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Goodbye to All That
The Forever Wars Go On Without Me
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“Patriotism, in the trenches, was too remote a sentiment, and at once rejected as fit only for civilians, or prisoners.” — Robert Graves, Goodbye To All That(1929).

I’m one of the lucky ones. Leaving the madness of 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 dissenting articles and footing the bill for my seemingly never-ending PTSD treatments. Now, I’m society’s problem, unleashed into a civilian world I’ve never gazed upon with adult eyes.

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.

In a sense, I snuck out of the military at age 35, my early retirement an ignominious end to a once-promising career. Make no mistake, I wanted out. I’d relocated 11 times in 18 years, often enough to war zones, and I simply didn’t have another deployment in me. Still, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I’ll mourn the loss of my career, of the identity inherent in soldiering, of the experience of adulation from a grateful (if ill-informed) society.

Perhaps that’s only natural, no matter how much such a hokey admission embarrasses me. I recognize, at least, that there’s a paradox at work here: the Army and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) made me who I now am, brought a new version of me to life, and gifted me (if that’s the right phrase for something so grim) with the stories, the platform, and the pain that now make my writing possible. Those military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in particular turned a budding neocon into an unabashed progressive. My experiences there transformed an insecure, aspiring dealer-in-violence into someone who might be as near as a former military man can get to a pacifist. And what the U.S. Army helped me become is someone who, in the end, I don’t mind gazing at in the mirror each morning.

Should I thank the Army then? Maybe so, no matter the damage that institution did to my psyche and my conscience over the years. It’s hard, though, to thank a war machine that dealt so much death to so many civilians across significant parts of the planet for making me who I am. And no matter how much I told myself I was different, the truth is that I was complicit in so much of that for so long.

In a way, I wonder whether something resembling an apology, rather than a statement of pride in who I’ve become, is the more appropriate way of saying goodbye to all that. Nonetheless, the story is all mine, the burdensome, the beautiful, the banal, and the horrific. War, violence, and bigotry — as I’ve written — are America’s original sins and, looking back, it seems to me that they may be mine as well. In that context, though I’m now officially retired, I think of this as my last piece authored as an active military dissenter — a clearing of the air — before moving on to a life of activism, as well as an unarmed life of words.

What I Won’t Be Missing

It’s time to wave goodbye to a litany of absurdity that I witnessed in the institution to which I dedicated my adult life. Some peers, even friends, may call this heresy — a disgruntled former major airing dirty laundry — and maybe in some way it is. Still, what I observed in various combat units, in conversation with senior officers, and as a horrified voyeur of, and actor in, two dirty wars matters. Of that, I remain convinced.

So here’s my official goodbye to all that, to a military and a nation engaged in an Orwellian set of forever wars and to the professional foot soldiers who made so much of it all possible, while the remainder of the country worked, tweeted, shopped, and slept (in every sense of the word).

Goodbye to the majors who wanted to be colonels and the colonels who wanted to be generals — at any cost. To the sociopaths who rose in the ranks by trampling on the souls of their overburdened troopers, trading lives for minor bumps in statistics and pats on the shoulder from aggressive superiors.

Goodbye to the generals who led like so many lieutenants, the ones who knew the tactics but couldn’t for the life of them think strategically, eternally proving the Peter Principle right with every promotion past their respective levels of incompetence.

So long to the flag officers convinced that what worked at the squad level — physical fitness, esprit de corps, and teamwork — would win victories at the brigade and division level in distant, alien lands.

Farewell to the generals I served under who then shamelessly spun through Washington’s revolving door, trading in their multi-starred uniforms for six- and seven-figure corporate gigs on the boards of weapons manufacturers, aka “the merchants of death” (as they were known once upon a distant time), and so helped feed the unquenchable appetite of the military-industrial beast.

Farewell to the senior generals, so stuck in what they called “their lane” that they were unwilling (or intellectually unable) to advise civilian policymakers about missions that could never be accomplished, so trapped in the GWOT box that they couldn’t say no to a single suggestion from chickenhawk militarists on the Hill or in the Oval Office.

Goodbye to the devotees of American exceptionalism who filled the Army’s ranks, stalwart evangelists of a civic religion that believed there was a secret American inside every Arab or Afghan, ready to burst forth with the slightest poke from Uncle Sam’s benevolent bayonet.

Ciao to staff officers who mistook “measures of performance” (doing lots of stuff) for “measures of effectiveness” (doing the rightstuff). I won’t miss the gaggles of obtuse majors and colonels who demanded measurable “output” — numbers of patrols completed, numbers of houses searched, counts of PowerPoint slides published — from already overtasked captains and the soldiers they led and who will never learn the difference between doing lots and doing well.

Goodbye to battalion and brigade commanders who already had their hands full unsuccessfully “pacifying” entire districts and provinces in alien lands, yet seemed more concerned with the cleanliness of troopers’ uniforms and the two-mile-run times of their units, prioritizing physical fitness over tactical competence, empathy, or ethics.

Godspeed to the often-intolerant conservatism and evangelical Christianity infusing the ranks.

See ya to the generals who lent their voices, while still in uniform, to religious organizations, one of whom even became the superintendent of West Point, and at worst got mere slaps on the wrist for that. (And while we’re at it, here’s a goodbye wave to all those chaplains, supposedly non-denominational supporters of every kind of soldier, who regularly ended their prayers with “in Jesus’s name, amen.” So much for church-state separation.)

Farewell to the still-prevalent cis-gender patriarchy and (strangely erotic) homophobia that infuses the ranks of the U.S. military. Sure, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a thing of the past, but the Army remains a (straight) boys’ club and no easy place for the openly gay, while the president remains intent on banning transgender enlistees. And even in 2019, one in four women still reports at least one sexual assault during her military tour of duty. How’s that for social progress?

So long 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 — prisoners of counterinsurgency, or COIN, math — to feed the insurgencies the U.S. fights far faster than they kill “terrorists.”

Goodbye to officers, especially generals, who place “duty” above ethics.

Sayonara to those who canonize “martyrs” like former commander James “Mad Dog” Mattis, a hero for resigning as defense secretary rather than implement (gasp!) modest troop withdrawals from our endless wars in Syria and Afghanistan. (As for a Pentagon-backed war in Yemen that starved to death at least 85,000 kids, he was apparently fine with that.)

Toodle-oo to the vacuous, “thanks-for-your-service” compliments from civilians who otherwise ignore soldiers’ issues, foreign policy, and our forever wars, who never give a thought to placing the country’s disastrous conflicts up there with healthcare on anyone’s election-year priorities list.

Parting is such sweet sorrow when it comes to the neo-Confederate backgrounds and cheerleading of far too many troopers and officers, to a military academy that still has a Robert E. Lee Road on which you drive from a Lee Housing Area to a Lee Barracks, part of an Army that has named at least 10 of its stateside bases after Confederate generals.

Farewell to rampant Islamophobia in the ranks and the leaders who do so little to counter it, to the ubiquitous slurs about Arabs and Afghans, including “hajis,” “rag-heads,” “camel jockies,” or simply “sand niggers.” What a way to win Muslim “hearts and minds!”

Ta-ta to the paradox of hyper-capitalism and Ayn Randian fiscal conservatism among the officers of the nation’s most socialist institution, the military. Count me in as sick of the faux intellectuals reading books by economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman in Iraq or their less sophisticated peers toting around Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, or Glenn Beck volumes, all the while enjoying their publicly-financed, co-pay-less government healthcare.

Adieu to a military justice system that boots out soldiers who commit “alcohol-related” offenses or “piss hot” for marijuana while rarely investigating the Army’s role as a catalyst for their addictions — and so long as well to a discipline-over-treatment model for dealing with substance abuse that’s only now beginning to change.

Goodbye to infighting among the Army, Navy, and Air Force over funds and equipment and to those “Pentagon Wars” that prioritize loyalty to your service branch over fealty to the nation or the Constitution.

See you later, when it comes to the predictable opinions of a legion of semi-retired generals on 24-hour cable news who count on their public stature to sell Americans yet more guns and militarism.

So long to the faux-intellectualism of men like former “surge” general David Petraeus and his sycophantic army of “warrior monks” and COINdinistas who have never seen a problem to which slightly improved counterinsurgency tactics wasn’t the answer and are incapable of questioning the efficacy of force, intervention, and occupation as ways to alter complex societies for the better.

Farewell to the pride and value military leaders place on superficial decorations — patches and badges and medals — rather than true mission-accomplished moments. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for even a single senior commander to ever admit that his forces wasted their time, or worse, during their year-long deployment in one of America’s distant war zones.)

Cheerio to the prevailing consensus among U.S. officers that our NATO allies are “worthless” or “weak” because they aren’t aggressive enough in taking on certain missions or types of patrols, while fighting and sometimes dying for Uncle Sam’s global priorities. (This is the nonsense that led to French fries being banned and “freedom fries” served in the congressional cafeteria after France had the gall to oppose Washington’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.)

Goodbye to the colonels and generals who speak at the funeral ceremonies of soldiers they hardly know in order to “rededicate” the mourning survivors to the never-ending mission at hand.

Farewell to the soldiers and officers who regularly complained that the Army’s Rules of Engagement were too strict — as if more brutality, bombing, and firepower (with less concern for civilians) would have brought victory — as well as to the assumption behind such complaints that Americans have some sort of inherent right to wage wars of choice overseas.

So long to the chauvinism in the senior ranks that asserts some sort of messianic American right and mission to police the globe, dot it with bases, and give its military men license to strut around the villages and alleyways of sovereign states as if they were their own.

America’s servicemen have taken to believing in their own myth: that they really do constitute a special caste above all you measly civilians — and now, of course, me, too. In this way, military men actually reflect a toxic society’s values. Few ask why there aren’t teachers, nurses, and social workers honored like U.S. military personnel in America’s vaunted sports stadiums. True servants — as we soldiers, in my years of service, were so fond of dubbing ourselves — should stick to humility and recognize that there are other, far nobler ways to spend one’s life.

And here, finally, is what I can’t say goodbye to: a society that’s come to value its warriors above all others.

A Farewell Coda

So what should this now-retired Army major make of it all? The inconvenient truth is perhaps very little. It’s unlikely that anything I’ll write will change many minds or affect policy in any way. In the decade following World War I, when Major General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine of his time, took up the pen to expose the ills of American-style corporate warfare, he (unlike me) made a true splash. As today, however, the American intervention machine just rolled on. So what chance does a former Army major have of moving the needle on U.S. militarism?

I’m active now in what little there is of an antiwar movement in this country. That was part of the genius of President Richard Nixon’s cynical decision in 1973, following years of large-scale antiwar activity in this country and in the U.S. military itself during the Vietnam era, to end the draft. He replaced a citizen’s army with an all-volunteer force. By turning the military into a professional caste, a kind of homegrown foreign legion, rather than a responsibility of every citizen, by transforming its officers into an isolated, fawned-upon caste, he effectively ensured that the public would look elsewhere and that antiwar movements would largely become things of the past.

Maybe it’s hopeless to fight such a beast. Still, as the child of a blue-collar, outer-borough New York City family, I was raised on the romance of lost causes. So I hope to play a small role in my version of a lost cause — as a (lonely) response to the pervasive stereotypes of modern American soldiers, of the officer corps, of West Point. I plan on being there whenever the militarists insist that Army types are all politically conservative, all model patriots, all devout “moral” Christians, all… you name it and I’ll be there as an inconvenient counterpoint to a system that demands compliance.

And here’s the truth of it: no matter what you may think, I’m not alone. There are a precious few other public voices from the forever wars speaking out and — as various supportive texts and emails to me have made clear — more silent dissenters in the ranks than you might imagine.

So count on this: I’ll be hoping that more serving officers as well as troops gather the courage to speak out and tell the American public the score when it comes to our brutal, hopeless, never-ending wars. Sure, it’s just a dream for now, but what would those at the top of that war system do if the troops, officers, and commanders they’ve so consciously placed on a pedestal begin doubting, then questioning, then dissenting? That would be a problem for a war machine that, even in the age of AI and drones, still needs its obedient foot soldiers to hump a ruck and patrol a block.

I was, until recently, one of them, the obsequious grunt at the pointy end of the spear fashioned by a warlike government ruling over an apathetic citizenry. But no longer. I’m only 35 and maybe it won’t make a difference, but I must admit that I’m looking forward to my second act. So think of this goodbye to all that as a hello to all that as well.

Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, is a retired U.S. Army major and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his podcast “Fortress on a Hill,” co-hosted with fellow vet Chris ‘HenriHenriksen.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Everything you say is true, in spades.

    Except one thing: Open homosexuality and women in the ranks is deadly. It isn’t primarily to do with morality, or women being significantly weaker than men (although those are also serious issues the fundamental collision of divergent ethics here could lead to political dissension that may destroy the military, this country, altogether) ..

    Rather, it’s because when people have life and death authority over one another, and people are killing eachother sex, lust and particular relationships will – sorry, does – get people killed, coerced, seduced, assaulted, raped and violated. That interpersonal static will destroy healthy unit dynamics and make it much more difficult for a unit to accomplish it’s goals.

    The fact that the prosecution and judge are the same under the UCMJ guarantees frequent abuse of power when sex is in the mix. You can’t just quit when harassed like in a civilian work place, and trying to defend yourself will often get you nailed even harder. I know this from experience.

    You were an officer. I assume you served in combat arms, where there were few or no women and little open homosexuality in your chain of command. You had power, and probably were not in a position to be sexually manipulated or exploited. I don’t think you get how vulnerable enlisted can be to coercion. I served Army enlisted in intelligence under “don’t ask don’t tell” before the war, and I’m very glad no one was shooting at us or could frag anyone else when I served. I would not enlist again, knowing what I know today.

    I’m still a jaded patriot of sorts (I love my home), but I think this country and its military are a great decandant ponzi scheme, an exploiation racket that is running out of marks to milk..

    • Agree: Hibernian
  2. peterAUS says:

    Farewell to the still-prevalent cis-gender patriarchy and (strangely erotic) homophobia that infuses the ranks of the U.S. military. Sure, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a thing of the past, but the Army remains a (straight) boys’ club and no easy place for the openly gay, while the president remains intent on banning transgender enlistees. And even in 2019, one in four women still reports at least one sexual assault during her military tour of duty. How’s that for social progress?

    I see.

  3. Well done.

    “Those military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in particular turned a budding neocon into an unabashed progressive.”

    Eventually you will realize that you are not a progressive at all. Progressives want to bulldoze everything, wage war everywhere in the interest of imposing their vision on an unwilling humanity. America’s current Army is employed in translating the progressive’s dream into reality.

    You are a conservative, in the best sense of that word. You wish to preserve what it is in life that makes life worth living. Bravo.

    • Replies: @Reisen
  4. Danny boy, you were as put of place in the military as a nun in a bordello. Didn’t you know it was never your place to question why, it was your duty to do or die.

    • Replies: @David
  5. So what should this now-retired Army major make of it all?

    The fact that you qualified for TERA means you are still part of a clique that richly rewards its own, so enjoy your pay and perks for otherwise failing.

    In my day, you did your twenty or walked away having made your peace with leaving a big chunk of your life behind you with little further compensation.

  6. When Smedley Butler wrote WAR IS A RACKET….the General wasn’t pushing the Homo filth sewage like Major Sjurdsen is doing in 2019…..

    Homos are stinking filthy vile vermin who are going after the children of Native Born White Christian Americans….this has been their open intent for awhile….

    Danny

    How is that Democratic Party Coalition of anti-homo MUZZIES and dirty filthy homosexuals gonna work out?

  7. Drallid49 says:

    Would you like a nice gouda with your whine? You are 35. You will recieve benefits for the rest of your life from an organization and government you dispise. If you truly wanted to end your association with the abhorrent military, you would refuse your pension, refuse the free “socialized” medical care, refuse base commissary privileges, refuse free air hops, refuse any perks associated with being a retired military officer, and refuse any freebies offered by your state to veterans. In other words, quit sucking on the tit of an organization you hate, make a clean break and become the “unabashed progressive” you long to be. After all, you are society’s problem now.

    • Agree: follyofwar, The scalpel
    • Replies: @The scalpel
  8. Rich says:

    Anyone who uses “cis-gender” to describe normal human beings is obviously a whack job. There is nothing this clown could ever write that I would believe. He condemns Christian chaplains for praying in “Jesus name” not understanding this has nothing to do with the establishment of a state religion, he even puts down the “patriarchy”, the guy is obviously nuts. Good riddance, enjoy you’re $200 an article from your fellow travelers at “Tomdispatch”.

  9. Eighteen years, and a ring-knocker, too, and still only a major? What a loser–or a fuckup, or both.

    Hated the Army but held out for a pension? What a phony.

    2900 words to say, “I never should have joined the Army in the first place?” What a windbag.

    • Replies: @Simply Simon
    , @anonymous
  10. Begemot says:

    Looks like from some of the comments that soldiers are only esteemed if they tout the party line, not if they think independently. So much for “Thank you for your service”. Patriotism: the last refuge of scoundrels.

  11. David says:
    @Simply Simon

    Friend, “to do or die” is something we all confront daily. “To do and die,” on the other hand…

    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die.

    • Replies: @Simply Simon
  12. Farewell to the still-prevalent cis-gender patriarchy and (strangely erotic) homophobia that infuses the ranks of the U.S. military. Sure, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a thing of the past, but the Army remains a (straight) boys’ club and no easy place for the openly gay, while the president remains intent on banning transgender enlistees. And even in 2019, one in four women still reports at least one sexual assault during her military tour of duty. How’s that for social progress?

    Imagine being 40 years old and writing this with a straight face.

    Good riddance to a servant of Homintern.

    Fuck you faggot.

    Is there anyone associated with Tom Dispatch who isn’t pozzed?

  13. @David

    I was addressing my remarks to Danny specifically.

  14. @Charles_Martel

    I believe you have nailed it.

    • Replies: @peterAUS
  15. peterAUS says:
    @Simply Simon

    Yep.

    Plus a “progtard”.

    If that’s the best the “alt-Right” can get from the professional military we have a problem.
    A big one.

  16. Patricus says:

    The military is an honorable profession even if the author was not happy with the experience. Good soldiers accept the direction of elected officials, even when they don’t agree. The military hierarchy is cumbersome and certainly annoying to those in lower levels. Are there any examples of free style military forces where all the officers and enlisted men choose their own foreign policies?

    Elected representatives are always flawed but is there a better way to choose leaders? The individuals who formulate policies are the ones to condemn.

    Military men might not be the cream of the American team but we need some kind of military.

    • Replies: @The scalpel
  17. anonymous[342] • Disclaimer says:
    @Charles_Martel

    wwebd said – Mr Martel – I pretty much agree with your world view, and I say this with all due respect, but

    I was a captain – O-3 —- for the last 16 years of my 20 years in the USAFR.

    And I was not a loser and not a fuck-up.

    I just liked being a captain. And there are literally dozens of NCOs who would tell you they were glad I put in my 20 years.

    Not saying I agree with anything that the writer with whom you disagreed said, just saying this..

    I was an O-3 – not even a major – for 16 years and I was not a loser and not a fuck-up.

    Lots of people watch “war movies” in which the NCOs are portrayed as “bright realistic guys” and “guys who know what’s what”, and the officers get falsely portrayed as entitled losers, because, let’s face it, most people are from families with NCOs and the audience that pays is gonna be more full of NCOs and NCO relatives than it is of officers and officer relatives. Hollywood and the real job of being in the military are not coterminous.

    Look I am not a progressive but I was an officer and I fucking guarantee you that if any NCO said, in my presence, that the NCOs were better soldiers than the officers they served under in combat situations – or in any stressful situation – there was not a moment after I was promoted from lieutenant to captain where I would not have looked at such an NCO with contempt and disdain. And I also guarantee you that nobody ever once, in my presence, gave me a hard time for being an O-3 for the last 16 of my 20 years of service.

    Maybe I would have been kind enough to set them straight, maybe I would have just let them have their little moment of prideful lying. Anyway, I don’t know what I would have said because nobody was that disrespectful to me.

    Again, I am not a progressive. But if you want to say that President Bush and Obama were a disgrace to their families as commanders in chief, I will be glad to agree.

    Patricius – I could have gone to any law school or any medical school I wanted, I chose to be a logistics and an intel officer. You may not have known it but back in the 90s the military did have the cream of the crop int their officer corps. Don’t be fooled by the losers who Bush and Obama gave 4 stars to.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
    , @Charles_Martel
  18. Hibernian says:
    @anonymous

    “I was an O-3 – not even a major – for 16 years…”

    How could that be, even in the Reserves, unless you were medical?

    • Replies: @anonymous
  19. anonymous[342] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hibernian

    wwebd said: Active duty from 1985 to 1989 in logistics. (O-1 85-87, O-2 87-89).

    Active duty from 1989 (made O-3 in March 89 – my last promotion) to 1992 in intel.

    Inactive reserve from 93 to 96 at a “top 14” law school. Had the LSATs for Yale but went to the local top 14 law school to stay near to a woman I loved.

    Back to the Active Reserves (two weeks active duty and 12 weekends a year for PACAF) in 96.

    If I had a weekend where I felt I did not contribute as much as I wanted I sent to HQ PACAF the hours everyone but me had spent.

    I was in charge of a small detachment. When the Major Boards came up I told my commanding officer, at another base, not to bother sending anything in on time. He said he understood, and he did.

    In 2002 (the math is complicated, but I had only been a captain for 9 years of active reserve duty at that point – yes I know 8 was the max, but things were not all that simple) the Pentagon sent all of us intel officers a letter saying that we could stay in the reserves as long as we wanted without promotion as long as we wanted, up to 20 years, due to the need for intel officers.

    Not sure that would have worked in any other decade but it worked for me.

    By the way I am not retired military, I was military for 20 years but only about 11 or 12 were “good years” for retirement purposes. If I had not gone to law school while in inactive reserves, I could have retired after 20 and just waited until I was 62 for the pension. But I went to law school, and have worked like a dog as a lawyer for almost as long as I worked like a dog for my country as an unappreciated O-3.

    Good times. You learn a lot spending 20 years in the military knowing that you will not retire with a pension.

  20. @anonymous

    Sorry to have ruffled your feathers, Captain, but your story has nothing to do with Sjursen’s. Your careers simply aren’t comparable.

    1. This clown is a RING KNOCKER (for you civvies reading this, that means he went to West Point). Everybody in the Army knows that the ring knockers typically get promoted faster and further than the ROTC and OCS people.

    2. This clown was ACTIVE DUTY, not reserves.

    3. This clown was COMBAT ARMS, not logistics. Everybody knows that the combat arms officers run the show in the Army. Just like the pilots run the show in the Air Force. As it should be, by the way.

    4. This clown was in the ARMY, not the Air Force.

    Long and short, I’m not sure what your point is here.

    • Agree: Rich
    • Replies: @anonymous
  21. The scalpel says: • Website
    @Drallid49

    In general, I agree with this comment. On the other hand, better late than never. Here is how it should be done

    http://thescalpel.net/underpantsl.html

    Danny, congratulations on your progress toward independence and thinking for yourself. I encourage you to take the next step, follow Drallid49’s advice, and join the very exclusive West Point Graduates Association of Conscientious Objectors

  22. The scalpel says: • Website
    @Patricus

    Are there any examples of free style military forces where all the officers and enlisted men choose their own foreign policies?

    Yes, they are commonly called partisans, sometimes called patriots, and they are the only ones who might come close to fighting conscientiously

  23. farang says:

    Thanks to the webmaster that allowed this man to share his thoughts and feelings about the current state of the American MIC. And thanks to the now-retired Major for writing this, which will not make him a popular person.

    Mostly, what he says rings true, and many will not wish to hear that bell ring.

    However, I do take exception to his labeling a road and buildings named after Robert E. Lee at West Point as “Neo-confederate.” That implies he thinks this is a recent event, by “racist Whites. He should rethink that, especially since he rails against the complacent Americans taking no interest in foreign policy or domestic propaganda extolling military personnel.

    Robert E Lee was the top graduate of his class at West Point. An exceptional officer and military engineer, he served 32 years in the US Army, distinguished himself during the Mexican-American War (whatever you think about it) and was Superintendent of West Point. Maybe that explains why his name is featured prominently there?

    Yet, when his conscience called, and he opposed the centralized powers gathering in D.C., although he wished the country to remain whole, he followed his conscience and moral rudder, and unlike “complacent Americans” actually took up arms to oppose this growing menace. Had nothing to do with “slavery” or “nationalism”…quite the opposite.

    Major, you are not the officer and gentleman Robert E. Lee was. “Neo-confederate” gibberish is unbecoming.

    • Replies: @von Puyallup
    , @Reisen
  24. SteveK9 says:

    Major Sjursen should make contact with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard … another of the small tribe of ex-military anti-war activists. She is running for President. There is not much hope she could make it to the nomination, but Major Sjursen could be a help. And, might find some others that could join her on the campaign trail.

  25. @The scalpel

    Danny isn’t quite thinking for himself yet….Danny was idoctrinated into global-homo and Martin Luther King Negroism by West Point and a boomer Mother…..Danny is now waging a war against those evil homophobes!!!!…Danny’s life truly is pathetic…….Danny is an uprooted rootless cosmopolitan waging war against THE HISTORIC NATIVE BORN WHITE CHRISTIAN WORKING CLASS MAJORITY…….as is the SYPHYLLITIC pocked-marked face somoan-swedish whore Tulsi Gambard….And candy-assed global homo-Colonel Bacevitch……

  26. I truly fell sorry for Danny’s 4 young sons who are probably already forced to listen to lectures from Danny about those evil straight White Males and about those wonderful homosexual PEDERAST Democratic Party Males……

    Sjurdsen….Bacevich….and The SYPHYLLITIC pocked-market faced Samoan Whore Gambard want to impose the Democratic Party homosexual PEDERAST worldview on THE CHILDREN OF WORKING CLASS NATIVE BORN WHITE CHRISTIANS….

    I am anti-war….pro-white….anti-homo….and I despise Sjurdsen…Bacievitch….and the SYPHYLLITIC Samoan whore with fat ankles… cankles Gamburd…….

    • Agree: Thorfinnsson
  27. @farang

    I appreciate Sjursen’s piece, though I don’t agree with all of it. I’ve appreciated his interviews with Scott Horton, his candor, and his circumspection. It might be worth pointing out that he has done an admirable job of walking a fairly thin line between getting in trouble and denouncing outrageous policies and acts as much as he found practicable as an officer. His having the title helped attract attention to his message and perhaps gave him additional credibility among some.
    Some here fault him for taking the retirement money. Maybe we don’t know. Would those critics take a refund on their taxes? What if Sjursen really needs it? What if he is using it to stick it to the military industrial complex?
    I did wince when reading his take on Lee, so thank you for this comment. Other commenters who have unmeasured wrath for his homo-agenda nod could do better to have thoughtful response like yours.

  28. anonymous[342] • Disclaimer says:
    @Charles_Martel

    wwebd said —- I did not really have a point beyond what I said, and I did not feel insulted by what you said, I was just reflexively defending anyone who served 20 years in the American military as an officer or an NCO, even if I profoundly disagree with most of what they say, from the specific criticism of being called a loser for not getting promoted more than two or three times.

    Plus I like to ramble sometimes – senex loquax (the older you are the more you like to talk)

  29. ” Those military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in particular turned a budding neocon into an unabashed progressive. My experiences there transformed an insecure, aspiring dealer-in-violence into someone who might be as near as a former military man can get to a pacifist. ”

    You’ve got your terms mixed up. The pacifists are the paleo-cons. Progressives–almost by definition–are historicists. Like Marx, a progressive believes in a future utopia if we can all just get there. And it’s that getting there that bathes the planet in blood.

    Welcome home.

  30. @Craig Nelsen

    If I read you correctly:Sjurdsen would burn the Historic White American Nation down in a heartbeat to further the Pwogwessive agenda(national homo-pwogwess+muzzie Michigan-muzzie Minnesota)..

    First came Sherman’s March…..followed Sjurdsen’s March with the rainbow fag flag…..

  31. peterAUS says:
    @Craig Nelsen

    Yep.

    Major actually doesn’t get it.

    The only difference is that the “shooters” actually do it and, in the process, can get physically and mentally damaged. Sometimes even killed.
    In essence, there is some honesty there: “I shoot at you and, well, you can shoot at me. And, after the event, I’ll have to live with it for the rest of my life.”

    With “progtards” around us is different. They do want the killing, of course, only they can’t admit it to even themselves. On top of it, of course, they can’t get damaged.
    So they have somebody else do it for them. The people from the first paragraph.
    Even better, and this is the icing on the cake: when the deed, they wanted, is done, they can shit on the people who did it.
    Perfect hypocrisy. Perfect world, for them.

    Major will find himself, I suspect, rather quickly rejected by his new crowd.
    Maybe, just maybe, he’ll reconsider some parts of his current thinking.

    We’ll see.

  32. dimples says:

    Excellent article, but on the journey from neo-con to progressive Mr Sjursen should have stopped at normal.

  33. Reisen says:
    @ThreeCranes

    What kind of conservative uses ‘cisgender’, and complains of ‘Islamophobia’ seriously?

  34. Reisen says:

    Parting is such sweet sorrow when it comes to the neo-Confederate backgrounds and cheerleading of far too many troopers and officers, to a military academy that still has a Robert E. Lee Road on which you drive from a Lee Housing Area to a Lee Barracks, part of an Army that has named at least 10 of its stateside bases after Confederate generals.

    Farewell to rampant Islamophobia in the ranks and the leaders who do so little to counter it, to the ubiquitous slurs about Arabs and Afghans, including “hajis,” “rag-heads,” “camel jockies,” or simply “sand niggers.” What a way to win Muslim “hearts and minds!”

    These comments, combined with the complains that the Army is too straight, white, and male, makes me wonder why this SJW bothered to join the military. For all those years spending time around ‘ragheads’, he apparently didn’t learn that they look down upon non-Muslims and infidels, especially Christians. They admit it, they confess it. They don’t abide by the ‘open your hearts and minds’ rule, because they view it as weakness.

    The author also has such a problem with the US’s Confederate history I’d expect him to go crying to Don Lemon for apologies.

    See ya to the generals who lent their voices, while still in uniform, to religious organizations, one of whom even became the superintendent of West Point, and at worst got mere slaps on the wrist for that. (And while we’re at it, here’s a goodbye wave to all those chaplains, supposedly non-denominational supporters of every kind of soldier, who regularly ended their prayers with “in Jesus’s name, amen.” So much for church-state separation.)

    Farewell to the still-prevalent cis-gender patriarchy and (strangely erotic) homophobia that infuses the ranks of the U.S. military. Sure, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a thing of the past, but the Army remains a (straight) boys’ club and no easy place for the openly gay, while the president remains intent on banning transgender enlistees. And even in 2019, one in four women still reports at least one sexual assault during her military tour of duty. How’s that for social progress?

    Oh, boo hoo. I’m glad that you are willing to pay for the dilation that those brave, strong transgender women will have to do once the SRS is done.

    The preaching of Christianity deeply offends this man, but not the preaching of Islam – that is needed for tolerance. Despite being married with four sons, he would rather see other sons sodomized by gay men who see military men as fair game.

    Gee, you think the sexual assaults against female soldiers is going to improve with transgender women entering the ranks? Will the same-sex assaults cease by allowing openly gay men to serve? I guess not. I guess that’s just fear mongering.

    The Major, despite being a historian, is also deeply offended at Confederate history. My guess is that those evil white men did those black men wrong, and any celebration of Southern history is de-facto racist. I thought the Unz Review was past that.

    In short, we have a Major who hated war, but enjoys the benefits and likes to pretend that everyone is equal; that we live in a racist, homophobic society, and that we need to stop treating Muslims like animals. It’s not like their countries are backwards, or anything. They just need love and tolerance.

  35. Reisen says:
    @farang

    Don’t forget his deadly serious use of the word, ‘cisgender’, and complaints about how the army is too straight.

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