Spilling Ink and Spilling Blood

W.J. Astore (and Danny Sjursen)

Recently, I had a long conversation with Major (retired) Danny Sjursen on our responses to the Iraq and Afghan Wars. The entire conversation is at TomDispatch.com; what follows is an excerpt.

Bill (that’s me!): In the summer of 2007, I was increasingly disgusted by the way the administration of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney was hiding behind the bemedaled chest of Iraq commander General David Petraeus. Our civilian commander-in-chief, George W., was avoiding responsibility for the disastrous Iraq War by sending Petraeus, then known as the “surge” general, before Congress to testify that some sort of victory was still possible, even as he hedged his talk of progress with words like “fragile” and “reversible.”

So I got off my butt and wrote an article that argued we needed to end the Iraq War and our folly of “spilling blood and treasure with such reckless abandon.” I submitted it to newspapers like the New York Times with no success. Fortunately, a friend told me about TomDispatch, where Tom Engelhardt had been publishing critical articles by retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich. Luckily for me, Tom liked my piece and published it as “Saving the Military from Itself” in October of that same year.

That article put me on the path of dissent from America’s forever wars, even if I wasn’t so much antiwar as anti-dumb-war then. As I asked at the time, how do you win someone else’s civil war? Being a Star Trek fan, I referred to the Kobayashi Maru, a “no-win” scenario introduced in the second Star Trek movie. I saw our troops, young lieutenants like yourself in Iraq, being stuck in a no-win situation and I was already convinced that, no matter how much Petraeus talked about “metrics” and “progress,” it wasn’t going to happen, that “winning” really meant leaving, and we haven’t won yet since, god help us, we’re still there.

Of course, the so-called surge in Iraq back then did what it was actually meant to do. It provided an illusion of progress and stability even while proving just as fragile and reversible as the weaselly Petraeus said it would be. Worse yet, the myth of that Iraqi surge would lead disastrously to the Afghan version of the same under Barack Obama and — yet again — Petraeus who would prove to be a general for all presidents.

Lucky you! You were on the ground in both surges, weren’t you?

Danny: I sure was! Believe it or not, a colonel once told me I was lucky to have done “line duty” in both of them — platoon and company command, Iraq and Afghanistan, Baghdad and Kandahar. To be honest, Bill, I knew something was fishy even before you retired or I graduated from West Point and headed for those wars.

In fact, it’s funny that you should mention Bacevich. I was first introduced to his work in the winter of 2004 as a West Point senior by then-Lieutenant Colonel Ty Seidule. Back then, for a guy like me, Bacevich had what could only be called bracing antiwar views (a wink-nod to your Bracing Views blog, Bill) for a classroom of burgeoning neocons just about certain to head for Iraq. Frankly, most of us couldn’t wait to go.

And we wouldn’t have that long to wait either. The first of our classmates to die, Emily Perez, was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb in September 2006 within 18 months of graduation (and five more were to die in the years to come). I took a scout platoon to southeast Baghdad a month later and we didn’t leave — most of us, that is — for 15 months.

My partly Bacevich-bred sneaking suspicions about America’s no-longer distant wars were, of course, all confirmed. It turned out that policing an ethno-religious-sectarian conflict, mostly of our own country’s making, while dodging counter-counterinsurgent attacks aimed at expelling us occupiers from that country was as tough as stateside invasion opponents had predicted.

On lonely outpost mornings, I had a nasty daily habit of reading the names of our announced dead. Midway through my tour, one of those countless attacks killed 1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich. When I saw that name, I realized instantly that he must be the son of the man whose book I had read two years earlier, the man who is now our colleague. The moment remains painfully crystal clear in my memory.

By the way, Bill, your Iraq War take was dead on. During my own tour there, I came to the same realization. Embarrassingly enough, though, it took me seven years to say the same things publicly in my first book, fittingly subtitled “The Myth of the Surge.” By then, of course, ISIS — the Frankenstein’s monster of America’s misadventure — was already streaming across Syria’s synthetic borders and conquering swaths of northern and western Iraq, which made an anti-Iraq War screed seem quaint indeed, at least in establishment circles.

But Bill, do go on.

Bill: It was also back in 2007 when something John McCain said on PBS really ticked me off. In essence, he warned that if the U.S. military lost in Iraq, it wouldn’t be the generals’ fault. No, it would be ours, those of us who had questioned the war and its conduct and so had broken faith with that very military. In response, I wrote a piece at TomDispatch with the sarcastic title, “If We Lose Iraq, You’re to Blame,” because I already found such “stab-in-the-back” lies pernicious beyond words. As Andy Bacevich noted recently when it came to such lies about an earlier American military disaster: we didn’t lose the Vietnam War in 1975 when Saigon fell, we lost it in 1965 when President Johnson committed American troops to winning a civil war that South Vietnam had already lost.

Something similar is true for the Iraq and Afghan wars today. We won’t lose those conflicts when we finally pull all U.S. troops out and the situation goes south (as it most likely will). No, we lost the Afghan War in 2002 when we decided to turn a strike against the Taliban and al-Qaeda into an occupation of that country; and we lost the Iraq War the moment we invaded in 2003 and found none of the weapons of mass destruction that Bush and his top officials had sworn were there. Those were wars of choice, not of necessity, and we could only “win” them by finally choosing to end them. We lose them — and maybe our democracy as well — by choosing to keep on waging them in the false cause of “stability” or “counterterrorism,” or you-name-it.

Early in 2009, I had an epiphany of sorts while walking around a cemetery. With those constant deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and dozens of other countries globally, the U.S. military, I thought, was becoming a foreign legion, almost like the quintessential French version of the same, increasingly separated from the people, and increasingly recruited from “foreign” elements, including recent immigrants to this country looking for a fast-track to citizenship.

Danny: Bill, one of my own soldiers fit the mold you just mentioned. Private First Class Gustavo Rios-Ordonez, a married father of two and a Colombian national. Partly seeking citizenship through service, he was the last trooper to join my command just before we shipped out and the first killed when, on June 20, 2011, he stepped on an improvised explosive device within sight of the Afghan outpost I then commanded. Typing this now, I stare at a framed dusty unit guidon, the pennant that once flew over that isolated sandbagged base of ours and was gifted to me by my soldiers.

Sorry, Bill, last interruption… scout’s honor!

Surges to Nowhere

Bill: So I wrote an article that asked if our military was morphing into an imperial police force. As I put it then: “Foreign as in being constantly deployed overseas on imperial errands; foreign as in being ever more reliant on private military contractors; foreign as in being increasingly segregated from the elites that profit most from its actions, yet serve the least in its ranks.” And I added, “Now would be a good time to ask exactly why, and for whom, our troops are currently fighting and dying in the urban jungles of Iraq and the hostile hills of Afghanistan.”

A few people torched me for writing that. They thought I was saying that the troops themselves were somehow foreign, that I was attacking the rank-and-file, but my intent was to attack those who were misusing the military for their own purposes and agendas and all the other Americans who were acquiescing in the misuse of our troops. It’s a strange dynamic in this country, the way we’re cajoled into supporting our troops without ourselves having to serve or even pay attention to what they’re doing.

Indeed, under George W. Bush, we were even discouraged from commemorating the honored dead, denied seeing footage of returning flag-draped caskets. We were to celebrate our troops, while they (especially the dead and wounded) were kept out of sight — literally behind curtains, by Bush administration order — and so mostly out of mind.

I was against the Afghan surge, Danny, because I knew it would be both futile and unsustainable. In arguing that case, I reached back to the writings of two outspoken opponents of the Vietnam War, Norman Mailer and Mary McCarthy. As President Obama deliberated on whether to surge or not, I suggested that he should confer with broadminded critics outside the government, tough-minded freethinkers cut from the cloth of Mailer and McCarthy.

Mailer, for example, had argued that the Vietnamese were “faceless” to Americans (just as the Iraqis and Afghans have been all these years), that we knew little about them as a people and cared even less. He saw American intervention in “heart of darkness” terms. McCarthy was even blunter, condemning as “wicked” the government’s technocentric and hegemonic form of warfare with its “absolute indifference to the cost in human lives.” Predictably, Obama listened to conventional wisdom and surged again, first under General Stanley McChrystal and then, of course, under Petraeus.

Danny: Well, Bill, paltry as it may now sound, I truly thank you for your post-service service to sensibility and decency — even if those efforts didn’t quite spare me the displeasure of a second stint in a second theater with Petraeus as my supreme commander for a second time.

By the way, I ran into King David (as he came to be known) last year in a long line for the urinals at Newark airport. Like you, I’ve been tearing the guy’s philosophy and policies up for years. Still, I decided decorum mattered, so I introduced myself and mentioned that we’d met once at a Baghdad base in 2007. But before I could even kid him about how his staff had insisted that we stock ample kiwi slices because he loved to devour them, Petraeus suddenly walked off without even making it to the stall! I found it confusing behavior until I glimpsed myself in the mirror and remembered that I was wearing an “Iraq Veterans Against the War” t-shirt.

Okay, here’s a more instructive anecdote: Have I ever mentioned to you that my Afghan outpost, “Pashmul South” as it was then known, featured prominently in the late journalist Michael Hasting’s classic book, The Operators (which inspired the Netflix original movie War Machine)? At one point, Hastings describes how Petraeus’s predecessor in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, visited an isolated base full of war-weary and war-exasperated infantrymen. In one of the resident platoons, all but seven of its 25 original members had “been killed, wounded, or lost their minds.” And yes, that was the “palace” I took over a couple of years later, an outpost the Taliban was then attacking almost daily.

By the time I took up the cause of “Enduring Freedom” (as the Afghan operation had been dubbed by the Pentagon), I had already resigned myself to being one of those foreign legionnaires you’ve talked about, if not an outright mercenary. During the Afghan surge, I fought for pay, healthcare, a future West Point faculty slot, and lack of a better alternative (or alternate identity). My principles then were simple enough: patrol as little as possible, kill as few locals as you can, and make sure that one day you’ll walk (as many of my scouts literally did) out of that valley called Arghandab.

I was in a dark headspace then. I didn’t believe a damn thing my own side said, held out not an ounce of hope for victory, and couldn’t even be bothered to hate my “enemy.” On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, staff officers at brigade headquarters sent a Reuters reporter deep into the boonies to profile the only commander around from the New York City area and I told him just what I thought, or close enough in any case. Suffice it to say that my colonels were less than pleased when Captain Sjursen was quoted as saying that “the war was anything but personal” and that he never “thought about 9/11 at all” or when he described the Taliban this way: “It’s farm-boys picking up guns. How do you hate that?”

Rereading that article now, I feel a certain sadness for that long-gone self of mine, so lost in fatalism, hopelessness, and near-nihilism. Then I catch myself and think: imagine how the Afghans felt, especially since they didn’t have a distant home to scurry off to sooner or later.

Anyway, I never forgot that it was Obama — from whom I’d sought Iraq War salvation — who ordered my troops on that even more absurd Afghan surge to nowhere (and I’m not sure I’ve forgiven him either). Still, if there was a silver lining in all that senselessness, perhaps it was that such a bipartisan betrayal widened both the breadth and depth of my future dissent.

Please read the rest of our conversation here, and our conclusion that, when it comes to resisting America’s disastrous wars, our motto has to be: No retreat, no surrender.

27 thoughts on “Spilling Ink and Spilling Blood

  1. “As President Obama deliberated on whether to surge or not, I suggested that he should confer with broadminded critics outside the government, tough-minded freethinkers cut from the cloth of Mailer and McCarthy.

    Mailer, for example, had argued that the Vietnamese were “faceless” to Americans (just as the Iraqis and Afghans have been all these years), that we knew little about them as a people and cared even less. He saw American intervention in “heart of darkness” terms. McCarthy was even blunter, condemning as “wicked” the government’s technocentric and hegemonic form of warfare with its “absolute indifference to the cost in human lives.” “
    Thank you for the more than worthwhile conversation with Danny. This is what stood out for me yesterday when I first saw this at TomDispatch.
    All this talk of reaching across the aisle and engaging in a spirited open debate, that should inform decision making in a democracy is just an illusion to me now. It takes some time to
    de-program the false narrative forced into our national consciousness through early childhood education. But there comes a mature honest experience when one’s level of awareness is sharpened.
    In a freer state of mind you start to understand the wisdom of reading and contemplating the words of McCarthy and Mailer (and so many others). One begins to become familiar with the costs of war financially and to humanity.
    Answers to questions begin to form connections in our thinking synapse. Why does the MIC love legal the decisions that trac along the rails of Citizens United? How are my votes responsible for creating 37 million refugees in foreign lands where my countries military is actively engaged?
    What is my responsibility now knowing that enlisted citizens who have actively served face the burdens of bearing the challenging lifestyle that comes with increased incidence of birthing special needs babies?
    AISLES! AISLES! There is no aisle to reach across. AISLES were scrubbed out a long time ago. If you know what’s good for ya, get back into line with the rest of the Pageantry Patriots; and stop trying to clear that firebreak!
    I look forward to the day when you and Danny
    (and many many others) are finally appreciated and thanked for your much needed service to a staggering anti conflict movement.

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    1. Yes. If support for war is bipartisan, there’s no point to reaching across the aisle. Unless you just want a warrior handshake of approval for more killing.

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      1. Thanks for this article, very interesting and sobering.
        A bipartisan war effort for us but how on earth did we talk so many other countries into joining our efforts there? I’ve read as many as 50 other countries have contributed in various ways to the war in Afghanistan. What is in it for them? How did they talk their public in to it? I’m mystified.

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        1. JERRY S–Oh, this ain’t hard to explain. Just as we Americans don’t get to vote on matters of war & peace, neither do the citizens of other countries. It’s the governments that decide they dare not tempt the wrath of the planet’s 900-lb. gorilla, the USA. So they sign on to “the program,” to use military lingo, so they’ll continue to get assistance from US in future (assistance only given because deemed to ultimately be in US’s own economic interest in long run, like happily selling weapons systems to “our allies”). Hell, it’s only a few mostly low-ranking personnel they’re putting at risk in places like Afghanistan. This is why I deemed Cheney/Dubya’s coalition for Gulf War 2 “the coalition of the lickspittles.” It’s all quite pathetic.

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          1. Remember what Bush/Cheney said: you’re either for us or against us. Being “for” us is marked by a willingness to send troops or some form of “help” for the war effort. This was also supposedly a big test for NATO. Looks like that test didn’t go well …

            I’ve seen films set in Afghanistan featuring Dutch troops. Australia sent troops, of course (now mired in a war crimes investigation). Wasn’t Prince Harry there for a time? And so on.

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          2. Can’t resist sharing this anecdote: at Logan Airport in Boston in 2005, a friend and I were awaiting our flight to Helsinki when we saw a young woman wearing a t-shirt depicting Dubya, with slogan “Against me, motherfu*ker!” Didn’t make sense grammatically, but it definitely was not PRO-Bush. We didn’t see any security personnel hassling her (she wasn’t on our Finnair flight).

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        2. As Greglaxer pointed out, ‘everyone’ wants to be friends with the US and no one asks constituants for their opinion (anymore than the US asks his own), but there’s even more.
          My own country (Poland) openly admitted its reasons : to get a more important position within NATO & to provide our army with ‘real life’ field experience (!!!). As for those who actually went there, most of them (all professional, no draft) did so because they got a higher salary when ‘in the field’ than when staying at home and several went back on multiple deployments, because they hadn’t finished paying the mortgage or because they became addicted and preferred the risk to having to be back in ‘dull’ life with their estranged wives – litterally ! After which they whine about how much they suffer, without a word for the suffering they inflicted on the local population.
          We even pruced a ‘heroic’ movie about a bunch of our soldiers protecting a building (not people, mind you !) against an attack in Karbala, Iraq, with as subtitle “The real story as told by the participants of the biggest Polish battle since WWII’ … As it was up for a prize (!).I wrote to a cinema reviewer whom I happen to know with the question, what we would have said, if right after WWII the Germans had made such a movie about some Wehrmacht detail having ‘heroically’ defended some building in Warsaw against an attack by those ‘savage Polish terrorists’ ?

          One of the government’s ‘justifications’ when asked why it so readily agreed to join (also in Iraq), was that being a NATO member they ‘had no choice’. Which is utter bull, as for instance Belgium – also a NATO member – did not have a fighting army. They just guarded the military part of Kabul airport and obviouly contributed spies, like all the others. The Turks also refrained from battle and were mostly (as far as I know) stationed in Kabul, where they walked around in shirtsleeves and just a handgun on their hip. No helmet or bullet-proof vest, not to mention machineguns. And they never were attacked. Which tells a lot about those ‘bloodthirsty local terrorists’ who apparently were waiting at every street corner to kill some American.

          Having about 50 nations participating also dilutes any responsibility, while for the Afghans it ment that they litterally had no country (except maybe China ?) to turn to for help…
          As for US/NATO bases & combat, they never were there for any other reason than to protect themselves, their bases and supplies (all after all part & parcel of ‘US/NATO interests’), not in any way to protect the local population. Not to mention smuggling archeological artifacts etc and drugs out of the country in their planes which were not subjected to the same rigour as civilian ones. There once was a professor Parkinson who devised various ‘laws’ about beaurocracy, one of which said that any outfit with at least 100 staff, does not need any external subject anymore, it can keep busy running just itself. That applies perfectly to those trillion dollar armies …

          And now those occupying countries who cooperated to ruin both Afghanistan & Iraq, in addition refuse their refugees, particularly young men who supposedly all are terrorists pretending to be refugees. That applies even to many of their former interpreters. So they send them back into the arms of terrorist groups – to join them or be killed by them. Hobson’s choice if I ever saw one.

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          1. Insightful observations, Pamela. Let’s not forget one of Trump’s boasts was that he was going to shake up NATO! I haven’t followed this story, so for all I know he may in fact have squeezed some more funds out of some of the member states. But the only “justification” for this organization to continue to exist at all is to defend Global Capital’s ability to suppress rebellion against The System. Obviously this is not something I sign on to. The “north Atlantic” now extends into landlocked Afghanistan! What next, NATO troops will be sent to the South China Sea to rein in Chinese activity there? I think a quick check of a globe will show that China is a lot closer to that disputed body of water than the countries bordering the North Atlantic Ocean!

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          2. Oh, and I forgot. While certainly not being Europe’s richest country, we do pay the bloody 2 % NATO fee. And last year I ran into one of our former ‘Defense’ ministers who was canvassing for reelection to the Senate, together with a bunch of party members. He knew that I had been fighting him for years but not what I look like. When I introduced myself he gleefully glowed like Rudolf’s nose and explained to his group, that we had a disagreement about our army in Afghanistan. One of them, some moron woman soothingly told me :’But Madam, that was a peace mission’. I’ll spare you my reaction as that is not the point of the anecdote. After my furious outburst the former minister (soft-spoken, polite and by profession a psychiatrist) triumphantly smirked : “But you’ll admit that thanks to that [our deployment in Afghanistan] we now have the US army based in our country.” …
            Unfortunatewly most Central & Eastern European countries which were part of the Soviet block, have a blind adoration for the US – which is slowly waning, but too late & too little for Afghanistan & Iraq and too late for the tragic torture victims of the secret CIA black sites in Poland, Lithuania and Romania.
            Other European countries and non-NATO-members like Korea or Japan might have had other incentives to join the rat pack, but I bet it will have been one of these : Bully, Bribe or Blackmail, as that seems to be the US version of ‘diplomacy’ nowadays …

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          3. And by “remarkable coincidence” [wink, wink], in those Eastern European countries where anti-Soviet sentiment was strongest, new neo-Nazi strength has surfaced over the years, accelerated by the rise of Trump and the “strongmen” for whom he has professed such admiration.

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        1. re: Biden’s “diverse” Cabinet–CNN online has headline re: Joe signaling to progressives not to get their hopes up, his hands are tied. This is not entirely a dishonest assessment, to be fair. Especially if Dems fail to get majority in Senate, and as I’ve been pointing out for a while the Dems would have to exercise the level of party discipline the GOP has developed in order to move a particular agenda thru Congress. Susan Rice Watch: she has been named as a key adviser on DOMESTIC policy! Methinks I smell a rat. What will be the REAL role of this veteran of foreign policy intrigue and dirty pool? I had a strong gut feeling Rice would not be going away. Help, I sound paranoid! Nah, just keeping my eyes wide open.

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          1. Interesting…. I just read an article praising Biden’s choices, and the author said that, if Progressives complained about his corporate-tool picks, Biden could just say that his hands are tied [verbatim]. Evidently, Uncle Joe is closely reading his own reviews.

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          2. Ha, I should’ve commented originally that Biden’s hands are tied by his commitment to continue promoting the interests of “the 1%,” as he has thru his whole career. As has virtually ANY Member of Congress or of Executive or Judicial Branch over the decades.

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  2. [I read original post at TomDispatch, just have two quick military-related comments.] 1.) this DoD chieftain nominee, Gen. Austin, is being described as “having reached the pinnacle of his military career.” Oh boy, we can count on HIM for some dissenting views on the MIC, huh? [insert Laughing-Hysterically Face!] Anyhow, he needs a special dispensation to serve in the post ‘cuz he ain’t been out of active duty long enuf. I won’t be surprised if GOP refuses, out of spite; 2.) I heard on CBS News Radio today that the Covid vaccine will NOT be made MANDATORY for US military personnel! WHAT?!? I imagine this must be because so many of today’s troops are self-selected conspiracy-theory-swallowing Trumpian sympathizers. But this is ABSURD! Here’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work: “Soldier [sailor, etc.], you WILL take this vaccine or you’re stockade- [brig-]bound!” I mean come on, this is the military we’re talking about!!

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    1. Hey Greg,
      I enjoy reading your passionate posts, I wrote a long personal background story to clarify why I posted this link for you. The shorter version…
      There’s a reason I read about the science of medicine. I’m hyper safety conscious.
      Here’s a test I hope they perform on every service member before they vaccinate them. They owe it to each person to get them the best possible outcome from the treatment. I hope this caution doesn’t get me kicked out. If it does, so be it; but I bring this up because I care and want the best outcomes for all.

      https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/pfizer-covid-vaccine-allergic-reactions/?utm_source=salsa&eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=583e1189-7d2b-43d7-9e62-707872b053ab

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      1. It’s not unusual for some percentage of those vaccinated, with any vaccine, to have an allergic reaction. Used to be linked largely to hen’s eggs ingredients being used to make vaccines. There is no doubt in my mind that none of these Covid vaccines have existed long enuf to be deemed genuinely safe “in general” for humans. I say that out of scientific realism and plain common sense (whatever became of THAT?), not to throw the least sympathy at the anti-vaccination camp. We can understand the motives for the rush-job: 1.) huge corporate profits for the pharma companies that win the race; 2.) the reality that the pandemic is kicking ass all over the place, almost a year after it first emerged. But my bottom line is it WAS a rush-job!

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  3. “You gotta to walk it like you talk it if you’re gonna keep that beat!”

    If you are going to go around claiming you are a Super Power and describing the occupant of the Oval Office as “the most powerful man on Earth” you have to do something at regular intervals to keep others believing it, and what better way than viewing and treating the rest of the world as “provinces” dotted with “garrison towns” (see “The Conquest of Gaul”).
    Involving other nations in your fraudulent/misguided military actions by bribery or extortion is as old as the hills, but it’s only been during the Trump Administration that we haven’t made any attempt to disguise or deny such actions (old-timers may remember when US foreign policy was described as “exporting democracy”).

    Speaking, as always, solely for myself, to talk about the Taliban or ISIS/Islamic State or some other Third World outfit as a threat to America’s liberties and way of life is ludicrous. I feel no more threatened by them than I did by Mao, Fidel, or Uncle Ho and his minions.
    In my lifetime, the greatest threats to the US that I’ve seen reside within The Beltway and haunt the halls of Congress and The Pentagon.

    Dead foreigners don’t count. Dead American servicemen and women don’t count. Why not? Because like the General of “the roach hordes” cartoons that could be found in the margins of any Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic book regularly pointed out, “there’s plenty more where they came from.” Always has been and always will be, as over 2,000 years of written history tells us.
    Or hasn’t anyone noticed?

    It’s a view both political parties have freely embraced.

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    1. Ah yes, those Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and the feline known as Fat Freddy Scat! I recall them fondly, as many readers here scratch their heads in dismay. Well, probably they can be looked up via the internet. I’m pretty sure the official line over at the Hate (State) Dept. is still that the US “exports democracy” (and “respects human rights,” sure!), Trump or no Trump. Some BS never changes, it don’t matter who’s in the Oval Office (or on the links in NJ or at Mar-a-Lago).

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  4. Hey, here’s a hot one: I’ve just read (in an OP/ED piece in the NY Times by someone named Elliot Ackerman) that American troops in Afghanistan are “no longer prosecuting a war but advancing a peace.” Makes all the difference … That’s one down!

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      1. I don’t think we need to place any wagers on this: Biden will increase troop levels in various “trouble spots,” saying National Security concerns are forcing his hand. Trump has been playing a dirty game all along with his “threat” to wind down the Perpetual War. Had he been sincere, he could’ve completed total withdrawals within first couple months of his term.

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    1. That’s a good one! Totally, appropriately, Orwellian of course. I guess the US War Machine ONLY exists to “advance peace,” right?? If I go out and mug someone in a parking lot, I’ll assure them as I grasp their wallet that I’m simply “advancing the redistribution of wealth”!

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