WASHINGTON — President Biden declared to the United Nations on Tuesday that “for the first time in 20 years, the United States is not at war. We’ve turned the page.”
One day earlier, a missile fired from an American drone incinerated a car driving along a remote road in northwestern Syria, a strike aimed against a suspected Qaeda operative. Three weeks before that, the military launched an airstrike in Somalia targeting members of the Shabab militant group, part of an American air campaign in that country that has intensified in recent months.
There are no longer American troops in Afghanistan, but America’s wars go on.
Mr. Biden’s assertion at the United Nations was intended to show he had made good on his pledge to end America’s longest war, and his speech came on the same day that the last soldier to die before the American withdrawal from Afghanistan was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
But it was just the latest attempt by an American president in the two decades since the Sept. 11 attacks to massage the language of warfare to mask a sometimes inconvenient reality: that America is still engaged in armed conflict throughout the world.
letter to Congress in June, Mr. Biden listed all the countries where American troops are operating against various militant groups — from Iraq and Syria to Yemen to the Philippines to Niger.
There are more than 40,000 American troops stationed around the Middle East, including 2,500 troops in Iraq more
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