Thursday, June 5, 2014

'He served with honor and distinction'

Until he didn' Korea in the 1960s;
A U.S. Army soldier goes missing at night from a remote post on the edge of enemy territory. Depressed and anxious, he has expressed doubts about the U.S. mission and disillusionment with the war. He allegedly leaves behind a note recording these doubts. There are some reports that he consumes alcohol before he disappears. He crosses enemy lines and is detained by hostile forces who subsequently publicly announce his conversion to their anti-American cause.
This is not a description of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, recently handed over by the Taliban, though well it might be. It is a description of Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins who went missing along the DMZ border with North Korea in 1965.  The war he objected to was not Afghanistan but Vietnam and he spent not five years in captivity but thirty-nine years.  His North Korean captors, not the Taliban, made use of him during that time for propaganda purposes and made him study North Korean founder Kim Il Sung’s juche philosophy, rather than passages from the Koran. 
Unlike Bergdahl, Jenkins did not assist his captors in in attacking his former band of brothers, but that didn't save him from eventually being court-martialed for desertion...4 decades after;
Those, like National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who argue that Bowe Bergdahl “served with honor and distinction,” should examine the case of Robert Charles Jenkins.  In that case even the request of a key ally of the United States, Japan, for a pardon, due to humanitarian considerations for his Japanese family, did not stop the wheels of military justice from turning. If thirty-nine years in North Korea, a hell on earth, according to the recent  report of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry into North Korean human rights abuses, does not qualify one for exemption from the statutes of military justice, then how can five years in Afghanistan?  If a 91-year-old mother waiting for almost forty years to see her son does not shield him from the consequences of his actions, then what else should? It seems that Bowe Bergdahl, like Charles Robert Jenkins, should have his day in court for consideration of the charges of desertion which have been leveled against him. All Americans should be equal in the eyes of the law.  
If Commander in Chief Barack Obama has his way Bergdahl will some day be tending the flag on a green during a PGA tournament.

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