It's a safe, sensible spot. For most, that's enough. Too bad it was all bunk. Absurdity incarnate.
The truth is, I fought for next to nothing, for a country that, in recent conflicts, has made the world a deadlier, more chaotic place. Even back in 2011 - or even 2006, for that matter - I was just smart and just sensitive enough to know that, to feel it viscerally.
Still, the decision to publicly dissent is a tough one. It's by no means easy. Easy would be to go on playing hero and accepting adulation while staying between the lines. Play it safe, stick to your own, make everyone proud. That's easy, intellectually immature - the new American way.
When you take the journey of dissent, you lose friends, alienate family, confuse confidants and become a lonely voice in your professional world. I've spent years sitting in military classrooms from West Point to Fort Knox to Fort Leavenworth as the odd man, the outlier, the confusing character in the corner. It's like leaving the church, becoming an atheist, all while still living in the monastery. Still, the truth is that the military is more accommodating than one might suspect. I wrote a critical book, published some skeptical articles, but it's not as though anyone ever outright threatened me. The pressure is different, more subtle: veiled warnings from superiors, cautious advice from mentors.