Recent events in Afghanistan aside from any battle news require once again to ask why exactly we were there in the first place. The answer, of course, was to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden for masterminding the 9-11 attack on America.
But just as we thought we had him in the mountains of this most primitive of civilizations, we decided it was more important to relieve the threat of Saddam Hussein's Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction that later were found to be nonexistent -- a figment of the imagination of our own Israeli-driven neo-cons fed by terribly bad intelligence.
Now after a decade of dithering in the sinkhole of a country that no one has been able to drag into this century or the last or the one before that, we seem to have provided merely a decent interval before turning the clock back to the time before we got there. It can be anticipated that the Taliban -- the theocratic thugs we helped create when we armed them against the Russians -- will once again be utterly free to oppress their own people, at least in most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, as summer approaches here in all its hot-weather news glory, we will wonder why a young Idaho kid named Bowe Bergdahl wandered off his remote outpost to become not only a victim of this entire comic opera but the focus of a major election-year political uproar. Was he disillusioned by the futility of it all and determined in his mind to see if he could not reason with the enemy? Was he just another American kid who suddenly believed he had made the wrong decision when he joined up in the first place? Was it worth releasing five definitely bad guys to get him back. We may never have a definitive answer.
Whatever, he is but the latest victim of this decade of horror in a country where, while Bergdahl was being treated in mind and body at a military hospital in Germany, a young couple was being treated as criminals for being in love, the victims of the very culture so many Americans have lost their lives defending. They eloped and her family (the males at least) want nothing more than to get their hands on her so they can kill her and the baby she is carrying for dishonoring them.
If that weren't enough, they captured her lover and turned him over to authorities on grounds he kidnapped her, an absolute lie, and needs to be put to death. It is a travesty of justice that any civilized court would even consider this. I forgot to mention, they also want her charged with bigamy because they had married her off in her absence to her first cousin, a person she wanted nothing to do with. They don't say when they want that charge executed -- before or after they've murdered her.
Is it proper now to say what in the hell were we thinking when we decided our national security depended on protecting these people; that it would be all right to send our young soldiers to this forbidding place to be killed or have their limbs blown off or come home after too many tours and take their own lives.
As for Bowe Bergdahl, it appears he was maltreated by his captors for most of the four years he was their guest. He went from private to sergeant during that time. But he refuses to answer to sergeant (you figure out why). Only in the few months when the Taliban or their allies decided they actually might be able to trade him for some big-time players in their efforts to suppress rational thought and democratic behavior did things improve for him. They figured out Americans have a problem with leaving people behind so they didn't off his head.
Meantime, the former fellow members of Bergdahl's platoon seem to have split in their support of him -- some initially blaming him for all the deaths in Afghanistan and others taking a much softer view. His whole platoon was labeled by an Army report as "raggedy." Too bad for Bergdahl that he is caught in the election-year storm.
In the end, however, he at least has his life and all his limbs which is more than can be said for thousands of other veterans of this insanity.
(Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers.)