And did I mention that Donald Trump, corrupt real estate magnate, playboy, and reality TV star turned "populist" xenophobic hero, was elected president of the United States? He then ditched a promising Obama-era deal to deter Iran's nuclear program, eschewed any American contribution to the global campaign against the existential threat of climate change (which he had previously called a "Chinese hoax"), and spiked the Cold War Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty, leading atomic scientists to tick the "doomsday" clock a stroke closer to midnight.
He or his top officials also militarized the southern border, separated children from immigrant parents, and stuck kids in cages. He cheered on white supremacist rallies; encouraged those militarized cops to "not be too nice" to suspects and perhaps even to slam their heads into patrol car doors on their way to the station; threatened a "fire and fury" nuclear war against North Korea before falling "in love" with that country's ruler; indicted, for the first time in American history, a publisher, Julian Assange, for posting leaked files; officially recognized the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, while expressing approval for Prime Minister Netanyahu's plan to annex portions of the Palestinian West Bank outright; and... and... but I lack the energy to go on.
Which brings me back to Army's heartbreaking (if inconsequential) loss in that football game and Trump's recent decision to cancel ongoing peace talks with the Taliban (maybe the only hope left of getting our troops out of Afghanistan). That, of course, was the one constant of this tale of mine: that never-ending American war in Afghanistan. By September 2019, matters had so deteriorated that I was left with but one pathetic hope: that Donald Trump might, somehow, some way, sometime, be the one to end that absurd, Orwellian forever war.
And then, of course, he called off those peace talks and -- a last gut punch -- justified his decision by citing a Taliban attack that killed yet another American soldier. In the process, he ensured that yet more troopers like me (some of them undoubtedly born after the 9/11 attacks took place) will needlessly die in a war without end. Now, an alleged Iranian-sponsored attack on the Saudi oil industry may well scuttle any hopes for a long-shot peace deal with Tehran. War there, of course, could kill many more U.S. troops.
As for me, I have a feeling that I'll wake up tomorrow to some new bit of bad news and begin repeating my now-endless refrain: Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...
Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, is a retired U.S. Army major and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now lives in Lawrence, Kansas. He has written a memoir of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his podcast "Fortress on a Hill," co-hosted with fellow vet Chris Henriksen.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer's new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky's novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt's A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.
Copyright 2019 Danny Sjursen