Michèle Flournoy, who served under both the Clinton and Obama administrations and played a role in orchestrating the United States' troop surge in Afghanistan 2010, told The Washington Post that she imagines a future in which Washington seemingly learns from its mistakes in Afghanistan and limits its use of military force to situations with more clearly defined objectives. She also hopes any future scenarios in which the U.S. attempts to spread democracy or change societies is informed by more humility.
More specifically, one possibility for the future of the U.S. military is to turn its focus more toward issues like pandemics and climate change, the Post writes. John Gans, who served as a civilian in the Obama administration, noted that many more Americans have died of COVID-19 than the number of U.S. lives lost in terrorist attacks and war since 9/11, though he doesn't think it's likely things will shift that way anytime soon. "After 9/11, everyone raced to become a Middle East or counterterrorism expert," Gans told the Post. "After [the pandemic], you don't see many foreign policy people racing to become global health experts."
More likely, the Post suggests, the foreign policy establishment will turn its head toward other geopolitical threats like China and Russia, which are primed to take center stage as the U.S. leaves the Middle East and Central Asia behind. Read more about the lessons learned from the conflict in Afghanistan at The Washington Post.