Serial Podcast, Season 2

The second season is about Private Bowe Bergdahl, who left his post, which lead to some deaths of soldiers who went looking for him. I’m going to use this thread to take notes, and I welcome any comments and discussion.

Quick Thoughts on Episode 1

1. My initial impression after the first episode–I’m going to be blunt and harsh, here: Bergdhal seems like an idiot–or he’s lying. I said this out loud especially when I got to the point where Bergdhal says he decided to get important intel (about where the Taliban planted improvised exploding devices [IEDs]). Really? If he wanted to initiate a search for a missing soldier (Duty Status–Whereabouts Unknown or DUSTWUN) to be heard about leadership incompetence, he wouldn’t have tried the cockamamie scheme…or at least I find that hard to believe. The judgment and sense really seem lacking or he’s lying.

Also, maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but I’m not sure why he decided to travel far from the post. Why not leave and hide a short distance, which would initiate the DUSTWUN, and then just come back. I would think that alone would get him the audience to talk about leadership problems that he wanted.

2. Here’s a thought that came to mind: There’s a difference between whistle blowing in the military/state department/intelligence versus whistle-blowing in other settings, like the business sector. Generally speaking, judging decisions in the former can be much more difficult and murkier. In a corporate setting, let’s an employee discovers that management is covering up a report that reveals the companies products poses a significant danger to the public. And it’s clear the cover-up has to do with preserving profits and preventing law suits. In that case, deciding to blow the whistle seems fairly uncontroversial–at least in terms of right and wrong. But in foreign policy and military decisions, it’s often not that clear cut. In a good situation, decision-makers have a sound process to arrive at decisions, with input from many individuals. When one individual, particularly an individual that doesn’t have all the information or understanding of a situation, determines that a decision is wrong–and then they seek to blow the whistle on this–that strikes me as extremely arrogant and potentially dangerous.

That’s not exactly the situation in the Bergdahl situation, but it seems similar. As far as I know, Bergdahl doesn’t even utilize existing processes to get his concerns heard. At least try those first before resorting to something far more drastic and dangerous to others. The issue would have to not only be critical, but Bergdahl would have to have really compelling evidence to back up his position. In any event, a system that allows individuals like Bergdahl to make that judgment doesn’t seem very wise.

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