The holiday headlines blared without a hint of distrust: “End of War” and “Mission Ends” and “U.S. formally ends the war in Afghanistan”, as the US government and Nato celebrated the alleged end of the longest war in American history. Great news! Except, that is, when you read past the first paragraph: “the fighting is as intense as it has ever been since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001,” according to the Wall Street Journal. And about 10,000 troops will remain there for the foreseeable future (more than we had a year after the Afghan war started). Oh, and they’ll continue to engage in combat regularly. But other than that, yeah, the war is definitely over.
This is the new reality of war: As long as the White House doesn’t admit the United States is at war, we’re all supposed to pretend as if that’s true. This ruse is not just the work of the president. Members of Congress, who return to work this week, are just as guilty as Barack Obama in letting the public think we’re Definitely Not at War, from Afghanistan and Somalia to the new war with Isis in Iraq and Syria and beyond.
Thirteen years on, the near limitless war authorization Congress passed for the Afghanistan war remains in place, with no sign that Congress wants to even debate revoking it. This is what will allow US troops to continue fighting, despite the mission supposedly being “formally” over. Just a month before Obama made his farcical announcement last week, he signed a secret order to ensure US troops continue to engage in combat missions against various “militant groups” in Afghanistan for all of 2015.
Another place the United States is Definitely Not at War? Pakistan, where, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US conducted multiple drone strikes between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, killing at least nine people. We don’t know who died, but the Associated Press assured us they were “militants”, despite the US government’s definition of “militant” having been manipulated beyond comprehension.
Read the full article at The Guardian.