2014 seems far away to me now, but in 2003, when I was 8 years old, I'm sure that 2011 seemed like a mythical and distant time too. The truth is, since 2003, much has changed about America. Obama is President, not Bush. The economy is struggling, not blooming. And my basketball team, the Knicks, are mediocre, not horrendous. On the other hand, what hasn't changed is the fact that we're engaged in the Afghan war, which seems like it's long from over.
When I was 8, I'm sure that my idea of winning a war was something along the lines of killing the Joker and saving Gotham City. Adults tried to explain to me that our war on terror wasn't that simple, but it was hard for me to accept the fact that it was impossible to tell if we were winning or not. My friends and I thought of the war in a much simpler way than the press and government. Our test to see if we were winning or not was "have we killed bin Laden yet?" For a long time, it seemed like we were losing.
I supported Obama's plan to take troops out of Iraq, and move others into Afghanistan from the minute I heard about it because it seemed like a smart way to get Osama. Even when he gave the speech to West Point about the Afghan surge, I supported him. And then... we killed bin Laden.
I was not alone in my excitement. The killing of bin Laden resurrected the latent anger in nearly all of my peers. Many of us took to the streets, and Facebook statuses ranged from "this is a great day" to "can I bring water on a plane now?" For however long it was, we were relieved.
Soon after the elation died down, questions began to pop up. Where do we go now? Who is the enemy? Can we end these wars? Seemingly all of my friends agreed that it was time to start drawing down troops.
So, when we heard that President Obama was going to make a speech about the drawdown Wednesday night, we were hoping for the best. As I watched Obama speak, though, it finally hit me. Batman did not stop crime by just killing the joker. He had to deal with Two-Face, The Penguin, and all the rest of them if he really wanted to keep Gotham safe. Similarly, in spite of the fact that we killed bin Laden, we still have work to do in Afghanistan, and if we want to finish what we started, we have to make Afghanistan a stable enough country to survive without us.
That said, when I think about how far away 2014 is, I feel weary imagining how much different America will be. In the best case scenario, we'll have radically changed the way our economy works, and will have invented new and innovative technology, but even in this case, with America once again prospering, it's hard to imagine we won't still be in Afghanistan. Once again, it feels to me like the end of this war is going to occur in a mysterious and different time and place. So, even though I understand Obama's logic, I think we should end this war now. If we don't, it will be hard to find another point where we feel like we can. In addition, by then, terrorist groups will move to other countries such as Yemen. If our troops are all deployed in Afghanistan, it will be hard to fight elsewhere. Let's just hope that, whenever the end of the war really comes, the economy is once again booming, Obama is still president, and the Knicks are finally better than average.