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Program Information
Takes on the World
US Army Major Danny Sjursen, author "Ghost Riders of Baghdad"
 Jeff Blankfort  Contact Contributor
Sept. 13, 2017, 12:53 p.m.
US Army Major Danny Sjursen, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq wars and still on active duty at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, elaborates on his recent article for TomDispatch, “Worth Dying For? When it Comes to the War in the Greater Middle East, Maybe We're the Bad Guys” which he acknowledges represents his views an not those of the Dept. of the Army, the Dept. of Defense, or the US Government.

This becomes abundantly clear as he skewers the notion of the US as “the indispensable nation” or a “force for good,” in the world and the indifference of Americans to the violence that their country has been doing and continues to so around the world, citing the US support for the ongoing air-war being conducted by Saudi Arabia against the people of Yemen.

He also castigates the public's refusal to acknowledge America's responsibility for the refugee crisis that its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have caused and wonders if it is too late to turn things around.

Sjursen has particularly harsh criticism for Washington's choice of allies, the Saudis, Israel, and Egypt, and compares the US reaction to the behavior of the Saudis (whose fundamentalist Wahabist doctrine he condemns) with that of ISIS, when they do the same thing, such as be-headings.

That the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have become interminable he attributes to Nixon's ending of the draft before which America's young men and their families had “skin in the game,” and to the preference of the military for a professional army, about which, he notes the country's founders had serious questions. Without the draft, he points out, there can be no serious antiwar movement.

He points out that all of the military actions taken by the USG since 911 have been justified by the loosely interpreted “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists” given to Pres. GW Bush on 9/14/01 and noted that there is a new effort in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul to repeal it.

Sjursen notes the contradictions among those in today's army. While pleased with the “socialized” health care and the generous benefits provided by the government, a sizable segment tend to hold extreme right positions, politically, which fits in with what he describes as an “anti-intellectual” climate, in general.

He is particularly critical of the way military service is portrayed in American culture, citing its pervasive presence in National Football League games, with huge American flags, troops on display and fly-overs and disgusted with the yellow ribbons and the polite but insincere “thank you for your service” statements spoken by politicians and the public.

Major Sjursen speaks with remarkable courage and justifiable anger at what he has seen happen to his country and that he does so from “the belly of the beast” is all the more extraordinary. And sadly, all too rare.

Interviewed by Jeff Blankfort

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00:37:24 1 Sept. 13, 2017
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