Bob and Jani Bergdahl have not seen their son, a member of the U. S. Military since Christmas 2008. Their son, Bowe Bergdahl was captured on June 30, 2009 while on tour in Afghanistan by the Taliban. Almost three years have gone by and the U.S. government has not retrieved him, the only current prisoner of the Taliban. There are two different perspectives; one from the parents and one from the government. Two problems are beginning to arise: Bob Bergdahl is using pathways of action to get his son back and Barack Obama is dealing with politics as discussed in class.
Bob Bergdahl, a protective and persistent parent, loves his son and just wants him to come home. Bob has been silent to the press about Bowe’s situation for a long time, but has recently begun to speak out about his son’s imprisonment and what the government is doing about it (source 3). Bob has been learning Pashto, the language spoken in Afghanistan, so he can talk to diplomats and other officials in Afghanistan about his son’s return. Bob has also started communicating and speaking to reporters and other people to gain support. He does not believe that the government is doing much to get his son home. In order to peacefully promote change, Bob is using pathways of action to try to gather enough attention to change the minds of the officials to bring Bowe home somehow.
Bob states, “I feel that I have to do my job as his father. I’m working toward a diplomatic and humanitarian solution.” Bob is using the peaceful Grassroots Mobilization pathway, which was discussed in class. This pathway is used by individuals who want a policy or some other government issue addressed or changed by talking and gaining support in a peaceful manner to grab the attention of the officials. (Choices,12). Bob has been talking to officials and the press to spread the word about his son to hopefully inspire the government to give more effort towards bringing Bowe home.
The Taliban is a “formidable fighting force in Afghanistan and a major threat to its government.” The Taliban wants to exchange the prisoner that they have obtained, Bowe, with the prisoners that the U.S. is currently holding. The Taliban has opened an office in Qatar with the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. The Taliban is attempting to use their prisoner, Bowe, as leverage to engage in diplomatic conversations with the U.S. government about the release of some of their prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.
The sticky traps of politics in government are forcing President Obama to carefully evaluate his decisions. President Obama is the Commander in Chief and ultimately has control of the military (Choices, 229). He gets to have the final say with affairs that have to do with the army, including Bowe in Afghanistan. President Obama and the other officials in charge of Bowe’s situation are under immense stress and guidance from different groups of people, such as the conservatives within the government. The conservatives are advising and pushing government officials, such as Barack Obama, to not negotiate with terrorists. Bowe’s captivity remains under the table and does not get talked about enough due to the politics involved.
On one hand, I believe that negotiating with terrorists is wrong and will hurt America as a whole if done poorly. On the other hand, Bowe is a young adult who deserves to have a great life and has sacrificed three long years as a prisoner of war. My opinion is that the government is not doing enough to negotiate to retrieve Bowe from the Taliban. The people that we are holding captive are not vital to us, and if a minor negotiation and release of a captive is what it takes to bring one of our own home, I believe that it should be done. Bob Bergdahl is doing a great job trying to gain support for his son, and I believe that by spreading the news of Bowe and his situation, changes could really occur and that Bowe could eventually be brought home. Peaceful pathways of action are smart and useful tools within a democratic society. The politics can get sticky, but the officials need to understand that if it were their children, they would fight to bring them home too. By spreading the word, supporting Bob and Bowe, and gaining the attention of the officials, the policies can be discussed and changed to bring Bowe back home to his family, where he belongs.
Source one: http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/10/11633115-frustrated-dad-of-taliban-prisoner-bowe-bergdahl-takes-matters-into-own-hands?lite
Source two: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/bowe-bergdahl-taliban-captive-prisoner-swap_n_1504108.html
Source three: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2142119/Bowe-Bergdahls-capture-Parents-soldier-held-Taliban-break-silence.html
Source four: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11451718
Source five: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2012/01/taliban_may_use_bowe_bergdahl.html
In class, we just finished a lesson over Congress and its components and its importance in the American government. Following discussion and analysis, I concluded that America’s public is completely oblivious as to what goes on in Congress on a daily basis. After and in-class study of an excerpt from the notorious “Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics” by Woodrow Wilson, I would have to agree that citizens and people of America have little knowledge of the complexity of Congress. The workings of Congress can not be fully understood without deep investigation of all the different components of Congress and that certain aspects of Congress are concealed to the public’s eye.
Even though a majority of Americans believe the Speaker of the House to have most of the power, it is instead spread out among committee leaders. Over forty-five committees compose the House of Representatives and Senate, each having a different job and purpose (1). The committees each have domain over certain bills or ideas presented to Congress. If a bill were to be addressed regarding farming, it would proceed to the Committee of Agriculture to then be changed, denied, or approved to move on to a vote including the other members of the Congress or Senate (depending on which was addressing the proposed bill). The committee heads have immense power because of their ability to pocket veto, or to hold onto a bill and not let appear in the committee meetings (3). If it never sees the committee, it can never become a law. The committee heads all enforce this power when they do not want to deal with a proposed piece of legislature that they dislike.
To the majority of Americans the Congress seems to work vigorously only when it is in session. In reality the sessions are more of a show than anything, and the real work is done in the committees on the other days of the year (4). When the 535 members of both Congress and Senate are present in a room, not much can be accomplished with so many people. The committees break down the agenda and what needs to be completed into manageable pieces.
On top of the complex components of the House of Representatives and Senate, a great deal of knowledge regarding politics and skilled maneuvers are needed to win an election or remain in office (2). To comply with a representative democracy, elections take place every two years for the House and every six years for the Senate (2). Due to a short amount of time in between elections for the House, officials need a mindset that pleases the people to get elected while also keeping what is best for the country in mind and also staying true to their beliefs and knowledge. This is a slippery slope that can seriously damage a reputation of an official if only one mistake is made. The senators have a bit more time to recover from errors and have less of the political drama to worry about because of their longer terms. If a mistake is made it can be recovered in six years time easily and forgotten by the public.
The majority of Americans are oblivious to the committees and their heads, the sessions and daily work, and the politics involved in Congress on a day-to-day basis. People criticize the Congress for their work without fully understanding what is truly going on. Some aspects, like daily work of Congress, are seemingly concealed by the better-known and more publicized sessions of Congress. The various twists and components of committees and their heads can be confusing without in-depth research and education. More citizens need to research what goes on in Congress to fully appreciate and understand their government. I have studied and absorbed a great amount of material from this lesson, and in turn now appreciate the 535 members of Congress and their incredible and difficult work in the U. S. government system.
Source 1- http://www.govtrack.us/congress/committees/
Source 3- Woodrow Wilson’s “Congressional Government”