"Although I didn't articulate it to myself at that age, I knew that veterans were a different class of people. They are entitled to services that provide a standard issue of dignity, whereas public transport drivers, teachers, retirement home caregivers, and the like are not."
A Soldier's Reckoning of our Longest War
"A manifesto about America's unchallenged war machine, from an Afghanistan veteran and new kind of military hero."
Erik Edstrom grew up in suburban Massachusetts with an idealistic desire to make an impact, ultimately leading him to the gates of West Point. Five years later, he was deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry lieutenant.
Throughout his military career, he confronted atrocities, buried his friends, wrestled with depression, and struggled with an understanding that the war he fought in, and the youth he traded to prepare for it, was in contribution to a bitter truth: The War on Terror is not just a tragedy, but a crime. The deeper tragedy is that our country lacks the courage and conviction to say so.
A searing examination of America and Americans at war, UN-AMERICAN poses three questions that should be asked before the decision to go to war is made:
Imagine your own death: Would you, personally, die for this war?
Imagine America’s wars from “the other side”: Do they have legitimate grievances?
Imagine what might have been if the war were never fought: What else could we be doing?
Through a hybrid of social commentary and memoir, he considers these questions and exposes how blind support for war exacerbates the problems it’s intended to resolve, devastates the people allegedly being helped, and diverts assets from far larger threats like climate change.
UN-AMERICAN is a revolutionary act, offering a blueprint for redressing America’s relationship with patriotism, the military, and military spending.
Praise & Critiques
[Edstrom] asks a keen and poignant question: How many “metric units of Americanness” are needed (citing his West Point credentials, combat service, and Bronze Star) before a critic of American foreign policy is taken seriously?
Edstrom's bracing inquiry should be at the forefront of the debate about our national perspective on patriotism, the military, defense spending, and, most challenging, our lack of courage to question these crucial issues.