Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. would do everything it can to free a U.S. soldier shown in video footage after his capture in Afghanistan. Footage posted on YouTube shows the soldier, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, 23, being prompted by his captors and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. (watch the Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl video) The U.S. military has denounced the video as Taliban propaganda, and Clinton called the footage "a real sign of desperation and inappropriate criminal behavior on the parts of these terrorist groups." (Reuters)
What the commentators said
The mission in Afghanistan just got a lot more complicated, said Greg Miller and Laura King in the Los Angeles Times. The Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl video is clearly "a propaganda attack on President Obama's decision to escalate U.S. involvement in the war." This certainly raises the stakes for American soldiers in Afghanistan. And now that Bergdahl -- who was captured on June 30 -- "has been publicly identified, he represents a propaganda weapon that his captors are likely to continue to use."
There's no question the Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl video is a blatant attempt to use a soldier for propaganda, said conservative commentator Michelle Malkin in her blog. But the rest of this case is still foggy. Did Bergdahl simply walk off his base, as some have reported, or did the Taliban capture him as he lagged behind his patrol? Either way, "all Americans should hope and pray for his release from jihadi custody."
All Americans should pray for his release, said DailyKos, but that's not the case. Fox News guest pundit Ralph Peters "suggested something to the effect that the Taliban should 'save us the headache' and execute captured 23 year-old American soldier Bowe Bergdahl, because 'it looks like' Bergdahl deserted his unit." (watch Ralph Peters discussing the Bergdahl video) This is just the latest sign of the Right's tendency "to exploit and discard American soldiers whenever politically convenient."
It fair to ask whether the statements in the Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl video express the soldier's true views, said Carol Bengle Gilbert in Associated Content, "or whether he is being used for propaganda purposes by his Taliban captors." But the military says there is simply no question that putting a soldier in front of a camera saying, "Please bring us home," is a violation of international law.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How the South's ugly racial history is haunting ObamaCare
- What if Leo Strauss was right?
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Feast your eyes on this beautiful linguistic family tree
Subscribe to the Week