The Forever War and the Ever-Expanding Military

In The News Piece in Slate
Aug. 8, 2016

Rosa Brooks' new book, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything, was covered in Slate

Rosa Brooks’ experience at the Pentagon, where she was a counselor to the undersecretary of defense for policy, serves as the foundation for her new book, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales From the Pentagon. Brooks traces the military’s growing role in American life, and the dangers it presents for law, accountability, and international relations. As she writes in the book, “Most of the institutions and laws designed to protect rights and prevent the arbitrary or abusive exercise of state power rest on the assumption that we can readily distinguish between war and peace.” Especially after 9/11, this ability to distinguish between the two has faded away, with what Brooks sees as profound consequences.
Brooks is the daughter of anti-war protesters (her mother is the journalist and writer Barbara Ehrenreich) and has had a career as a columnist, lawyer, human-rights worker, and government official. (Her husband is an Army Green Beret.) Together these experiences shape the book, which is both an account of her own experience in government and a history of how the military became so dominant an institution.
I spoke by phone with Brooks recently. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed how the military has seized territory from other departments of the government, the problem with America’s drone policy, and the tricky politics of reforming the military.