The Pentagon has started closing military bases and pulling troops out of Afghanistan but confusion over what this means for the United States' longest war exists. For clarification, Clearing the FOG speaks with retired US army major, author and activist, Danny Sjursen. He calls the Afghanistan War a disaster and says the United States would have been better off if it had buried all of the trillions spent to invade and occupy Afghanistan in the ground instead. Sjursen discusses what the withdrawal means for the people of Afghanistan and the countries in that region. He also advises us on what to watch out for as the war hawks push Biden to continue to have a presence there. We also talk about his newest book on US history and empire through the lens of American exceptionalism.
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On the show this week, Chris Hedges discusses ‘Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge’ with Danny Sjursen, a combat veteran and West Point graduate. "We talk a lot about moral courage at West Point. It's a term they throw around but they've largely hijacked it. It is much harder in a lot of ways to speak against the tide and obviously you've done that for your entire career. There are real costs - emotional, professional - and it's a difficult thing. And I think the fact that it's so rare. I mean, name five generals who have spoken out publicly against these wars even in retirement."
Former Army Major Danny Sjursen, a frequent contributor to Popular Resistance, urges people to consider themselves citizens of humanity and not of a nation. Sjursen is the author of "Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War" where he defines patriotism as wanting the country to live up to its aspirations, that dissents from the United States when it is wrong. When a country becomes an empire, Sjursen says it is our patriotic duty to dissent. Sjursen discusses three types of patriotism. Principled participatory patriotism takes the same sense of duty to urge the United States to become a better place that lives up to its values. Even the small numbers of people who take dissent as a role of patriotism have an impact on the direction of the country. Dissenters range across the political spectrum from libertarians to anti-imperialist leftists.
Once again, this Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate — to the unwitting militarist racist tune that is the “Star Spangled Banner” — more than just the nation’s Independence Day. Though most folks will, if at a reasonable social distance, focus more on the backyard beer and brats, U.S. jingoism and exceptionalism will invariably be on the menu. That last sentiment, particularly amidst the COVID- and mass protest-exposing era of forever war at home and abroad, deserves a closer and critical look. For exceptionalism is truly a national disease that ravages American bodies and democratic institutions alike. This malignancy must be named and shamed in pursuit of precisely the “participatory patriotism” the holiday purports to celebrate. As the (late) man said, “Always look to the language;” so let us begin there:
By Danny Sjursen for The Huffington Post - It was 11 years ago next month: my first patrol of the war and we were still learning the ropes from the army unit we were replacing. Unit swaps are tricky, dangerous times. In Army lexicon, they’re known as “right-seat-left-seat rides.” Picture a car. When you’re learning to drive, you first sit in the passenger seat and observe. Only then do you occupy the driver’s seat. That was Iraq, as units like ours rotated in and out via an annual revolving door of sorts. Officers from incoming units like mine were forced to learn the terrain, identify the key powerbrokers in our assigned area, and sort out the most effective tactics in the two weeks before the experienced officers departed. It was a stressful time. Those transition weeks consisted of daily patrols led by the officers of the departing unit. My first foray off the FOB (forward operating base) was a night patrol. The platoon I’d tagged along with was going to the house of a suspected Shiite militia leader. (Back then, we were fighting both Shiite rebels of the Mahdi Army and Sunni insurgents.) We drove to the outskirts of Baghdad, surrounded a farmhouse, and knocked on the door. An old woman let us in and a few soldiers quickly fanned out to search every room. Only women ― presumably the suspect’s mother and sisters ― were home.