Monday, June 16, 2014

Modern Nigeria: The African Paradox

NIGERIA: A "News" Story Made of Loose Ends
Only the "talking points" seem somewhat familiar

Even more severely than in the usual case, the picture of Nigeria painted by the tattered remains of US domestic media is essentially incomprehensible to any viewer with a high school diploma. While the gnawing emotional abrasion of the abducted school girls is enough to unsettle even the most jaded observer, the larger questions about the country and its people remain, predictably, yet suspiciously, un-addressed.  

Given this purposefully incomplete, confusing "information void," MeanMesa thought the topic quite qualified for selection as one for Short Current Essays.  Now, don't tax yourself with reading further if, for some reason or other, you are expecting shocking revelations unavailable from all the millions of news sources still foolishly competing with MeanMesa for your kind and much appreciated attention.

Instead, we can use this opportunity to do just a little honest research to "fill in those gaps" in the hope of, at the end, providing a more complete, more robust understanding -- one which will, perhaps, present a more factual model of modern Nigeria to aid those watching this puzzling story unfold so far away. Nothing in the world is inherently murky, and when the reporting we rely upon leaves us with such puzzling inconsistencies, we begin at once to speculate about motives.

The "paradox" idea is appropriate.  The "moving parts" in the Nigeria story really are inconsistent with each other. It is as if the network editors had failed to take even so much as a brief moment to overview the coherency of their product before passing it along to us. We have seen a confused series of glimpses of this and that but no congealing structure usable to create a comprehensive -- or particularly comprehensible -- model.

The human mind cannot countenance paradoxes passively or by default. While "servicing" them amounts to expending the energy necessary to keep the contradictory propositions they contain from colliding, the constant effort to sustain such a separation is, frankly, exhausting and painful. So, let's just make a decision to leave the mayhem behind us, take a welcome breath of clear high desert air and settle in for the post.

Setting the Scene: Welcome to Nigeria

The nation of Nigeria has around 170 million citizens.  Nigeria's Southern coast opens to the Gulf of Guinea. With the startling abduction of the school girls by Boko Haram still freshly in mind, let's have a look at a a few sample maps showing different aspects of Nigeria which seem to be of special interest for this post.

1. Nigeria compared to US [image source]
The maps presented in this "get acquainted" section of the post will provide a glimpse of a few of the fascinating -- and seemingly contradictory -- statistics of modern Nigeria. MeanMesa provides a link in the caption of each map which will refer visitors to the source, so if one of these maps sparks an interest for more information, just jump over to the source site.

The first map [1] superimposes the physical size of Nigeria on a few states in the central US at the same scale.  Interestingly, although the states in this region of the US are areas with comparably low concentrations of population, the point here is that Nigeria is, generally, far more populated. Looking at the population figures demonstrates just how "crowded" Nigeria is in the comparison.

2. Nigeria: map of poverty areas [map source]
The second map [2] is of interest because it begins to portray the fundamentals of Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgency problem. In the larger sense the distribution of poverty -- or, as we call it in the US, the distribution of wealth -- throughout a developing country with a significant national income from petroleum sales is also notable.  Boko Haram was not formulated solely as a theoretical religious mandate in a Northern Nigerian mosque.

3. 2025 Plan to extend Nigerian Rail [image source]
While there were many choices for the map [3] following, this one illuminates the prospect for "wealth sharing" in very real terms. The primary complaint accompanying the admittedly rather fickle popular support of Boko Haram in the Borno and neighboring regions in the northeast is that Nigeria's substantial revenue from oil exports remains locked in the populated South of the country.

Although there is no tangible evidence suggesting exactly how serious the Nigerian government is about "wealth sharing," the design plan showing new construction of high speed rail service throughout the country would be -- if it turned out to be serious -- good evidence of a commitment to the idea in principle. Note that the map provides the date "2025" for the project to be operational. 

Although the idea may be somewhat alien to US citizens choking amid the inevitable deterioration of domestic civil structures, infrastructure improvements are a traditional avenue for job creation, economic growth and, in the longer term, wealth equalization.

4. Nigeria vaccination map [map source]
Just as the case in the previous map, the vaccination map [4] was only one of several choices. Nonetheless, in a country with the health status of Nigeria the distribution of vaccinations reveals the same message which would be seen if other maps had been chosen. Government resources, as reflected int he reported vaccination rates by region, have been concentrated in the southeastern part of the country and central areas around the capital at Abuja to the exclusion of other areas -- not surprisingly, areas where Boko Haram is most active.

Does this imply that the insurgency is active because of a lack of vaccinations? No. The point here is that those areas are active because of a lack of lots of things, one of which is the vaccination program. This pattern is the fundamental cause of the mistrust of the central government and sympathies for outlaw groups such as Boko Haram in these more remote regions.

5. Nigeria's "trouble map" [map source]
While the "overlay" is not a perfect match, the map showing regions of Boko Haram -- and other insurgent -- activity [5] generally substantiates this pattern of neglect and exclusion. Here, we need to remember that Boko Haram violence has extended far beyond the kidnapping of the school girls which captured the domestic media's attention.

The darkest blue areas have reported major, violent killing sprees at the hands of the insurgents.  These same areas reflect significant local support for Boko Haram and others among the civilian residents -- all largely because of bad treatment by the Abuja government.

The recent increases in government revenues from the oil export has aggravated this even further. Nigerian residents in the blue shaded areas know that revenues have increased substantially nationally, and the paucity of available government services, compared to other regions, has incited even more active support for the insurgency.

Historically, the economic status of countries with really terrible standards of living has not proved a reliable predictor of social unrest.  It is when those terrible conditions improve -- even a little -- that social and political unrest really "breaks out." It is not an evaluation of bad conditions which incites such activity, but the comparison of "bad" conditions here to even "slightly better" conditions elsewhere which typically spurs this result into action.

This is the case with Nigeria and remote field insurgencies such as Boko Haram.

We can assign the maps provided in the following excerpted GeoCurrents article to numbers "5" and "6." The cited content pretty much speaks for itself. [The links in the quoted content lead to the original articles.]

Electoral Politics and Religious Strife in Nigeria

Submitted by  on May 5, 2011
6. Nigeria's conflict - religion [map source]

Most sources claim that the country has slightly more Muslims than Christians. Wikipedia puts the breakdown at 50.4 percent Muslim, 48.2 percent Christian, and 1.4 percent “other”; the CIA World Factbook states that 50 percent of Nigerians are Muslim, 40 percent Christian, and ten percent “indigenous.”


The northern focus of Islam in Nigeria is clearly visible on the map of Sharia in the country. Since 1999, Nigeria’s constituent states have been permitted to institute Islamic Law as the basis of local civil and criminal court procedures. All twelve northern states have done so—nine over their entire expanse, and three over large areas with Muslim majorities. Today, the geography of Sharia cleanly cleaves Nigeria’s north from its south.

So too does the electoral map. On April 16, 2011, Nigeria’s incumbent president—Christian southerner Goodluck Jonathan—trounced his main Muslim opponent, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, by fifty-nine to thirty-two percent. Every state in the Sharia belt gave a majority of its votes to Buhari; almost every other state massively rejected him. In partially Islamic southwestern Osun, the majority of votes went to another Muslim candidate, the anti-corruption stalwart Nuhu Ribadu. Ribadu polled well across Yorubaland and in parts of the country’s midsection, but he received only 5.4 percent of the votes nationally, and did even worse in the solidly Muslim north. (For returns by state, see Electoral Politics 2.0.)

Goodluck Jonathan crushed all other candidates across the southeast, receiving more than ninety-five percent of the vote in nine states, and more than ninety-eight percent in six. Jonathan also did surprising well over much the north, winning not just Christian votes. In the solidly Muslim state of Jigawa, he was favored by 36.7 percent of the voters.

But if many Muslim northerners were willing to vote for the Christian candidate, others were not willing to accept his victory. By all reports, the Nigerian election was relatively clean and calm, but the aftermath across much of the north was stormy. Post-election violence, directed mainly against Christians, may have taken 500 lives. In the north-central state of Kaduna, one estimate claims that 14,000 Christian fled their homes; in Katsina state, Buhari’s homeland, sixty-five churches have been burned or otherwise damaged, according to Christian sources.

The post-election carnage in northern Nigeria has been ascribed to several factors. Some sources emphasize high youth unemployment and the economic marginalization of the north. Christian sources point to radical Muslim leaders, arguing that the spasm of violence was not a case of “spontaneous combustion” but part of a planned campaign. Some Muslim activists stress anger over possible electoral fraud, dumbfounded that a supposedly Muslim-majority country would cast fifty-nine percent of its votes for a Christian candidate. Another source of anger was the supposed violation of the unwritten rules of Nigerian politics, which hold that Christians and Muslims must alternate in the presidency. This policy had been upended when the previous incumbent, Muslim leader Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, died in office before serving his full term. Yar’Adua was succeeded by vice-president Goodluck Jonathan, whose subsequent incumbency, some say, gave him an unfair advantage in the 2011 election.

Assuming that the election results were accurate, several issues call for further investigation. Why did Jonathan poll as well as he did in the north, winning a substantial minority of Muslim votes? Why did southern Muslims decisively reject the main Muslim candidate, Buhari, and why did northern Muslims equally rebuff the Muslim reformer, Ribadu?


7. Nigerian Ethnic Regions [map source]

Finally, in our "tour" of modern Nigeria, we should look at the county's economic growth and its political consequences. In a manner consistent with other unequal dimensions of "wealth distribution," not even the oil money was able to penetrate the traditional barriers surrounding the "haves" and the "have not's" of Nigeria's fractured population. The following excerpt includes a little about Nigeria's current economic growth, the country's likely problems and a bit of regional history.

APRIL 16, 2014

[This article is excerpted below.  Read the entire article on this site: suffragio]

Not surprisingly, the recalibration caused Nigeria’s official GDP to leap by nearly 75% to around $510 billion, making it Africa’s largest economy. That shouldn’t come a surprise to anyone, in light of predictions that Nigeria would overtake South Africa sometime by the end of the decade. Nigeria is the epitome of the newly emerging Africa. Lagos, its sprawling port, is now Africa’s largest city, recently surpassing Cairo. Its population, already Africa’s largest at 173.6 million, could surpass the US population within the next three decades or so.

But Nigeria’s newfound status is more the beginning of a journey than its terminus, a journey that will become especially pertinent to global affairs throughout the 21st century as Nigeria’s impact begins to rival that of China’s or India’s.

But today, Nigeria’s GDP per capita, even after the rebasing, is just around $3,000. That’s less than one-half the level of GDP per capita in South Africa, which is around $6,600. Though the stakes of Nigeria’s relative success or failure will become increasingly important to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa and to global emerging markets in the years ahead, there’s no guarantee that Nigeria, 54 years after its independence, won’t succumb to state failure.

Nigeria spent its first decade stuck in a tripartite ethnic struggle that ended in a devastating civil war, followed by bouts of military rule from which it emerged imperfectly in 1999. Lingering security challenges, like those posed by Boko Haram, a Muslim insurgency from Nigeria’s northeast, continue to expose the country’s ethnic tensions and the religious and socioeconomic gap between the relatively prosperous Christian south and the relatively underdeveloped Muslim north. Incipient political institutions plagued by a culture of corruption for decades, with less than fully formed democratic norms, could easily erase the stability gains made since the 1999 return to democracy. Although oil wealth has since the 1960s given Nigeria a financial means to solve its lengthy list of developmental, educational, and environmental problems, the mismanagement of oil revenues have so far transformed the wealth into a classic resources curse.

[The concept of "recalibration" or "rebasing" -- recently conducted in Nigeria as mentioned above -- is interesting. Here are two links to read more: 

Finally we need to look at an excerpt from the popular Nigerian newspaper, LEADERSHIP, reviewing the understandable questions about security for the Abuja World Economic Forum meeting in May of this year -- a scheduled date suspiciously sequenced with the Boko Haram abduction in the north.

Nigerian News from Leadership Newspapers

Nigeria Safe For World Economic Forum – Jonathan

Friday Atufe— May 5, 2014
[Read the entire LEADERSHIP article  here.]

As Nigeria hosts the World Economic Forum (WEF), Friday Atufe, writes that the country should endeavour to implement the conclusions reached so that it would not be another talk shop devoid of action.

Nigeria will this week play host to the 24th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Abuja, the Federal capital Territory (FCT) from May 7-9.


Already, President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the international community and all participants in the forum that the host city, Abuja, is safe for the meeting. The President, speaking when he received in audience the new Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Gu Xiaojie, who presented his letter of credence to him at the Presidential Villa recently, assured that the security challenges being faced in parts of the country would have no adverse effect on the safety of participants in the forum.

The president welcomed the confirmation by China that its delegation to the forum would be led by its premier, Mr Li Keqiang.

He said, “I am quite pleased that the premier of the People’s Republic of China has confirmed that he is coming. We would be addressing the World Economic Forum on Africa together. We would also sit down together to discuss shared national interests.

Boko Haram

Just today MeanMesa posted about events in Iraq -- events which were very visibly and directly precipitated from the recently formed Iraqi Shi'ite government's strident unwillingness to include the minority Sunni in the distribution of government resources, let alone the directing of the country. Roughly the same story unfolds in most of the countries of the Arab Spring. Whichever among the rebellious factions succeeds in clawing its way to the top almost instantly adopts an minority infuriating, exclusionary model almost identical to policies of the despot just removed.

Nigeria's "replay" of this dangerous game is slightly more civil than some of the more egregious examples, but the slow, painful realization of cultural, governmental and resource exclusion in the country's northwest states is having the predictable outcome. In Nigeria's case, the affiliation between the insurgency and al Qaeda is somewhat more substantial than the suspicious alliances "revealed" on domestic "news" concerning the other cases.

[These days in the US the already "not credible" media, no doubt obedient to those interests most invested in starting more wars, has a veritable penchant for attaching the terrifying al Qaeda label to even the most inconspicuous little bit of "trouble" anywhere. With respect to ties between al Qaeda and Boko Haram, the evidence is more material -- although the full extent of the help remains conveniently ambiguous.]

However, while these explanations might be adapted to the creation and existence of such a violent, terrorist organization, the tactics employed by Boko Haram are just as incomprehensible as with other groups employing them elsewhere. There is no "logical journey" by which the impulsive murder of significant numbers of more or less random civilians leads to political control of the country, political representation in the country's government or even a particularly "eager ear" to hear the complaints of the minority.

However the amplified voices of Boko Haram might characterize their gruesome effort in Nigeria, that tactical explanation would not include "taking over the country" or even regional "ethnic cleansing." Neither the list of the dead nor the public opinion being generated support an interest in either of those goals. So far as MeanMesa can speculate, Boko Haram's helter skelter blood bath seems to be driven by nothing more ideological than a perpetually bad -- really bad -- attitude.

The school girl abduction reads like the pointless script to a grade B horror movie. There is no actual message. The case for this conclusion was cemented even further with the incendiary -- but tastelessly flamboyant -- threat to convert the girls to Islam and sell them as sex slaves across Nigeria's borders.

There is, on one hand, "making a point," but in this case that became the equivalent of a pathetic and poorly choreographed alcoholic tantrum on a hangover morning. The whole mismanaged affair amounted to "insurgency suicide." If Boko Haram ever actually paid attention to its "approval ratings," someone would have been fired for even considering this crazy scheme.

And, "being fired" by Boko Haram would be a "permanent" career problem.

Read more reporting about Boko Haram in Nigeria at this BBC link.

A Visit to the African Version of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

The embarrassed President reassures attendees that the World Economic Forum being held in the capital, Abuja, is safe and secure. Meanwhile, Boko Haram terrorist bombs are slaughtering the residents in transit bus explosions less than a mile away. And, not just one explosion, an agonizing repetition executed in hope of credibly establishing that Boko Haram can attack at will anywhere in the country.

The abduction of the school girls, further embellished with even more grotesque threats certain to incite mistrust of the Nigerian government, coupled with the darkly hilarious "black humor" fumbling and bungling of any serious attempt to rescue them simply can't be "sold" as the actions of responsible, competent national authority. MeanMesa would have loved to have been a "fly on the wall" over hearing the WEF representatives asking about this.

There isn't enough lipstick on the continent to make this fiasco look like anything similar to the Neapolitan image dreamed of by the Nigerians.

The question of Nigerian sovereignty is even more puzzling. 

With the public support of democratic elections, impressive income levels from oil exports, the largest GDP in the African Continent and  a strong, well equipped military [200,000 active duty, 300,000 reserve guard - WIKI - Read more here.], why does the Abuja government fail to project its legitimate autonomy within its borders? Boko Haram is not merely a small, irritating political off shoot conveniently isolated "out of harm's way," it is a wildly violent cancer, ready to permanently disrupt Nigeria's future and that of adjacent countries, too.

Although Boko Haram has been demonstrating a predictable affinity for asymmetrical disruption to mitigate the strength of the Nigerian military, there is not enough "asymmetry" anywhere in the mix to disguise the bizarre unwillingness of President Goodluck Jonathan to engage more than such a paralytic response.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer of Joy: The US Peace Deal With ISIS

Important Notice - Attn: NSA

The following blog content is sarcasm.  MeanMesa understands that the "spy catchers" and other righties have a terrible time determining that certain material is, indeed, actually sarcasm, meant to provide more stable visitors with a spirit lifting humorous interlude amidst the cultural darkness of the conservative "Church of Death." So, just as the bright, shiny Sunday school Republicans are always careful to announce that a "joke" is about to be uttered to a brain dead audience of their base, MeanMesa is taking this opportunity to absolutely, positively, unmistakably announce that this post is sarcasm.  Further, as an aid to the NSA's 1st Amendment shredding algorithm, this announcement will be presented in extra large font, bold letters.

This post is sarcasm.

Please do not place all of MeanMesa's relatives on the "enemy combatant" list, bug MeanMesa's InterGalactic HeadQuarters or make reservations for this old blogger in one of your top secret "black ops" torture prisons.

IRAQ: As We Find It
What happens when millions of Americans all say "I told you so..."

The 1,100 or so ISIS militia have been plowing the field on their was to Baghdad to establish their caliphate. This from The Economist. Read entire article  here.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria
Two Arab countries fall apart

An extreme Islamist group that seeks to create a caliphate and spread jihad across the world has made dramatic advances on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border

After four days of fighting, Iraq’s security forces abandoned their posts in Mosul as ISIS militiamen took over army bases, banks and government offices. The jihadists seized huge stores of American-supplied arms, ammunition and vehicles, apparently including six Black Hawk helicopters and 500 billion dinars ($430m) in freshly printed cash. Some 500,000 people fled in terror to areas beyond ISIS’s sway.

The scale of the attack on Mosul was particularly audacious. But it did not come out of the blue. In the past six months ISIS has captured and held Falluja, less than an hour’s drive west of Baghdad; taken over parts of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province; and has battled for Samarra, a city north of Baghdad that boasts one of Shia Islam’s holiest shrines. Virtually every day its fighters set off bombs in Baghdad, keeping people in a state of terror.

As The Economist went to press, it was reported to have taken Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town, only 140km (87 miles) north-west of Baghdad. The speed of ISIS’s advance suggested that it was co-operating with a network of Sunni remnants from Saddam’s underground resistance who opposed the Americans after 2003 and have continued to fight against the Shia-dominated regime of Nuri al-Maliki since the Americans left at the end of 2011.

Now, this account sounds pretty chaotic, but we can still see a few familiar elements. For example, the $430 Mn in cash certainly reminds us of the "hard working" free enterprisers in Iraq who got paid off so lavishly at the outset of the oil war there. Even the commandeered US military equipment rushed away for future attacks on the dictator of Syria, while at first glance rather shocking, is, on more careful consideration eerily similar to some really stinky, "behind the scenes" transfers of military support we've seen conducted before.

Maybe GOP war monger, Gramps McCain, floundered and flummoxed by the pesky popular opinion opposing another dose of war in the region, found someone with the competence to piece this one together for him. For him, war is still war -- and still wonderful --  even if not fought by rosy cheeked American dough boys unable to find jobs in the economy his party wrecked a few years ago.

The Washington Post provides us with this map showing an overview of the ISIS advance from Syria into western Iraq.

Global Oil Cronies Scrambling to Make New "Deals" With the "New Guys?" [Map source - Washington Post]
Perhaps the most egregious part of the story unfolded with the fall of Mosul, reportedly defended by around 30,000 Iraqi Army regulars. The ISIS militia who took control of the city [population around 800,000] were reported to number 1,100. One of the Iraqi soldiers who fled the city was interviewed on BBC last night, saying that the army commanders were terrified by the ISIS troops approaching and  deserted the city almost immediately rather than fight with the Sunni insurgents.


Iraq’s Second Largest City Falls to Extremists

Karl Vick, June 10, 2014
[Excerpt. Read the entire article TIME - here]

Soldiers in Mosul threw down their guns and stripped off their uniforms as Sunni insurgents approached and raised their black flags on Tuesday, allowing the city to fall after just four days of fighting. Terrified residents were streaming out of the city

The fall of Iraq’s second largest city to Islamist extremists Tuesday sends an alarming message about the deterioration of a country where the U.S. spent eight years, 4,500 lives and $1.7 trillion. Mosul, a city of 1.8 million located in the far north of the country, long cultivated a reputation as a military town. But Iraqi soldiers threw down their guns and stripped off their uniforms as the insurgents approached on Tuesday, according to officials stunned by the collapse of its defenses.

Now that we've made a cursory pass at some of the news being reported on US domestic media, it's high time to begin drawing some conclusions.

ISIS: A US Opportunity in the Depressing Middle East
Yes, it involves a little "paradigm busting..."

First, just for convenience, let's "lump" Afghanistan and Pakistan into the "Middle East" collective simply to avoid any confusion about boundaries. [The hair splitting domestic "news" covers these countries as "Western Asia." Where ever one ends and the other begins only amounts to an afternoon bus ride -- if you make it without being blown up or kidnapped.]

We could waste some time discussing elements of the recent history of the region with respect to US intervention and other things, but let's just skip that part, and instead, just acknowledge the unavoidable fact that not just Iraq, but just about every "foreign policy" scheme having anything to do with the mess recently was birthed from the seed of the pig headed, stubborn, unrealistic machinations of the Bush W.-Cheney-Rumsfeldt-Rice autocracy clan.

The fact that President Obama has actually pulled out a few, scarce "wins" from the cess pool is remarkable given the absence of a functional Congress, but these exceptions from the dismal norm, however sweetly we might embrace them, have also been disturbingly vacuous. There have been so many miscalculations and misrepresentations that even the Bush lies have, in comparison, become passingly palatable.

What follows is the "sarcasm" part.

One common problem with the convenient Middle East allies we have wound up with is that they won't fight. And, all these men are not necessarily cowards. They have reasons -- actually fairly understandable if not downright good reasons -- for not being particularly anxious to bleed for their governments When we look for the visible reason that the over all situation has constantly sunk further into the sludge, this is abundantly clear. 

However, the "not fighting" problem may be only the "low hanging fruit." The only slightly more obscure reason is that none of our "allies" has ever had any inclination to address the "fairly understandable if not down right good reasons" that make this the case. MeanMesa suspects that these "allies" of ours are simply imitating the Bush-Cheney "winner take all" example.

Of course, someone like Nuri al Maliki was reassuringly eager to mouth the words we in the US allegedly wanted to hear, but once in a somewhat stable position of power, he lurched immediately back into the "winner take all" mode. In fact, there can be little doubt that every one of al Maliki's worst nightmares starts off with something to do with reconciliation.

ISIS, on the other hand, is "full to the gunnels" with mop headed boys totally ready to fight. Looking at the scene from their eyes, we can see that these sturdy militia men have, in fact, a "fairly understandable if not down right good reason" to fight like hell. Remember, 1,100 of them ran 30,000 terrified Iraqi troops out of Mosul.

Further, there is no deception. ISIS is, quite reliably, exactly what it looks like it is. That feature alone begins to elevate ISIS notably with respect to all the other "bag full of swarming vipers" governments in the region we have been propping up at any cost. This criticism extends abundantly beyond Iraq, too.

It seems like any horse thief wearing a tie and a turban can turn out to be "the cat's meow" when it comes to rousting up the next US "freedom loving ally." Worse, it is pretty clear from our history in the region that we begin our "search" for these "suitable allies" with the presumption that they must be like us or have the ambition of being like us.

Fasten your seat belts. Why not dump all the flimsy, wretched "allies" we have in the Middle East now and replace the whole bunch with ISIS?

Let's take a look at what would happen.

Right away we can assume that if -- after signing some sort of treaty with them -- the US wound up "training and equipping" the ISIS militia, the resulting force would emerge being quite ready to fight like hell. In practically no time the Middle East would be consolidated into an Islamic caliphate under Sharia law. It would be peaceful, and over time, even potentially prosperous and productive. The treaty could be sweetened up even further with provisions prohibiting ISIS terrorism in the Continental US.

The Syrian "problem" would evaporate after ISIS finished with the blood thirsty dictator there. The Iranians would even stop exporting terrorists and bombs to the region, and all the obstinate, squabbling, disparate little "congregations" in the "Syrian opposition" would become interested in, shall we say, "beating their swords into plow shares" and planting orchards of date trees.

If this sounds absurd, just spend a moment remembering that not a single peaceful day has passed sun down in the whole area for years. Would US foreign policy really be losing anything? Really?

Iraq was lost long before the US pull out of colonial forces. The chaotic, petulant little problem child was already waving the green flag last year for Iranian supply convoys and troops headed to Syria to help Assad. The billions of US dollar bribes delivered to Iraqis when the invasion began have all been spent now, and likewise with the Anbar Sunnis, all the cash frantically injected there to make George Bush's "surge" look like it worked is also now only a fond memory. 

The millions of desperate Syrian refugees crouching in Turkey and Jordan might not like the Sharia part of the ISIS program, but, given time in the misery of refugee camps, the prospect of a peaceful life would probably trump that disdain.

Our wonderful ally, Israel, once the "shining beacon of democracy" in the region has long ago slipped into its new role as a stubborn, fascist monstrosity dangling like a hyper-militarized Damocles' sword with h-bombs, threats and blind rage dribbling out of every pocket. Israel might act a little more constructively with a thousand miles of ISIS caliphate stretched out to its East.

Another of our "great allies," Saudi Arabia -- along with the brutal "junior monarchies" ringing the Gulf -- might find some heretofore rare tolerance and cooperation somewhere in those divine kingly souls once the horizon had shifted a bit.

Even the rabble rousing pirates in Somalia might settle down a little under the "guidance" of the ISIS caliphate.

All the deep jungle types ranging terror across sub-Saharan Africa would instantly lose the "hired gun" support of their "small state sponsors" and face the chilling choice of "flying solo" or submitting to the civilizing influence of the caliphate.

See, this is coming together, right? Take a deep breath.

A Moment of Clarity
What have we been doing?

For the last fifty years or so the United States has been trapped in one mindless escapade of repetitive military violence in the Middle East after another -- a record for which we are now involuntarily going to pay the full price. George W. had the bloodthirsty paralytic certainty of dogmatic arrogance beyond measure. With a single mindless word he set the final trap springs on the present disaster when he publicly used the term "Crusade" in his drooling description of the war he had started in Iraq.

But even before Bush, the stupefied US electorate had already unwittingly filled the role of dancing puppet between the prehistoric eschatologists screaming their biblical chants of apocalypse and the oil barons patiently subverting any possibility for peace in the meat grinder of their dynasty building nightmares.

MeanMesa has a troubling thought. Countries such as Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia all have the potential to make thing better for the billion plus people living in the arc from Morocco to Indonesia. All the specific reasons why this has never even existed as a possibility provide a litany of the "Top Ten Worse Things" humans are still doing in the world -- bad religion, incredible greed, barbaric brutality and stubborn adherence to out dated, irrational, destructive social "habits" ranging the full grisly spectrum from public stonings to clitoral mutilations.

[Anyone who ascribes this reference to "stoning" as evidence of the codger rolling "off his rocker" again, should just GOOGLE the term to see what appears.]

Oh sure, the ISIS fighters might be a "little rough around the edges," but in the larger picture, they might be just the allies we can do business with.

Next stop Ottoman Empire.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Desertion, Treason and Traitorous Opportunism: a Sergeant Bergdahl Primer

[A note from MeanMesa: This little blog has been on hiatus for a couple of weeks.  In terms of excuses, the summer weather has arrived in New Mexico which means that the garden had to be ushered and prodded into its "full steam" growing season with some serious weeding, fertilizing and irrigation repair; MeanMesa has been dedicating some time to teaching Fourth Way students; and, for excitement GOOGLE has been reporting a series of attempts to penetrate Short Current Essays password access -- all, happily, handily foiled by the search engine's mighty security algorithms. Now that these matters are one again in hand for a while, and the days here are routinely reaching the 90's F every afternoon, it's clearly blogging time again!]

Desperately Searching for the Clown Car's Wheels
The hill billies are restless, and November is approaching.

With the IRS scandal, ObamaCare and the Issa Benghazi adventure novel all smoldering in the ash can of public opinion, the reactionary political hacks had already found themselves languishing in "flaming panic" mode by the moment the Afghan POW's recovery was announced. Even all the uber expensive think tank "doo-dads" which had been so painfully prepared to spring on the exhausted US electorate in the mid-term election campaigns had long ago officially metamorphosed into the larval "toothache" phase as outdated "wraiths" -- long lost, gaseous issues that the GOP's base of hill billies and bigots could not dependably recall even while sober.

All this left the "secret strateegery" bucket in the clown car disturbingly empty.  In such eerie doldrums -- void of any recent inflammatory prospects -- Murdoch's "paid by the minute" pundits had begun breathlessly reporting the capture of stray dogs and broken fire hydrants.

Amid all these discouragingly [for the media, at least...] becalmed waters of the "news cycle," Sergeant Bergdahl was suddenly aboard an armed US Army helicopter after being held for five years of captivity by the Haqqani network apparently somewhere in Western Pakistan.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, US Army [image WIKI]
Instantly, the "word" came down from the oligarchs' for all those with microphones to re-frame the matter to further promote mistrust of the government and Obama hatred.  Within minutes dozens of right wing political operatives [i.e. GOP/tea bag Senators and Congressmen] had frantically purged tweets and statements lauding Bergdahl's heroism and demanding his rescue from their web sites.

Even grumbling, geriatric Republican "war expert," John McCain, ordered the tatters of his burned out political air craft carrier to "full flank reverse," directly contradicting his previously publicly stated support for such a prisoner exchange.  McCain's "top deck traveling companion," Southern Belle Lindsey Graham, was so shaken by the phone call's new orders that he suffered his famous "fainting vapors."

In the media's "fact free" world the chicken coop emptied almost as quickly.  Within seconds Bergdahl was a treasonous deserter, his mother and father were hand wringing hippies and the "Negro in the White House" had, well, done it again.

Fortunately, there is little prospect for all this carefully manufactured onslaught of "feathers and fog" to ever gain much traction with voters who can accurately answer what day of the week it is. Nonetheless, MeanMesa thought it might be fun to examine some of the unreported elements of the story a little more closely.

Reaffirming the title of this post, the coarsest of the suddenly uber-righteous "arm chair spectators" watching Bergdahl's case unfold instantly roared forth with humorously self-pious assertions of "desertion" and "treason."  Although the vibrating pretense that their voices were the equivalent of a military judge didn't seem to bother them, MeanMesa thinks that such grave matters are better founded on some actual fact.

UCMJ Article 85: How To Be A Deserter

This is an important question.  AWOLs face imprisonment when they are returned to their abandoned military commands, but deserters can face firing squads.  Naturally, the idea of actually shooting someone offers an irresistible attraction to the tea bags.  Further, the right wingers have -- of late -- been officially relieved of any onus of honoring due process, judicial or Constitutional decisions by their pastors and coaches. They have been "juiced" to the point from which they "feel" their emotional opinion is far more legitimate than a court ruling -- even, in this case, more legitimate than a military tribunal's findings.

We can see evidence of this anarchic development in everything from outlawing Constitutional abortions to legislatively obliterating the right to vote for registered voters.  Berdahl might be guilty of desertion, but that guilt or innocence will not be established by the burping and bellowing of ancient war mongers like McCain or effeminate phonies such as Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity.

Let's have a look at Article 85.


“(a) Any member of the armed forces who—

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;

(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another one of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States Note: This provision has been held not to state a separate offense by the United States Court of Military Appeals in United States v. Huff, 7 U.S.C.M.A. 247, 22 C.M.R. 37 (1956), is guilty of desertion.

(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.”

Guide Note: The offense of Desertion, under Article 85, carries a much greater punishment, than the offense of AWOL, under Article 86. Many people believe that if one is absent without authority for greater than 30 days, the offense changes from AWOL to Desertion, but that's not quite true.

The primary difference between the two offenses is "intent to remain away permanently." If one intends to return to "military control," one is guilty of "AWOL," under Article 86, not Desertion, under Article 85, even if they were away for ten years. The confusion derives from the fact that, if a member is absent without authority for longer than 30 days, the government (court-martial) is allowed to assume there was no intent to return. Therefore, the burden of proof that the accused intended to someday return to "military control" lies with the defense.

A person who is absent for just a day or two, then apprehended, could still be charged with the offense of Desertion, but the prosecution would have to show evidence that the accused intended to remain away permanently. [special emphasis added]

Read the original article here.  Following this part of the article's discussion is another section titled "Elements."  These are also worth understanding.  Each of the "elements" provides additional parameters for a court's martial decision making process with regard to the severity of both guilt and sentencing.  The link to Article 86 [cited in the quoted material] deals with the same issues when the charge is AWOL - "away without leave."

Thanks to the utter bankruptcy of the American domestic media as it obediently broadcasts the current "collection" of "reported" -- and suspiciously convenient -- conjectures about the Sergeant's current legal status with the Army, just about any "narrative" one might desire can be fabricated in the utter void of information at this point.  These delightfully incendiary, special "narratives" have been oozing forth in an uncontrollable and unavoidable tidal wave in hopes of producing increases in listener and viewer ratings.

Before this wonderful opportunity, the toothpaste and pharmaceutical corporations, faced with the famous "consumer summer attention malaise," had begun to explore alternate media buys while the proselytes of the multitude of strange, hybrid religions prevailing here rushed forward to pronounce their vacuous "moral judgments." 

Now, let's take a look at "treason."

UCMJ Article 106a: What It Takes 
to Commit Espionage [Treason]

Let's have a look at Article 106a.



“(1) Any person subject to this chapter who, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to communicate, deliver, or transmit, to any entity described in paragraph (2), either directly or indirectly, anything described in paragraph (3) shall be punished as a court-martial may direct, except that if the accused is found guilty of an offense that directly concerns (A) nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, early warning systems, or other means of defense or retaliation against large scale attack, (B) war plans, (C) communications intelligence or cryptographic information, or (D) any other major weapons system or major element of defense strategy, the accused shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

(2) An entity referred to in paragraph (1) is—

(A) a foreign government;

(B) a faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States; or

(C) a representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen of such a government, faction, party, or force.

(3) A thing referred to in paragraph (1) is a document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance, or information relating to the national defense.


(1) No person may be sentenced by court-martial to suffer death for an offense under this section (article) unless—

(A) the members of the court-martial unanimously find at least one of the aggravating factors set out in subsection (c); and

(B) the members unanimously determine that any extenuating or mitigating circumstances are substantially outweighed by any aggravating circumstances, including the aggravating factors set out under subsection (c).

(2) Findings under this subsection may be based on — (A) evidence introduced on the issue of guilt or innocence; (B) evidence introduced during the sentencing proceeding; or

(C) all such evidence. (3) The accused shall be given broad latitude to present matters in extenuation and mitigation.

(c) A sentence of death may be adjudged by a court-martial for an offense under this section (article) only if the members unanimously find, beyond a reasonable doubt, one or more of the following aggravating factors:

(1) The accused has been convicted of another offense involving espionage or treason for which either a sentence of death or imprisonment for life was authorized by statute.

(2) In the commission of the offense, the accused knowingly created a grave risk of substantial damage to the national security.

(3) In the commission of the offense, the accused knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person.

(4) Any other factor that may be prescribed by the President by regulations under section 836 of this title (Article 36).”

Read the entire article  here.  As was the case with the previous citation from the UCMJ, this site also contains "Elements" to be considered by the court martial during its deliberations establishing both guilt and sentencing.  These are worth reviewing.

With both of these UCMJ codes in mind, we can now explore the plausibility of either set of criminal conditions being found in the case of Sergeant Bergdahl.

A Closer Look at Bergdahl's "Plan"

Of course MeanMesa has no special information about the Sergeant's motives or intentions beyond the snippets being "alleged" or "reported," and, clearly, at this point those must be considered suspect.  Nonetheless, there remains a substantial amount of quite credible information which might, hopefully, provide the basis for a few "reasonably founded" conjectures of our own.

An Afghanistan Map showing Bergdahl's location when captured
MeanMesa Graphics

The map [above] is important when we consider the possibilities of Sergeant Bergdahl's motives and intentions prior to the time he was captured. The twenty year old knew where he was and what all surrounded that location in Eastern Afghanistan.  The smaller inserts on the map are also relevant.  The small map [upper right corner] shows the position of the Paktia Province -- the site of Bergdahl's post at the Mest-Malek forward base -- with respect to the country of Afghanistan. The small map [lower left corner] shows a rough description of the areas along the Pakistan - Afghanistan border with the highest concentration of Taliban militia.

[The link addresses to both small maps are listed at the bottom of the graphic.  Sorry for the inconvenience.]

One of the widely varying accounts of events leading up to Bergdahl's disappearance describes a note left in his quarters informing his platoon members that he intended to walk to India. Alternate accounts suggest that Bergdahl asked his direct commander "if it would be alright to leave the compound with his rifle and flak vest."  In that "story" his request was denied, at which point he left the rifle and vest, departing with only a knife and a back pack.

All of these accounts are interesting for one wishing to understand the soldier's thoughts. Bergdahl was very aware of the likelihood that a single American soldier would be either attacked or captured should he venture outside the compound at Mest-Malek. Berdahl also had to be quite aware that "walking to India to start a new life" would have been almost impossible from he would begin such a journey in Eastern Afghanistan.

Further, Bergdahl had a working understanding of the nature of his Taliban opponents.  His idealism would not have altered his experience in this case.  The man had no misconceptions about the nature of his enemies and the probable treatment he would receive at their hand should he be captured.

In terms of collaborating with that enemy the story still doesn't gel. Bergdahl was a low ranking non-commissioned soldier and, hence, not likely to hold secret information which could have been an advantage to the Taliban.

The point here is not particularly reassuring, but the implications remain unavoidable. MeanMesa must conclude that Bergdahl was not "functioning rationally." Yes, the young man was disillusioned with what he had seen in Afghanistan and somewhat disheartened by the mind set of his fellow platoon members, but a rational man would not have arrived at such an obviously unrealistic plan.

We are telling the story of an idealist 20 year old from Idaho, but we cannot attribute Bergdahl's incontrovertibly bad judgement to idealistic inebriation. We are looking a case of "gears slipping" in a young man stationed in the middle of a combat zone. Idealism can quietly coerce a man to bravely take chances with unlikely odds, but we cannot conveniently blame idealism for a man apparently pursuing essentially suicidal choices of action.

At this point we can also compare Bergdahl's situation in Afghanistan with a that of a soldier stationed elsewhere.  If that station were in, say, Missouri, there would be a real possibility that an AWOL or deserted soldier could find surrounding social/cultural conditions where he could continue to live fairly comfortably, "fit in" and even pursue a relatively normal life.  This would even be the case, albeit to a somewhat lesser degree, if the soldier were stationed in, say, Germany or Korea, but in Afghanistan those opportunities would be far less available.

Even the prospects of an American soldier abandoning his station by AWOL or desertion in the midst of Kabul would be generally unrealistic and unworkable.

The constant and over use of the term "post," as in "abandoning his post," in the comments of the suspiciously inspired critics of the soldier is also somewhat misleading. The idea of "abandoning one's post" deals with abrogating the direct responsibilities of guard duty -- a very serious infraction in a war zone.  Bergdahl was not on duty when he left Mest-Malek.

Again, the point here is that Bergdahl would have unquestionably been aware of all of this. Yes, he had learned the local language, but no, he still would not have "fit in."  Ever.  He could not have had a job, a car, an apartment, a girl friend or even the freedom to move around in an occupied country.

Now, we get to the "Traitorous Opportunism" Part

First, to validate such an aggressive title ["Traitorous Opportunism"MeanMesa must ask: "Exactly what else could we call the all out rampage to skew the issues at hand, permanently contaminate any possible future jurors and gin up an antagonistic 'moral outrage' before any of the facts have been determined?" The "Traitorous Opportunism" is not directed at Bergdahl, it is directed at the oligarch driven right wing reactionary press.

However, with this "big picture" in hand, we can now look at faux-reports of the Sergeant's plan for leaving Mest-Malek and abandoning the US Army.  We can begin with these excerpts from a New York Times article which MeanMesa found helpful and illuminating.

Bowe Bergdahl’s Vanishing Before Capture
 Angered His Unit

JUNE 2, 2014

WASHINGTON — Sometime after midnight on June 30, 2009, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life. He slipped off the remote military outpost in Paktika Province on the border with Pakistan and took with him a soft backpack, water, knives, a notebook and writing materials, but left behind his body armor and weapons — startling, given the hostile environment around his outpost.

That account, provided by a former senior military officer briefed on the investigation into the private’s disappearance, is part of a more complicated picture emerging of the capture of a soldier whose five years as a Taliban prisoner influenced high-level diplomatic negotiations, brought in foreign governments, and ended with him whisked away on a helicopter by American commandos.

The release of Sergeant Bergdahl (he was promoted in captivity) has created political problems for the Obama administration, which is having to defend his exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but it also presents delicate politics for Republicans who are attacking, through surrogates, America’s last known prisoner of war.

. . . 

Sergeant Bergdahl slipped away from his outpost, the former senior officer said, possibly on foot but more likely hiding in a contractor’s vehicle. “He didn’t walk out the gate through a checkpoint, and there was no evidence he breached the perimeter wire and left that way,” the ex-officer said.

It was not until the 9 a.m. roll call on June 30 that the 29 soldiers of Second Platoon, Blackfoot Company, learned he was gone.

“I was woken up by my platoon leader,” said Mr. Cornelison, who had gone to sleep just three hours before after serving watch from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. “Hey Doc,” his platoon leader said. “Have you seen Bergdahl?”

Platoon members said Sergeant Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was known as bookish and filled with romantic notions that some found odd.

“He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,” Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. “He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.”

The soldiers began a frantic search for Sergeant Bergdahl using Predator drones, Apache attack helicopters and military tracking dogs. The most intense search operation, leaked war reports show, wound down after eight days — well before the deaths of six soldiers on patrols in Paktika Province in late August and early September. But, complicating matters, some soldiers contend they were effectively searching for 90 days because of clear orders: If they heard rumors from locals that Sergeant Bergdahl might be nearby, they should patrol the area.
. . .

[The New York Times article includes copious reference to "angry" soldiers who claim that Bergdahl's absence caused additional casualties among troops sent to search for him.  So far, these allegations are not borne up when the records of combat operations in the region are scrutinized, and they represent examples of the premature, opportunistic "opinion driven" condemnation of the soldier.]
. . .

A review of the database of casualties in the Afghan war suggests that Sergeant Bergdahl’s critics appear to be blaming him for every American soldier killed in Paktika Province in the four-month period that followed his disappearance.

Mr. Cornelison and Mr. Full both said they wanted to see Sergeant Bergdahl court-martialed as a deserter. “I’m not going to speak on the political, but I think that now that he’s back, he needs to be held accountable,” Mr. Full said.

Mr. Cornelison echoed Mr. Full. “I won’t get into the politics, but now that he’s back he needs to be held 100 percent accountable,” he said. “For putting myself and 29 other people in my platoon in hell for 90 days.”

Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that there was a larger matter at play: The American military does not leave soldiers behind. “When you’re in the Navy, and you go overboard, it doesn’t matter if you were pushed, fell or jumped,” he said. “We’re going to turn the ship around and pick you up.”

Read the entire New York Times article  here.  

So far as fabricating alternate "backgrounds" for Bergdahl, a literal horde of second tier print media and blogger pounding the keyboards in their mother's basement rushed to fill the void. Embarrassed national press and media networks had tried bravely to achieve some sort of credibility by mass producing their own best "guesses," but the curious public could see the empty, out of control "story spinning" in futility as it tried desperately to "anchor" itself with  a palatable tidbit of flimsy ideology.

The somewhat "less than noble" New York Post "coverage" is a great example. While there might be some actual substance behind this story left somewhere on the city editor's floor, every sentence carries an awkwardly visible "second message."

The bizarre tale of America’s last known POW

By Michael Gartland

May 31, 2014 | 11:24pm

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last known American POW, was freed after five years in captivity — an ordeal that began and ended in Afghanistan under a shroud of mystery.

The Taliban turned over Bergdahl Saturday morning to US special forces in exchange for five notorious Islamic militants who had been held at Guantanamo Bay and will be sent to Qatar, where they will stay for a year under the terms of the trade.

At least one of the prisoners, ranking Taliban leader Khairullah Khairkhwa, had direct ties to Osama bin Laden.

Bergdahl was picked up by helicopter in western Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.

After climbing aboard, the 28-year-old Idahoan, trying to communicate with his rescuers over the roar of the rotors, scrawled “SF?” on a paper plate — asking his rescuers whether they were special forces.

“Yes,” one of the men shouted. “We’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

The Army infantryman — himself nicknamed “SF” by his comrades for his gung-ho interest in special-forces tactics — began to weep.

Bergdahl’s parents, who had lobbied continuously for his ­release, had not seen him by Saturday night, but intimated that he faces an arduous recovery from his ordeal.

Bergdahl is speaking in what appears to be Pashto, said his dad, Bob Bergdahl. It was not clear whether his son can still even speak English, Bob said.

When the father spoke to his son — for the first time in five worried years — it was to say both in Pashto and English, “I am your father, Bowe.”

“We will continue to stay strong for Bowe while he recovers,” said his mom, Jani.

The search for Bergdahl began soon after he went missing on June 30, 2009, in the same rugged wilds of southeastern Afghanistan where NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman was killed.

Bergdahl’s mysterious disappearance from the small military outpost there and the subsequent revelation that he was in enemy hands prompted questions that still linger.

Soon after the capture, Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen claimed a drunken Bergdahl was snatched while he stumbled to his car in the Yousaf Khel district of Paktika.

The US military called that a lie, and in one of the videos taken during his captivity, Bergdahl himself said he was captured while lagging behind a patrol.

But in the weeks before his capture, Bergdahl had made murky statements that suggested he was gravitating away from the soldiers in his unit and toward ­desertion, a member of his platoon told Rolling Stone.

As a teen, the home-schooled son of Calvinists took up ballet — recruited to be a “lifter” by “a beautiful local girl,” Rolling Stone reported, “the guy who holds the girl aloft in a ballet sequence.” The strategy worked: Bergdahl — who also began dabbling in Budd­hism and tarot card reading — soon moved in with the woman.

Even as a teen, he could fire a .22-caliber rifle with precision.

At age 20, he traveled to Paris and started learning French in hopes of joining the French Foreign Legion.

His application was rejected, and he was devastated, the magazine reported.

Bergdahl would drift for years, working mainly at a coffee shop near home. He briefly considered moving to Uganda to help villagers being terrorized by militias before deciding on a different ­adventure.

Bergdahl’s dream was to help Afghan villagers rebuild their lives and learn to defend themselves, his dad told the magazine.

“I’m thinking of joining the Army,” he told his folks after ­already having signed up.

“The whole ‘COIN’ thing,” Bob [sic -- "Bowe"] explained, referring to America’s strategy of counter-insurgency. “We were given a fictitious picture, an artificially created picture of what we were doing in ­Afghanistan,” the dad said.

Bowe Bergdahl would detail his disillusionment with the Afghanistan campaign in an email to his parents three days before he went missing.

“I am sorry for everything here,” he wrote. “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.”

Bergdahl also complained about fellow soldiers. The battalion commander was a “conceited old fool,” he said, and the only “decent” sergeants, planning to leave the platoon “as soon as they can,” told the privates — Bergdahl then among them — “to do the same.”

“I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools,” he concluded. “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

Bob Bergdahl responded in an email: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”

One night, after finishing a guard-duty shift, Bowe Bergdahl asked his team leader whether there would be a problem if he left camp with his rifle and night-vision goggles — to which the team leader replied “yes.”

Bergdahl then returned to his bunker, picked up a knife, water, his diary and a camera, and left camp, according to Rolling Stone.

The next morning, he was reported missing, and later that day, a drone and four fighter jets ­began to search for him.

Weeks of searching turned into months. The military pushed his parents and fellow soldiers to sign nondisclosure agreements. But before everyone signed, a comrade from his unit publicly called on Facebook for Bergdahl’s execution as a deserter.

Propaganda videos of his captivity — which featured Bergdahl denouncing American foreign policy — were released.

At least once, in 2011, the prisoner, looking more haggard, fought back and tried to escape.

“He fought like a boxer,” a Taliban fighter told Newsweek.

Why Bergdahl was captured in the first place remained a mystery by the time high-level US government talks began in 2012 regarding a trade for his release.

“Frankly, we don’t give a s–t why he left,” one White House official said at the time. “He’s an American soldier. We want to bring him home.”

There was fierce debate over exchanging him for the five Taliban combatants. Sen. John McCain, himself a former POW, once described the five as “the five biggest murderers in world history,” according to Rolling Stone.

Read the original New York Post article here.

There are additional, slightly different accounts of Bergdahl's last night at Mest-Malek. For example, the hastily prepared WIKI article describes it this way. [Excerpted. Read the entire article here. ]

Bowe Bergdahl
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Captivity and release

Bergdahl went missing on the night of June 30, 2009, near the town of Yahya Kheyl in Paktika Province. Accounts of his capture differ. In a video, Bergdahl stated that he was captured when he fell behind on a patrol. Taliban sources allege he was ambushed after becoming drunk off base; U.S. military sources deny that claim, stating, "The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming [is] not true." A Department of Defense spokesperson said, "I'm glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law." Other sources said Bergdahl walked off base after his shift or that he was grabbed from a latrine.

General Nabi Mullakheil of the Afghan National Police said the capture occurred in Paktika Province. Other sources say that he was captured by a Taliban group led by Maulvi Sangin, who moved him to Ghazni Province. He was held by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban, probably somewhere in Pakistan.

Bergdahl was a private first class when captured; he was promoted in absentia to sergeant on June 17, 2011.

Possible desertion

A Pentagon investigation in 2010 concluded that there was "incontrovertible" evidence that Bergdahl walked away from his unit. Bergdahl wrote emails to his parents that he was disillusioned by the war effort and bothered by the treatment of the Afghan people by the American soldiers. He said in his email he was ashamed to be American. According to The New York Times, a military investigation showed that on the night he went missing, he left a note in his tent that said he was leaving to start a new life. The letter said that Bergdahl wanted to renounce his citizenship. However, Senator Saxby Chambliss said that a classified file on Bergdahl that Chambliss read did not mention Bergdahl leaving a note.

Progressive THINK PROGRESS cited a FOX NEWS article on Bergdahl.  The inclusion of the following excerpt serves two purposes -- first, as a revelation of exactly how rancid the FOX reporting became once the oligarchs commanded Murdoch to "unleash" his pundits, and second, as an example of cooler heads reviewing the release more objectively. [Read the entire THINK PROGRESS article  here. ]

As mentioned earlier, the FOX "mouth junk" team had to hire part time contractors to get Murdoch's endless tomes of bitter bile out onto the air waves.

Fox Contributor Says Bowe Bergdahl’s Dad Claimed The White House For Islam

Fox News contributor and former GOP congressman Allen West believes he has uncovered a nefarious plot by recently rescued American POW Bowe Bergdahl’s father to claim the White House for Islam.

After President Obama announced on Saturday that Bergdahl had been freed, Bergdahl’s father, standing by Obama’s side in the White House Rose Garden, said his son might be having difficulty understanding English, and, according to the New York Times, “said ‘bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim,’ a common Arabic phrase meaning ‘in the name of God, most gracious, most compassionate,’ and then spoke a few words in Pashto, a language of Afghanistan.”

Referring to this event, West — last seen claiming the Obama administration focused its attention on finding missing Nigerian girls to distract from Benghazi — on Monday claimed he had a “bombshell” to report:

Clare Lopez is a former CIA operations officer, a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, WMD, and counterterrorism issues, and a friend of mine.

She emailed me this morning a very poignant analysis that only someone knowing language and Islam could ascertain. She wrote:

“What none of these media is reporting is that the father’s (SGT Bowe Bergdahl’s father Bob) first words at the WH were in Arabic – those words were “bism allah alrahman alraheem” – which means “in the name of Allah the most gracious and most merciful” – these are the opening words of every chapter of the Qur’an except one (the chapter of the sword – the 9th) – by uttering these words on the grounds of the WH, Bergdahl (the father) sanctified the WH and claimed it for Islam. There is no question but POTUS knows this.”

Lopez is a senior fellow at Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, a DC-based right-wing think tank that’s responsible for promoting all kinds of crazy anti-Muslim claims and conspiracy theories. This is a great example of the pipeline described in the 2011 Center for American Progress report Fear, Inc: The Islamophobia Network in America: “Experts” like Clare Lopez provide highly questionable analysis to uninformed pundits like Allen West, who then pass this information on to their credulous audiences.

For anyone wishing to review the war making fatwah of Pope Urban II from 1095 AD which launched the blood drenched Crusades between a superstitious, illiterate Europe and the Ottoman Empire, just follow this link.  Warning: this isn't really ancient history. Pope Urban II sermon - 1095 AD at Clermont

A Few Conclusions

When the right wing's "emergency escape" dirigible must be inflated to this shocking level, we are watching the final days of the clown car. We have watched one "pregnant, think tank" scandal after another be trotted out for the consumption of the information challenged derelict base, but happily, the trending is toward either exhaustion, confusion or simply apathy -- an outcome we have been patiently awaiting for what seems like years.

In this particular case the extremely bad taste of the pitiful, frenetic right wing incendiaries is wafting up as if from a land fill on a hot afternoon.  This stuff is not merely "more of the same." This stuff is truly, unquestionably, undebatably grotesque.  The furor and hair tearing over the Sergeant Bergdahl case has reached a new low -- a low so low as to be exquisitely arcane.

There is no telling from which think tank or super PAC the infestation originated, but it doesn't require too much intellectual effort to discern the purpose and intention driving it.

1. Portray President Obama as incompetent or possibly corrupt.  The bizarre, road weary "Muslim thing" isn't entirely "out of traction" yet, either.

2. Generate as much mistrust in the function and intention of the government as possible.

3. Constantly aggravate the deep seated American Xenophobic fears as much as possible.  You know, fear against blacks, browns, reds, women, Muslims, Chinese, college students, sick people, poor people, Northerners, Westerners, windmills -- you name it.

4. Squelch any festering hope that things might possibly improve. Boost anxiety and dread at every opportunity.

The oligarchs couldn't care less about Sergeant Bergdahl or Afghanistan. What they want the most is our desolate acceptance of the world they envision for our future. These billionaires are the most comfortable when they have "edged" vast parts of the American public into a state of desperate willingness to sacrifice anything -- anything at all -- to sustain their racism and hatred of Obama. Of course, they could care less about race -- we are all serfs to them.  They only find racism conveniently useful as a part of their larger plan.