I am reading American Lion, Andrew Jackson in the White House by John Meacham (Disclosure: I am NOT getting any referral fees.) and it got me thinking about the United States and its appetite for war. Like Andrew Jackson, we appear to be quick-tempered, prone to quick, decisive action but our appetite for long wars is not deep.
A quick search on Wikipedia shows the length of major wars for the United States: (the math is rounded on years, but if you really want to, you can calculate the months. And if I left out your favorite war, do your own research.*)
The American Revolutionary War started in 1775 and ended in 1781 (or 1783 with the Treaty of Paris) Time spent fighting: 5 years
The Spanish-American War started and ended in 1898. Time spent fighting: 5 months
World War I started for the US in 1917 and ended in 1918. Time spent fighting: 1.5 years
World War II started in 1941 and ended in 1945. Time spent fighting: 4 years
Korean War (Conflict) started for the US in 1950 and ended in a cease-fire in 1953; 3 years.
The Vietnam War had US combat troops sent starting in 1965 and ceasing direct fighting in 1973, with a total pull-out in 1975. Time spent fighting: 10 years
The Gulf War lasted a total of 100 hours after the ground fighting began.
For someone with a knowledge of history of the United States, impatience with a long war fits right into our culture. For Americans who only watch CNN for their news, the current wars must seem interminable. At any rate, we seemed to have put blinders on and now are dealing with the long wars by putting our fingers in our ears, all the while screaming “la-la-la-la-la-la” at the top of our lungs.
Just something to think about while you are cracking a history book.
*Yes, I am aware of the irony of leaving out the War of 1812, Battle of New Orleans for which Jackson inherited his nick name “Old Hickory.” But, I am rather miffed at Lego for pulling down the really cool video with Johnny Horton’s song from YouTube. But, see it here. While you can.)