The Price of Perpetual War

Red Horse

sleeping soldier
David Barno and Nora Bensahel – May 24, 2016

The United States has entered an era of perpetual war. The U.S. military has been at war for 15 straight years with no end in sight, and President Obama will soon have the dubious distinction of being the only American president to have been at war for all eight years of a two-term presidency. The traditional logic of American wars — that the United States would mobilize, fight, win, and end its wars through overwhelming force of arms — no longer seems to apply. Today’s wars can be characterized more as conflicts in the gray zone, ambiguous battles with less-defined shapes and even less-clear outcomes. This increasingly blurred line between peace and war is posing a range of new challenges for the U.S. military, for elected officials, and for the nation as a whole.

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