—By Rory Fanning. from Mother Jones Jan. 16, 2015
I imagine you’re entering the military for the same reason just about everyone volunteers: it felt like your only option. Maybe it was money, or a judge, or a need for a rite of passage, or the end of athletic stardom. Maybe you still believe that the US is fighting for freedom and democracy around the world and in existential danger from “the terrorists.” Maybe it seems like the only reasonable thing to do: defend our country against terrorism.
Make no mistake: whatever the news may say about the changing cast of characters the US is fighting and the changing motivations behind the changing names of our military “operations” around the world, you and I will have fought in the same war. It’s hard to believe that you will be taking us into the 14th year of the Global War on Terror (whatever they may be calling it now). I wonder which one of the 668 US military bases worldwide you’ll be sent to.
In its basics, our global war is less complicated to understand than you might think, despite the difficult-to-keep-track-of enemies you will be sent after—whether al-Qaeda (“central,” al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in the Magreb, etc.), or the Taliban, or al-Shabab in Somalia, or ISIS (aka ISIL, or the Islamic State), or Iran, or the al-Nusra Front, or Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Admittedly, it’s a little hard to keep a reasonable scorecard. Are the Shia or the Sunnis our allies? Is it Islam we’re at war with? Are we against ISIS or the Assad regime or both of them?