The Bergdahl Chronicles: Murky Is as Murky Does
The end of the day yesterday was enlivened by the news that several of the soldiers currently calumnizing Bowe Bergdahl were being prepped for the job by several ratfckers of the Republican kind, including a famous Twitter commando who once was tasked with keeping John Bolton’s meds on schedule. One of the most serious charges levelled was that several American soldiers died in the search for Bergdahl who, it was said, had deserted his post. CNN also has jumped on this narrative with both of Jake Tapper’s feet. Of course, the former consideration is shadowed in history by the fairy tale of Jessica Lynch, the lies occasioned by the death of Pat Tillman, aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds, balsa wood attack escadrilles, the bullshit about babies being ripped from incubators in Kuwait, and yellow rain. The fact is that the propaganda industry simply has become better at doing its job than the elite news business is. In situarions like this, truth, because it is complicated and it runs in many directions at once, simply never catches up with the narrative.
But a review of casualty reports and contemporaneous military logs from the Afghanistan war shows that the facts surrounding the eight deaths are far murkier than definitive - even as critics of Sergeant Bergdahl contend that every American combat death in Paktika Province in the months after he disappeared, from July to September 2009, was his fault. All across Afghanistan, that period was a time of ferocious fighting. President Obama had decided to send a surge of additional troops to improve security, but they had not yet arrived. In Paktika, the eight deaths during that period were up from five in the same three months the previous year. Across Afghanistan, 122 Americans died in that period, up from 58 in 2008.
Of course, the facts are unclear. This was a war conducted in a place that once was considered the very ends of the Earth and hasn’t changed very much. It was a war conducted amid tribal groups that had been killing each other for centuries for reasons lost to history. It would be a damn miracle if everything about these events wasn’t unclear.