How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything

Oct. 6, 2016

In a world in which the instant push of a button can lead to the death of a particular individual more than eight thousand miles away, is it possible to define "war" with any clarity? What separates the targeting of an enemy combatant under lawful wartime from the extrajudicial murder of someone suspected of wrongdoing? What is the purpose of a modern military in a world where future threats come from computer hackers, terrorists, and other nonstate actors?

These are some of the questions Future of War fellow Rosa Brooks poses in her new book,  How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything. Backed up by a career with human rights NGOs and top positions in the Pentagon, she argues that by viewing more and more threats as "war," its ambit of law seems to apply to more and more spheres of human activity. The result: a greater tolerance for secrecy and coercion, the inevitable expansion of the military, and a society distrustful of the entity tasked with protecting it.

New America NYC presented a discussion with Senior Future of War Fellow Rosa Brooks and U.S. Army Reserve Officer Elizabeth Addonizio on how to bring into focus the increasingly blurry boundaries of "war" and "peace" and the global security outcomes that depends on their understanding.