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Mon Apr 1, 2019, 01:21 AM

A bracing op-ed from a recent vet: highly recommended

NOTE: It has taken awhile to cut this down to the required length (I hope I cut it sufficiently) and to add the link to the Los Angeles Times. But it hasn't been easy to get this far, and I've already lost it once. It's a good piece of writing, and maybe we'll see Danny Sjurson entering politics one of these days.
~~Hekate

https://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/latimes/default.aspx?pubid=50435180-e58e-48b5-8e0c-236bf740270e

I was an obsequious Army grunt. But no longer

I’m one of the lucky ones. Leaving the madness of U.S. Army life with a modest pension and all of my limbs intact feels like a genuine escape. Both the Army and I knew it was time for me to go. I’d tired of carrying water for empire and they’d grown weary of dealing with my dissent and with footing the bill for my PTSD treatment. I entered West Point in July 2001, a bygone era of relative peace, the moment, you might say, before the 9/11 storm broke. I leave an Army that remains, remarkably, engaged in global war, patrolling an increasingly militarized world.

>snip<

I recognize that there’s a paradox at work here: The Army and the global war on terror made me who I am. Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in particular turned a budding neocon into an unabashed progressive, an insecure aspiring dealer in violence into a pacifist, or as near to that as a former military man can get. What the Army helped me become is someone whom, in the end, I don’t mind gazing at in the mirror each morning.

>snip<

I am not sorry to leave behind the absurdity I witnessed. .... Farewell to the generals who knew tactics but couldn’t for the life of them think strategically ....Who shamelessly traded in their multi-starred uniforms for six- and seven-figure gigs on the boards of corporations that feed the unquenchable appetite of the military-industrial beast. ...... So long, too, to the chauvinism in the senior ranks that asserts a messianic American right to police the globe. Farewell to the faux intellectualism of men like former Gen. David Petraeus who have never seen a problem for which improved counterinsurgency tactics wasn't the answer and are incapable of questioning the efficacy of force....

Goodbye to the devotees of American exceptionalism who filled the Army’s ranks, and to the hypercapitalism and Ayn Randian conservatism among officers in what is the nation’s most socialist institution. Godspeed to the often-hypocritical evangelical Christianity and the rampant Islamophobia infusing the ranks. Ciao to the still-prevalent patriarchy and homophobia that affects everyone in uniform.

>snip<

Sayonara to the adrenaline junkies and power-obsessed freaks atop so many combat units, folks who lived for the violence, the rush of nighttime raids without a thought for their often counterproductive and bloody consequences. It’s a relief to leave them behind as they continue to feed the insurgencies the U.S. battles far faster than they kill “terrorists.”

Toodle-oo to the vacuous “thanks-for-your-service” compliments from civilians who otherwise ignore soldiers’ issues, foreign policy and our forever wars.

Maybe it’s hopeless for a former Army major to fight American militarism. .....And here’s the truth of it: I’m not alone in my views; as supportive texts and emails to me have made clear, there are more silent dissenters in the ranks than you might imagine. I hope more serving officers and troops gather the courage to speak their minds and tell Americans the score about our brutal, hopeless adventurism. ..... Goodbye to all that, and hello to what’s next.

Danny Sjursen retired from the Army in February, after tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and teaching history at West Point. He is the author of “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” Twitter: @SkepticalVet. Podcast: “Fortress on a Hill.” A longer version of this essay appears at TomDispatch.

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Arrow 27 replies Author Time Post
Reply A bracing op-ed from a recent vet: highly recommended (Original post)
Hekate Apr 1 OP
democrank Apr 1 #1
Hekate Apr 1 #2
ck4829 Apr 4 #23
vlyons Apr 1 #3
watoos Apr 4 #27
Pepsidog Apr 1 #4
ck4829 Apr 4 #24
rusty quoin Apr 1 #5
Hangdog Slim Apr 1 #6
llmart Apr 1 #7
malaise Apr 1 #8
UTUSN Apr 1 #9
Hekate Apr 1 #10
liberaltrucker Apr 1 #11
brer cat Apr 1 #12
ck4829 Apr 4 #22
WhiskeyGrinder Apr 1 #13
Hekate Apr 1 #16
WhiskeyGrinder Apr 1 #17
Hekate Apr 1 #18
ck4829 Apr 4 #21
gratuitous Apr 1 #14
BSdetect Apr 1 #15
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Apr 2 #19
ck4829 Apr 4 #20
loyalsister Apr 4 #25
HopeAgain Apr 4 #26

Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 02:00 AM

1. Brutal honesty

I hope to hear more from Danny Sjursen.

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Response to democrank (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 02:03 AM

2. I hope we hear more from him too.

I just cross posted this in Editorials, where it may last longer.

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Response to democrank (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 4, 2019, 04:06 AM

23. Yep

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 02:10 AM

3. I hope we hear from our Dem candidates

about cutting our obscene military budget.

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Response to vlyons (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 4, 2019, 06:40 AM

27. We have heard,

but I fear if I post a link to her I would get pilloried. This article could have been written by her, if it were and it was posted here, it would certainly get negative hits. Yes, I'm talking about Tulsi Gabbard. She is not a perfect candidate but do we really have a perfect candidate?

Tulsi has been beaten to a pulp here even though her sentiments are similar to the author of this thread. To me it's a shame that Tulsi has been blackballed from running for president, she fits my only criteria for beating Trump, she is tough as nails. I doubt that many here saw her sincere apology for her former stance against the LGBTQ community, she is persona non gratta, one of the first to be eaten by our own.

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 02:27 AM

4. Pat Tillman who left the NFL and millions of dollars felt this way to. When he was killed Tillman

wqa disgusted at the army for many of the cane reasons especially the thinking or lack thereof the generals. Tillman expressed may ifmkk

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Response to Pepsidog (Reply #4)

Thu Apr 4, 2019, 04:07 AM

24. Never forget about Tillman

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 02:31 AM

5. Well done.

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 08:30 AM

6. I get it

I too became a liberal while serving in the army. I realized one day that, as Sjursen writes, the military is a socialist organization. I clearly recall the exact moment I became aware of that fact and the irony of it as I served during the cold war era. Ivan the Soviet Communist was my dreaded enemy as I lived in my government provided housing, wearing my government provided clothing eating three square government provided meals, going to a tax payer funded medical or dental clinic when necessary and collecting a paycheck every couple of weeks to boot! I've been a European style socialist (oh yeah the government gave me money to travel and work in Europe!) ever since.

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 09:06 AM

7. K&R

and bookmarking for later reading. I think there are more ex-military out there who feel this way than we hear about or like to admit.

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 10:27 AM

8. MUST READ

Hope this gets 500 recs

THIS
I hope more serving officers and troops gather the courage to speak their minds and tell Americans the score about our brutal, hopeless adventurism. ..... Goodbye to all that, and hello to what’s next.

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 11:24 AM

9. Yip, the "ty 4 ur service" is a chickenhawk meme of the Shrub Iraq Attack

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 01:56 PM

10. Kick for visibility

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 03:01 PM

11. K & R

nt

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 03:10 PM

12. Good writer

with an important account to tell. I hope we hear from him again and again.

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Response to brer cat (Reply #12)

Thu Apr 4, 2019, 04:06 AM

22. Indeed

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 03:18 PM

13. What was his turning point?

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #13)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 06:11 PM

16. In this essay he doesn't point to one single thing, but if you read through his list of farewells...

...I think you'll get the picture.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #16)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 06:19 PM

17. I did read it, and found it interesting that he wasn't aware of those things before he signed up.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #17)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 10:30 PM

18. How old was he when he started West Point in 2001, do you think? 18?

As for "knowing" all this in advance, there's an activist (named Mikey Weinstein, I believe) who graduated from the Air Force Academy, served in the USAF, and was proud to send his son to the Academy in his turn after their Congressman made the appointment. Where his 18 yo son ran face-first into a wall of anti-Semitism that had not been there before. Which is why Mikey Weinstein became an activist.

I remember being 17. I graduated from high school when the Vietnam War was well under way, but what did I know? I was an idealistic patriotic young girl more inclined to think we were the country that went to the moon and created the Peace Corps than that we were the country that had gotten itself into a nasty thing we had no hope of winning, and that we were not the good guys in this picture.




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Response to Hekate (Reply #16)

Thu Apr 4, 2019, 03:46 AM

21. Bingo, there is rarely just one thing

I'm seeing the government as less and less legitimate, it's not one thing doing it, it's a whole lot of little things adding up over time.

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 03:25 PM

14. I saw an article some time ago

One of my Facebook friends from high school is a contractor for the defense folks in Washington DC. He writes press releases and stories for in-house reading and use. I think it was him who posted a link to a story about what the mission of the military is these days, and why the military is the go-to agency for nation-building programs, as unlikely as it might seem for the military to be doing them. One of his main conclusions was that the military is the only government agency that gets all the funding it wants or needs. We send the military because that's what we fund. The U.S. doesn't fund humanitarian agencies, because there's no bang for the buck (literally).

It's not just former military personnel speaking out against our country's militarism. There are lots and lots of folks who never donned the uniform who are critical of our nation's priorities. I'm glad for the voices of (mostly former) military, but I wish the media would pay some attention to non-military critics of the military.

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 06:08 PM

15. I recommend "The New Centurians" by Donald Duncan

If only to debunk the BS about using torture (in Vietnam) where he served as a Green Beret if I recall..

He devotes a section to Eisenhower's views about the Military Industrial Complex.

When he resigned from the US army Duncan was the highest decorated soldier but missed out on another decoration.

And of course The Pentagon Papers. Now that is a chilling read.





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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Tue Apr 2, 2019, 09:59 PM

19. Very good read

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2019, 03:44 AM

20. K&R

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2019, 04:49 AM

25. This is so important

The young voters have a perspective on these wars that needs to be amplified. Gen X separates two generations who have been most affected by war. None of my age peers were seriously injured or died in a war.
When I get to talking to people who are now in their 30s, they sometimes talk about what happened to their friends and what they saw. And others talk about their experiences in the military. When it comes to militarism, a greater number of millennials have felt the damage of war more personally than most of us sandwiched between the Vietnam era and the post 9/11 endless wars.

It is long past time to really hear their perspectives.

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Response to Hekate (Original post)

Thu Apr 4, 2019, 06:31 AM

26. America the bully

Since that is what we have become, why would we not elect one for President? This is one of the things that has pushed me, a late 50's former moderate, towards the left. Too much complicity from all our poliicians in this exporting of American violence.

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