May 14, 2018

Combat High

America's addiction to war

By Dr. Jason Dempsey

Afew months before the United States invaded Iraq, in 2003, Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary at the time, was asked on a radio show how long the war would take. “Five days or five weeks or five months,” he replied. “It certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” When George W. Bush departed the White House more than five years later, there were nearly 136,000 US soldiers stationed in the country. 

The number of troops has fallen since then, but Bush’s successors have failed to withdraw the United States from the region. Barack Obama campaigned on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to send hundreds of troops into Syria. For years Donald Trump described America’s efforts in Afghanistan as “a waste” and said that soldiers were being led “to slaughter,” but in 2017 he announced that he would deploy as many as 4,000 more troops to the country. “Decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk of the Oval Office,” he explained. Every president, it seems, eventually learns to embrace our perpetual war.

With the Trump Administration’s attacks on affordable health care, immigration, environmental regulation, and civil rights now in full swing, criticism of America’s military engagements has all but disappeared from the national conversation. Why hasn’t the United States been able—or willing—to end these conflicts? Who has benefited from them? Is victory still possible—and, if so, is it anywhere in sight?

Read the Full Article at Harper's Magazine

  • Commentary
    • November 10, 2021
    Sharper: Global Posture

    The Department of Defense is finalizing the first global posture review of the Biden administration, an assessment of the U.S. military's global footprint. What will the admin...

    By Anna Pederson

  • Reports
    • November 9, 2021
    Transitioning to Tech

    Military experience provides service members with a range of technical and soft skills that can prepare them for meaningful employment in the private sector....

    By Dr. Jason Dempsey, Katherine L. Kuzminski, Nathalie Grogan & Cody Kennedy

  • Video
    • November 3, 2021
    Air Force has range of options to respond to Covid-19 vaccine refusals

    Katherine Kuzminski, senior fellow and director of the Military, Veterans and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security, said the Air Force has a number of pun...

    By Katherine L. Kuzminski

  • Commentary
    • Inkstick
    • October 27, 2021
    The U.S. Military’s HIV Ban is Unjust

    If American society wants to mitigate the negative impacts of HIV, then it needs all stakeholders to participate and facilitate an open dialogue about how to address HIV — and...

    By Cody Kennedy

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia