“West Point is a really intense place, and I found it both incredibly empowering but also dehumanizing in certain ways,” he said. “It was sort of driven towards becoming a good officer, which is admirable, but also at the same time not asking too many difficult questions about why you are going to Afghanistan or Iraq at all.”
His Afghanistan experiences eventually was the basis for his book critical of the war effort, “UN-American: A Soldier’s Reckoning With America’s Longest War,” which deals with what he sees as the war’s failure and detrimental effect on America’s societal militarism.
“The problems I identified on a microscale in Afghanistan still exist on a macroscale in American foreign policy,” Edstrom said. “That is detrimental to not only soldiers, but to Americans, and the world.”
Not only did Edstrom witness intense violence which resulted in many members of his own platoon losing their lives, but he said he also began to empathize with many of the locals he encountered, understanding the animosity they held toward the American troops.
“The locals we engaged with often didn’t want us there or if they did, they just wanted us for American money” Edstrom said. “There was little support for the U.S. from the locals because they suspected that wherever the U.S. would go, the Taliban would follow.
“There was absolutely zero positive impact coming from that experience.”
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