The Bush era neocons and warmongering Republicans are frothing over the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap.

Numerous #BergdahlTraitor tweets express moral outrage over everything from antiwar statements made by Bowe while captive to his father growing a beard, speaking Pashto and daring to praise Allah from the Rose Garden. Neocons demand Bergdahl face court-martial and imprisonment for allegedly walking away from his post. Some even believe he should be taken out and shot for treason.

The Bergdahl circus sideshow, so avidly amplified by the corporate media, ignores a larger and more important issue, one rarely touched upon by the establishment media – the war in Afghanistan is illegal and criminal and makes anything Bowe Bergdahl may have done insignificant in comparison.

A War Predicated On Lies and Illegality

The government argued “Operation Enduring Freedom” was in retaliation for the September 11, 2001 attack despite the fact nobody claimed responsibility for it. Wakeel Ahmed Mutawakel, the chief spokesman for the Taliban at the time, and other officials of the government in Afghanistan condemned the attack. They did not claim responsibility and promised to find the culprits. During the invasion the Taliban offered to turn over Osama bin Laden, who also did not claim responsibility for the attack, but this offer was rejected by the Bush administration. “There’s no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty,” Bush said from Camp David. “One by one we’re going to find [Al Qaeda and the Taliban] and piece by piece we’ll tear their terrorist network apart,” the president promised.

Bush and his coterie of neocons said the invasion of Afghanistan was a case of self-defense. They declared resistance to the invasion by the Taliban and others amounted to terrorism.

“However, the issue of self-defense could be raised by the Afghan people themselves, as resistance against NATO forces and their perceived aggression could in itself equate to individual self-defense, countering the collective, national self-defense that the US claimed,” writes Rabia Khan. Because the “justification for intervention by the occupying forces would not be seen as credible or permissible under international law,” the invasion was characterized by the government and its propaganda media as a humanitarian mission with the purported goal of liberating the Afghan people and bringing “them democracy by eradicating the Taliban hold on the country.”

The Democracy Index categorizes Afghanistan as an authoritarian regime and ranks it at 180 of 182. It ranks 1.5 on the Transparency International corruption scale, the worst in South Asia. Only Somalia and Korea rate worse. The Pentagon admitted in 2009 the “widespread corruption and abuse of power” by the Karzai regime exacerbates “the popular crisis of confidence in the government and reinforce a culture of impunity.”

War crimes during the occupation became routine. In 2009, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court was collecting information on possible war crimes by NATO forces and the Taliban. In 2013 the Afghan Loya Jirga, the country’s consultative assembly, demanded accountability for war crimes committed by the United States in the country, according to Amnesty International. “Over the past 12 years in Afghanistan, Amnesty International has repeatedly raised concerns about alleged violations of international humanitarian law – including unlawful killings and torture – committed by all parties to the conflict,” the organization reported.

“It is time that the good people of the world take a stand and prosecute the war criminals, such as President Obama, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, the top CIA officials, the American Generals, the NATO and European leaders, who were and/or are the decision makers and architects of the illegal war and occupation of Afghanistan where numerous war crimes have been committed against the Afghan people during the past 13 years,” writes Kadir Mohmand. “Ultimately, these leaders are responsible for these war crimes. The Afghan people are not responsible for the tragic events of 9/11. No evidence has ever been presented linking the Afghan people to that tragic event. There only has been U.S. propaganda, and expert speculation to promote and justify the United States’ actions. These leaders have scapegoated and collectively punished the Afghan people in their illegal war and occupation.”

“The horror that is America is disgusting”

The unconstitutionality and illegality of the war and occupation, the documented war crimes and prisoner torture and abuse at Bagram, all of this has been systematically ignored as the corporate media dwells obsessively on Bowe Bergdahl. The issue has provided yet another distraction as the so-called right demands the soldier face court-martial while the left side of the war party accuses its supposed ideological enemies of trying to exploit the issue to take down Obama and sully probable presidential contender Hillary Clinton.

“The horror that is America is disgusting,” Bowe Bergdahl wrote before he went AWOL. “I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting.”

Bergdahl’s indictment of America and its war machine, even more than his supposed treason of walking away from his fellow occupiers, is the real crime in the eyes of the establishment.

However, as Justin Raimondo notes, the vindictiveness of the war party may backfire.

“From being a prisoner of the Taliban to being a prisoner of the War Party – will Sgt. Bergdahl be doubly victimized? In such a case, the War Party’s vindictiveness could well backfire on them. Imagine the trial: it won’t be Bergdahl who will be exposed as criminally incompetent and guilty of war crimes. The war itself, and what it’s done to the best of our youth, will be put on trial in that courtroom,” he writes.

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