Whom to believe: the Taliban’s video — or my own fucking lying government?

Berg and Bergdahl: Above is a video grab of Nick Berg, the 26-year-old American civilian who was held captive and slaughtered by al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq in May 2004, and below is a video grab of Bowe Bergdahl, the 23-year-old American soldier who now is being held captive by members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. I’m hoping that Bergdahl’s fate turns out to be better than that of Berg.

This video frame grab taken from a Taliban propaganda video ...

Associated Press image

So I read in the news today that a 23-year-old American soldier from Podunk, Idaho named Bowe Bergdahl is being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and I see his image, and he eerily reminds me, way too much, of Nick Berg, the 26-year-old American telecommunications entrepeneur who was captured and slaughtered by al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq in May 2004.

Not only are their surnames too similar, but their images are too similar, and I hope that Bergdahl, unlike Berg did, comes home safely, in one piece.

The Associated Press reports today of a 28-minute Taliban video of Bergdahl:

In the video, Bergdahl had his head shaved and was seen with the start of a beard. He was sitting and dressed in a nondescript, gray outfit. Early in the video one captor held the soldier’s dog tag up to the camera. His name and ID number were clearly visible. He was shown eating at one point and sitting cross-legged.

He said the date was July 14 and that he was captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. It’s clear the video was made no earlier than July 14 because Bergdahl repeated an exaggerated Taliban claim about a Ukrainian helicopter that was shot down that day.

He was interviewed in English by his captors. He was asked his views on the war, which he called extremely hard; his desire to learn more about Islam; and the morale of American soldiers, which he said was low.

Asked how he was doing, the soldier said: “Well I’m scared, scared I won’t be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner.”

He later choked up when discussing his family and his hope to marry his girlfriend.

“I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America. And I miss them every day when I’m gone,” he said.

He was prompted by his interrogators to give a message to the American people.

“To my fellow Americans who have loved ones over here, who know what it’s like to miss them, you have the power to make our government bring them home,” he said. “Please, please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives and our precious life that we could be using back in our own country. Please bring us home. It is America and the American people have that power.”

Of course the U.S. military was quick to imply that Bergdahl couldn’t possibly have said anything like that on his own accord, but that of course he was coerced by his captives to say that. Reports the AP:

“I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video,” spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker said. “They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law.”

Like the United States never violates international law (such as with the unelected Bush regime’s launch of the illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War in March 2003 against the wishes of the United Nations Security Council and against world opinion) and like the U.S. military doesn’t produce propaganda videos (such as with its G.I.-Joe-like recruitment ads targeted at our young cannon fodder for the military-industrial complex).

And the members of the Taliban are exploiting Bergdahl no more than the U.S. military has exploited Bergdahl.

Bergdahl is, after all, fully expected to die for the obscene profits of the stupid greedy rich white men who send our precious young people off to their wars for their obscene profits, if it comes to that. And in Bergdahl’s case it just might come to that.

How does Sidenstricker sleep at night, being a spokesnake for the military-industrial complex, I wonder? (And doesn’t Sidenstricker sound like a great surname for a spokesnake, kind of like sidewinder?) How does Sidenstricker feel, I wonder, selling out her own comrades to those greedy, evil overlords who so casually put them into the meat grinder to which they never would subject their own cowardly selves?

The sad thing is that I don’t know whom to believe: the Taliban, who put out the video of Bergdahl apparently saying of his own accord that he and his comrades want to come home — I mean, what 23-year-old lower-to-middle-class American male used as a pawn in a war in the Middle East would not want to die for the obscene, oily profits of the stupid greedy rich white men who sent him there without a second thought but who never would put themselves in harm’s way? — or the U.S. government, even when it is under Barack Obama.

Perhaps even especially when it is under Obama, because at least when it was under the auspices of the BushCheneyCorp, the fascism was rather evident, but under the auspices of the Obama administration, fascism wears a happy face.

P.S. I just watched the entire video of Bergdahl (via this web page), in which he responds to a series of questions by an English-speaking inquisitor who remains off-camera.

It is difficult to say what Bergdahl actually believes and what he might have been coerced by his captors to say, such as when discussing the allegation that the U.S. government has underreported the number of deaths of American troops in Afghanistan (and misinformed the American people on the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan in general), the suicide deaths of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, U.S. troops deserting in Afghanistan, and scared American troops “hiding behind” their superior military technology, whereas the low-tech Taliban fighters cannot do so, but must rely on their bravery.

In the video Bergdahl states (whether it is what he actually believes or whether it is what he has been coerced to state): “My message to my government is to remove Americans from Afghanistan, because that’s not where we belong…. My county’s first concern should be its [own] people…. We can’t go around fixing other countries … when we haven’t removed our own problems. When our [own] country is failing, we can’t help anyone else….”  

I can see Bergdahl genuinely believing that — because it’s an oft-ignored-in-the-United-States thing called the truth.

I won’t just assume, like a good little brainwashed American is supposed to, that because he’s being held captive, Bergdahl believes none of what he said during his half-hour interview with his English-speaking inquisitor.

I don’t know enough about Bergdahl and his beliefs and the circumstances of his capture, which differ wildly based upon who is relating those circumstances.

“On July 2, two U.S. officials told the AP [that Bergdahl] had ‘just walked off’ his base with three Afghans after his shift,” the AP notes, adding, “On July 6, the Taliban claimed on their website that five days earlier ‘a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison’ and was captured by mujahedeen.”

If it is true that Bergdahl “just walked off,” that sounds like desertion to me, and if Bergdahl did desert, then I’d tend to believe that he believes at least some of his statements in his half-hour interview. But during the interview, Bergdahl states that he was captured by the Taliban when he was lagging behind his comrades during a patrol.

So who knows?

In any case, that the U.S. government, which spends millions if not billions of Americans’ tax dollars on propaganda campaigns to brainwash Americans here at home (yes, they use our own money against us) as well as to brainwash individuals abroad, would denounce the Taliban’s video as “propaganda” is risible; the U.S. government calling it “propaganda” constitutes the practice of propaganda itself.

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