The Atlantic

Congress May Declare the Forever War

A proposed law with bipartisan support would dramatically weaken the ability of legislators to extricate the United States from perpetual armed conflict.
Source: Damir Sagolj / Reuters

A rising generation of Americans has never known peace.

Very soon, in Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria or Somalia or Libya or perhaps elsewhere, an 18-year-old man or woman will be deployed by the United States military to risk his or her life in a War on Terror that began before they were even born.

Already, every single spring, roughly 3.5 million high-school graduates reach adulthood with no memory of a time when their country wasn’t waging multiple wars.

This undemocratic Forever War is a civic disaster.

The United States is at war in so many places, against so many groups, that the majority of citizens would struggle to name half of them—and no reader can name all of them, unless an official with access to highly classified information is among us, because the identities of some of the groups the United States is fighting are state secrets.

Last year, when four American fighters died in Niger, multiple United States senators declared their surprise that the military they oversee had troops deployed in that country.

The American public elected successive presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, who expressed skepticism of foreign wars that they did not then end. Members of the U.S. Congress have been unwilling to endorse several of the wars that successive presidents waged anyway, despite their unpopularity and illegality. Last Friday,

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