The Inheritance: America's Military After Two Decades of War (Paperback)

The Inheritance: America's Military After Two Decades of War By Mara E. Karlin Cover Image
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Exploring how the U.S. military can move beyond Iraq and Afghanistan

Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. military has been fighting incessantly in conflicts around the globe, often with inconclusive results. The legacies of these conflicts have serious implications for how the United States will wage war in the future. Yet there is a stunning lack of introspection about these conflicts.

Never in modern U.S. history has the military been at war for so long. And never in U.S. history have such long wars demanded so much of so few. The legacy of wars without end include a military that feels the painful effects of war but often feels alone. The public is less connected to the military now than at any point in modern U.S. history. The national security apparatus seeks to pivot away from these engagements and to move on to the next threats--notably those emanating from China and Russia. Many young Americans question whether it even makes sense to invest in the military. At best, there are ad hoc, unstructured debates about Iraq or Afghanistan. Simply put, there has been no serious, organized stock-taking by the public, politicians, opinion leaders, or the military itself of this inheritance.

Despite being at war for the longest continuous period in its history, the military is woefully unprepared for future wars. But the United States cannot simply hit the reset button. This book explores this inheritance by examining how nearly two decades of war have influenced civil-military relations, how the military goes to war, how the military wages war, who leads the military and who serves in it, how the military thinks about war, and above all, the enduring impact of these wars on those who waged them. If the U.S. military seeks to win in the future, it must acknowledge and reconcile with the inheritance of its long and inconclusive wars. This book seeks to help them do so.

About the Author


Mara E. Karlin was director of Strategic Studies and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Karlin previously served in national security roles for five U.S. secretaries of defense. She is the author of Building Militaries in Fragile States: Challenges for the United States.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780815738459
ISBN-10: 0815738455
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
Publication Date: December 14th, 2021
Pages: 320
Language: English