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List of the lengths of United States participation in wars

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  • ✪ America in World War I: Crash Course US History #30
  • ✪ Why Did America Fight the Korean War?
  • ✪ American Imperialism: Crash Course US History #28
  • ✪ WW2: The Resource War - Arsenal of Democracy - Extra History - #1
  • ✪ Dutch Participation in the Korean War 1950-1954


Episode 30: America and World War I Hi I’m John Green, this is Crash Course U.S. history and today we’re finally going to make the military history buffs happy. That’s right, today we’re going to talk about how the United States with its superior technology, innovative tactics and remarkable generalship turned the tide of World War I. Mr. Green, Mr. Green. Finally. I’ve been waiting for months to learn about tanks and airplanes and Ernest Hemingway. Well that’s a shame, Me from the Past, because I was kidding about this being an episode full of military details. But I do promise that we will mention Ernest Hemingway. And in a few weeks I will tell you about how he liberated the martinis of Paris. intro Americans were only involved in the Great War for 19 months and, compared with the other belligerents, we didn’t do much fighting. Still, the war had profound effects on America at home, on its place in the world and it also resulted in an amazing number of war memorials right here in Indianapolis. So, The Great War, which lasted from 1914 until 1918, and featured a lot of men with hats and rifles, cost the lives of an estimated 10 million soldiers. Also the whole thing was kind of horrible and pointless, unless you love art and literature about how horrible and pointless World War I was in which case, it was a real bonanza. So, when the war broke out, America remained neutral, because we were a little bit isolationist owing to the fact that we were led, of course, by President Wilson. But many Americans sided with the British because by 1914 we’d pretty much forgotten about all the bad parts of British rule, like all that tea and monarchy. Plus, they’re so easy to talk to with their English. But there were a significant number of Progressives who worried that involvement in the war would get in the way of social reforms at home. In fact, Wilson courted these groups in the 1916 presidential campaign running on the slogan “He kept us out of War.” And will continue to keep us out of war until we reelect him and then he gets us into war. But, for that slogan to make sense, there had to have been some way in which war was avoided, which brings me to one of the classic errors made by American history students. What? I haven’t even said anything yet. But you were about to, Me From the Past, because if I had asked you what event led the U.S. to enter World War I, you would have surely told me that it was the sinking of the cruise ship Lusitania by German submarines. 124 American passengers died when the ship, which had been carrying arms and also guns, was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland. Even though Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan had warned Americans not to travel on British, French, or German ships, Wilson refused to ban such travel because, you know: freedom. Bryan promptly resigned. So how do I know it wasn’t the immediate cause of our involvement in the war? Because the United States declared war on Germany and the Central powers on April 2, 1917, almost two years after the sinking of the Lusitania. So why did the United States declare war for only the fourth time in its history? Was it the Germans’ decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917? Was it the interception and publication of the Zimmerman Telegram in which the German Foreign Secretary promised to help Mexico get back California if they joined Germany in a war against the U.S? Or was it the fall of the Tsarist regime in Russia, which made Wilson’s claims that he wanted to fight to make the world safe for democracy a bit more plausible? Yes, yes, and yes. Also there was our inclination to help Britain, to whom we had loaned a $2 billion. That’s the thing about wars. They never start for easy, simple reasons like Lusitania sinkings. Stupid truth, always resisting simplicity. Oh, it’s time for the Mystery Document? The rules here are simple. I guess the author of the mystery document. I’m either right or I get shocked I. [or possibly “one”] Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view. II. [I’m starting to think these are Roman numerals] Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for it’s maintenance. [And] XIV. [I’m going to guess we skipped some.] A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity of great and small states alike. Stan, thank you for throwing me a softball. That’s my favorite kind of ball. Other than you, Wilson. With its mention of self-determination, freedom of the seas, open diplomacy, and liberal use of Roman numerals, I know it is Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Our second consecutive Woodrow Wilson week and my second consecutive non-shock. Given all of his quasi-imperialism, there’s something a little bit ideologically inconsistent about Wilson, but his Fourteen Points are pretty admirable as a statement of purpose. Most of them deal specifically with colonial possessions, and were pretty much ignored, but I suppose if we have learned anything, it’s that in American history, it’s the thought that counts. [Libertage] America’s primary contribution to the Entente powers winning the war was economic as we sent all sorts of arms and money “over there.” Troops didn’t arrive until the spring of 1918 and eventually over 1 million American doughboys served under General John J. Pershing. Not all of these people saw combat. They were much more likely to die of flu than bullet wounds, but their sheer numbers were enough to force the defeat of the exhausted Germans. And now, as promised, I will mention Ernest Hemingway. He served as an ambulance driver, which gave him a close up view of death and misery and led to his membership in the so called Lost Generation of writers who lived in Paris in the 1920s and tried to make sense of everything. Turns out, it’s pretty hard to make sense of and you’re just going to end up with a lot of six-toed cats and then eventually suicide. Okay, so I said earlier than a lot of American Progressives were anti-war, but certainly not all of them. Like, according to Randolph Bourne, “War is the health of the state.” And for progressives like him, “the war offered the possibility of reforming American society along scientific lines, instilling a sense of national unity and self-sacrifice, and expanding social justice.” Let’s go to the ThoughtBubble. World War I made the national government much more powerful than it had ever been. Like, in May of 1917, Congress passed the selective service act, which required 24 million men to register for the draft and eventually increased the size of the army from 120,000 to 5 million. The government also commandeered control of much of the economy to get the country ready to fight, creating new agencies to regulate industry, transportation, labor relations, and agriculture. The War Industries Board took charge of all elements of wartime production setting quotas and prices and establishing standardized specification for almost everything, even down to the color of shoes. The Railroad Administration administered transportation, and the Fuel Agency rationed coal and oil. This regulation sometimes brought about some of the progressives’ goals. Like, the War Labor Board, for instance, pushed for a minimum wage, eight hour days and the rights of workers to form unions. Wages rose substantially in the era, working conditions improved and union membership skyrocketed. But then so did taxes, and the wealthiest Americans ended up on the hook for 60% of their income. Also, in World War I as never before, the government used its power to shape public opinion. In 1917 the Wilson administration created the Committee on Public Information, which only sounds like it’s from an Orwell novel. Headed by George Creel, the CPI’s team created a wave of propaganda to get Americans to support the war, printing pamphlets, making posters and advertising in swanky motion pictures. The best known strategies were the speeches of 75,000 four minute men, who in that amount of time delivered messages of support for the war in theaters, schools, and other public venues. The key concepts in the CPI propaganda effort were democracy and freedom. “Creel believed that the war would accelerate movement towards solving the “age old problems of poverty, inequality, oppression, and unhappiness,” because, obviously, war is the most effective antidepressant. Thanks, Thoughtbubble. So the aforementioned Randolph Bourne might have had good things so say about war, but he was also correct when he suggested that the war would encourage and empower the “least democratic forces in American life.” World War I may have been a war to make the world safe for democracy but according to one historian “the war inaugurated the most intense repression of civil liberties the nation has ever known.” War suppressing civil liberties, eh? I’m glad those days have passed. Speaking of the repression of civil liberties, the NSA is about to start watching this video because I’m about to use the word “espionage.” The Espionage act of 1917 prohibited spying, interfering with the draft and “false statements” that might impede military success. Even more troubling was the Sedition Act passed in 1918, which criminalized statements that were intended to cast “contempt, scorn or disrepute” on our form of government or that advocated interference with the war effort. So basically these laws made it a crime to criticize either the war or the government. In fact, Eugene Debs, the Socialist who ran for president in 1912, was one of those convicted for giving an anti-war speech. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and he served three of them, but he ran for president from prison and got 900,000 votes. Fortunately, thanks to checks and balances, you can turn to the courts. Unfortunately, they weren’t very helpful. Like in Schenck v. the U.S., the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a guy named Schenck for encouraging people to avoid the draft and ruled that the government can punish critical speech when it presents a “clear and present danger,” to the state and its citizens. This was when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes introduced the famous exception to free speech, that it is not okay to “shout fire in a crowded theater.” Nor apparently is it okay to shout, “We shouldn’t be in this war, I don’t think. Just my opinion.” But, some went even further. The 250,000 strong American Protective League helped the Justice Department identify radicals by harassing people in what were called “slacker raids.” Good thing those stopped before you got to high school, right Me from the Past? Slacker. In Bisbee, Arizona vigilantes went so far to put striking copper miners in boxcars, shipped them out to the middle of the desert and left them there. The war also raised the question of what it meant to be a ‘real American.’ Like, public schools “Americanized” immigrants and sought to “implant in their children, so far as can be done, the Anglo-Saxon conceptions of righteousness, law and order, and popular government.” Many cities sponsored Americanization pageants, especially around the Fourth of July, which the CPI in 1918 re-christened “Loyalty Day”. Hamburgers, a German word, became liberty sandwiches. World War I certainly didn’t create anti-immigrant feeling in the United States, but it was used to justify it. Like, IQ tests, introduced to screen army applicants, were soon used to argue that certain immigrant groups were inferior to white protestants and could never be fully assimilated into the United States. Now, of course, those tests were tremendously biased, but no matter. But, to return to the questions of dissent and free speech, the suppression continued after the war with the 1919 Palmer Raids, for instance, named after Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and headed up by a young J. Edgar Hoover. To be fair, someone did try to blow up Palmer. So there was some dissent related to the suppression of dissent. Also, more than 4 million workers engaged in strikes in the United States in 1919 but that didn’t legally justify the arrest of more than 5,000 suspected radicals and labor organizers. Most of them were arrested without warrants and held without charge, sometimes for months. And it’s difficult to imagine that all of this would have happened without the heightened sense of patriotism that always accompanies war. However, there were a handful of good things to come out of the Great War, and not just the stylings of Irving Berlin. Like, students are often taught that the war led directly to the passage of the 19th amendment, although a number of states had actually granted the franchise to women before the war. In Montana, for instance, women didn’t just vote, they held office. Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin voted against the declaration of war in 1917, and was the only member of the House to vote against the declaration of war against Japan in 1941. New opportunities in wartime industry also provided incentives for African Americans to move north, thus beginning the so-called great migration and the growth of black populations in northern cities like Chicago and New York. The biggest gain was in Detroit where between 1910 and 1920 the black population rose from 5,741 to 40,838, a 611% increase. So it’s true that World War I provided some new opportunities for African Americans and women, but if World War I was supposed to be an opportunity for America to impose its progressive ideas on the rest of the world, it failed. The Versailles peace conference where Wilson tried to implement his 14 Points raised hope for a new diplomatic order. But, the results of the treaty made the 14 points look hypocritical. I mean, especially when Britain and France took control of Germany’s former colonies and carved up the Arabian provinces of the Ottoman Empire into new spheres of influence. Wilson’s dream of a League of Nations was realized, but the U.S. never joined it largely because Congress was nervous about giving up its sovereign power to declare war. And disappointment over the outcome of World War I led the U.S. to, for the most part, retreat into isolationism until World War II. And therein lies the ultimate failure of World War I. It’s not called “The World War,” it’s called “World War I,” because then we had to go and have a freaking other one. We’ll talk about that in a few weeks, but next week we get to talk about suffrage. Yes! We finally did something right. I’ll see you then. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller. Our script supervisor is Meredith Danko. The associate producer is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history teacher Raoul Meyer, Rosianna Rojas, and myself. And our graphics team is Thought Café. Every week, there’s a new caption for the Libertage. If you’d like to suggest one, you can do so in comments where you can also ask questions about today’s video that will be answered by our team of historians. Thanks for watching Crash Course and as we say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome. Stan, can you do some movie magic to get me out of here? Perfect.


Lengths of U.S. combat forces' participation in wars

War in the context of this list broadly construed to be armed conflict between organized U.S. military forces and organized forces of (a) belligerent(s).

War Dates Duration Duration (graphical representation)
1. War in Afghanistan 2001/10 – present[1][2] 17.3 years
(17 years, 3 months)
2. Vietnam War 1955/11 – 1973/04[3][4][5][6][7] 17.4 years
(17 years, 4 months)
3. Moro Rebellion 1899 – 1913 14 years
4. Northwest Indian War 1785 – 1795 10 years
5. Iraq War 2003/03 – 2011/12[8][9][10][11][12][13][14] 8.8 years
(8 years, 9 months)
6. American Revolutionary War 1775/04 – 1783/09 8.4 years
(8 years, 5 months)
7. Second Seminole War 1835/12 – 1842/08 6.7 years
(6 years, 7 months)
8. War on ISIS 2014/06 – present 4.6 years
(4 years, 7 months)
9. First Barbary War 1801/05 – 1805/06 4.1 years
(4 years, 1 month)
10. American Civil War 1861/04 – 1865/04 4 years
11. World War II 1941/12 – 1945/08 3.7 years
(3 years, 8 months)
12. Korean War 1950/06 – 1953/07 3.1 years
(3 years, 1 month)
13. War of 1812 1812/06 – 1814/12 2.5 years
(2 years, 6 months)
14. Red Cloud's War 1866/07 – 1868/04 1.8 years
(1 year, 9 months)
15. Mexican–American War 1846/04 – 1848/02 1.8 years
(1 year, 9 months)
16. World War I 1917/04 – 1918/11 1.6 years
(1 year, 7 months)
17. Russian Civil War 1918/09 – 1920/04[15] 1.6 years
(1 year, 7 months)
18. Great Sioux War of 1876 1876/02 – 1877/05 1.2 years
(1 year, 3 months)
19. Libyan Civil War (2011) 2011/03 – 2011/10[16] 0.6 years
(7 months)
20. Persian Gulf War 1990/08 – 1991/02[17][18] 0.6 years
(7 months)
21. Whiskey Rebellion 1794/05 – 1794/10 0.4 years
(5 months)
22. Spanish–American War 1898/04 – 1898/08 0.3 years
(114 days)
23. Kosovo War 1999/03 – 1999/06[19] 0.2 years
(79 days)
24. Invasion of Panama 1989/12 – 1990/01 0.1 years
(42 days)
25. Invasion of Grenada 1983/10/25 – 1983/10/29 0 years
(4 days)

(Ongoing wars indicated in bold and with red bars.) Sources are found in the main articles of each war, as well as the Associated Press.[20]


  • Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution gives the United States Congress the power to declare War. Historically wars have been either declared as "Formal" wars or authorized as "Authorized military engagements".[21] In 1973 Congress further clarified their role in authorized armed conflict with the passing of the War Powers Resolution.[22]
  • The dates used by the Associated Press for official U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War are August 1964 (the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution) to January 1973 (the Paris Peace Accords), although U.S. military activities and intervention in Vietnam spanned from 1955 to 1975.[23][24][25] While the first US Combat Troops arrived in South Vietnam in 1965, by the end of 1964 over 23,000 American military personnel were already present.[26]
  • For the Philippine–American War, not included by the Associated Press in their tally above, official start and end dates used by some sources are June 2, 1899 – July 4, 1902, (three years and one month,) although resistance groups continued fighting until June 15, 1913.[27][28][29][30]
  • The start date used by the Associated Press for U.S. engagement in the Persian Gulf War is January 17, 1991 (the start of its extensive aerial bombing campaign under the offensive known as Operation Desert Storm.)[31]
  • U.S. President Barack Obama pledged in 2009 and 2010 that the U.S. war in Iraq would end by the end of 2011 when all remaining U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq. Then, in the Spring of 2011, Secretary of Defense Gates, went to Iraq, pleading with the government of Iraq, to let U.S. Forces remain past the 2011 deadline.[32][33][34][35][36][37]
  • The start date of March 24, 1999 is the date used by PBS Frontline as the beginning of the Kosovo air war. The ending date of June 20, 1999 is the date NATO's bombing campaign formally ended.[19] Although the war itself ended in 1999, some US forces took part in peacekeeping and associated duties thereafter.[38]

See also


  1. ^ Knefel, John (7 January 2015). "Drone Rules in Afghanistan Go Unchanged, And Other Reasons the War Isn't Really Over". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  2. ^ Sennott, Charles M. (5 May 2015). "The First Battle of the 21st Century". The Atlantic. Retrieved 15 May 2015. Even after 14 years of war in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has not fully succeeded in restoring security to the country or defeating the Taliban. Now, at the request of the new Afghan government, the United States has delayed the completion of its troop withdrawal from the country until 2016 at the earliest.
  3. ^ Rohn, Alan (2013-03-26). "When was the end of the Vietnam War?". The Vietnam War. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  4. ^
  5. ^ DoD 1998
  6. ^ Lawrence 2009, p. 20
  7. ^ Direct U.S. involvement ended in 1973 with the Paris Peace Accords
  8. ^ "- The Washington Post". Washington Post.
  9. ^ "US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,452".[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Why can't we stop our wars?".
  11. ^ Wood, David (27 April 2011). "Robert Gates' Pentagon Legacy: Unfinished Wars, Unfinished Budget Reform" – via Huff Post.
  12. ^ "Obama May Face Tough Decision as Iraqi Leader Signals U.S. Troops Could Stay".
  13. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times.
  14. ^ Terkel, Amanda (11 May 2011). "Iraq Withdrawal Date For U.S. Troops May Be Pushed Back Beyond 2011" – via Huff Post.
  15. ^ Robert L. Willett, "Russian Sideshow" (Washington, D.C., Brassey's Inc., 2003), page 267
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2013-07-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ (33)The term "Persian Gulf War" means the period beginning on August 2, 1990, and ending on the date thereafter prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law.
  19. ^ a b PBS Frontline, A Kosovo Chronology
  20. ^ "U.S. Participation in Major Wars". Fox News. Associated Press. 25 November 2006. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  21. ^ Declaration of war by the United States
  22. ^ War Powers Resolution
  23. ^ Herring, George C.: America's Longest War, p. 18.
  24. ^ Zinn, A People's History of the United States, p. 471.
  25. ^ Kolko, Gabriel Anatomy of War, pages 457, 461 ff., ISBN 1-898876-67-3
  26. ^ "Vietnam War Statistics and Facts 1".
  27. ^ Delmendo 2004, p. 47.
  28. ^ Constantino 1975
  29. ^ Agoncillo 1990, p. 247
  30. ^ "Iraq war is ending, with last troops out in 2011: Obama". 28 August 2010 – via The Age.
  31. ^ "1991: 'Mother of all Battles' begins". 10 October 1991 – via
  32. ^ Sandler, Mike (17 August 2009). "Obama: Iraq war to end in 2011".
  33. ^ Blake, Scott Wilson and Aaron (3 August 2010). "Obama tells veterans that end of Iraq war is about to begin" – via
  34. ^ Johnson, Bridget (28 August 2010). "Obama: 'The war is ending,' fulfilling campaign pledge".
  35. ^ Cooper, Helene; Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (31 August 2010). "Obama Declares an End to Combat Mission in Iraq" – via
  36. ^ "US in Final Phase of Iraq War". Archived from the original on 2011-07-22.
  37. ^ "Obama envoy secretly offered troops in Iraq after 2011".
  38. ^ Kosovo Campaign Medal


U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) (6 November 1998). "Name of Technical Sergeant Richard B. Fitzgibbon to be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial". DoD.
Lawrence, A. T. (2009). Crucible Vietnam: Memoir of an Infantry Lieutenant. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-44517-2.

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