Patriotic Dissent is a short volume, just 141 pages, but it packs the same kind of punch as Howard Zinn’s classic 1967 polemic, Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal. Like Zinn, who became a popular historian after his service in World War II, Sjursen skillfully debunks the conventional wisdom of the foreign policy establishment, and the military’s own current generation of “yes men for another war power hungry president.” His appeal to the conscience of fellow soldiers, veterans, and civilians is rooted in the unusual arc of an eighteen-year military career. His powerful voice, political insights, and painful personal reflections offer a timely reminder of how costly, wasteful, and disastrous our post 9/11 wars have been.
Sjursen’s initial experience in combat—vividly described in his first book, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of The Surge (University Press of New England)—“occurred at the statistical height of sectarian strife” in Iraq. “The horror, the futility, the farce of that war was the turning point in my life,” Sjursen writes in Patriotic Dissent. When he returned, at age 24, from his “brutal, ghastly deployment” as a platoon leader, he “knew that the war was built on lies, ill-advised, illegal, and immoral.” This “unexpected, undesired realization generated profound doubts about the course and nature of the entire American enterprise in the Greater Middle East—what was then unapologetically labeled the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).” Läs artikel