Stuck in Iraq Longer Than WWII?

A friend sent me this via e-mail:

U.S. Involved in Iraq Longer Than WWII

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.

  • VRB

    You didn’t have the same amount of troupes committed to Germany or Japan as during the war. I was under the impression we stayed in Germany more for humanitarian reasons than as an occupier as in Japan, which was a condition of Japan’s surrender. If we were going to do any comparison; I would say us going into Iraq is what General MacArthur wanted to do, continuing the fight(Korea) into China.

  • Eric

    Germany is portrayed as a wonderful, humanitarian thing where, as soon as Hitler was dead, everything was sweetness and light. There were still hold outs, Germany was “de-nazified”, significant crime occurred, etc. The country was split into four occupation zones, French, British, US and USSR. East Germany was the former USSR occupation zone. The country was under a military dictatorship from 1945 to 1949. In 1949 the US, Britain and France began transitioning their occupation zones to autonomous government, which ultimately became West Germany.

    Ultimately, West Germany didn’t disintegrate into insurgency because we could focus them on the USSR. But, it could have easily gone that way once they started to recover. The biggest difference was that the infrastructure of Germany was destroyed and the people pretty well defeated. We did NOT do that to Iraq, nor do they have an external enemy to focus on that the US can help them against. Well, they do, but we haven’t played it that way.

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  • Mark

    You are missing the main point that should be stressed, which the main stream media either is too stupid to know or doesn’t want to mention.

    After WWII we did occupy both Germany and Japan. There was a concerted effort at an insurgency in Germany. However, it never got off the ground for several reasons.

    1. We kept about 300,000 troops in Germany and declared martial law. This kept peace and squelched any major resistance while the country rebuilt and establish the new government and security forces.
    2. We also rebuilt the economy and infrastructure to some degree of self sufficiency.
    3. We didn’t leave till the basic foundations of government, security, and economy were up and running.

    When you depose of the government and infrastructure you are left with a power vacuum. If that’s not replaced with something comparable then you have chaos, as in Iraq. If we followed a model similar to Germany or Japan after WWII and yes, left at least 300,000 troops in there to administer marshal law while will rebuild the infrastructure then it would and still could work. And no, the armed forces are not stretched too thin. Yes, it would be tough, but very doable in the sort term; 3-5 years as in Germany. US armed force total call up of regular forces and reserves is about 1.2 million… If we had left 3 or 4 hundred thousand troops in Iraq from the beginning secured control and secured the borders from interference from Iran and Syria, we actual be starting to bring them home NOW for good!

    We, as a country, have become spoiled, lazy, and complacent. Expecting instant gratification from anything we do. (Just like the later Roman Empire)
    We only look at the short term results and not long term consequences….

    Rumsfeld should have been fired 3 years ago, as soon as things began to go wrong. It was a gamble to think that the Iraqis would step up like we hoped.They are more loyal to their religion than their country. What we have now in Iraq is our own fault for trying to do things on the cheap and be TOO nice…