“Endless war” and “forever wars” are both terms that are casually used to characterize U.S. military operations abroad. These characterizations appeal strongly to audiences inclined to oppose military operations, but the use of these expressions imply intellectual laziness. People who use them typically toss them out without addressing either why the military is engaged in the action or the potential consequences of ending the operation prematurely.
To be sure, overseas operations that continue for years warrant regular scrutiny. After all, there should be a compelling reason Americans are put into harm’s way. Moreover, the public that is paying for those operations has a right to know whether their taxes are being effectively used toward a worthwhile purpose.
These days, the term “endless wars” is being employed more as political sloganeering than as a serious critique of continued U.S. involvement in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia. Yet, in every case, these countries, their circumstances, the threats to U.S. interests involved, and the larger geopolitical story that shapes policy toward each are unique.