Stuck in Iraq Longer Than WWII?
A friend sent me this via e-mail:
U.S. involved in Iraq war 3 years, 8-plus months – longer than it was in World War II
Only the Vietnam War (eight years, five months), the Revolutionary War (six years, nine months), and the Civil War (four years), have engaged America longer.
Fighting in Afghanistan, which may or may not be a full-fledged war depending on who is keeping track, has gone on for five years, one month. It continues as the ousted Taliban resurges and the central government is challenged.
Bush says he still is undecided whether to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq or add to the 140,000 there now.
Well, this is CBS, so you know they’re reporting it to make it sound as bad as possible. But is this truly accurate?
Yes, we’ve been in Iraq longer than than the time between Dec 7, 1941 and August 14, 1945. But if you’re measuring the time we’ve been there against the date we get a signed surrender from the insurgents, you’re going to keep waiting. But we didn’t exactly leave Japan and Germany in 1945. We were still “involved” there for much longer.
The time it took to defeat the Iraqi military, of course, was much shorter than the time it took to defeat the Japanese or German forces. In fact, we quickly destroyed Iraq’s command and control structure, and shortly thereafter felled their government. If you want to compare, perhaps we should compare the situation we’re in now with the reconstruction of Germany (which ended in 1949) and Japan (ended in 1952). Against that comparison, we’ve still got years left before we’re involved in Iraq for longer than WWII. But then again, that doesn’t paint nearly as bad of a picture, so I think we know why CBS chose to highlight this.
Of course, the situations aren’t completely analogous. I think the violent insurgency and sectarian warfare we’re facing is a lot more serious than we saw in either Germany or Japan. But, then again, the wars were considerably different as well. World War II was a long, hard-fought war, where there was considerable collateral damage. It wasn’t called collateral damage at the time, it was called “bombing the crap out of the enemy’s cities to break their will”. After four years of constant war, Europe was tired. In Iraq, we lopped off the head but the body remained. Now it’s flailing around lashing out at anything it can.
I have no problem with people who can come up with reasoned criticism of the war or the handling of the occupation. I think some of our policies have been muddled, our government has done little to justify what they’re doing and what they hope to accomplish, and the best answer we get is usually “stay the course”. It’s unacceptable whenever government refuses to justify their actions to the people.
But it’s also unfair for the media to be disingenuous with the facts. It took six years for the Allies (with four of those years including America’s participation) to achieve a military victory over Germany and Japan. It took a few months to achieve a military victory in Iraq. Trying to defeat an insurgency and police sectarian violence is not analogous to Iwo Jima and the Battle of the Bulge. To act is if they are is to play the American people for fools. One would think
a respected news organization like CBS should be above such a thing, but recent history has shown otherwise.