Ten year anniversaries provide an excellent opportunity to reflect on a situation, and the Afghan War is no different. Capt. Dan Mizak, a 28-year-old US soldier interviewed by Reuters, appears to be doing some reflecting on the war, which began when he was just an 18-year-old private.
“I think one way or another the war is probably going to go on for another ten years,” Mizak told them. Though officials often refer back to the 2014 “handover” pledge it appears many in the administration agree, with private talks ongoing to ensure US troops remain until at least 2024.
2011 Afghanistan in many ways looks worse than 2001 Afghanistan, and the occupation’s goals have not only swelled but blurred dramatically. Though officials seem reluctant to do anything but insist the war must continue, in many ways the end has become more difficult to visualize now. Incredible as it may seem, the US may be closer to the beginning of the Afghan War than the end.
We must also consider what Afghanistan might look like in 2021, when the new 2024 date is starting to approach. As Pvt. Mizak of 2001 became Capt. Mizak today, we may be hearing from a 38-year-old Col. Mizak in 2021, still fighting the same war as when he began, and dealing with 18-year-old privates who weren’t even born when it started.
Unless the political will to end the conflict shows up at some point between now and then, this is what many of the 100,000 US occupation soldiers have to look forward to, at least those who don’t become part of the ever growing list of casualties.