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Iraq and Afghanistan: America's invisible wars

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"Americans are not asked to participate, and only minimally experience the various effects of one of the longest wars in our history," says Mr. Bacevich.

Although the impact of the present conflicts may be limited, that doesn't mean that the experience hasn't altered the views of Americans. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that 49 percent of Americans – an all-time high in 40 years of polling – believe the United States should "mind its own business" internationally.

As Luther Sower, a World War II vet and retired York County school administrator says, "I don't believe we should be putting our noses in everyone else's affairs. I don't do that in my private life, and I don't think we should do that in the world."

Carroll Doherty, an associate director at Pew, attributes that finding to the severe economic downturn but also to war fatigue.

Bacevich points to another likely change in outlook as a result of what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. For many, the idea of quick, decisive military victories as a result of superior technology, he says, "has pretty much been demolished."

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It may not be fair to say anyplace in America is typical, but like many other cities and towns in the US, York finds itself remote from the present wars but hardly immune. At least three residents of York County have died in Iraq, although the York Daily Dispatch, the local newspaper, has identified as many as 17 fallen servicemen with local connections.

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