man returns home safely…..for that matter I hope all of the remaining soldiers return home safely….that being, said I’m not going to hold my breath on either of those to hopes.

  6. occult-paradigm | Jun 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm |

    Well, if you compare the Brazilian army and the US army, you will se a huge diference. I am not saying that our army is best or worst – even because this would be really stupid to do so. But, our army usually is used to help isolated communities in Amazon rainforest, for instance. 

  7. Redacted | Jun 9, 2012 at 2:59 am |

    In all seriousness, as a War on Terror vet, I sympathize with the guy.

    Thats also where it ends.

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