Working paper

U.S. strategy—strategic triage and the true cost of war: supporting enduring commitments versus “endless wars”

Defence Military operations World politics

This analysis shows that there are good reasons why the United States should constantly reexamine its military commitments and deployments overseas, and especially its active uses of military force. The U.S. may not face endless wars, but it does face endless threats and instability. History has not ended and will not end, and “Globalism” has not put the world on a path towards growth, progress, peace, and stability.

The ISIS “Caliphate” may be gone, but ISIS, its affiliates, Al Qaida, and a host of other extremist and terrorist movements survive. No MENA, South Asian, or Central Asian country has made a major reduction in the political, economic, or demographic causes of instability that triggered the political upheavals in the Arab World in 2011 or that shape the future of all too many countries in the developing world.

Defeating one movement in one location does not secure even a single country in the face of continued failures in politics, governance, economic, and demographics that have been the source of extremism, uprisings and civil war. And, these same failures affect all too many countries in the rest of Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. The U.S. cannot ignore these forces, let them destabilize the global economy, or become direct threats to the United States.

It is all too clear from the analyses of given countries made by the bodies like the UN, IMF, World Bank, and CIA that many of the fracture lines between and within states, are causes of instability that are “structural” in the sense that they are likely to last for at least one more decade and evolve into other challenges for at least several decades more.

This analysis focuses on two of the key trends that must be considered in making such choices. First, it focuses on the key issues which affect the current U.S. debate over its “long wars.” It examines the financial and warfighting impacts of the changes in American methods of war fighting. It shows that the U.S. has already made critical changes in its military posture that have already greatly reduced the cost of U.S. involvements in the Afghan and Iraq/Syria conflicts, and shown the U.S. can find affordable ways to fight such wars.

Publication Details
License type:
All Rights Reserved
Access Rights Type: