When did the Forever War become the Forever War? Okay, the open-ended nature of the 2001 AUMF, and its continued existence, made it a forever war, but I'm interested in the term, which is now a feature of the 2020 campaign trail, and of discourse well before that.
Forever War was a feature of op-ed headlines in 2017 nytimes.com/2017/03/09/opi… and 2016 warontherocks.com/2016/08/bringi…
Mark Danner's book "Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War" was published and reviewed in 2016, which might explain some of its 2016 prominence nybooks.com/articles/2016/…
But the term was in use regularly in 2015 in the general ~national security~ space, like at Lawfare lawfareblog.com/forever-war-en… or Foreign Policy foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/13/the…
Just Security's Forever War tag goes back to 2015, with stories published as recently as this month justsecurity.org/tag/forever-wa…
The planned withdrawals of 2014 saw a boomlet in Ending the Forever War (Slate) slate.com/news-and-polit… while its demise was also seen as unlikely (Foreign Policy) foreignpolicy.com/2014/01/24/the…
Drone war legal architect Harold Koh used the term in 2013 law.yale.edu/yls-today/news…
Forever War was a term of critique in the 2012 election season; here's Ted Rall drawing a cartoon about the possibility of US in Afghanistan until at least 2012 rall.com/comic/the-fore…
Perpetual blogger Kevin Drum called Afghanistan a Forever War in 2011 motherjones.com/kevin-drum/201…
Author Dexter Filkins' book "The Forever War," published in 2008, or just 2/5ths into the present lifespan of the AUMF, is a big touchstone; NPR published excerpts in 2010 npr.org/2011/07/15/946…
Also in 2010, Mark Danner gave a lecture at Stanford on "Torture and the Forever War" tannerlectures.utah.edu/_documents/a-t… which probably helped to cement the term at the time.
A 2009 NYT op-ed used Forever War" to talk about the enduring struggle of PTSD, though it didn't call the wars authorized by the AUMF forever wars nytimes.com/2009/11/07/opi…
Filkins, again, in 2009 talking Forever War on NPR npr.org/transcripts/10…, and here's the LA Weekly with a review of his 2008 book of the same name laweekly.com/dexter-filkins…
Here's Mark Danner speaking on the Forever War, by that name, in 2006 markdanner.com/orations/the-p…
And here, is Mark Danner in the NYT in 2005, is the earliest clear instance I could find of someone writing about the Forever War in reference to the wars authorized by the AUMF nytimes.com/2005/09/11/mag…
This is less a comprehensive look at the term, and more of an initial dive into its origins.

It is, as best I can trace it, a look at how the term Forever War endured as a critique of the wars authorized by the AUMF, & especially at how it became the terminology for it within DC
What is most glaringly absent from this look is tracing how the term was adopted & used by war-skeptical & war-weary activists. By focusing only on how the term shows up in google-indexed publications, we can see public elite discourse, but not necessarily anything beyond that.
The other striking observation, really, is that the term was designed and deployed to anticipate a long conflict. Now that the wars have continued for nearly 15 years after Danner used the term, and 12 years after Filkins published the book by that name, it's merely descriptive.
As the term became merely a description of the present, instead of a warning about what might happen, it lost the ability to clearly guide action that ends the forever war. Repealing the 2001 AUMF is essential, but everything else for the forever war remains in place anyway.
Anyway, this whole thread is a long answer to this
I should have made this clear up-top: yes, I'm familiar with Joe Haldeman's 1974 novel "The Forever War."

That undoubtedly seeded the term, but what I am looking for here was, specifically, the history of the term *as exclusively applies to the wars authorized by the 2001 AUMF.*

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"Wars become endless when a belligerent adopts objectives it doesn’t have the capability to achieve, but isn’t at risk of facing defeat."

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has, uh, anyone in the Army seen "The Boys"
screenshots for when someone gets around to googling what happens in the show
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