Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nation at War

This photograph of the painting, Shores of Tripoli, is from the Grace Galleries.

Which, among the nations on Earth, has most frequently gone to war?
by Charlie Leck

Perhaps it’s because we were born in war! We had to fight for our independence as a nation and we defeated a mighty empire to get that freedom. Perhaps it gave us a big head and the wrong idea – that we could use might to make right.

Even before we became an independent nation we were accustomed to war. We sent men to fight against the Native Americans many times and in many places. Among those recorded in common histories are the Pequot Wars (1637), King Philip’s War (1675), the Susquehannock War (1675) and the Yamasee War (1715). Those early colonists were also often involved in a number of wars between France and Great Britain – wars that were fought for control of North America. The most notable was the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763.

Quiz enlightened people in any of the most educated nations in the world and ask them about the most war-prone nation. They will likely guess that it is the United States of America. For most of our 233 years, we have been at war.
  • Our revolutionary war lasted until 1783 (the first 7 years of our life as a nation.

  • We were involved in constant wars with Native Americans during the period from 1783 to 1815, including the Northwest Indian War, Tecumseh’s War and the Creek War.

  • The little known Quasi War was undeclared but was fought on the seas against France from 1798 to 1800.

  • Thomas Jefferson sent us to fight in Tripoli in 1801 against the Barbary Pirates. We remained in on-again and off-again battles there until 1815.

  • The war of 1812 with England went on until 1815.

  • Texas was at war against Mexico from 1835 through 1836.

  • We fought against the Native Americans in a host of wars until 1860, including the Seminole Wars, the Black Hawk War, Mexican-American War and Utah War.

  • Our own internal Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865.

  • We sent soldiers against the Great Sioux Uprising in 1862 and 1863.

  • In 1893 we put a small group of sailors on shore in Hawaii to dethrone its Queen and to annex the islands to the United States.

  • We declared war in 1898 against Spain (the Spanish American War) in order to set Cuba free (which, of course, we did not do).

  • Our wars of intervention (the Banana Wars) in Latin America, involving Cuba, Mexico, Panama (and the Canal Zone) Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

  • During the Boxer Rebellion we sent troops to fight in China in the late 1800s.

  • The war in the Phillipines lasted through 1900 to 1913.

  • The Great War to End All Wars dragged from 1917 to 1919.

  • We sent troops to Russia to fight against the Bolsheviks in 1918 and 1919.

  • World War II against Germany and Japan began in 1941 and ended in 1945.

  • The Korean War against China and North Korea consumed the years 1951-1956.

  • We deployed troops to Lebanon in 1958 where they remained for 3 months.

  • The Bay of Pigs Invasion (Cuba) was a disaster for the Kennedy administration in 1961.

  • We sent over 23,000 troops into the Dominican Republic in 1965.

  • Vietnam tore at the heart of our nation from 1961 to 1975 and cost us over 60,000 American lives (likely more than 2 million Vietnamese died).

  • Our Marines invaded Grenada in 1983.

  • U.S. forces invaded Panama, to over-throw dictator Manuel Noriega, in 1989.

  • The first Gulf War was swift, beginning in 1990 and ending in 1992.

  • The Iraq war began in 2003 and goes on and on.

  • We are currently absorbed in a war in Afghanistan that began in 2001.
You take the time to figure out how many of our years of existence included time at war or in the invasion of other nations. Since many of these wars were not wars of defense, but often clear imperialistic actions, it is not a proud history.

Think our children are being taught about all these military actions in the classroom? Think again!

History is a great benefactor of the people. It teaches us lessons that should influence our future behavior. Such a history is valuable only if it is accurate.

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