By Danny Sjursen
Army strategist and former instructor at West Point as told to Truthout, online news agency:
“Commanding a small cavalry troop of 85 men in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in 2006-2007, I asked for more troopers, more Special Forces advisers, more Afghan police, more air support, more supplies and more money.
“I wanted these resources to protect the guys in my unit and fend off the resurgent threat.
“No one asked me if the U.S. military should even be there. It shouldn’t. I was just a captain in a tough fight in a dangerous district.
“They often ask me today, ‘What was really going on in Afghanistan?’ They ask me the same question about Iraq, where I also led a unit. But I’ve learned over the years that they don’t want to hear my real answers to such questions.
“So I rarely tell them that historians, analysists and the thoughtful–even those never within thousands of miles of U.S. war zones—understand the reality better than most soldiers. That’s the dirty secret of America’s wars despite the omniscient claims of most veterans and generals.
“Here’s the sad thing no one wants to admit: that mantra applies to generals as well as privates. So it’s worrying when president after president often hides behind the supposed wisdom of active and retired three- and four-star officers.
“The real problem is that Americans trust only soldiers, officers and generals. It’s the myth of infallible military judgment. That myth has resulted in abject failure since World War II.
“That frightening history began with MacArthur in Korea 70 years ago. Today, just look at the inconclusive wars in the Greater Middle East for the past 15 years.
“It’s dangerous to deify any public institution, especially this country’s bureau of violence. That’s not a knock on the military, to which I have dedicated my adult life. But it is a basic indictment of all martial exertions.
DON’T CONSIDER MILITARY HOLY
“No government agency is considered so holy it shouldn’t be scrutinized–and certainly not in a democracy. Yet American society is headed in that direction.
“On Inauguration Day President Trump, finding himself in a crowded room with all the generals he had appointed to key positions, declared: ‘I see my generals, generals that are going to keep us so safe.’ ”
“Predictions are always dicey but you can’t avoid the feeling that the Trump administration will escalate conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan while threatening Libya, Somalia, Yemen and North Korea.
“Which raises another question: does the U.S. even have the ability to improve any society with military power?
“The answer is no. Unfortunately, such thinking rings heretical in martial ears. Yet such thinking insures endless American wars.
“Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, exulted over the ‘successful’ air raid in Yemen in a January raid that killed Ryan Owen, a Navy SEAL, several al-Qaeda fighters, a number of civilians and several children.
“Exulting over deaths of men, women and children? Military worship is so American–and so wrong-headed.”
TRUMP STAFF IN DISARRAY
The New York Review of Books declared in a recent editorial:
“It’s no exaggeration to call the Donald Trump White House staff near collapse, the unhappiest presidential advisors in history. Some staffers feel they have a higher duty to the public than to the president: warn of his danger to the country.
“Stories that emanate from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. indicate that Trump is impossible to work for. He screams at his staff when they say something he doesn’t want to hear.
“He screams at them as he watches television news when he sees stories he doesn’t like, which is most of them. Many intelligence staffers see Trump as a national menace.
“People have left the Oval Office stunned by Trump’s minimal attention span, his appalling lack of information, his tendency to say more than he knows. Aides are embarrassed by his propensity for changing his story.”
That’s the view from New York. New York has the most intense Trump haters in the country. Nevertheless, it is a pertinent truth.
FLOPPING LACKS CLASS
Raphael Nadal of Spain recently won his 10th French Open tennis championship, giving him 15 grand slam titles.
After the victory on the French clay he flopped on his back with joy. Every winner of a grand slam does likewise these day, even for winning the most minor title.
But the flop lacks class. A real pro would simply shake hands, indicting he wins big matches all the time.
KILLING FOR GOD
A Muslim jihadist ran his explosives-laden SUV into a group of Iraqi troops In Mosul recently, crying out moments before he died, “I urge you in the name of God to kill all infidels.”
Killing in the name of God is so ungodly.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (Jake.firstname.lastname@example.org)