Self-Delusion Is Cruelest of All: The Collapse of Afghanistan and American Illusions, by Danny Sjursen

An article about Afghanistan from a vet fought there seems appropriate, especially because the vet is a good writer. From Danny Sjursen at

Yesterday I found myself dry-heaving and hyper-ventilating in broad daylight, crouched behind the corner of an unused outdoor patio bar in Kansas. I hadn’t had but two beers, but I’d had more than enough of American obtuseness. On a smoke break from wielding my geek-stick (highlighter) with a fatalist fury – brushing-up for today’s Afghanistan column – I made the admittedly willful mistake of trying to explain why the Taliban capture of Kabul was affecting my mood. “I mean, it’s just, like, what was it all for – how do I and my generation of combat vets process the whole thing,” I heard myself saying, adding that “the lingering question of what it was all for, and knowing the dissatisfying answer, just has this bewildering effect of…” Then, in an instant, I snapped out of it, realizing I wasn’t being listened to at all, and being spoken over, or across – yakking something about the stylistic merits of a Pearl Jam song playing faintly in the background.

Look, I know the guy – like him, even. And while I get it, on some level, and had promised myself not to make the evening or next couple of days surrounding the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan about me just because I happened to serve there, well – I was livid. Nonetheless, sticking to my privately promised guns, I stuffed down the angry thoughts – “Are you freaking kidding me? The Saigon of our generation just fell, along with American ambitions! And why the hell is everyone inside carrying on as usual – not discussing the events and implications, whilst using their magic-phones not to follow the flow of events, but to vacuously Snapchat carefully-posed selfies with snappy messages in mundanity?” Yea, my racing thoughts – chasing a suddenly racing heart – slipped that deep into self-righteousness.

Still, they were only thoughts. I kept my mouth shut, waited out the suddenly slow-motion burn of his cigarette despite feeling increasingly light-headed with an acutely aching stomach. Through the glass doors he passed, and about-I-turned, collapsing into a catcher’s pose as I painfully coughed up nothing more substantive than my own silliness and self-regard. Even so, it is uncomfortable indeed to feel utterly out-of-control of one’s own body – and for some 30 seconds I was certainly experiencing that. My bestie – though not himself a veteran – had clearly completed laboring over whether to respectfully leave me be or kindly offer comfort, because over-my-shoulder I noticed he was bee-lining my way. A rare classy move, that. But by then I was just coming out of it – and feeling the usual guilt about daring-to-share, taking on the pain and sorrow of my killed or maimed soldiers and their loved ones as my own, plus having the temerity to be such an oversensitive and foolish sort.

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2 responses to “Self-Delusion Is Cruelest of All: The Collapse of Afghanistan and American Illusions, by Danny Sjursen

  1. Daniel Greenfield looks at Afghanistan and does not see a country other than what the US tried to create–and failed.


  2. Rise up people.

    Thank you Mr Sjursen. For sharing your heartfelt truth to us. For in doing that you have not only helped us understand but also to help you in yovr own healing process. you deserve it. Am not American but I do innerstand the power of patriotism and the effects of such a cult. This is how they manipulate the people. observing the Empirical domination I found it hard to see my own countrys role te in it. Ha patriotism again


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