Today, the war in Afghanistan and across the world turns sweet sixteen. Authorized under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, known otherwise as the AUMF, the war is now old enough to drive (or drink in Germany).
The AUMF, written by Congress in 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and foiled in Pennsylvania, authorized the United States to go to war in Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaida.
Since then, it has been used to justify military options in fourteen countries — almost one for every year this war existed.
The war in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) is legally the same war as Afghanistan. The war in Libya, Somalia, Yemen. . . you get the idea — if you know of any terrorists, you can start a war and it will be covered under the same Congressional authorization.
“By 2021, the US and Afghan governments still plan to be fighting insurgent forces for territory.”
The war in Afghanistan is not forecasted to end anytime soon, either. Recently, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told NPR that the current four-year plan is to “[bring] 80 percent of the territory of the country under control.”
By 2021, the US and Afghan governments still plan to be fighting insurgent forces for territory. The war will be twenty years old and we do not even expect to control the entire country.
Meanwhile, the war against IS in Iraq and Syria seems to be going well. After all, coalition forces reduced IS territory by nearly 80 percent and it did not take 20 years to do it.
Yet, after IS loses its territory in Iraq and Syria, things will get worse. Vera Mironava spent time embedded with Iraqi Security Forces and interviewing IS fighters. She predicts that things will not improve until government corruption and abuses stop.
The next IS, made up of seasoned veterans, will have plenty of young people to recruit in the coming years.
One result of the forever war is that the children of the war’s early years are coming of age.
She responds, “No one ever told me they were sorry. ‘Sorry’ won’t bring back my parents. I’ll never forgive them. If they were in front of me, I’d want to drink their blood — and I still would not feel satisfied.”
This is one birthday I do not look forward to celebrating next year.