Ending the 'Long War' by Joseph J. Collins - The Hill
For those of us who were in the Pentagon when it was attacked, the weeks around the 9/11 anniversary are always a blue period. The costs of the attack that took the lives of 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., have been compounded by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with nearly 7,000 U.S. dead, 53,000 U.S. wounded, 1,400 allied dead, and over 200,000 dead indigenous civilians and soldiers in those two countries.
For many in the Armed Forces, the 17 years of the “Long War” have become an abiding focus of their lives. For our soldiers, it is now possible to die on your 13th deployment to a combat zone. We must adapt our policies to ensure that this doesn’t become a Forever War.
Progress in the war in some ways is trending downward. Al Qaeda is stronger than ever, especially on the Arabian Peninsula and throughout Africa. ISIS has lost its caliphate in Iraq and Syria but hangs on in a few countries, including Afghanistan. Iraq teeters, and the war in Syria continues. Europe and Turkey choke on refugees from these contingencies.
Iran won our war in Iraq. It has reinforced its role as a regional troublemaker. To date, our new strategy in Afghanistan has gone poorly. Our episodic involvement with Saudi Arabia in Yemen has produced a nightmare of casualties, famine and another opportunity for Iran to spread its influence.
There are, however, bright spots in the Long War…