All this and World War, too

Yesterday we were treated to a bunch of headlines like this:

US involved in Iraq longer than in WWII

Trying to debate this is obviously a waste of time. Just like the ‘Iraqi Civil War’ debate, everyone is going to use their own definition of the term in question. Oh, and coincidentally, the definition they choose to use will support their political position.

“Involved” is the key term here:

  • Japan didn’t sign until September 2nd. Do we note passing that count, as well?
  • What about our very real involvement in supporting the Brits against the Germans long before Pearl Harbor?
  • If only actual combat counts, what about the Flying Tigers in China and the Eagle Squadron in Europe?
  • The occupation of Germany lasted until 1955. The occupation of Japan only lasted until 1952. Isn’t occupying a conquered nation “involvement”?
  • Of course, we still have many troops stationed in both nations. Or doesn’t that count?
  • If occupation doesn’t count, then the Iraqi campaign only lasted a few weeks, right?

Of course, folks will just whine and complain about any attempts to apply any sort of apples-to-apples comparison if it undermines their position.



Using these numbers, we can expect to see “US Casualties in Iraq surpass those in WWII” on or about the 27th of May in the year 2523.

Sort of makes trying to compare them seem kind of silly, doesn’t it?

UPDATE: A reader points out that the Flying Tigers didn’t enter combat until 20 Dec 1941. My bad. They had been in Burma since the summer of ’41 training, and I thought that they had already entered combat by the time Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. They hadn’t.


  1. Sounding silly hasn’t stopped the MSM yet. But they can’t get around the difference in casualty figures compared to WW 2, or Vietnam for that matter. Nor the high morale of our fantastic troops who keep signing up for more.

  2. > If only actual combat counts, what about the Flying Tigers in China and the Eagle Squadron in Europe? For the record, the American Volunteer Group or Flying Tigers didn’t enter combat until December 20, 1941.

  3. Brad: Oops! You are absolutely correct. They’d been in Burma since the middle of the year training and I thought for sure that they had already entered combat. I have added an update to my post. Thanks!

  4. How about a headline like this Insurgence decry incompetent leadership, after years of fighting, they have yet to inflict casualties equal to one day of the American civil war.

  5. One other big difference between World War II and the Iraq war: It took two atom bombs to end World War II, or that war might have lasted years longer. Two atom bombs over two Iraqi cities probably would end the Iraq war, too. But we don’t do that these days.

  6. To Mike B. The Vietnam conflict is more applicable to the Iraq conflict as both are ‘small wars’. WWII was a big one. Vietnam in terms of reups is less applicable, as compared with casualties, because the Draft was in effect then. Deaths are less applicable, because better armor and medical factors ensure causalties survive who would otherwise not have. Perhaps the Haiti (early 20th C) and other pre draft ‘small war’ conflicts would be better comparisons, adjusted of course for better tech.

  7. You mean the 19 year occupation of Haiti during which the USMC was the govt? Alternatively the 14 year occupation of Vera Cruz? I go with the Philippines myself…

  8. um…yes all three just for kicks. IIRC Strategypage had an article on General Cook’s Seminole-Indian wars.

  9. Just saw on CNN last night a discussion regarding the violence in Brazil. It seems that 130 individuals are killed every day in different kind of violences. I underline: violent death, not accidents, nor natural reasons. They said that it is far more than the violent daily death rate in Iraq. Now, I am wondering: is Brazil in the middle of a Civil War? Should we make any comparison between the Brazilian Civil War and any other small or big scale war?