Technically speaking, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. The last American forces pulled out of Iraq in 2011, and President Obama recently announced that
all U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014
. But for many Americans, Iraqis and Afghans, the conflict lingers—whether in real terms (through suicide bombings and sectarian violence), in physical scars (there are
at least 1,500 major limb amputees
to date from both wars), or in psychological traumas that visit every time a car backfires or a firework goes off.
Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael is intimately acquainted with the real-life stories behind these facts. In 2006, as a twenty-four year old Yale graduate in History, he set off for Iraq to photograph the war there. Over the next six years, van Agtmael spent large amounts of time in both countries, often embedded with troops who were being sent on risky…