Friday August 17, 2018
Sometime late next year, possibly as early as September, news crews will gather in Afghanistan for a unique event: To interview an American serviceman or woman who was not born when the war they are fighting began. He or she will not remember 9/11, and will have grown up with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as background noise. No doubt also a senior commander will be on hand to pronounce that the war against the Taliban is making progress, the same pronouncements the young recruit will have seen on TV all his or her life.
It will be a stark reminder that America has been at war for 225 of the 242 years of its existence: A handful of those conflicts -- the defeat of Hitler and Japan, for example -- go down as "good wars." But most go down as operations that cost dearly in blood and treasure for little appreciable result.
In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the only American to make it to the highest offices in both politics and the military, warned, on leaving the presidency more than half a century ago, of the power of the “military industrial complex”, and how war can become an end in itself.