01 October 2009

It's Not War

The latest Newsweek reports on the length of American wars. By their accounting:

Vietnam War 8 years, 5 months, 21 days
American Revolution 8 years, 4 months, 16 days
War in Afghanistan 7 years, 11 months, 22 days
Iraq War 6 years, 6 months, 9 days
World War II 6 years, 2 days
World War I 4 years, 3 months, 15 days
Gulf War 1 months, 13 days

War is a battle to invade or repel an invasion. It may or may not topple a government when it is over. At its conclusion, either a government has surrendered or two governments have negotiated a peace.

Occupation is a battle to rule a people. There is only one official government. If there is no government change to come, no opposing army to surrender, and no land to conquer or give up, there is no way to "date" the end of that battle.

The War in Afghanistan threatens to become the longest American war because it is an occupation. You can date the fall of Iraq or the Taliban supported government in Afghanistan. By that measure the wars were short. There is no good way to date the end of the occupation - or even a good way to end an occupation.

[It's worth noting that the American Revolution also ended with victory on the side of the lesser power whose chief advantage was that they had no where else to go as they battled an occupying force.]


Gypsy at Heart said...

There is no such thing as an end to a war. There is only a pause to a particular conflict until, the next flare up takes place.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Yep. I concur.

Also, the so-called "war on terrorism" isn't really a war and could last for generations.

Big Al said...

We're just a war-loving nation:
-- war on drugs (abuse)
-- war on poverty
-- war on terror
-- war on hunger
-- war on illiteracy
-- war on crime
...to name a few.

Just give us something to fight for and we're there.

Lifehiker said...

We ain't won any of Big Al's wars, and we won't win the non-war in Afghanistan, either.

R World makes some good points, and I've tried to make some, too, in opposition to a nation-building occupation strategy.

My judgment about Obama's smarts will surely change if he caves in to the guys who live to conduct, or profit from, unending "wars" halfway around the world.