The notion of sovereignty made Bowe Bergdahl’s recovery very difficult. In prior episodes, it was stated that if Bergdahl were in Pakistan, there would be nothing the US forces could do. Sovereignty of states and among their organizations made everything much more complicated. Sovereignty can mean a few important aspects: it can be the supreme power or authority of a place, the authority of a state to govern itself or another state, or a self-governing state. Those three things can easily intertwine, and they make various situations in international relations difficult. In Bergdahl’s case, it made the case much more complex than it needed to be.
In the aspect of supreme power, that is complicated enough. In Bergdahl’s situation, the US government was involved as well as the United States Army, which was a great authority overseas. The next governments in play are the Afghani government and the surrounding governments. In this case, perhaps the most important sovereignty is the Taliban. They had gains they wanted to accomplish and the United States had a goal as well. The organization within the state was almost more powerful than the government, threatening citizens if they didn’t help them or keep their mouths shut when it came to talking to the Army. In this very podcast, one man couldn’t even be identified due to fear, and he was in the Taliban. This shows how drastic and vital sovereignty is as an authority.
The Taliban could be considered sovereign because it governed many areas in Afghanistan. In fact, it governed not just in Afghanistan but also in surrounding Arab states. This is important to note, because it had a vast chain of command through much of the Middle East that would have made the negotiation to release Bergdahl all the more difficult to accomplish. The people were in fear, as were many of the people within the Taliban, which shows just how powerful they were. Although the United States isn’t known for negotiating with terrorists, it did negotiate with the Taliban, even giving them back some of their men that they requested in a trade-off for Bergdahl. This, of course, is the vital part of the mission to retrieve Bergdahl from the Taliban. This could be condiered sovereign by way of legal equality, but it wasn’t necessarily equal. The Taliban got multiple men back while the United States just got back Bergdahl, whom many thought was a backstabber, a “deserter.” But in order to save their man, they had to make a deal; it was Bergdahl’s only hope.
The aspect of self-governing states is the most intriguing, because the state of Afghanistan wasn’t greatly ruled by the government, but by terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The United States, however, was a self-governing state that negotiated with various different Taliban leaders to come to an understanding, to come up with a negotiation, to come up with a plan. If the United States had more divisions, the whole situation and its aid would probably have been decimated. The self-governing of the United States helped to keep the negotiations with the Taliban on track.
The notion of sovereignty is a great factor of Bergdahl’s rescue. Without the actions of the states and organizations within the states, the deal to trade Bergdahl with terrorists would never have occurred. It didn’t help them reach common ground, but it did bring them to the table to discuss the issue at hand and what they needed to do or could do to resolve the situation. As it was presented multiple times in Episode Nine of Serial Two, the Taliban was growing weary; they were tired of holding Bergdahl captive. Not only did they want their men back, but they wanted Bowe off their hands. If they hadn’t gotten tired of holding him captive after so long, Bergdahl may never have been rescued, because their leniency made the whole negotiation talks possible.