Danny Sjursen

Danny Sjursen

Major Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.  He lives with his wife and four sons near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Articles by this author

"A remarkable formula for forever war." (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Bassett) Views
Thursday, May 03, 2018
Hail, (Donald) Caesar!: War and the Imperial Presidency
It may be too late. The president of the United States is now a veritable autocrat in the realm of foreign policy. He has been since at least 1945, when the last congressionally declared war finally ended. Wars in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen...
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Bolton still insists that the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which shattered that country and the entire region, was justified, a fact that ought in itself to have disqualified him in the eyes of a president who, on the campaign trail, repeatedly called that war “dumb.(Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc) Views
Friday, April 06, 2018
The Dolls of Militarism
Sometimes I get sick of saying it, but just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse… Donald Trump’s continual cabinet reshuffling -- otherwise the stuff of reality-TV drama -- has become genuinely frightening. Like so many Russian matryoshki or nesting dolls, the president has been removing one...
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Unmitigated Failure: Operation Iraqi Freedom, 15 Years Later
We were always caught in the middle. We still are. As a young man, a new lieutenant, and a true believer, I once led a US Army scout platoon just south of Baghdad. It was autumn 2006, and my platoon patrolled – mainly aimlessly – through the streets and surrounding fields of Salman Pak. To our...
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"Is the U.S. military actually the correct tool with which to combat persistent terrorism?" (Photo: Amy Statton/flickr/cc) Views
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Trump’s National Defense Strategy
Think of it as the chicken-or-the-egg question for the ages: Do very real threats to the United States inadvertently benefit the military-industrial complex or does the national security state, by its very nature, conjure up inflated threats to feed that defense machine? Back in 2008, some of us...
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"The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting." (Photo: Quora/Wikimedia) Views
Monday, January 29, 2018
The War That Never Ends (for the U.S. Military High Command)
Vietnam: it’s always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures. A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they’re still losing it...
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 "Don’t be surprised when extended U.S. military presence in eastern Syria starts to resemble occupation and a new anti-American insurgency flares up. Call it ISIS 2.0." (Photo: Kurdishstruggle/flickr/cc) Views
Thursday, January 25, 2018
America’s Syria Trap
Remember when a ground invasion of a sovereign country—perpetrated by a NATO ally—would constitute a big story? Before Donald Trump, “Russiagate” and the mainstream media’s apparent obligation to cover every presidential tweet, Turkish planes bombing —and tanks rumbling through—Syria might’ve been...
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"The bottom line is that Iraq has many challenges ahead and Washington doesn’t have a hope in hell of meaningfully solving any of them." (Photo: the U.S. Army/flickr/cc) Views
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Three Administrations, But One Standard Playbook for Endless War
I remember the day President Obama let me down. It was December 1, 2009, and as soon as the young president took the podium at West Point and -- calm and cool as ever -- announced a new troop surge in Afghanistan, I knew. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. In that instant, George W. Bush’s wars had...
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The attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001. Views
Monday, November 27, 2017
What If? An Alternative Strategy for Sept. 12, 2001
“Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men most.” -- Thucydides You’ve heard the platitude that hindsight is 20/20. It’s true enough and, though I’ve been a regular skeptic about what policymakers used to call the Global War on Terror, it’s always easier to poke holes in the past than...
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"So who exactly can antiwar activists or foreign policy skeptics of any sort rally to? If more than 70 years of recent history is any indication, Congress simply can’t be counted on when it comes time to stand, be heard, and vote on American wars." Views
Monday, November 06, 2017
Congress’s Romance with Cowardice
On September 1, 1970, soon after President Nixon expanded the Vietnam War by invading neighboring Cambodia, Democratic Senator George McGovern, a decorated World War II veteran and future presidential candidate, took to the floor of the Senate and said , “Every Senator [here] is partly responsible...
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American society is embracing its inner empire. Eventually, its long reach may come for us all. Views
Thursday, October 12, 2017
The Empire Comes Home
“ This... thing, [the War on Drugs] this ain't police work... I mean, you call something a war and pretty soon everybody gonna be running around acting like warriors... running around on a damn crusade, storming corners, slapping on cuffs, racking up body counts... pretty soon, damn near everybody...
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