I certainly recommend it, as it captures his movement from neoconservative to dissenter against US foreign policy. Sadly, as too often in these cases, the Catholic Church failed Major Sjursen as well. The Iraq War shook his religious faith, as he initially said a Hail Mary before combat patrols to someone who no longer attends Mass or any religious services. If only the Church in the United States did more to help post-war veterans by not celebrating their service but help them spiritually grapple with it. If only it helped lead the anti-war movement to prevent the wars that create these opportunities for losses in the ultimate battle for the Salvation of Souls? I thank Danny for writing this; it captures much of my feelings as someone on a similar path. I also pray for him, and for Holy Mother Church.
“It was only after the planters of the South were defeated in 1865 that the balance of power was decisively transferred to the industrialists and financiers of the North. Once they gained control of the country’s economic development, the rise of the US empire proved unstoppable.” This is from British academic Will Fowler in his book “Latin America since 1780”.
In his “Latin America since 1780”, there is great history showing how the revolutionary period in Latin America was partially caused by the Bishops siding with the governments and against the parish priests: “By the time the wars of independence began, a high proportion of leading revolutionaries were priests.” Obviously, at this site, we would never advocate armed revolutions, but parish priests should follow this model and lead the fight against the Bishops lack of leadership and tendency to side with the government.
This is on page 10 of Levinson Wood’s 2018 book “An Arabian Journey”. Wood, a former British paratrooper and now travel writer, has just met Bassam, an Arab computer science student who left Raqqa to get away from ISIS and headed to this Kurdish, and largely Christian town (with a mosque peacefully next door to the church), in northeast Syria. Bassam wanted to make sure Wood was not an American, and he stated the headline. He further stated: “They [the people of Syria] know [the Americans started] it. The revolution was a joke. This whole war is just a game between the big countries. Iran, Israel, America, Russia and Saudi Arabia. They just come and screw around with things until they get what they want.” We can assume what “they” want is not the salvation of souls. The next person Wood meets, Yasim, checks him into his hotel. Wood notices Yasim has a tattoo on his biceps of the face of the Prince of Peace and some hands praying, surrounded by a rosary. Bomb ’em all, and let God sort ’em out?
“Seldom can one predict that a book will have an effect on history, but this is such a work. Merton’s many biographers and the American press now say unanimously that he died from accidental electrocution. From a careful examination of the official record, including crime scene photographs that the authors have found that the investigating police in Thailand never saw, and from reading the letters of witnesses, they have discovered that the accidental electrocution conclusion is totally false. The widely repeated story that Merton had taken a shower and was therefore wet when he touched a lethal faulty fan was made up several years after the event and is completely contradicted by the evidence. Hugh Turley and David Martin identify four individuals as the primary promoters of the false accidental electrocution narrative. Another person, they show, should have been treated as a murder suspect. The most likely suspect in plotting Merton’s murder, a man who was a much stronger force for peace than most people realize, they identify as the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States government. Thomas Merton was the most important Roman Catholic spiritual and anti-warfare-state writer of the 20th century and the powers-that-be in the corporate world, in the military world, in the world of the CIA, FBI and NSA and in the world of government were as acutely aware of the power he possessed to undermine their bloody profit making schemes as they were of King and Kennedy’s power to do the same. To date, Merton has been the subject of 28 biographies and numerous other books. Remarkably, up to now no one has looked critically at the mysterious circumstances surrounding his sudden death in Thailand. From its publication date on the 50th anniversary of his death, into the foreseeable future, this carefully researched work will be the definitive, authoritative book on how Thomas Merton died.”
I read this book cover to cover and it is a solid presentation of the logically unbridgeable abyss between the physical evidence that is available for anyone to examine and the official story put out by the U.S. Government and the Church regarding Thomas Merton’s death. What concerns me is not that the U.S. government had a hand in Merton’s murder and cover-up of the murder. Clandestinely murdering innocent people is the ordinary modus operandi of all major governments all the time. What concerns me is that the leadership of the institutional Church acquiesced to a narrative regarding the murder of one of its own, which narrative cannot be sustained, indeed is in contradiction to, the evidence. Of course, maybe the leadership of the institutional Church did not see Merton as one of its own but saw him rather as a hair shirt of truth to whom they were glad to say, ever so piously, “Good riddance.”
I’m enjoying your podcast and I particularly liked your interviews with Mike (EMJ) and Captain Carmody even though the latter was harrowing at times. There is another podcast on the Nick Turse book called “Kill Anything That Moves” that exposed what happened in Vietnam and the farcical My Lai “enquiry” which was using the truth to hide the wider truth and that was similar to the exposure of the “Abu Garib” torture incidents in Iraq. The lads discuss the conflicts of the 20th century using an unbiased and objective approach and, in the case of Yugoslavia, they get some of it wrong but most is accurate. I just thought it might be of interest to you (see youtube link).
I’m reading a book at the moment entitled “The Remnants of War” by John Mueller that was written just after the Iraq and Afghanistan military interventions. Mueller proposes the contention that War between civilized nations is becoming less “popular” to such an extent that it’s becoming an anachronism. Mueller is a former (I think) policy maker who’s at Ohio University, (I think) where he lectures, and his book is preposterous because the glaring contradictions in the book with events back when it was written make his premise completely absurd. However it is useful in gaining an insight into these people’s ideas and thoughts which are fixated on World War 2 mythology. They want to present a picture to the public where Anglo America and the allies are the good guys and the enemy is “Hitler”. In Mueller’s book he wanted to portray Anglo America as part of a global police force helping to manage Governments all over the World to “police” the “thugs and outlaws” who “cause trouble”. I suppose that involves outrageous ideas like having an independent country and “stuff” like that.
My advice is to find out if World War 2, and indeed the previous War and the Spanish intervention etc were necessary. They came nowhere near meeting the conditions for Just War. The World War 2 myth is the most pervasively used lie and I recommend you to explore what really went on. Hitler had sued for peace and Churchill agreed and the decision to go to War wasn’t saving anyone apart from Churchill’s house. David Irving is controversial but he is undoubtedly an excellent historian and he uses genuine documentation and archived records. The myth of World War 2 continues to prevail and that’s deadly for all of us. That’s at the root cause of continued misadventures that have cost lives and disastrous consequences for the entire World. Hope you continue to seek the truth, raise consciousness and make people see that violence is counter productive and destructive for all who engage in it. Good luck with the podcast.
Really intrigued by the new book War Porn by Roy Scranton, a veteran of the “war” “on terror” who now teaches Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame.
Here is a good review at The New Republic. (As always, you should skip the review over at The New York Times.)
“Scranton’s debut novel War Porn is at the forefront of what will inevitably be a second wave of books to emerge from post-9/11 wars, as veterans get more distance from them. Consider that the canonical works from other conflicts didn’t appear until decades after leaders signed peace treaties. It would take Joseph Heller 16 years after World War II ended to publish Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut 27 years to come out with Slaughterhouse-Five. Books printed either during the war or immediately after it were more likely to be traditional tales of heroism, bravery and survival like Pierre Boulle’s The Bridge over the River Kwai (1952) or other titles modern readers are unlikely to have heard of….
…Throughout the novel, Scranton resists the temptation to deliver a redemptive or sympathetic moment for soldiers who misbehave or suffer humiliation. Soldiers in his book are normal humans capable of equal parts goodness and cruelty. If The Yellow Birds is the backstory we invent that compels us to thank a soldier, War Porn is the unspoken reality that might make some veterans uncomfortable accepting our unsolicited gratitude.”
For our readers in the Boston area, here is a chance to get involved:
Please join us on June 1 to hear a talk by Andrew Bacevich on the dangers of American militarism.
Andrew Bacevich is a Catholic historian and Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University where he taught for many years. He is also a Vietnam veteran who retired with the rank of Colonel after over 20 years in the US Army. He has written many books on American foreign policy including The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War, and Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. His newest work, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History will be available on April 5, 2016.
Professor Bacevich is also a regular contributor to theCatholic magazine/website Commonweal and many other publications and websites. He has appeared on TV shows such as the Bill Moyers Journal and even the comedy show of fellow Catholic Stephen Colbert.
This event will be the first in a series intended to help American Catholics and others to confront the problems of militarism and perpetual war which exist in our country today.
Calhoun: “The theory has no content…It is vacuous…If you examine it…you find that in fact [the criteria] tend to be platitudinous and they are used rhetorically by leaders to support their cause for war.”
Indeed, the JWT is used to justify, not limit, war — and it has been that way for centuries.
During the years 1960-1963 Stanley Milgram carried out some experiments on obedience while working in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. Years later, in 1972-1973 he was granted a Fellowship and, while sojourning in Paris, he condensed in a book the results and reflections on those experiments that had already been presented in a shorter form in various scientific journals.
In 1974 a book by the title Obedience to Authority was published. It makes chilling reading because it unmasks, in the crudest and clearest possible way, the weaknesses of human nature. In fact it shows us that human nature is a very flexible bundle of tendencies and that those tendencies that are highly regarded in our mass society (e.g. loyalty, duty, and discipline) are potentially the most dangerous for the survival of humanity and humankind as they can be used for making people to commit the most heinous actions whenever specific conditions are in place.
And the conditions are (a) the concentration of power in individuals and institutions that circumfuse themselves with an aura of professional authority that puts them beyond moral questioning; (b) the neglect, for the mass of people, of the development of critical faculties made possible through the monopolistic use of the means of communication and education as instruments of propaganda and manipulation, at the service of the Church power in the past and of the state power in the present.
Worth Fighting For? by David Swanson is a great article about a book by a former soldier, Rory Fanning, who walked across the United States to raise money for the Pat Tillman Foundation after leaving the Army Rangers as a Conscientious Objector. There is reason to think Pat Tillman turned against the war and had planned on using his fame as a platform to speak out against it upon his return, and so naturally there is reason to suspect that his death was not an accident. Of course, we can’t be surprised to hear this:
“Fanning recounts a conversation with a military chaplain. Fanning made the case that the whole war was unjust. The chaplain made the case that God wanted him to do it anyway. “