Making the Forever War: The Enduring Insights of Historian Marilyn Young

What drives the forever war? First and foremost, it is a failure to learn the lessons of the past, argued the late Marilyn Young, a preeminent historian of American warmaking and its impact at home and abroad. This virtual panel examines her ideas and legacy, captured in a new collection of her essays, Making the Forever War: Marilyn Young on the Culture and Politics of American Militarism. Young shows how the United States has formed a domestic politics and culture that enable the country to be continually at war, without the American people paying much attention. Long before 9/11, she reveals, the conditions for endless war were laid in U.S. military actions in Korea, Vietnam, and beyond. To discuss Young’s work, the Quincy Institute has assembled a panel of distinguished historians who knew Marilyn personally.  The discussion features QI President Andrew Bacevich; QI Nonresident Fellow and Emory Law Professor Mary L. Dudziak, who co-edited Making the Forever War; and QI Nonresident Fellow and Johns Hopkins Assistant Professor Christy Thornton. Stephen Wertheim, QI’s Director of Grand Strategy, will moderate.


Mary Dudziak

Mary L. Dudziak is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law at Emory University. She is a leading legal historian and works at the intersection of US domestic law and international affairs. With Mark Bradley, Dudziak edited Making the Forever War: Marilyn Young on the Culture and Politics of American War, a collection which brings Young's articles and essays on American war together for the first time. Dudziak is currently writing a revisionist account of the decline of democratic restraints on the war power: Going to War: An American History. She is also the author of War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences (2012), Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey (2008), and Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (2000).

Christy Thornton

Christy Thornton is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute and Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University. An expert in US-Latin American relations and Latin American political economy, she holds a PhD in History from New York University, as well as an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University. She has previously been a fellow at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at Harvard University, and was for five years the Executive Director of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), a 50-year old research and advocacy organization. She recently published her first book, Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy (2021). She makes regular media appearances and has published widely in outlets including in The New York Times' “Room for Debate,” The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, The Nation, and Jacobin.

Andrew Bacevich

Andrew J. Bacevich is the President of the Quincy Institute. He graduated from West Point and Princeton and served in the army for 23 years, prior to an academic and writing career. Among his dozen books are: The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism; Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War; America’s War for the Greater Middle East; and The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory. He is professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University.

Stephen Wertheim (Moderator)

Stephen Wertheim is Director of the Grand Strategy Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Wertheim is the author of Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy (Harvard University Press, 2020) and has published scholarly articles on such topics as grand strategy, international law, world organization, and humanitarian intervention. He regularly writes about current events in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. He received a PhD in History from Columbia in 2015.