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The Right Side of History: Support Antiwar.com – Truth’s Quarter-Century Treasure Trove

Eric Garris and Scott Horton let me write pretty much anything I want. Maybe
it shows. OK, we all know it does. That’s rarer than it might seem. Outside
of the occasional tease about my vague left-leanings from that Antiwar.com
CEO-editorial director combo, they’ve a knack for finding, guiding, and
then trusting folks like me – and those better than me. Over the last 25 years
– it’s quarter-century anniversary season – the site has served as home station,
salon, and sanctuary for a range of tough thinkers and fascinating personalities.

Diverse in interests, expertise, and no doubt style – but always aligned on
rejecting empire – it’s been a cast of characters that’s hard to match. I’m
a relative latecomer to the game – an instructive and humbling reminder that
the site’s stalwarts were critical of even once
popular Kosovar wars before it was cool, and before I’d left high school.

Still,
misguided as I often was in those days, I’ve also been preparing for my work
at Antiwar.com since back then – and way before.
At least since I started cleaning the New Dorp branch of the New York Public
Library out of every book on a range of distinctly uncool and obscure topics
– from Custer to Chad, and Napoleon to Nagorno-Karabakh – with manic regularity
around the turn of the 1990s. Not that I’d then thought all that secret hyper-nerding
would pan out any better professionally than it had played on the pretty girl
circuit. No, per Indiana Jones, for this kid it was
off to seeking – if not fortune – certainly glory.

It wasn’t until glory as sentiment – and historic serial murder – proved grotesque,
that all the geek-grounding came full circle. Turned out I was better prepared
– and inclined – for critiquing than for managing killing. A self-styled, and
probably somewhat self-satisfied, island adrift from a near-career at war (or
war prep) was I – that’s when some good and sensible Samaritans like Tom Engelhardt,
Bob Scheer, and yes, Eric and Scott moored me.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’ve been writing originals at Antiwar.com
for almost three years.
It’s harder to believe sundry Antiwar-alum were at it – and accurately so –
for 22 before that. This hit home a couple months back when Turkey’s government
conspired and enabled Azerbaijan’s reigniting
re-invasion
of Nagorno-Karabakh. Plenty of mid-range publishers and
producers suddenly found my own “frozen conflict” [will your readers
know what frozen conflict is? I don’t have a clue]curiosity a hot commodity.
“Nobody seems to know much about this tussle, but we figured you might,
ya damn dweeb,” went the standard between-the-lines messages refrain. Momentarily
aglow, and basking in the bibliophile’s vindication, I then realized I’d actually
have to write and remark on this tragic Caucasus mess – that my faint satisfaction
couldn’t substitute for a solid brush-up.

That’s when Eric suggested a light look at weighty prose from the late great
Justin Raimondo. Sure enough, in his aptly-titled 1999 column “Hey
There, Heydar!
,” Justin had essentially predicted the sources, stimuli,
and script for today’s bloody second act of the Karabakh-conflict!

That’s often the Antiwar.com
norm. At once a hub of intellectual activism and treasure trove of an archive,
the site has spent 25 years ahead of ever-cruel curves. One has to laugh every
time establishment media pundits plead ignorance or oversell surprise when some
sorry American trooper gets zapped in a far-flung fiasco – think Senator Lindsey
I
didn’t know there was [sic] 1,000 troops in Niger
” Graham – or when fighting
flares in some seemingly obscure “frozen conflict.” Because the odds
that someone here at Antiwar.com
surely Justin or Scott
– called that spade a spade [risky language nowadays] before anyone on the Post,
Times, Journal circuit could even spell the name of the suddenly
salient spot.

And sure enough, antiwar.com had an article
warning of the “Growing US Footprint in Africa” – including training
troops in Niger – just three months before the “surprise” ambush in
that country killed four American soldiers. A year and a half before that, a
posted piece
predicted trouble brewing in “Hillary’s West African Footprint” –
due to destabilizing arms, Islamist, and ethnic Tuareg migrations from shattered-by-the-West
Libya into Mali, Chad, and yep: Niger.

Three years before that, Justin offered a friendly reminder
that exasperated ethnic groups and swelling tensions stirred up by Francophone
– now closely coordinated with AFRICOM-ian American – neo-imperialism in Mali,
have pesky tendencies to transcend such minor colonial synthetics as borders.
The title of this Raimondo column classic was “Napoleon in Mali” –
a reminder that Antiwar.com‘s cast of Cassandras
offer creative and provocative flair to their blistering critiques.

Anybody who’s spent even a touch of time in banal boardrooms or amidst military
minutiae knows just how rare – maybe mythical – are inspiring mission statements.
Back during my stint in the old Afghan absurdity that isn’t quite old news,
we’d refer to “visions” and instructions from on high as our friendly
daily non-missions. Well, consider Antiwar.com
a veritable unicorn, then, since this outfit’s own description
manages motivation, clarity, and concision (clearly neither Justin nor I was
behind this blurb):

This site is devoted to the cause of non-interventionism and is read by
libertarians, pacifists, leftists, “greens,” and independents alike, as well
as many on the Right who agree with our opposition to imperialism.

That aspect of the Antiwar.com brand is a
refreshing counter, and indispensable alternative, to a mainstream media space
that I hardly have to tell most of you has come full circle – and full-throated
– to Orwell, and down a dishonesty spiral. That Englishman’s prophetic knack
plays past his now clichéd, if relevant, “hits” like 1984
and Animal Farm. Speaking of living one’s values yet maintaining cognitive
agility, consider George’s diagnosis of Spanish Civil War reporting – a conflict
he took a bullet and suffered a cerebral shakeup in:

I remember saying once to Arthur Koestler, ‘History stopped in 1936’……in
Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation
to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie.

I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete
silence where hundreds of men had been killed…I saw, in fact, history being
written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according
to various ‘party lines.’

And:

[As for] atrocities in the Spanish Civil War: I know that some were committed
by the Republicans, and far more…by the Fascists. But what impressed me then,
and has impressed me ever since, is that atrocities are believed in or disbelieved
in solely on grounds of political predilection…The truth, it is felt, becomes
untruth when your enemy utters it.

Now if that 77-year-old description doesn’t read as off-puttingly familiar
in these pre-/mid-/post-Trump and terror war times, we ain’t part of the same
species. But I know that it does for most readers. Maybe many citizens are cool
with today’s obscene media mismatches:

  • Bushy Iraq surges are bad (until they’re
    not
    )…Obamian Afghan surges are good, until he changes his mind – then
    changes it again…oh, and Trumpster Afghan mini-surges
    are always bad – but somehow so
    are
    his troop withdrawals.
  • Bush’s (and Trump’s) drone strikes are bad…Obama’s free-for-all is good
    (well, at least unworthy or impermissible to mention).
  • Starvation sanctions and blockades are bad if they kill kids…that is if
    Bush backs it or Trump tries it. Half a million Clinton-catalyzed Iraqi and
    at least 85,000 Obama-assisted Yemeni child funerals are fine, of course.
    In fact, who can bother being bothered if Biden brings the latter crime’s
    still unapologetic architects
    onto his incoming war-whispering squad?

Well we happy few band of insufferable Antiwar.com
brothers, that’s who. Here there are no Orwellian “Republican” and
“Democrat” atrocities – just atrocity-atrocities. Crimes against humanity,
decency, and what remains of the republic are named and shamed with consistent
clarion calls. Would that it’s ever thus.

Look, nobody likes this part – and it’s hardly the creative sort’s narrative
dream – but all that rarity and quality doesn’t just happen. To do what they
do, and do it as a matter of course, the Antiwar.com
team must locate, recruit, and hire writers in a competitive yet hard-luck publishing
economy. That’s not a teensy task.

So here’s the thing: if you like what you see, if you want more – and hate
to cede the space and story to the usual sleazy suspects – contribute
to the c
ause.

It’s one way to live those values. That’s no small thing.

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer, senior fellow at the Center
for International Policy
(CIP), contributing editor at Antiwar.com,
and director of the new Eisenhower Media Network (EMN). His work has appeared
in the
NY Times, LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, The American
Conservative, Mother Jones, Scheer Post and Tom Dispatch, among other publications.
He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at West
Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War,
Ghostriders
of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge
and Patriotic
Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War
. Along with fellow vet
Chris “Henri” Henriksen, he co-hosts the podcast “
Fortress
on a Hill
.” Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet
and on his
website
for media requests and past publications.

Copyright 2020 Danny Sjursen



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