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¿Es esencial la militarización para la seguridad en 2022 y más allá?

15 de diciembre de 2021

En los últimos 20 años, Estados Unidos y sus aliados han ampliado considerablemente sus infraestructuras militares y de seguridad. Pero a medida que Estados Unidos abandona la guerra contra el terrorismo, nuevas áreas de interés han empezado a ocupar un lugar central, como la militarización del espacio y las crecientes tensiones con China. ¿Existe una forma mejor de cumplir con nuestras responsabilidades básicas de seguridad sin militarizar toda la sociedad? Carnegie Council El Presidente Joel Rosenthal analiza estas cuestiones con los expertos en seguridad Elliot Ackerman, Neta C. Crawford y Ned Dobos.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Hello and welcome to our virtual program, "Is Militarization Essential for Security in 2022 and Beyond?" Thanks everybody for joining us. I'm Joel Rosenthal, president of Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and our conversation today is prompted by a book symposium in the most recent issue of Ethics & International Affairs journal.

For those of you who don't know, Ethics & International Affairs is a quarterly journal published by Carnegie Council and Cambridge University Press. The journal consists of essays, peer-reviewed articles, and book reviews, all of which make the elusive connection between ethical reflection and the practice of international affairs.

The symposium we are discussing today is provocatively titled, "Ethics, Security, and the War Machine." The title comes from Ned Dobos' new book, which has an equally suggestive subtitle, The True Costs of the Military. Fortunately we have Ned with us to tell us more about the book. Ned is Zoom-ing in from the future, all the way from Canberra, where it's already tomorrow.

Ned, thanks for getting up early. We also have Neta Crawford, scholar, teacher, longtime contributor to the journal, and friend of Carnegie Council. Neta's essay in the symposium is titled "Democracy and the Preparation and Conduct of War." To complete our panel we have Elliot Ackerman, who recently spoke to Carnegie Council about his book 2034. Many of you will know Elliot through his works of both fiction and nonfiction on issues relating to war, technology, and the future of national security.

This fall marked 20 years since the 9/11 attack. It also marked the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. It's rare to have a moment so clearly transitional. One can sense one chapter closing and another opening. As we consider various futures, this seems like the right time to ask some basic questions about the changing nature of war, peace, and national security.

Despite revolutionary new technologies and changing geopolitics, old concepts remain in circulation. First among them is the question: Are we on the brink of a new Cold War? Regardless of your answer, it seems that the national security state and those involved in national security are ready to step into the breach, and perhaps this is already happening.

So many questions follow: Will our future become increasingly militarized, and should it? Do Americans, for example, want Space Force guardians in the Pentagon? What about a cyber force? And will new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and cryptocurrency become weaponized? These are just some of the questions on my mind as we think about the future. Ned's book is about the costs of what he calls "war building," so perhaps we can kick off with some comments from him and then to the panel.

Again, thank you all for joining us. I hope this frames the conversation in a useful way, and I am now going to turn to Ned to kick us off with maybe some reflections on how you see the national security picture today.

NED DOBOS: Thank you, Joel. Thanks for having me here.

I might start just by saying a little something about what was going through my head when I decided to pursue this project. My background is very much in just war theory and the philosophy and ethics of war. We look at the circumstances under which recourse to war might be justified, and the assumption tends to be that as long as there are some circumstances under which war is justified, then it must be permissible to prepare for that eventuality.

It just occurred to me that that is faulty reasoning, that there are all sorts of things where we can imagine circumstances where it's permissible to do it, but we don't think it's therefore permissible to prepare for it or to institutionalize it much less. You could describe a scenario in which most people would agree that torture would be justified, for example. If there's a ticking time bomb scenario and you've got to torture the terrorist in order to get this information, it will save a million people, it will definitely work, and so on, most will people accept that in those sorts of circumstances maybe it's justified to torture the terrorist. But should we therefore have a Department of Torture with taxpayer-funded torture facilities and a torture industrial complex and so on? I think people would be reluctant to go that far.

The permissibility of the act of war does not entail the permissibility of preparing for war. The project was really me thinking through that and identifying all of the reasons we might have not to prepare for war, not to invest in this particular institution. There are all sorts of costs, financial and non-financial costs, and there is also a range of circumstances where militarization actually makes us less secure. It can be a self-defeating institution. There are cases where militarization compromises our security.

I like to throw these hypotheticals out there. Here is one that I have used occasionally: Imagine you are about to go into this gathering where there are several violent criminals, and they are prepared to use violence to get their hands on your property. Before you enter I offer you a gun for self-protection. On the face of it, it seems prudent to accept the weapon in this scenario. You can deter and fend off the aggressors.

But now suppose I give you some more information. Aside from these violent criminals, there will also be some highly paranoid delusional types. They don't want your property, but if they see you as a threat, they'll come after you. Is it still prudent for you to accept the weapon in this scenario?

Suddenly it's not so clear. Granted, if you openly carry the gun into the gathering, that will have a deterrent effect on the murderous bandits who want your property. At the same time, however, openly carrying the weapon makes you a target for the highly paranoid types. They're not interested in your property, but they are serious about neutralizing the threats that they perceive, and the weapon in your hand puts you squarely in that category. This obviously complicates the decision considerably. It might still be prudent to accept the weapon. It might not be. It depends on so many other variables.

The point is, in scenarios like this we cannot generalize confidently that going in armed is the prudent thing to do. Being defenseless might actually increase your chances of survival, as paradoxical as that may sound.

Something similar is true I think in international relations. At the very least, we could say militaries don't make an unequivocally positive contribution to national security in the way that we imagine. It's much more of a tradeoff. They make us more secure in some ways and less secure in other ways. To that you add the fact that militaries are enormously costly institutions, not just financially but morally, socially, and culturally, and to that you add the fact that whatever tasks we assign to the military they are not guaranteed to pull them off, they are not guaranteed to succeed, and we have learned that from the recent Afghanistan withdrawal.

Put all those things together, and I think we need to have serious conversations about whether and the extent to which these institutions are justified in existing, notwithstanding the fact that there are some circumstances under which their use is justified and legitimate.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: What a great way to kick off. There is a lot in there to get to.

Let me to go Neta. Neta, tell me how you think about "right-sizing," if you will. Ned did say that there are some legitimate uses and needs for military force, and yet there seems to be some kind of line which we cross where it becomes almost sort of self-justified or self-defeating. How do you think about that conundrum?

NETA CRAWFORD: Well, I believe that military force is justified for self-defense, and that's basically it. Sometimes you could use military force in defense of others. So then, if you have a national security state, for example, like Australia, the United States, Canada, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, what you have is an institution which is capable of much more than self-defense. It is capable of offensive uses of force and taking and holding territory. The same with China and Russia. If states were to move toward a non-offensive defense posture or at least reduce their forces, they would be less likely to be in a security dilemma.

I think what is prudent is to reduce as a first step the provocative elements of a force posture, for instance, nuclear weapons whose only plausible use is in first strike. So you don't have first-strike nuclear weapons, you reduce the capability to project power abroad, and that would entail for almost every country reducing its military forces. Then you set it up so that what you have is the capacity for true self-defense. Your borders are the boundaries for the projection of power.

That is a long-term vision getting from here to there, and a former colleague, Randy Forsberg, has written eloquently about that. She has a book that was published posthumously about moving toward a world without war, but I think the key here is to keep in mind that the legitimate uses of war, being self-defense—you have to start re-envisioning the entire force posture to see what it is that you have that might be considered provocative, as Ned says.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Let me go to Elliot. Elliot how do you respond to this picture that has been painted?

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: I think it sounds great. I hope you'll forgive me if I'm skeptical that this is a world in which we can live based off of everything we know historically about human nature and how human beings behave in the face of scarcity, and scarcity is something that always exists in our world. If we look at just the recent history of warfare, scarcity as well as power vacuums create a great deal of violence and embolden the worst actors on this planet.

For instance, a scenario where every nation would agree to limit its military expenditure and arming only to a narrow sliver where it's capable for its own self-defense, like the Japanese Self-Defense Forces after the Second World War, I think that would be fantastic. I would like to live in that world and would like to raise my children in that world. What I fear is that that consensus is not realistic because how does it necessarily account for bad actors, and how does it account for individuals who exceed said limits?

That being said as well, I have written very openly about the dangers of having a militarized society. The United States is absolutely a militarized state. I think one of the worst outcomes of our 9/11 wars is that we are not only a highly militarized state, we are also a militarized state that has been completely anesthetized to our projection of force overseas insomuch as we have a military that is composed of all volunteers, and the vast majority of our war spending has been done through deficit spending, so there has been no war tax. Many Americans are in many ways—not because they are bad people but just because there is a security state that by design anesthetizes us to our wars.

I think that is very dangerous, and I think that there is a very real conversation to be had about the militarization of our society and how we maintain that militarized posture. I just fear that when we start veering into certain utopian visions of what a world without war could look like, oftentimes we have brought about the very wars we seek to avoid, but I look forward to our conversation.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Neta, you look like you want to jump in there.

NETA CRAWFORD: Sure. There are three things I want to respond to.

First of all, to argue that the world that we have, that we have created, is safe, that's the utopia. To suggest that more armaments has brought us security in the past or will always is the searching for security that is elusive.

Second, you began, Elliot, with the idea that human nature and scarcity are the culprits here. I believe that we don't really understand the potential for a different world because we haven't built it. What we have is a structure, and now we are on a path-dependent system, where what we have are systems that are designed to create insecurity in the other to deter the other.

Third, we can move slowly, incrementally, to a different way. I am not saying we wake up tomorrow and we have magically erased the capacity for aggressive forces. It has to be that we move to a different path through treaties, through managed reductions, through development of institutions which provide for security, including economic institutions which help deal with the concerns for scarcity. It has to be a managed transition.

But what I'm arguing is that the path that we're on is not the path to security and basically hasn't ever been. What we do is hope that having great might will make us feel and be secure, and often it leads to war, so I read military history and world history quite differently.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Let me pick up there. I'm reminded, we will just use the American example for the moment, that through the World War II period it was the Department of War, and we called it what it was, and then in the reform that came after, we turned it into the Department of Defense.

As you were speaking, though—and maybe I'll direct this first to Ned—you were talking about how we prepare as a society, what our aims are, what our missions are, and what our goal is. Let's just presume that it is defense, but where do you draw the line between offense and defense? With the technology that we have today and the way the world is, is it possible to spin out a scenario like Neta was saying where, okay, our vision is defense, it ends at our borders, and then we go from there? Is that a realistic scenario?

NED DOBOS: There are very few weapons that I can think of which have purely defensive capabilities. Say, a surface-to-air missile where someone is encroaching on your territory, you can use that for self-defense to fend them off. Most weapons in any state's arsenal, even if we swear that we only intend to use them for defensive purposes, admit of some offensive capabilities.

That's why I think it's very difficult to design a military institution which has a defensive posture and whose defensiveness is completely transparent to all adversaries and affected parties. We might sincerely intend only to use our capabilities for defensive purposes. We might arrange things in such a way as to make it as clear as possible that we only intend to use these for national self-defense, but given that the world is the way it is and our intentions are opaque to one another, it's going to be hard to reassure all of our adversaries that we would never think of using these capabilities offensively.

Insofar as that is the case, insofar as most of what you find in any country's military arsenal does have offensive capability and must, it is going to be very difficult to achieve what seems to be the ideal, which is we have a military force which deters but does not provoke. To me that's fantasy. It's always going to do both.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Elliot, go ahead.

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: I would just add that we all might read the word differently, but the greatest provocation that I have seen is weakness and power vacuums. Time and again, when a state projects weakness, which is another word for a power vacuum, other actors move into that state.

So I think again there is an Aristotelian median that you are going for, on the one end the overkill, which is a society is so hyper-militarized that it is projecting an offensive and threatening posture to others, but on the other side, just as much of a sin is to be so demilitarized that you are creating the very conditions that would have a bad actor act out, and we have seen these types of scenarios through the long arc of history. We have seen this in recent U.S. involvements in the Middle East time and time again, the danger of creating power vacuums.

I would just offer a broader observation when it comes to technology in war. I think there is a real danger in speaking about war to believe that technology in some way changes the fundamental nature of warfare and can seek to sanitize warfare for the actual participants. Clausewitz said the nature of war is slaughter. From my own experience, having served many years in the military and having fought in a couple of wars myself with the luxury of having very, very high-tech systems at my disposal, on many occasions the fight came down to two people in a house with rifles and pistols shooting it out with one another, despite all of the drones that were in the air, intelligence systems, automated bomb-disposing robots, all of that.

I think if you look back at history and you look at our systems, at the end of the day there is this very interpersonal nature of war, and it's important not to allow ourselves to be seduced into believing that technology is going to disrupt that, because eventually the technology does start to bleed away, and it comes down to this intimate thing, which is what Clausewitz said, slaughter.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Elliot, just on that for a second, but isn't a lot of the argument in terms of procurement for armed forces and so on is the need to maintain technological edge?

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: Certainly. The idea, for instance, that technology sanitizes war is one that in many cases can lead to our desire to have our war sanitized, our desire to be anesthetized to them, actually leads to the proliferation of war and oftentimes suffering. When it becomes very easy to prosecute a war for many, many years with no one feeling it at home, that leads to more war. When it becomes very easy to, for instance, prosecute a massive assassination and bombing campaign in a place like the tribal areas of Pakistan, when there are no pilots really who are flying those missions, and when we keep it all secret, that leads to the increased use of that tool, and the end user in Pakistan is more death in the tribal areas. Again, that I say is an example of how technology can, instead of sanitizing war, actually make war even more messy.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: There is a question here in the chat that I want to pick up, and this is for anybody. The question is from Johann Andresen about autonomous lethal weapons. This is on the horizon if not present soon as part of the way we think about use of kinetic force. How do you evaluate a move like that? Is that a place where perhaps they should be prohibited, this is the wrong direction for technology in force, or is there a role?

Elliot, I know this is your field, so maybe you could start.

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: I think it very much depends on the weapon system. I recently wrote a magazine profile of a company called Shield AI. Shield AI is a drone manufacturer, and their flagship platform was a quadcopter that could go in and clear rooms, so if you're fighting in an urban area, the quadcopter will go into the room, map the room for the people who want to find out if there is anyone in that building who is a threat, and tell you if there is a threat there, in many respects saving lives because that means that a soldier or a Marine doesn't have to enter that room and get shot. You might say, "Well, that's a great force-protection measure."

At the same time, when you talk to the Department of Defense (DoD), their vision of this capability was they had their quadcopter, but there is software on that quadcopter that is AI-reliant, and that same software could be applied to swarms of aerial drones and maritime drones that could be armed or not armed. So again, it depends on the ways that these AI platforms spin off and how we use them, whether or not they make war more or less lethal. Again, I think you have to play these systems through, but I think the idea that we would be fighting wars where both sides are armed with robots, the robots go to war, and whoever's robots win, wins the war, I think we might be missing a step there. It's human will.

Human will is what wages war. Does the side whose robots lose, do they then decide that they're just going to allow themselves to be taken over, invaded, whatever the endgame is, or do they then resort to other measures to continue the conflict? We don't know that. That obviously involves political factors that are specific to this hypothetical war.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: That's helpful.

Ned, maybe I can come back to you. I am curious about how you think about technologies to be developed or perhaps even prohibited. These are choices. How do you think about that? Your opening remarks seem to suggest there are some roads we just shouldn't go down because they're self-defeating.

NED DOBOS: On the issue of AI I thought what Elliot had to say there was fascinating, and I am sympathetic. In some respects it seems like if we're going to develop these weapons and those weapons are going to reduce violence and death, if they're going to be more discriminant and prevent collateral damage, and so on, then how could you possibly be against it?

On the other hand, I thought it was interesting that Elliot appreciates the fact that if we can prosecute these ongoing wars without sustaining costs back home, then we are more likely to prosecute these wars. So I'm just wondering about the interaction between these two things. Is it a possibility—and I guess this is a question back to Elliot—that by introducing these technologies, what we essentially do is reduce the costs associated with war making even further?

For example, today we've got drones. These drone pilots sometimes still get post-traumatic stress disorder and moral injury because of the things that they see through the camera, so that's still a cost. But once we replace the drone pilots with AI, you don't even have that cost anymore. So I can see the advantage to having these technologies. Like I say, who could be against a technology, the implementation of which will lead to less collateral damage and unnecessary suffering? That's great. But at the same time, it seems to feed back into what you were saying about the easier we can prosecute wars without really feeling it at home, the more likely we are to do it.

Do you have any thoughts on that?

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: Right, you have to play it through. If we understand war as a construct is basically one group of people imposing their will, typically a political will, on another group of people and we use this example of drones, at the end of the day you might have a situation where, yes, we have a totally desensitized system. We have AI-powered drones, so from one side's vantage there is zero collateral damage. But obviously there can't be two sides fighting a war where there is absolutely no damage, because then you don't have a war because then you are no longer imposing your will on someone unless you have a war where the ground rules of the war are whoever's robot army wins, wins the war, and we all just cede that then whatever is going to happen happens, whether we want it to happen or not. Typically, when we look, that's not in human nature. People then just resort to less technologically advanced forms of resistance.

I do a lot of work as a journalist, and I covered the war in Syria. One of the stories I did was I was down on the Turkish-Syrian border and I met with a member of al-Qaeda who fought in the same part of Iraq I had fought in. We were sort of two veterans talking about our respective wars. At one point he quoted—this guy is a card-carrying member of al-Qaeda in Iraq—Einstein to me, which I thought was very interesting, and he said: "You know, Einstein predicted everything that has happened."

I said, "Well, what did Einstein say?"

He said, "Einstein said: 'The Third World War will be a nuclear war, but the Fourth World War will be fought with sticks and stones,' and that's how we defeated you in Iraq, with sticks and stones."

In many ways he was right. In every facet we had the technological superiority, but they had the will to sit there and fight with very, very low-tech weapons. I think the belief that there is a technological solution to war in some ways—I am of the belief that it doesn't necessarily align with the way human beings behave when another group is trying to force their will on them, that they will continue to resist in low-tech ways.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Thanks. That's great.

There is a comment in the chat from our friend Cheyney Ryan. I will just read it for you. It says: "The United States has the most powerful military establishment in the history of the world. It was recently defeated in Afghanistan by the Taliban, a force of about 80,000 soldiers. What does this say about the efficacy of war building as traditionally understood?"

This is the point I think, Ned, that you were trying to make about the costs and also what the yield has been recently. I don't know if you had a comment on that comment.

NED DOBOS: Ever since the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan I have been following the commentaries very closely. One view seems to be that this war was lost because we didn't have the right strategy, because the soldiers weren't properly resourced, equipped, and so on, the idea being that it would have been successful had the armed forces only been properly supported, given the proper strategies, and so on.

The implicit assumption in play is that these operations can be executed successfully as long as we use the military in the right kind of way, whereas I'm a little bit skeptical about the winnability of some of these conflicts. I think we should just make peace with the fact that like all institutions there are things that our armed forces just can't accomplish. It strikes me as naïve to think that we send our soldiers with their guns into Afghanistan to do nation-building and they failed and the next time we send our soldiers with their guns into a country for nation building, well, they'll succeed if they just follow these different rules and principles that we set for them. To me it shows a kind of stubborn faith in the military institution that isn't particularly well-justified.

I have seen some of this in some of the latest research in confidence and trust in the military forces that has come out of the United States in fact. You ask most people, "How do you appraise the recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq that the American armed forces have been involved in," and most people will say they were failures. Then you ask people, "If there was another such operation in the future, how do you rate the military's prospect of success," and they rate it very highly. Continued failure seems to have no more bearing on anticipated prospects of success, so confidence in the military has become rigid. It has become impervious to disconfirming evidence.

There are all sorts of fascinating explanations given for the fact that the military is in this unique position where, regardless of perceived performance, confidence and trust remains high. One of the explanations that I can recall is something along the lines of, while nobody wants to say that they don't have confidence in the military because that would express ingratitude or something like that. As a result of this, people still cling to the view that, regardless of what happened in Afghanistan, regardless of what happened in Iraq, it can happen a thousand times over, people are still going to at least assert that as long as we prepare the military properly, equip it properly, and give it the right strategy it will succeed. There is nothing our boys can't do.

Whereas I think there are just limits of what armed force can achieve. That's my reading of Afghanistan. It's not that the military wasn't given the right strategy or properly prepared. It's just that the military is not good for certain things.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Neta, did you want to jump in on any of those points?

NETA CRAWFORD: Let me say about Afghanistan, I think it shows that the defense, as Clausewitz said, has the advantage. The side that has further to go and that is not fighting to defend what is theirs or controlling what is theirs has less morale and is inherently weaker.

In order to win in Afghanistan—Trump said it best—the United States would have had to use a heck of a lot more force. He used some expletives I think. In other words, the United States would have had to really destroy Afghanistan in a way that it managed not to do over the last 20 years.

I want to step back from that for a moment and go back to the other thing that Ned just said which is really interesting. He asks, why is it that any military could keep failing and people still have faith in it? I think it's because the militarist beliefs underlying most societies mean that we don't see the problem as the assumptions are wrong, but that we haven't tried hard enough. Basically it's always, "Try harder, hit harder."

What I think the assumptions we see are that, first of all, force can be quick, or it's quicker than the alternatives, that it can be controlled better than the alternatives, that you will be able to do something more cheaply than the alternatives, or that it's going to be the case that once hit, the other side will back down, they'll roll over, that they respond to superior force, and we see time and time again in history that those assumptions are often wrong. When states say, as they did in the War of 1812, "The war is going to be done in a few months, we will be back, and we will have taken all this territory in Canada," or they say during the Civil War that it'll be very quick and the South will give up, World War I, World War II, things can happen quickly, "We'll be home before the snow falls," all those assumptions about speed are wrong because people resist.

These other assumptions about the controllability of force, that there won't be any escalation, or not escalation that we don't predict, are often wrong. So the assumptions about force itself need to be questioned historically. I think then we would see that looking through past conflicts, we have often overestimated the utility and the capacity of force to get the job done. In those instances where force has worked, it has been at great cost. For instance, yes, the Germans won against the Herero and the Nama in Southwest Africa because they killed 50–70 percent of the people there. Yes, the United States won against native peoples, but that's because they committed genocide. Yes, force can work if you're prepared to kill a lot of people, but in today's context we don't believe that that's legitimate, and because we don't believe it's legitimate it creates a backlash, and when that happens it's counterproductive as well for the side that is using force.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Neta, let me take another lane into this conversation, and maybe it's time to think a little bit more expansively about what we even mean by security. Maybe you're right. Maybe Andrew Carnegie was right a hundred years and three world wars ago. Industrial war may be behind us, those scenarios of massive uses of force, using technology in such a way.

What we're actually looking at now is this weird space where we're in conflict but not necessarily war, and here I'm getting at cyber, active measures, and disinformation. This is kind of where the action is right now. It's in this sort of gray space and in the margins. If you look at where the attention is going now, it's going into cyberprotection and it's going into these new theatres like outer space and things like this. Maybe we're moving on.

What do you all make of that? If we're moving on, are we making a mistake by militarizing these new theatres, if you will, whether it's cyberspace and outer space? We're looking at it in terms of security. It's non-kinetic, what you were talking about Neta, it's not traditional, but it's conflict and perhaps even war, and it's going to be militarized in a sense. It seems to me like that's happening now. I'm curious what you all think of that.

NETA CRAWFORD: Could I just begin with what we spend the money on? When you look at the military budget much of it is spent on personnel, and that's not going to go away. That's the bulk of military spending. Then there's procurement for all that kinetic stuff and also to have the bases functioning. So much of it is about the built infrastructure and the capacity to use force.

There is actually a relatively small portion of it that goes towards what you might call these "exotic" things like space war, cyber, and so on. That's a really small part of it. Basically what we believe—and the budget follows the beliefs about the utility of force—is that the threats that the United States and other states want to prepare for and should prepare for are somebody rolling over your border, or you want to go there with your long-range aircraft and control territory, or your aircraft carrier. Basically we're stuck there.

In terms of those new threats, just exactly as you said, Joel, I believe we're militarizing things that don't necessarily need to be militarized. I believe that there are threats that could become material with cybersecurity, and we've seen that, but that doesn't mean that putting our eggs in the military basket is going to answer those threats and that the real security issues, if we want to talk about the meaning of national security or any kind of security, are existential and they're human security and that those are the things that are going to kill more people in the next 50–100 years than much of what we have already been talking about, these exotic things, and they are becoming I think less important actually than the threats posed by inequality, by rising seas where most of us live on the coasts, and by extreme temperatures to little water and eventually famine.

What the DoD does with the threat of climate change is then they move to: "Okay, then migrants are coming to a neighborhood near you, and you must be prepared to defend yourself," and they say that it will lead to conflict, assuming, as Elliot seems to, that human nature is such that we cannot deal with scarcity in any other way than by brute force.

But I think that if we want to make that world, we can. There are other paths that we could use to defend ourselves in those coming scenarios, which are much more likely than some of the scenarios we have just been talking about.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: I want to turn to Elliot. What do you think? Just going back to the technology issue as well, two things: One is, are we militarizing everything, whether it be cyber and outer space? Also, I don't want to lose track of Neta's last point too, about these sort of maybe nontraditional security threats in the sense of whether it's climate or—we should also just mention the pandemic, by the way, if you're looking at casualty numbers. So, just a couple of things to keep in mind.

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: Listen, I think if you look at the world right now, I think there are very clear threats to U.S. interests abroad by nation-states that are in no way part of broader human trend-line factors and climate change.

We have Xi. President Xi has been very, very clear for a very, very long time about his intents with regard to Taiwan. That is going to be a question that the United States and our allies will likely have to reckon with inside the next 10–15 years.

You have 150,000 Russian troops sitting on the border of Ukraine. That is something that the international community is going to have to reckon with probably within the next month, two months? Maybe those issues will come to nothing, but I don't think we're living in a sort of postwar world in the classic, conventional sense. Those are real threats.

I think there is the question about militarization and whether everything should be militarized, and I think one of the things that is interesting is to see how DoD is metabolizing these, I will just call them "asymmetric capabilities" they need to develop, such as space and cyber, and how they are recruiting into the force.

My parent service, the Marine Corps, General Berger, the commandant, just released new personnel guidance, for instance, talking about how the Marine Corps is looking to allow Marines to come into the service who have never had to go to boot camp and who will be able to stay at their duty stations longer. All of these measures are acknowledgment of the fact that it's not going to be 19- and 20-year-old lance corporals and corporals necessarily who are the essential entity in the next fight. It's going to be older, more mature people, people who are cyber savvy, people who don't want to live that classic Marine life, and we need to move forward toward that.

With regard to how we view war, there is a whole spectrum that exists with how we fight wars. At the risk of quoting Donald Rumsfeld in this conversation, I will quote him. He famously said, "All generalizations are false, including this one." We remember the big wars that go very, very poorly—obviously the First World War, Second World War—and oftentimes we in the long term forget the short wars that go fairly well, that seem to achieve their objectives. In the near term I'm thinking the Persian Gulf War, the intervention in Panama, the intervention in Grenada, and the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s. These are wars that seemed to work.

The challenge is you can very much show the intellectual connection between those rapid wars that achieved their political objectives and in a similar bid to have a rapid war that completely turns into a disaster. You can draw a straight line from the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 to the First World War and the belief that it would look like the Franco-Prussian War, and then it didn't. I think you can draw a straight line from the Persian Gulf War to our war in Iraq: "Oh, the Shia will greet us as liberators because they all revolted against Saddam."

I don't think history teaches us and shows that the only way wars are ever successful is when there is massive, massive, disproportionate slaughter. You're ignoring a whole category of wars. It's important to understand those wars, not because in a Pollyannish way, "Oh, we should do more of them." It's because, no, oftentimes we go to war assuming very hopefully that that is going to be our experience. And if you think about it, miscalculation is baked into absolutely any war because typically both sides believe they are going to win, and both sides can't necessarily win a war, so someone has miscalculated.

I will say just a last point because we were talking a little bit about Afghanistan. I think it's important to mention this. A truism of Afghanistan amongst anyone who was there, it was often said that "the Americans had the watches, and the Taliban had the time." I think one of the challenges, if I were to quip on why we lost that war, is because the United States was never able to have both the watches and the time, and by time I don't actually necessarily mean physical time. I mean the political will, wherewithal, and capital to actually win that war, and there were very real political reasons why that war couldn't be won, and oftentimes we undercount the political.

I think it will be very interesting to see how cyber and space factor into future conceptions of war. If the United States or any other nations attack, there is going to be a cyber component of that. Look at Solar Winds from last year. Over 400 out of the 500 Fortune 500 companies were hacked into. That is a real threat. I think it needs to be accounted for in our national security. Whether or not the best way to do that is under the Department of Defense or under other administrative structures is to be seen.

To quote the novel The Leopard, if any of you have read it, which is a favorite, one of the truisms of that book is: "Everything must change so that everything can stay the same."

NETA CRAWFORD: Let me just correct one thing, though.

Elliot, I didn't say that massive slaughter is the only way you win a war. What I was saying is that oftentimes wars escalate because the other side resists, and when they resist you keep applying force, and what happens sometimes is that then that force gets to an extreme, which is what happened in the case of Southwest Africa.

But what we have today is a culture, an international milieu, that says slaughter is not okay on that scale. That's why wars tend to drag out today because countries are not willing, thankfully, to go to that extreme. You made the point yourself that sometimes short wars look successful and yet they lay the seed, they lay the ground for the next conflict.

What I want to ask is how it is—and I think Ned will probably want to come in on this—that Afghanistan could have succeeded or any war like it? In 2018–2019 the United States went again with massive air power to try to defeat the Taliban, to try to destroy it, and yet throughout that period the Taliban kept taking back territory. They kept expanding. So the application of massive amounts of air power—and there were different periods: in 2007 there was massive air power; in 2014 there was massive air power against the Taliban, yet they kept taking territory.

What would have worked, and would the hearts and minds have worked better? If you pair hearts and minds with military force, how is that a recipe for success if what you end up doing is killing civilians?

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: I don't believe that the United States ever, in any type of coherent way, articulated what victory in Afghanistan looked like. I can't think of any administration that laid out what its goals were in Afghanistan in a clear way.

You ask how could we have won. I don't necessarily know how to tell you what winning would have looked like. I can unpack a number of what I believe were critical strategic mistakes that didn't allow the United States to find an off-ramp where success was possible.

You may or may not remember. In 2003 there were pieces and editorials written in the lead-up to the war in Iraq that we had won in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was over. I was an active-duty military officer at that point. I remember those conversations: "You don't want to go to Afghanistan. There's nothing to do there." At that point, we left and we went to Iraq, obviously a massive mistake that set the conditions for the Taliban to reconstitute in 2005 and 2006.

The narrative is quickly becoming: "Well, we walked away from the Afghan government and the Afghan military, and the fact that it collapsed is proof of the fact that it was never in any way viable." I think that's a little bit rich seeing as it ignores the fact that the Taliban had massive external support from the Iranians and Pakistanis to include a safe haven over the border in Pakistan. If Iranian and Pakistani support suddenly evaporated for the Taliban, if they received none of that material support and were confined within the borders of Afghanistan, you would have had a very different situation in Afghanistan. I just think it's important to keep all of those variables in mind, and I apologize if I misheard you before.

I am in no way a pro-war guy. I'm no fan of war. I think that these issues of war and peace, I have my way where I think it's important to look at them at all times—I'm not saying anyone here is not doing this—for what they are in our human history and to just be careful in our aspirations, and I have the aspiration to end wars as well. I have a nine-year-old son who is very interested in serving some day in the military, and I really hope he does so in a time of peace, but that our aspirations are properly fused up with the realities of what we are working in so that we do get that outcome of fewer wars.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Let me introduce another theme, and Ned, maybe I'll go to you because this comes up in your book. I want to talk a little bit about the relationship between the military and the potential for militarization and the health of democracy itself. There is something there.

It was already discussed here that in the United States we have a voluntary force. It's a relatively small group of professional soldiers. How does this figure in to our thinking about where we need to go? Where I am going here is, is militarization sort of a profession which is somehow finding its way vis-à-vis—democracy is having some struggle right now. There is something going on here.

I'm curious how you all think about the military and the potential for further militarization and further national security state growth in relation to the obvious troubles that we're seeing in democracy right now.

Ned, do you have some thoughts on that?

NED DOBOS: I do. Before I share those with you, if I could just comment on the previous conversation because I think this is a sticking point.

The question is whether there are now other threats that have displaced the threat of war as conventionally understood as the main threats that we need to address. I am a little bit reluctant to generalize that these new "non-kinetic threats," as you call them, are now more serious for all people in all places. I have a colleague in Israel who says that where he is, terrorism and war are still at the top of the list, and maybe he is right about that.

Having said that, I do agree that as a general rule states these days face bigger problems than armed aggression, whether it be from foreign states, terrorist groups, or whatever the case may be. Elliot seems to be of the view that there are still these flashpoints where war is a very live possibility—with Russia on the border, with Taiwan and China.

But on the other hand, a lot of scholars have a much more optimistic view of the way that international relations has gone. We have this body of empirical research now showing that interstate violence has drastically declined over the last century. Even the RAND Corporation in one of its recent studies found that interstate war is now a rare event. It still does happen, but it is a very rare event.

I think that has implications. If we accept that, yes, it does happen, it might happen, but it's rare, if we accept and appreciate that, it has implications that I don't think we have acknowledged. For example, I think we would look at military spending rather differently if we took that insight seriously.

There was a show on National Geographic Channel you may remember, Doomsday Preppers, where you have these people who spend a whole lot of their time and money and sometimes organize their whole lives preparing for some catastrophic future scenario. We look at that and think: Well, that's bizarre. It's kind of sad for these people to sacrifice so much in the here and now just in case of an event that will almost certainly never happen.

If interstate war is as rare now as some of these scholars claim it is and if we appreciate just how much we sacrifice in order to be permanently prepared for these flare-ups, we would probably recognize that military spending in a lot of places, for a lot of countries, is essentially a kind of doomsday prepping writ large. So it is just about the kind of relative likelihoods of these various problems that we face and whether it's problematic to be investing so much of our resources into this one when the scholarship suggests that it is really in decline.

Remind me, Joel, what your question was.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: I'm interested in how this conversation maps onto challenges we are seeing in democracy right now. We have a highly skilled, technologically driven, and growing in some ways military at a very high level of performance and professionalism, performing vital tasks. I just wonder. It seems disconnected in some way from the body politic, or is there a danger of this in some way?

NED DOBOS: Yes. There is a lot to say here, and I think Neta Crawford is probably the best person to comment on this given her work on the relationship between democracy and war-building.

I have a few thoughts of my own. First, I will say something about the relationship between military communities and the civilian population in democratic countries. I know in Australia most civilians are very positively disposed toward their armed forces personnel. Soldiers are very highly trusted, regarded, and respected, adored almost, and I believe there is something very similar over there in the United States.

On the other hand, the way that military personnel feel about the civilian population is a lot more mixed. Sometimes it's kind of resentment bordering on hostility, even hatred. Back in the 1990s there was this American journalist whose name I have forgotten [Editor's note: Thomas E. Ricks]. He spent some time with the Marines, and what he noticed, his words were, "They had a private loathing for public America."

The analysis in that piece suggested that it had something to do with the conflicts between military values and democratic values. In democratic societies you will often see civilians embodying values that the military sees as pathetic and detestable, and that opens up this cultural gap between civilians and the military. I think that is quite an interesting and potentially worrying phenomenon. It's like having a personal bodyguard that doesn't think very highly of you. That's one tension that you get between militarization and democracy, the fact that the values associated with these two things come into conflict, so there is this tense pairing.

There is another thing I have been wondering for a while. Every time I share this thought with people they tend to dismiss it, but I'll throw it at you and see what you think. It's one of the defining values and projects of liberalism that all individuals should be afforded the same rights and protections. No country could properly call itself a liberal democracy if it didn't aspire to that.

Yet if you look at most any modern military, the people in the military don't have the same rights as the rest of us. In any civilian occupation, even if it's a dangerous occupation, if I'm a construction worker, I have agreed to a risky job. If I show up to work and the boss tells me to do something which I know will kill me, I can say no. I always have the right to refuse those imminently dangerous directives.

Not so in the military. You can't say no. You can only say no to orders to commit war crimes and victimize civilians, but there is no scope for self-regarding disobedience.

It just seems like there is a tension there between on the one hand we think liberal democracy is all about equal rights for all, but on the other hand we think that in order to have a military, even if it's a professional military where it's all volunteers, for that institution to be effective the people within it must be effectively walled off from some of the rights that define liberal democracy.

Like I say, though, these are just my half-baked ideas. Perhaps Neta Crawford can say something more about this.

NETA CRAWFORD: I think there are really two views about this, whether or not the military is good for democracy or whether it's actually not.

On the side of the good, there's the argument that, okay, when there are high levels of militarization that can lead to an increase in rights for people who are historically marginalized. The typical example people give is that during World War II women and African Americans had increased participation in the labor force and in the armed forces because militarization led to a need for greater participation among these historically marginalized groups. That's an argument for militarization. Another argument for militarization is the idea that there can be economic spin-offs, war that leads to basically greater efficiencies.

On the other hand—and this is an old one in the United States, where Washington and Madison argued that the concentration of power that comes with long wars and of militarization is bad for democracy and in fact is antithetical to democracy.

The argument here is really about the values. Washington and Madison were concerned about this concentration of power, but ultimately they were also saying that the values are antipodal in the sense that with war you put force on the table. Force is always an option. With militarization you are preparing to use force. You have said it's okay.

Democracy is just the opposite. It says, "We'll take force off the table domestically, and we don't value force. In fact, we want to limit force to basically self-defense or to capture criminals."

The two values work against each other, and I see us in the United States as living almost always on a tipping point between valuing force and everything that we think it can achieve and saying that it's legitimate and therefore we have police officers who talk about a militarized form of policing, a "warrior cop" mentality, that force comes home in that sense. We also have a very concentrated form of power, where the president can decide by him or herself to use nuclear weapons and declare war, and Congress has become quiescent. The War Powers Act is basically a dead letter.

So the concentration of power and this infusion of values I believe hurts democracy. It doesn't always hurt democracy, but on the other hand when you have greater levels of democratization, we see a greater willingness to resort to other tools such as diplomacy or economic statecraft when dealing with adversaries, which brings us back to what is the best way to deal with Xi and Putin.

If we militarize, we risk us looking more and more like the countries that Xi and Putin run, not that we will become that necessarily, but we get closer to that sort of illiberal side. I would rather not, nor do I believe that it's necessary for us to only respond to them with the threat of force, which is moving military forces into the Indo-Pacific Command or threatening to use force against Putin should he cross the line, and I think these are very real things.

But we cannot destroy what it is we seek to protect or damage what we seek to protect by over-militarizing. If you live, for instance, in the inner city or if you are on a Native American reservation such as at Standing Rock or the Line 3 protest, you see just how militarized American policing has become. It is sadly peopled by many members of the force who are veterans and who take the warrior mentality home.

That was a lot. I will just stick with the concentration of powers is bad, increased secrecy is bad, and the two norms are antipodal.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: It's a big theme. I just want to give Elliot a crack at it. We have talked a lot here about civil-military relations and the health of our democracy. Any thoughts you want to share on that theme, Elliot?

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: Absolutely. I think it's a massive issue in the United States, very much underreported, and one that is not in the forefront of Americans' consciousness, the way that at least I think it necessarily should be. There was—and maybe you all are aware of this—a very interesting video that became kind of a cause célèbre for a couple of weeks, which was the case of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller, who right after the Afghanistan withdrawal and the bombing at Abbey Gate went on Facebook live and basically in a four-minute tour de force demanded accountability up and down the chain of command from the secretary of defense to the joint chiefs to the commandant of the Marine Corps. This rant ended his career.

I remember watching that video, and I was asking myself: "What am I watching here? Is this a rant? What is this guy doing?" It sat with me for a while.

The word I settled on describing is that he was "self-immolating." He basically did the equivalent of dousing himself in gasoline and lighting himself on fire, professional speaking. He was fired from the Marine Corps and lost his retirement after 18 years.

I only bring that up because there is—and this maybe gets to Ned's point—why is the U.S. military popular? Why does it consistently rank as one of America's most popular institutions and one that is trusted?

I would offer that at least one of the contributing factors is that it is one of the very few, if not the last, political institutions in the United States that does not seem to have an overt political bias. It seems somewhat politically neutral, although there have been I think in the last few years forces very much trying to politicize the U.S. military. It doesn't really possess that bias yet, which is not to say that people within the ranks do not have their political biases, oftentimes heavily one way or another, but there is this code of omertà, that you don't speak your political beliefs if you are wearing the uniform.

For instance, I remember at one point 20 years ago during the 2000 election, I was a college student, and I asked a Marine colonel who was a fellow on campus whether he voted, and he said to me, "Oh, no, I don't vote," like someone might say, "You know, I don't smoke." I realized that his view was that as a military office he should have no say in who the commander-in-chief is because that's not his president, that's actually the highest level of his chain of command, and he doesn't vote on his chain of command.

Which is just to say that the U.S. military has a very different relationship with political power in the United States. For the U.S. military it is a matter of that chain of command, and as American politics gets more and more dysfunctional, I think we are going to potentially see more scenarios like the summer of 2020 or January of 2021, where there are massive stressors that are going on and the military becomes a real live wire and chit that is getting played one way or another. I am not saying this as a partisan. I am just saying it as thinking out to the future.

I think we should be worried. What happens when another lieutenant colonel, maybe not a Stuart Scheller, is in a situation, whether that's in Lafayette Square or around the Capitol in January and is told to do something, and maybe he or she doesn't agree with that and goes their own way. I think that is something we should be thinking about as a country, particularly in an environment where we have a massive civil-military divide. I think it's absolutely accurate to say that many people in the military, particularly as the military becomes increasingly intergenerational, increasingly recruited from certain portions of the United States, and that divide widens and widens, could you see a crisis where people in the military are asked to choose politically.

I don't say that to be alarmist, but I think we are going now in the United States from contested election to contested election, meaning that when the election happens both sides don't just shake hands and say it's over, and each time we see these contested elections I would say it's the equivalent of drunk driving insomuch as we've made it though 2016, now we've made it through 2020, now we're going to go into 2024, and yes, we've survived all of these, but like the drunk driver, typically the first time the drunk driver wraps his or her car around a telephone pole, it's not the first time they went to the bar and had too many drinks. Maybe it's the third time, the fourth time, or the fifth time, and I think we should be very worried about the potential role that a large standing military has in a country particularly where there is a massive civil-military cultural divide. If we look back through history, from Caesar's Rome to Napoleon's France, that does not end well for democracy.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: We are coming to the end here, so just a couple of things to maybe wrap this up.

Elliot, that was really helpful in painting the challenge of the moment.

I am sitting here trying to think of potential alternate scenarios or strategies that would lead to better outcomes. One is obvious—I'm sure a lot of people are thinking this—and this is not just for the United States but would be for any country, particularly for democracies: What about public service or national service with a non-military option, maybe not required but maybe heavily incentivized for young people to serve their country in either a military or non-military way? How do you all think about that in relation to where we are right now?

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: I'll take a crack at it. It's something I have thought about.

I am very much for a draft, not because I am actually for militarization. I count myself as against militarization, but I believe that a draft would demilitarize us insomuch as when we think of the draft we think it's every 18-year-old person has to go off and serve the military. That by and large hasn't necessarily been the case. Oftentimes drafts are typically done through a lottery system, and it is not necessarily the draft itself but the specter of the draft that has real power to incentivize citizens to have skin in the game.

As a thought experiment, imagine what the United States would look like if 5 percent of military-age young people, men and women, were eligible for the draft through a lottery system. I think it would potentially dramatically change our relationship to the military and how much Americans pay attention to threats abroad because our wars would stop being something that happened "over there" and was happening with somebody else. I think by and large that would have a healthy effect for our democracy.

That being said, I don't think it's something that in the current political climate we would likely see legislatively any time soon.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Ned, what's the situation in Australia with regard to national service?

NED DOBOS: It's fully voluntary. There is no draft. There is no debate about introducing it.

I haven't given a whole lot of thought about whether there should be compulsory national service, military or non-military, and I can see arguments pulling both ways, the argument against having at least something to do with liberalism and forced labor and so on.

Perhaps one thing that can be said in favor of some sort of compulsory national service is that it might help us deal with a problem that we're facing in countries like ours, what Elliot says is this kind of increased political polarization where people are in their own echo chambers, in their own silos, and they have their own truths, their own facts, and so on.

One antidote to these kinds of social cleavages is just more interaction among people who wouldn't otherwise interact. I think psychologists call this the "contact effect" or something. So, if you're hostile towards a group of people, you've got certain prejudices towards them, preconceived ideas, simply interacting with them on an ongoing basis is going to correct some of those prejudices or get rid of them. The problem is, left to their own devices, people will primarily mix with people that are just like themselves. Social groups tend to be homogenous in that way. One of the benefits that I could see of compulsory national service is that it would have the effect of getting people to mix with demographically diverse others, and that might break down some of these social cleavages.

The ordinary workplace used to perform this role. People have to work to make a living, so for the sake of earning their salaries they will go into an organization where they are forced to cooperate with people they would not otherwise have anything to do with, and that would have this effect. But because of the way the labor market has gone, the workplace is not performing that role as well as it once did, and perhaps that's part of the reason why we are seeing this social polarization.

I think there's something to be said for national service as an antidote to this growing problem of polarization in society, the divisions we're seeing.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Neta, did you want to weigh in on that?

NETA CRAWFORD: Yes. I think that what we have right now is essentially a "poverty draft." For many people military service is a way to get what they see as potential education or training. It's a way to avoid prison. It's a way to get them out of a situation they perceive as more violent than it would be in the armed forces.

National service that is alternative, that provides some of the same benefits as military service, would actually be quite beneficial. That's the only way I would like see it, as a voluntary situation or where it's an alternative to military service, where you get the same kinds of benefits.

For example, if somebody were to go to a "teacher service on steroids." We have national teacher service as a potential, AmeriCorps, but if it were actually boosted so that if you chose to be a public school teacher in a poor neighborhood for 10 or 15 years, then you get better benefits.

Basically what you have with the military is a fantastic jobs program. You get healthcare for life, Tricare, often you get training that is valuable to you, and sometimes you get preferential hiring as a consequence of your service. The pay could be better, and in fact the military is getting a large raise this year in the National Defense Authorization Act.

But it's actually a fairly good deal, and I think that's another reason why it's popular among people who don't see themselves as having other options. If we had this national service, in other words, Joel, I think it would be excellent, but I wouldn't like to see it as something that is required.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: We are coming to the end of our 90 minutes, so I'm going to bring it to a conclusion. Did anybody have anything that they wanted to share before we formally adjourn?

NETA CRAWFORD: I just wanted to question the notion that the greatest provocation is weakness. It seems to me that there are many ways to understand the causes of war, and some of the provocations do come from having an aggressor who sees a weaker side and wants to take advantage of that, but I think historically often the aggressor aggresses whether or not they see the other side as weak. They choose to see their chances of victory as strong.

I will leave it at that. I have lots of historical examples, but there you go.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: Maybe we'll have another session.

Elliot, did you want to speak just to that?

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: I would just like to speak to one point because I think it's very important and probably germane to a lot of what we are talking about.

I think this idea that the military is a poverty draft, in addition to being—sorry, I'm going to use a strong word here—patronizing to people who have served in the military, does not represent our armed forces and the people who serve in the ranks, many of whom are very accomplished, very dynamic people, and people who come with many options and choose and elect to serve in the military. I believe that type of thinking is in many respects evidence of the civil-military divide that exists in this country.

Yes, the pay is not good, but additionally you serve in the military you actually don't get health care for life. You have to retire at 20 years to get health care for life. You get Veterans Administration (VA) medical care, which is less than ideal, if you serve four years. When people who come out of the military and are looking for jobs and have done four years go into the workforce and labor force, where people believe that they went into the military because they had no other options, is what creates a lot of the resentment that veterans feel to the society for which they served.

NETA CRAWFORD: Elliot, my apologies. I have a cousin who is a brigadier general. I don't think he went into the military because he was poor. That might be part of the reason, but he went to serve. Many people go to serve.

What I do see is that it is perceived and is used by many people as a way to get out of a situation, to get better options, and that is because the military does provide better options than they might otherwise have.

ELLIOT ACKERMAN: Adding to your point, it's one of the great drivers of social mobility that has existed in this country for a long time, and regardless of wars successful or failed, that is a good thing that the United States military has done. It has been an engine of social mobility in many cases.

JOEL ROSENTHAL: With that, I am going to call us to a conclusion. I want to thank all of you for your many contributions.

Ned, thank you for the symposium in the journal, and Neta for your participation. Elliot, thank you for answering the call. This has been a really good conversation.

I know that a lot of the Carnegie Council constituents feel like we do, that we are at an unusual moment right now with these issues, again with the conclusion of the war in Afghanistan or the U.S. withdrawal from it, and some of the issues that we are all facing together now globally, that this is an important moment. The Carnegie Council tries to play a role here in identifying people just like you who are willing to share your thoughts and experiences and to do it in such an honest and reflective way. Thank you for doing that and thank you for sharing it.

For any of you who are listening, you can come to the Carnegie Council website. There are a lot more programs like this one, videos, podcasts, transcripts, and some resources to continue to think through some of these issues. We will be reconvening shortly to pick up on some of them.

With that, we will adjourn. Thank you very much, and we hope to see you all again soon.

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