The History of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars in Ten to Fifteen Years

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryAfter South Vietnam’s capital Saigon fell to North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces on April 29, 1975, former American veterans of the Vietnam War started to come out with their memoirs about that war. In fact, throughout the late 1970’s, 1980’s, and early 1990’s, many, many former Vietnam veterans started to open up with writings, video interviews, and even TV show interviews about their experiences in that conflict. Movies, docudramas and made for TV mini-series about the Vietnam War came out, and suddenly a war many Americans wanted to forget became anything except something Americans could forget. In fact, Vietnam War veterans were finally being sought after for giving their testimony for the historical record after being treated far less than honorably in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s during the anti-war movement of the era. There is even a magazine dedicated to the Vietnam War called Vietnam Magazine dedicated to the memory and honor of those Vietnam veterans who served in the war. Started in 1988, Vietnam Magazine has been going on strong ever since. In so many ways, the Vietnam War has become as popular to read about as World War II and the U.S. Civil War, and more so than the American Revolution, World War I, and the Korean War.

In ten to fifteen years from now, I suspect that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will become as popular in books, TV and movies. This is not hard to follow. The Afghanistan War is the longest war in U.S. history. More than that, it has affected a whole generation, the Millennials to be exact. In so many ways, the Afghanistan War has touched so many individuals, families and groups of people as few things have. Many families have lost loved ones to the war. Many kids have grown up never knowing one or tragically not even knowing both parents who were killed in the war. Eventually there will be many memorials for all those who died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as there should be. And like the Vietnam War before it, so many people will be drawing parallels between them and wondering whether these wars were winnable or unwinnable, whether we should have been in these wars as long as we were (or even there in the first place), whether it was worth it or not, and why the politicians and generals made the decisions that they did. None of this is abstract; all that I describe here has affected millions of lives for a generation. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been the most important conflicts for Americans in the 21st Century. For all of the scenarios many might play out of possible conflicts in the future, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War were real enough for all those who fought in these two conflicts and have suffered for it. All who have been scarred by these two wars will remain as reminders of an era that has changed all of America.

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