Sergeant Bergdahl’s Release Underlines America’s Afghan Nightmare
In the last email of sergeant Bergdahl to his parents before being taken prisoner by the Taliban he wrote:
“These people (Afghans) 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. 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.” In signing off, he said, “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is america is disgusting.”
The only US soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan was freed as part of a swap deal with the Taliban, brokered by the government of Qatar. Bowe Bergdahl’s release was part of a negotiation that included the freeing of five high-profile Afghan prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The 28-year-old Bergdahl, a sergeant in the US army, had been held by the Taliban since, 2009. He was handed to US troops by the Taliban on Saturday 31 May, in an area of eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.
America’s mantra that it doesn’t negotiate with terrorists has been the main cry from the US media, whilst military officials have highlighted the fact that the sergeant abandoned the army and on his departure from his base he was captured. Much of this has distracted from the real issue and that is why is the US still occupying a country after a decade of war?
One of the reasons the US cited for invading Afghanistan was to liberate the Afghan people from the Taliban, promising to bring stability and security for the nation. However after more than a decade of war the security situation remains a complete failure. The US has gone to great lengths to lay the blame squarely on Taliban attacks. However with 130,000 troops at its peak it has been unable to bring anything in the way of promised security. This has been fundamentally due to the US working with corrupt politicians, former warlords and opportunists who fill the Afghan government, who have been busy settling old scores and enriching themselves. However the disaster on the lives of ordinary Muslim in Afghanistan is worse today than anytime in Afghan history as US private security firms run havoc with complete impunity.
With the US marred in an insurgency in Iraq the Taliban made a comeback. Stratfor outlined what really occurred: “It is important to remember that the Taliban was never really defeated on the battlefield. Once they realized that they were no match for U.S. air power in a conventional war, they declined battle and faded away to launch their insurgency.” It was here the US turned to regional surrogates. Iran brought stability in the North-West through building roads, power transmission lines, and border stations, among other infrastructure projects.
The US by July 2008 had begun using predator drones to target the areas on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and into Pakistani territory. After conducting thousands of sorties, no high profile target has ever been captured. In fact the US expanded its drone programme to include innocent villages and towns, in the hope that some high profile target may show up on America’s radar.
As the US sunk in a quagmire the Western powers including Obama began preparing the ground for reconciliation with the Taliban. In a lengthy message on the occasion of the of Eid al-Fitr, in 2011 the Taliban leader Mulla Muhammed Umar confirmed negotiations have been going on with the US. This was in hindsight an admittance of defeat by the US as it was negotiating with the enemy it was meant to remove.
The US has been humbled by the Taliban after nearly a decade of war, which has lasted longer than both the world wars combined. As a result of America’s apparent weakness the challenges stemming from her competitors have grown in size and scope and today are much stronger. At the turn of the 21st century US policy makers spoke of nation building and exporting democracy to the Muslim world. This in reality meant corrupt politicians nurtured in Washington taking positions of power. Whilst there is no doubt the family of Segeant Berdahl will be happy in the sons release, this prisoner swap took place with the US in a position of weakness, not strength.