Peter van Agtmael at Brooklyn Brewery: The problem with seeing conflict from an American perspective (VIDEO).

The Problem With Viewing War from the American Perspective

The Problem With Viewing War from the American Perspective

Dispatches from the front.
March 7 2015 10:30 AM

“What You See Is a Pretty Slender Reality”

The problem with only viewing conflict from an American perspective.

Iraqi children speak with U.S. soldiers with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment while on a patrol in 2011.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Slate has partnered with Brooklyn Brewery and RISC to bring its hit war correspondent interview series to our readers. In this special sixth installment, Sebastian Junger—founder of RISC, and a best-selling author and journalist—sits down with Elliott Ackerman (author, Green on Blue), Jennifer Percy (author, Demon Camp), and Peter van Agtmael (photojournalist and author, Disco Night Sept. 11).

“It was completely abstracted,” says Peter van Agtmael on his experiences with Iraqi civilians while embedded during the war in Iraq. “I could never have any kind of emotional, real, empathetic encounter with someone.” That perspective—one voiced in response to a question about the lack of consideration shown to civilians in the media’s coverage of conflict—is a common, if tragic, one for those who cover and partake in America’s wars abroad. In the clip above, Agtmael, along with Jennifer Percy, discuss the steep price that the civilian populations often pay as a result of the ability to forget who the true victims of American military intervention really are.

A.J. McCarthy is a speechwriter for New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and a former Slate writer and producer.

Chris Wade is a New York-based video and audio producer and an occasional contributor to Brow Beat.