“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 will say this and in no way patronizing in intent: Thank you for your service. Thank you also for a very helpful insight into the life of the military officer who relays to the rest of us your frustration with being a cog in a mind-numbingly complicated machine. From your words it is quite clear that the past eighteen years, frustrating as you have revealed them to be, have given you myriad things of great value, among them being a grounded education, an effective ability to communicate, a solid moral core foundation and so much more. Best of luck to you (and all who are now serving and have served) going forward. Please know that a great many of us know to distinguish you from who sent you. You may be pleased to know that Gen. Smedley Butler is often referenced on this forum. Peace.
Excellent article as always Danny. Really hope more people are listening than you think. I am sending the article around to friends. I wrote about this back in 2007, which you can read here:
Looking forward to seeing you on the “other” front-line, the one that works for peace.
Thanks for your excellent history articles as well. You really have done the country a great service, just not in the way that most people mean when they thank soldiers for their service.
I am very proud of you. Any chance you may consider running for a public office? Your insight would be invaluable.
I will never thank you for your “service”… I will however thank you for your activism. You’re a wonderful writer and wordsmith… the world needs more folks in your former position to come to these realizations and to tell this truth. Thank you.
We need a person like you for activism to stop this endless war of greed. No reason to attack any small nation for bullying and grabbing their natural resources. Anyway, thanks again for insightful and splendid expression.
Brilliant and courageous writing. The most effective dissent against the Vietnam war was that of the anti-war veterans, particularly the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, many of whom I knew and worked with.
It was the words of a vet, Master Sargeant(ret) Donald Duncan’s book The New Legions, which initially turned me against that moral and strategic disaster.
Your comment about the draft echoes that of Andrew Bacevich , who proposes not an old style draft but a shorter service period with greater incentives for joining to eliminate this “foreign legion” attitude. It was quite remarkable how fast the anti war movement collapsed when Tricky Dick eliminated the draft.
Great idea to have Danny run for office. At least that way, there would be one politician that would make foreign policy his/her priority. Look at the dizzying field of candidates running for president in 2020, right now, and see where they prioritize foreign policy. Try to find one who is really running on a peace platform or one that dares to use the label of pacifist. Good luck.
Have to agree, too, that far too many Americans just don’t give a damn about illegal wars unless you bring it home and hit them over the head with it. That “who cares what happens to a bunch of un-exceptional people in shithole countries” attitude is alive and well in this country.
This story is indirectly about me. The difference being that I enlisted to not be drafted, and had little if any good karma for the military. I just wanted to serve my time and get out.
The author represents my experience and attitudes in a parallel universe.
I swear I was reading a story about me. How many more of us are out there that views America’s military obsession the way we do?
It only took one tour in Vietnam to come to the same conclusions our author did. And here we are again. Same shit, different time.
I hear you Danny. At least with a draft, we thought we were fighting for our country, not for the M/I/I Complex. I knew some fine people in the Army. Then it became all Volunteer and breeds asshole lifers.
I don’t hear any of the candidates proposing to bring back the draft, the best way to end the endless wars.
Not mentioned is how a military comprised of a wide range of religions and backgrounds a half century ago has come to be dominated by christian extremists who are the military industrial media infotainment complex’s (MIMIC) biggest boosters. The MIMIC operatives who own the best Congress money can buy are making sure that the draft will NEVER be restored.
Good that Danny has seen the light but it sure took him a long time. You have to be pretty clued out to join the US Army in the first place. Unless, of course, you think solving problems by killing people is a good idea. Or overthrowing democracies or being part of the process that absorbes 60% of the American federal budget. Damn good thing that their are no other needs for those billions.
Remarkable that so many Americans have bought into this warrior culture. Well you get what you pay for but you don’t get medical care for all, free university, decent holiday time, etc. etc., it is a long list.
Hey Danny -
Check out Veterans For Peace. Interestingly, as you suggest, we attract members who were formerly pretty high ranking - Ann Wright, Larry Wilkerson, Bacevich.
Of course, we former em’s have to slap them around once in a while to keep them humble (humor alert)
Tulsi is your candidate for this issue.
Thanks for the hard earned wisdom and well-worded insights. Hope your neighbors in Kansas don’t hold your brand of patriotism against you. Lookin forward to reading your book; you write well.
sounds like Catch 22 was pretty much on the money. Best of luck. You have plenty to give.
The best, brightest and most noble among us are frequently in our armed forces, especially those whose courage permits them to engage in meaningful self-analysis and self-criticism as does Danny Sjursen, a soldier, a scholar and an American patriot.
Haha, Goodbye, as Romantic a Sentiment as that Patriotism that started your Journey
Sorry Dude, you’re new Advocation is saying Hello to Protecting that Diversity, the War Machine wants so Desperately to Extinguish
“the truth is that I was complicit in so much of that for so long”
Welcome to our Club, not just Complicit but Highly Proficient
You Have the Vision right, but having the Insight is not the same as Teaching the Human Spirits, who live in Cowardice and must Dominate with a “Weapon” or they will surely Die, how to Transform Fear into Compassion
I Learned your Accurate Litany in Vietnam and have been working to stop the War Merchants ever since. Bloody Money…Yes Lockheed I’m talking about You.
It’s like we pass out Stupid Pills every 20 years. Time to Forget all those Hard Lessons Learned and Program the next Generation of Borg.
During my last visit to a Vietnam Memorial, while looking at all the troops in 1970’s uniform, I remarked to the Vet next me “ How Young and Dumb we were then. You’d have Thought we were Smarter now. Not so easily trapped in a Lifetime War Again”
He Launched a Barrage of “We Could of Won if only…” And he was Quite Proud of his Son who had taken on the Millennia Old Failure of trying Yet Again to Conquer Afghanistan
World and British History be Damned
I hope his Son is well
Welcome. We Need you. Having witnessed the last 20 years, I have a sense of Forlorn Incapacity.
That is until I help Another Victim, and See the Spirit in their Eyes and Remember what all that Training was for.
Stand and Protect and Help the Victims of our Atrocities
Thank you, Mr. Sjursen, for this courageous account of your experience in the U.S. Army. I’m grateful for all that you have said here, so much of which resonates with the accounts I’ve heard from other veterans: there are problems with the culture of the military, from the Peter Principle to Christian Dominionist/neo-fascist infiltration to American Exceptionalism to misogyny and intolerance to the troop-abusing, terrorism-metastasizing approach to the GWOT.
I just wanted you to know that some of us activists among the civilian ranks have been taking on these issues for decades – including in ways that highlight how the GWOT has been a punishing experience for those in uniform: http://invitation2artivism.com/?p=1278