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The Inheritance

America's Military After Two Decades of War

By Mara E. Karlin

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, but with inconclusive results. The legacy of this long involvement in war without end includes a military that is bitter and frustrated. The public is disinterested. 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. At best there are ad hoc, unstructured debates about Iraq or Afghanistan. Many young Americans question whether it even makes sense to invest in the military. Simply put, there has been no serious, organized stocktaking by the public, politicians, opinion leaders, or the military itself of this inheritance.

Despite its lengthy war fighting experience and high-technology weapons, the military is woefully unprepared for future wars because of this conflicted legacy and uncertainty about the future security environment. But the United States cannot simply hit the reset button. If the U.S. military seeks to win in the future, it must acknowledge and reconcile with the inheritance of its long and failed wars. This book seeks to help them do so.

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