Sign Up

The Iraq War in History

The United States’ engagement in Iraq has lasted longer than its involvement in which major wars?

March 21, 2007

The United States' engagement in Iraq has lasted longer than its involvement in which major wars?


A. World War I
B. World War II
C. Vietnam War
D. Civil War

A. World War I is correct.

The First World War began in August 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918 — lasting for four years and nearly five months.

However, the United States entered the war on April 6, 1917 — meaning its engagement in World War I lasted only about 19 months.

B. World War II is correct.

The Second World War began on September 1, 1939 with Germany's invasion of Poland and ended on August 14, 1945 with Japan's capitulation — thus lasting for almost six years in total.

The involvement of the United States, though, began only in December 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor — and spanned a total of 44 months. Thus, by November 2006, the U.S. engagement in Iraq had exceeded the duration of its involvement in the Second World War.

C. Vietnam War is not correct.

The U.S. military engagement in Vietnam began with the commitment of combat troops in March 1965 and ended in March 1973, when the last U.S. military unit left Vietnam — covering a total of 96 months of combat. Thus, the war in Iraq to date has only lasted half as long as the United States’ military involvement in Vietnam.

That war was almost three times longer than another U.S. military engagement in Asia — the Korean War. It lasted for 37 months — from June 1950 to July 1953.

D. Civil War is correct.

The U.S. Civil War began in April 1861 and lasted until April 1865 — a period of 48 months. Thus, the U.S. military engagement in Iraq has just exceeded the length of the Civil War between the U.S. North and South, which pitched Union troops against the Confederate army.

The Civil War stands out in U.S. history because it was by far the costliest in terms of lives of U.S. soldiers. At roughly 600,000 killed, it far exceeded even the U.S. losses in World War II, which are estimated at 400,000.