The Bergdahl case proves the truth of a statement made by Georges Clemenceau, prime minister of France in the early 20th century: “Military justice is to justice what band music is to music.”
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held hostage for five years by the Taliban, will get military injustice when court-martialed on charges of desertion from his base in Afghanistan and endangering troops. He faces a life sentence in prison if convicted by a military jury.
The court–martial decision was ordered by Gen. Robert Abrams, head of Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This despite the fact that the Army lawyer who presided over the preliminary hearing, Eugene Fidell, said imprisonment would be wrong. He also recommended that Bergdahl not be given a dishonorable discharge.
“The media and the Internet echo chambers repeated highly inflammatory and false claims that six soldiers died searching for Sgt. Bergdahl and that he deserted to the Taliban,” Fidell declared. “The amount of venom with which the Internet seethes concerning Bergdahl is beyond description. Matters are even worse in the blogosphere which has become a veritable cesspool of hatred and abuse.”
So much hatred has been directed at Bergdahl that a fair trial seems impossible. Moreover, Fidell fears that the sergeant is in physical danger at his desk job at the army base at San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
President Obama’s administration negotiated to secure Bergdahl’s release May 31, 2014. In exchange for Bergdahl, five Taliban leaders from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba were freed.
The New York Times editorialized: “It’s hard to see what good would come from trying Sgt. Bergdahl. It’s unfortunate that the case continues to attract irresponsible political meddling. The Army should not be swayed by congressional pressure to impose severe punishment on a soldier who endured years of beatings, hunger and solitary confinement.”
GATSBY NOT A GREAT BOOK
Literary aficionados consider “The Great Gatsby” (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald one of the greatest American novels. In my view, it is not even great.
It is badly overwritten. One example: “He knew that when he kissed this girl (Daisy), and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. As his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”
Another example: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that‘s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. And one fine morning…And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back relentlessly into the past.”
And many more passages like those quoted here.
In the book many events, discussions and conversations are trivial. One character, Tom Buchanan, bashes a woman’s nose. Why? The reader is not told. Moreover, sometimes we don’t know who is speaking.
The most interesting and charming character is Gatsby. But he is shrouded in mystery and constant rumors. Interesting, too, is Gatsby’s neighbor, Nick Carraway, the narrator.
Nevertheless, the Fitzgerald book does give a fine picture of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)