Liberal writer argues that army deserted Bergdahl, not vice versa

Members of Bergdahl's platoon say he deserted.It sounds like a Yakov Smirnoff joke, but the observation is not by Smirnoff and it’s not meant to be funny. The author Vikram J. Singh, is a vice president of the “non-partisan” Center for American Progress. His explanation is part of the liberal case for excusing Barack Obama for what may turn out to be his most unpardonable sin as commander-in-chief: Swapping a foot soldier — and one at that who, to add insult to injury, deserted — for five of the “worst of the worst” Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees.

According to Singh’s rationale, Bergdahl’s behavior leaves him “just short of being a traitor.” The logical conclusion might be to bring Bergdahl up on disciplinary charges, but Singh argues “not so fast”:

[I]t is just as likely that Bergdahl was the one deserted by an Army that could not keep up with the mental health needs of deployed force.


Something was not right with Bowe Bergdahl at the time he disappeared. This should not be surprising. Since 2003, the military has conducted regular surveys of deployed troops mental health in an effort to better manage combat stress. The “Mental Health Advisory Team” (MHAT) report from the period closest to Bergdahl’s disappearance in 2009 found that 21.4 percent soldiers and marines surveyed in in Afghanistan reported acute stress, depression, or anxiety.

And how many of those soldiers deserted? Singh doesn’t say, even though that information is easily obtainable. According to Pentagon records cited by USA Today, by the Vietnam era, the rate of desertion had dropped to 3.4% of active troops. By 2005, the percentage of desertions among the 1.4 million U.S. forces had declined to 0.24%.

Another interesting facet of Singh’s argument is that it makes the very case that liberals have widely pooh-poohed in the gun control debate, and that is the notion that addressing mental health issues could forestall acts of gun violence. The prevailing view from the left is that the only way to prevent future Elliot Rodgers (or whichever mass shooter’s name happens in the headlines) is to banish guns altogether.

So is the equivalent solution to “banish war”? If it is, I can’t wait to read Singh’s next installment.

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