Kreitner refers back to an article appearing in the publication in 1973, which attacked “the denigration of deserters” during the Vietnam War. Both writers conflate opposing a war on the grounds of conscience with desertion, which they see as one and the same thing. For Kreitner, a deserter is nothing more than a soldier who out of opposition to war — which of course is never just when carried out by the United States — rightfully deserts and leaves his comrades in the lurch.
Kreitner refers “vicious commentary” about Bergdahl, who, he writes, was only guilty of having “served on the front lines of the American imperial machine with the unenviable misfortune of doing so with eyes wide open.” Let us put this another way. What he is saying is that because he thinks Bergdahl rightfully opposed the U.S. mission, he was a hero for deserting. Bergdahl wrote his parents an e-mail before deserting, in which he famously said: “I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.” To The Nation, that position makes him a hero.
That e-mail by Bergdahl is most revealing of his disdain for his country. Kreitner , however, sees it as candid and true. As he puts it, Bergdahl only “saw reality too clearly.” He was doing nothing more than “struggling with issues of conscience.” The Army, he writes, was wrong to not inform Bergdahl that he could be let out of duty for issues of conscience, thus forcing him to desert. Got that? It’s the U.S. Army that put him in this position. Of course, Kreitner confuses what this sergeant did — deserting — with an act of conscience. Hatred of the U.S. and disdain for his comrades, which he made clear in his e-mail, is definitely not grounds for leaving the U.S. Army because of conscience. If it were, anyone could leave the armed forces for which he or she volunteered because they changed their mind about their mission.
Kreitner ends by writing that putting “slugs into human flesh” is not the “promotion of democracy.” Only a Nation author could think there is something immoral about fighting America’s sworn enemies on the battlefield.
Update: Here’s confirmation that Democrats are getting getting fed up, and that for them, the swap was the last straw. It comes for National Journal editor Ron Fournier: He writes:
The email hit my in-box at 9:41 p.m. last Wednesday. From one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington, a close adviser to the White House, the missive amounted to an electronic eye roll. “Even I have had enough.”
Another Democrat had quit on President Obama.
The tipping point for this person was the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl case—not the soldier-for-Taliban swap itself as much as how the White House mishandled its obligation to communicate effectively and honestly to Congress and the public. More than that, Obama’s team had failed once again to acknowledge its mistakes, preferring to cast blame and seek cover behind talking points….
To this senior Democrat, the Politico story showed the White House to be both tone-deaf and arrogant, two vices that are undermining what could have been a great presidency.
I share this email to make the broader point and to offer a disclosure: In the 18 months since I began writing columns focused on the presidency, virtually every post critical of Obama has originated from conversations with Democrats. Members of Congress, consultants, pollsters, lobbyists, and executives at think tanks, these Democrats are my Obama-whispers. They respect and admire Obama but believe that his presidency has been damaged by his shortcomings as a leader; his inattention to details of governing; his disengagement from the political process and from the public; his unwillingness to learn on the job; and his failure to surround himself with top-shelf advisers who are willing to challenge their boss as well as their own preconceived notions.
The relative who phoned us is just a regular Obama Democrat who, like these Democratic leaders, is fed up.