I found reading this article to be an emotionally gripping experience. Denker sounds like a very ordinary young American:
I joined the National Guard to pay for college. I didn’t really think of the consequences at the time. After all: I’m an American, I was raised to worship my country and adore the military, and I did. Receiving a college education seemed like fair payment for "service to my country".It was a transforming experience for him.
... the worst part was what I was slowly being forced to accept: everything I had believed in my whole life was a lie. I had always been a patriotic American. I believed we weren’t perfect but that we were “the good guys.” I truly believed that the Afghans wanted us there, that we were protecting and helping them. But now, as I saw the war around me, and why it was being fought, as well as the inhuman attitude towards even the Afghan civilians that my fellow soldiers had, I couldn’t keep believing this lie.But the worst was yet to come. Read (if you can) what he experienced and concluded looking at a five or six year old girl who was searching for and collecting old Soviet mines from a field.
There was no greater example of the lie than the contractors who were there.