Sep 1, 2017 • 36M

ICYMI: How American Soldiers Became Lawyers With Guns

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Jason Fields
Conversations about conflict on an angry planet.
Episode details

More than 11,000 U.S. soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan right now. U.S. President Donald Trump plans to send 4,000 more. Military advisers are overseeing the war against the Islamic State and American military equipment and expertise helped retake Mosul. Drones launch from bases in Africa and the Middle East to conduct targeted killings against high value targets from Djibouti to Pakistan. U.S. Special Operations Forces operate across the globe in various capacities. Most of these missions are classified.

So America’s at war, right? Legally, no.

War, as we normally define it, no longer makes sense. There’s no draft — and only one percent of the U.S. population is in the military. The government isn’t levying special taxes or issuing bonds to pay for the fighting. And all this “war” — drone strikes, Special Forces deployments, air strikes and aircraft carrier deployments — is happening with little public scrutiny.

This week on War College, we sit down with Rosa Brooks to figure out how America barreled headlong into a permanent war without defining the terms or thinking about the consequences. Brooks is a former U.S. State Department official and the author of the book How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales From the Pentagon.

Brooks argues that U.S. citizens and lawmakers should shake off fears of appearing unpatriotic to challenge the government’s unchecked, unilateral and covert military activities abroad. If that doesn’t happen soon, she says, the United States may have to pay for the dangerous example it’s setting for Russia and China.

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