What was the cleanest war ever fought?

What was the cleanest war ever fought?

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If not all, the vast majority of wars in known history were dirty, cruel and with a lot of civilian casualties. That makes me wonder if there has ever been a "clean" war where both sides played "by the rules"? The criteria would be:

  • Minimal civilian causalities
  • The war started with a declaration of war
  • No illegal weapons (biological, chemical etc.) used
  • The war ended with a treaty
  • No or minimal propaganda was used
  • The two sides have similar stands on the reasons why the war started

The Anglo-Swedish war of 1810-1812. A phoney war forced upon Sweden after the devastating defeat in the Finnish war; neither side wanted to fight the other, and no battles were fought. There were, however, a formal declaration of war and a signed peace, and British troops that were stationed at the Island of Hanö occupied it during the war.

The Anglo-Zanzibar War fits your criterion, in part because it was so short, but it was also conducted with civil restraint. The new Sultan was suspected of assassination and violated a British treaty by occupying the palace. The British attempted negotiations and finally issued an ultimatum to vacate the palace at 0900. Half an hour before a final attempt at negotiation was attempted and the British made it clear they would open fire.

The palace grounds were fired upon. A single Zanzibar naval vessel was sunk when it fired at the British fleet. Surrender was accepted 38 minutes later. The British landed troops to help put out the fire and patrol the streets. The sultan fled to the German consulate who escorted him out of the country.

About 500 people were killed in the bombardment and subsequent fire. It's difficult to know who was civilian and who was not; the palace was defended, in part, by a hastily raised militia. The British gave ample warning of their intent to fire for them to have been evacuated.

The First Barbary War between the United States and the Barbary pirates matches your criterion. The cause was clear: Tripoli demanded their traditional protection money from the US and the US refused to pay. Tripoli declared war on the US by chopping down the flag in front of the US consulate (according to Wikipedia, this is traditional). The US Congress did not formally declare war, but ordered that armed American vessels were to to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli "and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify." Tripoli harbor was blockaded by a multinational force and raids were conducted against their fleet.

After years of blockades and raids, a US mercenary force approached Tripoli by land via Derne. The US commander requested safe passage and supplies. The city governor refused, reportedly with "My head or yours!". The American's target was a fort and the governor's palace. I have no mention of civilian casualties, but city battles are never pretty, and mercenaries aren't the best behaved.

Soon after the capture of Derne, with Tripoli threatened and the blockade being bad for business, the pasha surrendered. A treaty was signed declaring a "inviolable and universal peace, and a sincere friendship", exchanging all prisoners, ending the blockade, and withdrawing from Derne. Curiously, after refusing to pay tribute, the US agreed to pay ransom for American prisoners.

The Slovenian war of independence, which was fought in 1991 was pretty clean by your standards.

Civilian casualties are stated as 12 foreigners who strayed into the line of fire, and there were also a few Slovenian civilian casualties. But combined these were much less than the 63 military casualties. The Yugoslav army destroyed some civilian property, such as parts of an airport and some passenger planes on the ground, and they also targeted TV transmitters. After ten days of fighting, a cease-fire was declared and the Yugoslav army retreated to Croatia, where a much bigger war was brewing.

There was no official declaration of war, but by declaring independence, the Slovenian authorities knew what would follow and were prepared.

No illegal weapons were used.

The war ended with a treaty.

All propaganda was kept at normal levels.

the two sides agree that the cause of the war was Yugoslavia's unwillingness to let Slovenia declare independence.

How about Flower Wars, between the Aztec and their enemies? These were conducted according to very strict conventions. There were limited combatants and the location was preselected. The aim was to gain sacrificial victims, and early in the wars casualties were low (they got higher as the war went on, though). Much of the violence was the sacrifice (later) of prisoners and not from the battle itself.

I'd name the Sonderbund War in 1848 in Switzerland. The catholic Swiss cantons attacked the protestant Swiss cantons because they wanted to separate.

However, three weeks after it broke out, the cantons of Fribourg and Lucerne was successfully defeated by governmental forces and the other catholic cantons didn't want to continue to rebel. The war ended with a peace treaty that consolidated the country as a single country instead of a federation of independent states. The war did exactly 93 victims.

There was also the Falklands War in 1983 in Falklands islands, opposing UK and Argentina. Some soldiers died, even horribly; However the war was short, and on both sides there was not really hatred for the enemy but rather the obligation to obey to their respective government and conquer the island. The war was too short to escalate into something really messy like it usually does, with a spiral of torture, hatred, harm to civilians, etc…

This war meets pretty much all standards for "cleanness" given by the OP. There was 3 civilian victims and 904 military victims.

I will add to the list the Toledo War. Both Michigan and Ohio raised militias with the intent to defend their respective claim to the Toledo strip. Shots were fired, although these were later claimed to be just warning shots over the heads of those who were already retreating. Apparently there was exactly one casualty: a stab from a pocket knife, resulting in a non-life-threatening wound. The conflict ended with a concession where Ohio got Toledo and Michigan got its upper peninsula.

About the only one of your criteria this war does not meet was the lack of propaganda. Both sides passed "laws" forbidding residents of the strip from paying taxes to the other, spread rumors about the strength and abilities of its militia, and so on. Mostly it was political blustering.

The Dutch - Scilly Islands War or The 305-Year War comes to mind.

  • zero civilian casualties
  • started with a declaration of war
  • no illegal weapons were used
  • Ended with a treaty signed on 17 April 1986, 305 years exactly after beginning of hostilities.
  • No propaganda was used - a reason why this war lasted that long; everybody had forgotten it!

I think that the "Cabinet Wars" of the 18th century might fit in here.

[A]lso known as "war between princes." Such wars involved small armies, noble officer corps, limited war goals, and frequently changing coalitions among the belligerents.

As an example:

Berlin was not plundered during the Seven Years' War of 1756-1762, despite having fallen into enemy hands not once but twice.

I think the answer to this question is the Parsley/Perejil island conflict between Spain and Morocco in 2002

Morocco occupied with an invasion force of 12 men an uninhabited island that Spain considered theirs. A week later Spanish special forces landed on the island and took the Moroccans prison without firing a shot. The prisoners were released and returned to Morocco the same day.

No deaths, no wounded, not even a shot fired.

The cleanest war was probably the Cold War… because it was never fought.

There were casualties - the Soviets shot down quite a few US spy planes, and that was kept very quiet. And there were proxy wars, such as Korea and Vietnam, but overall, the Cold War was marked by an absence of armed conflict, avoiding the huge casualties and destruction of cities that normally come with a war.

In the end the Cold War was an economic war. And the western nations won it the capitalist way - they outspent the Soviets. Kruschev once famously said that when the time came to hang the western leaders, they would sell him the rope.

Unfortunately for him, he couldn't afford to buy it.

I'd nominate the Western Front of World War I.

The conflict largely involved non-asymmetrical war between two sides.


Minimal civilian casualties: civilians were killed from the sinking of boats in the Atlantic - possibly ones that were carrying munitions. Also, Entente forces blockaded Germany, affecting its ability to import food. Away from the Western front, Turkey committed genocide, but I'm focusing on the Western front.

The war started with a declaration of war: yes.

No WMDs: Germany used chemical weapons.

The War ended with a treaty: The Treaty of Versailles.

No propaganda: there was a lot of persuasion, but I'm not aware of large-scale, sustained efforts at deception.

Parties can agree on the cause: I think so. Hostile military alliances.

Considering how many people died in WWI, I'm of the opinion that "cleanness", while measureable, isn't a very useful metric.

The Boer War

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    From October 11, 1899, until May 31, 1902, the Second Boer War (also known as the South African War and the Anglo-Boer War) was fought in South Africa between the British and the Boers (Dutch settlers in southern Africa). The Boers had founded two independent South African republics (the Orange Free State and the South African Republic) and had a long history of distrust and dislike for the British that surrounded them. After gold was discovered in the South African Republic in 1886, the British wanted the area under their control.

    In 1899, the conflict between the British and the Boers burgeoned into a full-fledged war that was fought in three stages: a Boer offensive against British command posts and railway lines, a British counteroffensive that brought the two republics under British control, and a Boer guerrilla resistance movement that prompted a widespread scorched-earth campaign by the British and the internment and deaths of thousands of Boer civilians in British concentration camps.

    The first phase of the war gave the Boers the upper hand over British forces, but the latter two phases eventually brought victory to the British and placed the previously independent Boer territories firmly under British dominion -- leading, eventually, to the complete unification of South Africa as a British colony in 1910.

    4 The Flagstaff War (1845-46)

    People tend to get worked up about their flags. For instance, try going to a military base with an ax and cut their flagpole down. See what they say.

    In 1840, British troops were doing what they usually did, which was hang around a country that was not their own. Specifically New Zealand and, specifically, the town of Kororareka. It was a place of brothels, grog-holes and gambling dens, and was filled with people bereft of scruples and/or one or more limbs who spent their days having comical bar fights.

    The British went ahead and hoisted the Union Jack over the town, figuring nobody would mind. Who doesn't love the British flag?

    Meet Hone Heke, a chief of some of the natives. He rode into town and chopped down the flagpole, apparently figuring they wouldn't actually be ruled by the British as long as the flag wasn't there. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

    What followed was a display of splendid idiocy. The garrison instantly erected a new flagpole, which Heke chopped down just as swiftly, and a third replaced it, only to be felled again. Then a fourth was erected, and was reinforced with iron and had an armed guard, all presumably smirking away. We like to imagine all of this taking place in the course of one lunch hour.

    Back in England, the House of Commons decided that Heke and his people had no right to chop down flagpoles and live unmolested in their own country, and declared that lessons needed to be taught. Helpful missionaries carried this information to Heke, who was less than impressed.

    On March 11, 1845, Heke and his tribe descended into the town with unprecedented savagery, butchering townsfolk indiscriminately. British troops tried to dig themselves in around their barracks, but probably ought to have been shooting as they were swiftly overwhelmed. As a final "fuck you," Heke chopped down that damned flagpole again.

    The war dragged on for 10 bloody months. The British managed to quash Heke's rebellion over time, but the war can only really be called a scoreless draw.

    And while the British remained in control of the territory, they didn't dare try to erect another flagpole in that spot.

    Related: 46 Films Have Made $1 Billion. Most Are Disney.

    The Top 10 War Books of All Time

    Since the dawn of recorded history, war has proven an irresistible, inexhaustible and universally appealing subject. The reasons are obvious: It is the human activity in which emotions and actions simply could not be more intense. It is also the activity in which the stakes could not be higher. For individuals, it often means life or death. For city-states, nations, empires, even entire civilizations, war can mean survival and hegemony—or collapse and utter destruction.

    So it’s no surprise that even today, “war books” comprise a growth segment in the publishing industry, with more titles appearing each year than any one reader could possibly get through. The truly powerful books, though, the ones that enlighten and move us, are few in number.

    Most readers who care about history can point to a few favorites, the novels, memoirs or narrative histories that first drew the curtain on a panorama of conflict, triumph and tragedy. It could have been The Guns of August, A Farewell to Arms, Anabasis, Stalingrad, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Longest Day, Sword of Honour, Gates of Fire, Patton, A Rumor of War, The Great War and Modern Memory, Dispatches, Good-bye to All That, Tarawa or none of the above.

    We polled a panel of contributors to Military History for their choices of the top 10 war books of all time. Their thoughtful responses, some of which are quoted herein, resulted in a long list of worthy, must-read books— and a clear consensus on the 10 best, which are listed on the following pages in chronological order.

    “Probably there was one great master—later called Homer by the Greeks—who pulled the whole thing together around 750 BC. Whoever he was, he had the brilliant idea of cutting through all the myths and legends surrounding the Fall of Troy (if historical, it would have happened around 1200 BC) to focus on a single theme: the anger of Achilles.…Through Achilles the pity, terror and horror of war is focused, as well as its screaming thrills and delights.”

    “Even after thousands of years, it still conveys the intensity of combat with startling immediacy.”

    “Homer presents the clash of fundamental approaches: straightforward martial power and prowess, as embodied by Achilles, and wisdom or cunning, as practiced by Odysseus.”

    History of the Peloponnesian War

    “One of the ironies of the writing of military history is that the greatest book on war ever written was the second history ever written—namely, this work. Thucydides examines the great themes of war from the highest levels of the making of strategy and policy to the moral dimensions and the sharp end of battle. Few military historians have done it as well, none better.”

    “Written more than 2,000 years ago, this book still contains the best description of why countries go to war, the best funeral oration and the best depiction of political realism ever set down in print.”

    “The first great book on war in all its aspects, and still one of the best.”

    (1832) by Carl von Clausewitz

    On War represents the most ambitious effort ever made by a theorist of human conflict to systematize war and understand it for what it is.”

    “Absolutely essential for understanding the human phenomenon of war.”

    “Following the Army War College dictum: no matter the question, the answer is always Clausewitz.”

    War and Peace

    “Tolstoy’s depiction of the 1812 Battle of Borodino and the events leading up to that terrible battle is the finest piece of war fiction ever written.”

    “The Battle of Borodino is probably the best account of the gritty warfare of this period, to say nothing of Napoleon’s abandonment of 30,000 sick and wounded in the city of Vilnius, Lithuania.”

    The Red Badge of Courage

    “The best Civil War story told from the perspective of the common soldier.”

    “The best psychological portrait of a soldier dealing with his fear in battle.”

    The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

    “Most memoirs by generals are filled with lies, deceptions and half-truths. Grant’s memoirs represent one of the few exceptions to that rule, being honest, deeply insightful and a brilliant piece of writing. Mark Twain argued that Grant’s memoirs were the greatest piece of English literature written in the 19th century.”

    “The gold standard of senior commander memoirs.”

    “The best autobiography ever written.”

    The Face of Battle

    “Quite simply, a landmark book. Keegan inspired the sociomilitary, common soldier–oriented school of thought that has rejuvenated the study of warfare in the last few decades.”

    “Perhaps the most influential work of military history published in the past half century.…What makes this book a classic is its incisive analysis of the shortcomings of the battle history genre.”

    “Still the best work on the human dimension of war in three periods: Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme.”

    With the Old Breed

    “Sledge’s remarkable story of his harrowing experiences as a Marine at Peleliu and Okinawa stand out because he was part observer, part participant and part scholar—perceptive, brutally honest storytelling.”

    “People speak easily of the horrors of war. This searing memoir of the Pacific War makes the reader experience the truth beneath the cliché.”

    “My father fought there and handed me the book, saying, ‘It was just as he describes.’”

    Battle Cry of Freedom

    “McPherson’s classic stands out as a lucid, beautifully written, balanced account of the Civil War. From economics to politics to social consequences and battle history, he leaves no stone unturned.”

    “Best single-volume treatment of the war.”

    “Perfect for anyone wanting to get an overview of the conflict in a single book.”

    We Were Soldiers Once…and Young

    (1992) by Lt. Gen. Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway

    “Moore and Galloway have written by far and away the best piece of military history on one of the early battles of the Vietnam War. It is a story of effective and ineffective military leadership. It also should put to rest the claims of some commentators that the U.S. military lost none of the battles in the war. Landing Zone Albany was nothing other than a defeat that came close to being the 20th century’s Battle of the Little Bighorn. This is a great book.”

    “As participants and latter-year commentators, Moore and Galloway somehow found a way to distance themselves from their own experiences in the 1965 Battle of Ia Drang, even as they brought the fighting to life in shocking human terms.”

    Originally published in the December 2008 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.

    The Vietnam War Was Worse Than You Could Ever Imagine

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    On August 31, 1969, a rape was committed in Vietnam. Maybe numerous rapes were committed there that day, but this was a rare one involving American GIs that actually made its way into the military justice system.

    And that wasn’t the only thing that set it apart.

    War is obscene. I mean that in every sense of the word. Some veterans will tell you that you can’t know war if you haven’t served in one, if you haven’t seen combat. These are often the same guys who won’t tell you the truths that they know about war and who never think to blame themselves in any way for our collective ignorance.

    The truth is, you actually can know a lot about war without fighting in one. It just isn’t the sort of knowledge that’s easy to come by.

    The main problem with most of those books is the complete lack of Vietnamese voices. The Vietnam War killed more than 58,000 Americans. That’s a lot of people and a lot of heartache. It deserves attention. But it killed several million Vietnamese and severely affected -- and I mean severely -- the lives of many millions more. That deserves a whole lot more focus.

    Missing in Action (From Our Histories)

    From American histories, you would think the primary feature of the Vietnam War was combat. It wasn’t. Suffering was the main characteristic of the war in Southeast Asia. Millions of Vietnamese suffered: injuries and deaths, loss, privation, hunger, dislocation, house burnings, detention, imprisonment, and torture. Some experienced one or another of these every day for years on end. That’s suffering beyond the capacity of even our ablest writers to capture in a single book.

    Unfortunately, however, that’s not the problem. The problem is that almost no one has tried. Vietnamese are bit characters in American histories of the war, Vietnamese civilians most of all. Americans who tromped, humped, and slogged through Vietnam on one-year tours of duty are invariably the focus of those histories, while Vietnamese who endured a decade or even decades of war remain, at best, in the background or almost totally missing. (And by the way, it’s no less true for most of the major movies about the war. Remember the Vietnamese main characters in Apocalypse Now? Platoon? Full MetalJacket? Hamburger Hill? Me neither.)

    The reasons for this are many and varied, ranging from racism and ethnocentrism to pure financial calculation. Few Americans want to read real stories about foreign civilians caught up in America’s wars. Almost no one wants to read an encyclopedia of atrocities or a tome-like chronology of suffering. And most Americans, above all, have never wanted to know the grotesque truths of their wars. Luckily for them, most veterans have been willing to oblige -- keeping the darkest secrets of that war hidden (even while complaining that no one can really know what they went through).

    The truth is, we don’t even know the full story of that war’s obscenity when it comes to the American experience. This, too, has been sanitized and swapped out for tales of combat horror or “realistic” accounts of the war in the boonies that focus on repulsive realities like soldiers stepping on shit-smeared punji sticks, suffering from crotch rot, or keeling over from dehydration. Such accounts, we’ve been assured, offer a more honest depiction of the horrors of war and the men who nobly bore them.

    As the narrator of Tim O’Brien’s "How to Tell a True War Story" puts it:

    “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.”

    Which brings us back to that rape on August 31, 1969.

    Aside from Daniel Lang’s Casualties of War, a brilliantly-compact and harrowing account of the kidnap, gang-rape, and murder of a young Vietnamese girl (a New Yorker article-turned-book-turned-movie), you’re not likely to encounter the story of the rape of a Vietnamese woman by Americans in “the literature.” And yet the sexual assault of civilians by GIs was far from uncommon, even if you can read thousands of books on the Vietnam War and have little inkling that it ever happened. Hints about the harassment or sexual assault of American women -- nurses, enlisted women, and so-called Donut Dollies -- also rarely make it into the histories. And you can read most, perhaps all, of those 30,000 books without ever coming across a case of GI-on-GI rape in Vietnam.

    But that’s just what happened on that August 31st at a U.S. base in Vietnam’s far south, when three GI’s attacked a fellow American, a fellow soldier. For the purposes of this piece, we’ll call him Specialist Curtis. We know his story because the court martial records of one of his assailants, who was found guilty of and sentenced to prison time, made it to the National Archives where I found the document. But really, we know it because, according to the military judge presiding over the case, Curtis delivered “clear, strong, convincing, not halting, not hesitant, not reluctant, straight-forward, direct, willing, sincere, and not evasive” testimony. He and others told a brutal story, an obscene story -- that is, a true war story.

    What Veterans Won’t Tell You

    Curtis was feeling sick that late summer day and wouldn’t drink with his hootch-mates, so they pounced on him, held his mouth open, and poured whisky down his throat. When he began to retch, they let him go and he ran outside to throw up. He returned to his bunk and they attacked him again. The cycle repeated itself twice more.

    The last attempt to force Curtis to drink began with a threat. If he didn’t imbibe with them -- “them” being a fellow specialist, a private first class, and a private -- they swore they would anally rape him.

    In a flash, the three tore off his bed sheets and flipped him onto his stomach. They leaned on him to hold him down as he thrashed and bucked, while they ripped off his underwear. Then they smeared hand lotion all over his buttocks. As Curtis cried out for help, the private mounted him. He began to rape him and was heard to exclaim that it was “really good, it was tight.” After the private was finished, the private first class raped Curtis. The specialist followed. “I know you enjoy it,” Curtis heard one of them say before he blacked out from the pain. Across the hootch, another private watched the entire episode. Curtis had protested, he’d later say, but this soldier did nothing to intervene. He was, he later testified, “very scared” of the three attackers.

    After Curtis regained consciousness, he retreated to the showers. When he finally returned to the hootch, the fellow specialist who raped him issued a threat. If he reported the attack, they would swear that he had paid them $20 each to have sex with him.

    And that’s a Vietnam War story that’s absent from our histories of the conflict -- all 30,000 of them.

    Given the stigma attached to rape, especially decades ago, and the added stigma attached to male rape victims, it’s shocking that the case ever became public, no less that it went to trial in a military court, or that the victim gave clear, graphic, painful testimony. The truth was out there, but no one ever told this story to the wider world -- neither the victim, the perpetrators, the witnesses, the lawyers, the judge, the commanders at the base, nor a historian. You could read thousands of books on the Vietnam War -- even books devoted to hidden histories, secrets, and the like -- and never know that, in addition to rifles and rice paddies, war is also about rape, even male-on-male rape, even GI-on-GI rape. Just how many such rapes occurred, we’ll never know, because such acts were and generally still are kept secret.

    Veterans don’t tell these stories. They almost never offer up accounts of murder, assault, torture, or rape unsolicited. They don’t want you to know. Such realities need to be mined out of them. I’ve done it for the last 10 years, and believe me, it can be exhausting.

    Veterans, their advocates, and their defenders often tell us it’s never okay to ask if a soldier or marine killed somebody “over there.” But if veterans refuse to offer up unsanitized accounts of their wartime experiences and it’s improper for us to ask what they did, how can civilians be faulted for failing to understand war?

    To set the historical record straight, I’ve traveled across the globe, walked into people’s homes, and asked them questions to which, in a better world than ours, no one should have to know the answers. I’ve asked elderly Vietnamese to recount the most horrific traumas imaginable. I’ve induced rivers of tears. I’ve sat impassively, taking notes as an older woman, bouncing her grandchild on her knee, told me what it was like to be raped with an American weapon.

    I also asked these questions of American veterans because -- some notable andiconic exceptions aside -- too few have had the courage of that Vietnamese grandmother. After all, some American raped her with that weapon, but as far as I know -- and if anybody knew, it would probably be me -- he never leveled with the American public about the true nature of his war. He never told the truth, publicly apologized, voiced regret, or even for that matter boasted about it, nor did he ever make a case for why raping a woman with a weapon was warranted in wartime. He kept it a secret and, if he’s still alive, continues to do so today. We all suffer for his silence.

    On a single day in August 1969, on one base, three GIs raped a fellow American soldier. Three rapes. One day. What does that mean? What does it say about men? About the military? About war? We can’t know for sure because we’ll never know the whole truth of sexual assault in Vietnam. The men involved in wartime sex crimes -- in raping Vietnamese women, in sodomizing them, in violating them with bottles and rifle muzzles, in sexually assaulting American women, in raping American men -- have mostly remained silent about it.

    One of the rapists in this case may have passed away, but at least one is still apparently alive in the United States. Maybe even on your street. For decades we knew nothing of their crimes, so we know less than we should about the Vietnam War and about war in general.

    Maybe it’s time to start asking questions of our veterans. Hard questions. They shouldn’t be the only ones with the knowledge of what goes on in armies and in war zones. They didn’t get to Vietnam (or Iraq or Afghanistan) on their own and they shouldn’t shoulder the blame or the truth alone and in silence. We all bear it. We all need to hear it. The sooner, the better.

    Nick Turse is the managing editor of and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in theLos Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author most recently of the New York Times bestseller Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books). You can watch his recent conversation with Bill Moyers about that book by clicking here. His website is You can follow him on Tumblr and on Facebook.

    Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

    Ancient wars Edit

    War Death
    Date Combatants Location Notes
    Conquests of Cyrus the Great 100,000+ 549 BC–530 BC Persian Empire vs. various states Middle East Number given is the sum of all deaths in battle recorded by writers during this time period, does not take into account civilian deaths, the actual number may be much greater.
    Greco–Persian Wars 300,000+ 499 BC–449 BC Greek City-States vs. Persian Empire Greece
    Samnite Wars 33,500+ 343 BC–290 BC Roman Republic vs. Samnites Italy Number given is the sum of all deaths in battle recorded by Roman writers during this time period, does not take into account civilian deaths, the actual number may be much greater.
    Wars of Alexander the Great 142,000+ 336 BC–323 BC Macedonian Empire and other Greek City-States vs. various states Middle East / North Africa / Central Asia / India Number given is the sum of all deaths in battle during these wars recorded by Greek writers, does not take into account civilian deaths, the actual number may be much greater.
    Punic Wars 1,250,000–1,850,000 264 BC–146 BC Roman Republic vs. Carthaginian Empire Western Europe / North Africa
    First Punic War 400,000+ 264 BC–241 BC Roman Republic vs. Carthaginian Empire Southern Europe / North Africa – Part of the Punic Wars
    Second Punic War 770,000+ 218 BC–201 BC Roman Republic vs. Carthaginian Empire Western Europe / North Africa [1] – Part of the Punic Wars
    Third Punic War 150,000–250,000 149 BC–146 BC Roman Republic vs. Carthaginian Empire Tunisia – Part of the Punic Wars
    Kalinga War 150,000–200,000
    [ citation needed ]
    262 BC–261 BC Maurya Empire vs. State of Kalinga India
    Qin's Wars of Unification 700,000+ [ citation needed ] 230 BC–221 BC Qin state vs. Han, Zhao, Yan, Wei, Chu, Qi States China – Part of Warring States Period
    Cimbrian War 410,000–650,000 113 BC–101 BC Roman Republic vs. Cimbri and Teutones Western Europe – Part of the Germanic Wars
    Gallic Wars 1,000,000+ 58 BC–50 BC Roman Republic vs. Gallic tribes France
    Iceni Revolt 150,000+ [2] 60–61 Roman Empire vs. Celtic tribes England Year is uncertain – Part of the Roman Conquest of Britain
    Jewish–Roman Wars 1,270,000-2,000,000 [3] 66–136 Roman Empire vs. Jews Middle East/North Africa Deaths caused by Roman attempt to permanently root out Judaism included.
    First Jewish–Roman War 250,000–1,100,000 [3] 66–73 Roman Empire vs. Jews Middle East – Part of Jewish–Roman Wars
    Kitos War 440,000+ 115–117 Roman Empire vs. Jews Southern Europe / North Africa – Also known as the Second Jewish–Roman War
    – Part of Jewish–Roman Wars
    Bar Kokhba Revolt 580,000 132–136 Roman Empire vs. Jews Middle East – Also known as the Third Jewish–Roman War
    – Part of Jewish–Roman Wars
    Gothic War (269) 320,000+ 269 Roman Empire vs. Goths Europe Claudius II defeated the Goths, of whom 320,000 were slain. This number is from the Historia Augusta. – Part of the Germanic Wars
    Probus's German War 400,000+ 277 Roman Empire vs. Germans Europe Emperor Probus informed the Senate that he had killed 400,000 Germans. From the Historia Augusta. – Part of the Germanic Wars
    Gothic War (376–382) 40,000+ 376–382 Roman Empire vs. Goths Eastern Europe – Part of the Germanic Wars
    Three Kingdoms War 36,000,000–40,000,000 184–280 Wei vs. Shu vs. Wu China [4] [5] – Academically, the period of the Three Kingdoms refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the conquest of the state of Wu by the Jin dynasty in 280. The earlier, "unofficial" part of the period, from 184 to 220, was marked by chaotic infighting between warlords in various parts of China.

    Note 1: The geometric mean is the middle of the quoted range, taken by multiplying together the endpoints and then taking the square root.

    Medieval wars Edit

    Note: the identity of a single "war" cannot be reliably given in some cases, and some "wars" can be taken to last over more than a human lifetime, e.g. "Reconquista" (711–1492, 781 years) "Muslim conquests in India" (12th to 16th c., 500 years) "Crusades" (ten or more campaigns during the period 1095–1291, 196 years), "Mongol conquests" (1206–1368, 162 years), "early Muslim conquests" (622–750, 128 years), "Hundred Years' War" (1337–1453, 115 years).

    Modern wars with greater than 25,000 deaths by death toll Edit

    War Death
    Date Combatants Location Notes
    Italian Wars 300,000–400,000 1494–1559 Holy Roman Empire, Spain, and some Italian States vs. France, Ottoman Empire, and some Italian states Southern Europe [22] – Also known as the Great Wars of Italy
    Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire 2,300,000+ 1519–1632 Spanish Colonial Empire vs. Aztec Empire Mexico [22] – Part of the European colonization of the Americas, includes the cocoliztli plagues
    Spanish conquest of Yucatán 1,460,000+ 1519–1595 Spanish Colonial Empire vs. Mayan States North America [22] – Part of the European colonisation of the Americas, includes deaths due to European disease
    Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire 8,400,000+ 1533–1572 Spanish Colonial Empire vs. Inca Empire Peru [22] – Part of the European colonization of the Americas, includes deaths due to European diseases
    Campaigns of Suleiman the Magnificent 200,000+ 1521–1566 Ottoman Empire vs. several Balkan, African, and Arabian States Eastern Europe / Middle East / North Africa [23]
    German Peasants' War 100,000+ 1524–1525 German Peasants vs. Swabian League Germany [24] – Also known as the Great Peasants War
    French Wars of Religion 2,000,000–4,000,000 1562–1598 Protestants vs. France vs. Catholics France [25] – Also known as the Huguenot Wars
    Eighty Years' War 600,000–700,000 1568–1648 Dutch Republic, England, Scotland, and France vs. Spanish Empire Worldwide [22] – Also known as the Dutch War of Independence
    Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) 138,285+ 1585–1604 Spanish Empire and allies vs. Kingdom of England and allies Europe / Americas English
    88,285 [26]
    Japanese invasions of Korea 1,000,000+ 1592–1598 Kingdom of Great Joseon and Ming China vs. Japan Korea [27]
    Transition from Ming to Qing 25,000,000+ 1616–1683 Qing China vs. Ming China vs. Shun dynasty China (Li Zicheng) vs. Xi dynasty China (Zhang Xianzhong vs. Kingdom of Shu (She-An Rebellion) vs. Evenk-Daur federation (Bombogor) China [28] – Also known as the Ming–Qing transition
    Thirty Years' War 4,000,000–12,000,000 1618–1648 Pro-Habsburg states vs. Anti-Habsburg states Europe [29]
    Franco-Spanish War (1635–59) 200,000+ 1635–1659 France and Allies vs. Spain and Allies Western Europe [23] [30]
    Wars of the Three Kingdoms 876,000+ 1639–1651 Royalists vs. Covenanters vs.Union of the Irish vs. Scottish Protestants vs. Parliamentarians British Isles [31] [32] [33] – Also known as the British Civil Wars
    English Civil War 356,000–735,000 1642–1651 Royalists vs. Parliamentarians England [34] – Part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
    Mughal–Maratha Wars 5,000,000+ 1658-1707 Maratha empire vs. Mughal Empire India-Bangladesh [35] [36]
    Franco-Dutch War 220,000+ 1672–1678 France and allies vs. Dutch Republic and allies Western Europe [23] – Also known as the Dutch War
    Great Turkish War 380,000+ 1683–1699 Ottoman Empire vs. European Holy League Eastern Europe [23] – Also known as the War of the Holy League
    Great Northern War 350,000+ 1700–1721 Russia and allies vs. Swedish Empire Eastern Europe Sweden, the Swedish Baltic provinces, and Finland, together, with a population of only 2.5 million, lost some 350,000 dead during the war from all causes. [37]
    War of the Spanish Succession 400,000–1,250,000 1701–1714 Grand Alliance vs. Bourbon Alliance Europe / Americas [23]
    Maratha expeditions in Bengal 400,000+ 1741–1751 Maratha Empire vs. Nawab of Bengal India [38] [39]
    Seven Years' War 868,000–1,400,000 1756–1763 Great Britain and allies vs. France and Allies Worldwide [40] [41]
    Sino-Burmese War (1765–69) 70,000+ 1765–1769 Burma vs. Qing China Southeast Asia – Also known as the Qing invasions of Burma
    Tây Sơn rebellion 1,200,000–2,000,000+ 1771–1802 Tây Sơn rebels then dynasty (British supports) and Chinese pirates vs Nguyễn lords, Trịnh lords, Lê dynasty of Vietnam Siam Qing dynasty of China Kingdom of Vientiane French army. Southeast Asia
    American Revolutionary War 37,324+ 1775–1783 United States and allies vs. British Empire and German Mercenaries Worldwide 37,324 battle dead, all sides, all theaters. [23] [42] [43] [44] [45] – Also known as the American War of Independence
    French campaign in Egypt and Syria 65,000+ 1798–1801 France vs. Ottoman Empire and Great Britain Middle East / North Africa [23]
    Saint-Domingue expedition 135,000+ 1802–1803 France vs. Haiti and UK Haiti [30]
    Napoleonic Wars 3,500,000–7,000,000 1803–1815 Coalition powers vs. French empire and allies Worldwide See: Napoleonic Wars casualties
    French invasion of Russia 540,000+ 1812 French Empire vs. Russia Russia [23] – Part of the Napoleonic Wars
    Spanish American Wars of Independence 600,000+ 1808–1833 Spain and Portugal vs. American Independentists Americas [46]
    Venezuelan War of Independence 228,000+ 1810–1823 Spain vs. Venezuelan states Venezuela – Part of Spanish American Wars of Independence
    Mfecane 1,500,000–2,000,000 1815–1840 Ethnic communities in south Africa Southern Africa [47]
    Carlist Wars 200,000+ 1820–1876 Carlist Insurgents vs. Spain Spain [46]
    Greek War of Independence 170,000+ 1821–1831 Greek Revolutionaries vs. Ottoman Empire Greece The war started between Greek Revolutionaries and the Ottoman Empire. The Greeks were later assisted by Russia, Great Britain, and France. The war led to the formation of modern Greece.
    French conquest of Algeria 480,000–1,000,000 1830–1903 France vs. Algerian resistance Algeria The war started between France and the Deylik of Algiers, which was an Ottoman vassal, but after the early capitulation of the Deylik, resistance was led by different groups.
    Taiping Rebellion 20,000,000–70,000,000 1850–1864 Qing China vs. Taiping Heavenly Kingdom China [48] [49] [50] – Also known as the Taiping Civil War
    Crimean War 356,000–410,000 1853–1856 Ottoman Empire and allies vs. Russia Crimean Peninsula One of the first wider uses of rifles
    Miao Rebellion 4,900,000 1854-1873 Qing China vs. Miao China Also known as the Qian rebellion
    Punti–Hakka Clan Wars 500,000-1,000,000+ 1855-1868 Hakka vs. Punti China
    Panthay Rebellion 890,000–1,000,000 1856–1873 Qing China vs. Hui China – Also known as the Du Wenxiu Rebellion
    Indian Rebellion of 1857 800,000–1,000,000 1857–1858 Sepoy Mutineers vs. British East India Company India [51] – Also known as the Sepoy Mutiny or the Indian First War of Independence
    American Civil War 650,000–1,000,000 1861–1865 Union States vs. Confederate States USA [52] [53] [54]
    Dungan Revolt 8,000,000–20,000,000 1862–1877 Qing China vs. Hui vs. Kashgaria China – Also known as the Tongzhi Hui Revolt
    French intervention in Mexico 49,287+ 1862–1867 Mexican Republicans vs. France and Mexican Empire Mexico [30]
    Paraguayan War 300,000–1,200,000 1864–1870 Triple alliance vs. Paraguay South America [55] – Also known as the War of the Triple Alliance
    Ten Years' War 241,000+ 1868–1878 Spain vs. Cuba Cuba [30] – Also known as the Great War
    Conquest of the Desert 30,000–35,000 1870s–1884 Argentina vs. Mapuche people Patagonia
    Aceh War 97,000–107,000 1873–1914 Kingdom of the Netherlands vs. Aceh Sultanate Indonesia [56] – Also known as the Infidel War
    First Sino–Japanese War 48,311+ 1894–1895 Qing China vs. Japan East Asia A large factor in the weakening of Qing China.
    Cuban War of Independence 362,000+ 1895–1898 USA and Cuba vs. Spain Cuba [30]
    Thousand Days' War 120,000+ 1899–1902 Colombian Conservatives vs. Colombian Liberals Colombia [57]
    South African War (Second Boer War) 73,000–90,000 1899-1902 United Kingdom and allies vs. South African Republic and Orange Free State South Africa [58]
    Philippine–American War 234,000+ 1899–1912 Philippines vs. USA Philippines [59] – Also known as the Philippine War
    Mexican Revolution 500,000–2,000,000 1910–1920 Revolutionary Forces vs. Anti-Revolutionary Forces Mexico [60]
    Balkan Wars 140,000+ 1912–1913 see Balkan wars Balkan Peninsula The war restricted Ottoman control in Europe to territories around Istanbul
    World War I 16,000,000–40,000,000+ (the higher estimate also includes the first victims of the related Spanish flu epidemic who died by the end of 1918. Neither includes the subsequent Russian Civil War) 1914–1918 Allied Powers vs. Central Powers Worldwide [23] – Also known as the Great War
    Russian Civil War 5,000,000–9,000,000 1917–1922 Red army and allies vs. White army and allies Russia [61]
    Kurdish separatism in Iran 15,000-58,000 1918–present Qajar dynasty vs. Shekak (tribe) Iran [62]
    Iraqi–Kurdish conflict 138,800–320,100 1918–2003 Kurdistan/Iraqi Kurdistan and allies vs. Iraq and allies Iraq [63] [64]
    Kurdish rebellions in Turkey 100,000+ 1921–present Turkey vs. Kurdish people Middle East
    Second Italo-Senussi War 40,000+ 1923–1932 Italy vs. Senussi Order Libya
    Chinese Civil War 8,000,000– 11,692,000 1927–1949 ROC vs. PRC China [65]
    Chaco War 85,000–130,000 1932–1935 Bolivia vs. Paraguay Gran Chaco
    Second Italo-Ethiopian War 278,000+ 1935–1936 Ethiopian Empire vs. Italy Ethiopia According to Italian government statistics, the Italians suffered 1,148 KIA, 125 DOW, and 31 MIA. [66] According to the Ethiopian government, at least 275,000 Ethiopians died in the brief war. [66] [67] – Also known as the Second Italo–Abyssinian War
    Spanish Civil War 500,000–1,000,000 1936–1939 Nationalists vs. Republicans Spain [30]
    Second Sino-Japanese War 20,000,000–25,000,000 1937–1945 Republic of China and allies vs. Japan China [68] – Part of World War II
    World War II 56,125,000–85,000,000 1939–1945 Allied powers vs. Axis Powers Worldwide [23] – Largest and deadliest war in history
    Winter War 153,736–194,837 1939–1940 Finland vs. Soviet Union Finland – Part of World War II
    Greco-Italian War 27,000+ 1940–1941 Greece vs. Italy Southeast Europe – Part of World War II
    Continuation War 387,300+ 1941–1944 Finland and Germany vs. Soviet Union Northern Europe – Part of World War II
    Soviet–Japanese War 33,420–95,768 1945 Soviet Union and Mongolia vs. Japan Manchuria – Part of World War II
    First Indochina War 400,000+ 1946–1954 France vs. Việt Minh, Lao Assara, and Khmer Issarak Southeast Asia – Also known as the Indochina War
    Greek Civil War 158,000+ 1946–1949 Greek Government army vs. DSE Greece [69] [70] [71] [72]
    Malagasy Uprising 11,342–89,000 1947–1948 France vs. Malagasy Insurgents Madagascar [73] [74]
    Kashmir Conflict 80,000–110,000 1947–present India vs. Pakistan North India / Pakistan
    La Violencia 192,700–194,700 1948–1958 Colombian Conservative Party vs. Colombian Liberal Party Colombia
    Internal conflict in Myanmar 130,000–250,000 1948–present Myanmar vs. Burmese Insurgent Groups Myanmar [75]
    Arab–Israeli conflict 116,074+ 1948–present Arab Countries vs. Israel Middle East [76]
    Indian annexation of Hyderabad 29,000–242,000 1948 Dominion of India vs. Hyderabad India – Also known as Operation Polo
    Korean War 1,500,000–4,500,000 1950–1953 South Korea and allies vs. North Korea and allies Korea [77]
    Algerian War 400,000–1,500,000 1954–1962 Algeria vs. France Algeria [78] – Also known as the Algerian War of Independence
    Ethnic conflict in Nagaland 34,000+ 1954–present India and Myanmar vs. Naga People Northeast India [79]
    Vietnam War 1,300,000–4,300,000 1955–1975 South Vietnam and allies vs. North Vietnam and allies Vietnam [80] [81] [82] – Also known as the Second Indochina War - Includes deaths in Cambodia and Laos
    First Sudanese Civil War 500,000+ 1955–1972 Sudan vs. South Sudanese Rebels Sudan
    Congo Crisis 100,000+ 1960–1965 DRC, USA, and Belgium vs. Simba and Kwilu Rebels Congo [83]
    Angolan War of Independence 83,000–103,000 1961–1974 Angola vs. Portugal and South Africa Angola
    North Yemen Civil War 100,000–200,000 1962–1970 Kingdom of Yemen and Saudi Arabia vs. Yemen Arab Republic and United Arab Republic Yemen [84]
    Mozambican War of Independence 63,500–88,500 1964–1974 FRELIMO vs. Portugal Mozambique [85]
    Insurgency in Northeast India 25,000+ 1964–present India and allies vs. Insurgent Groups Northeast India [75]
    Colombian conflict 220,000+ 1964–present Colombia and allies vs. Far Left guerillas and Far Right paramilitares Colombia [86]
    Nigerian Civil War 1,000,000–3,000,000 1967–1970 Nigeria vs. Biafra Nigeria – Also known as the Biafran War
    Moro Conflict 120,000+ 1969–2019 Philippines vs. Jihadist Groups vs. Bangsamoro Philippines [87]
    Communist rebellion in the Philippines 30,000–43,000 1969–present Philippines vs. Communist Party of the Philippines Philippines [88]
    Bangladesh Liberation War 300,000–3,000,000+ 1971 India and Bangladesh vs. Pakistan Bangladesh [89] – Also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence
    Ethiopian Civil War 500,000–1,500,000 1974–1991 Derg, PEDR, and Cuba vs. Anti-Communist rebel groups Ethiopia
    Angolan Civil War 504,158+ 1975–2002 MPLA vs. UNITA Angola
    Lebanese Civil War 120,000–150,000 1975–1990 various groups Lebanon
    Insurgency in Laos 100,000+ 1975–2007 Laos and Vietnam vs. "Secret army" and Hmong people Laos [90]
    War in Afghanistan 1,240,000–2,000,000 1978–present see War in Afghanistan Afghanistan [91]
    Kurdish–Turkish conflict 45,000+ 1978–present Turkey vs. KCK Middle East [92] – Part of the Kurdish rebellions in Turkey
    Soviet–Afghan War 600,000–2,000,000 1979–1989 Soviet Union and Afghanistan vs. Insurgent groups Afghanistan [93] [94] [95] – Part of War in Afghanistan
    Salvadoran Civil War 70,000–80,000 1979-1992 El Salvador vs. FMLN El Salvador [96] [97]
    Iran–Iraq War 289,000–1,100,000 1980–1988 Iran and allies vs. Iraq and allies Middle East
    Internal conflict in Peru 70,000+ 1980–present Peru vs. PCP-SL and MRTA Peru [98]
    Ugandan Bush War 100,000–500,000 1981–1986 ULNF and Tanzania vs. National Resistance Army Uganda [99] [100] – Also known as the Luwero War
    Second Sudanese Civil War 1,000,000–2,000,000 1983–2005 Sudan vs. South Sudanese rebels Sudan
    Sri Lankan Civil War 80,000–100,000 1983–2009 Sri Lanka vs. Tamil Tigers Sri Lanka [101]
    Somali Civil War 300,000–500,000 1986–present Varying Somali governments vs. insurgent groups Somalia [102] [103]
    Lord's Resistance Army insurgency 100,000–500,000 1987–present Lord's Resistance Army vs. Central African states Central Africa [104]
    Nagorno-Karabakh conflict 38,000+ 1988–present Artsakh and Armenia vs. Azerbaijan and allies Caucasus region – Also known as the Artsakh Liberation War
    Gulf War 25,500–40,500 1990–1991 Iraq vs. Coalition Forces Iraq – Also known as the First Iraq War
    Algerian Civil War 44,000–200,000 1991–2002 Algeria vs. FIS loyalists vs. GIA Algeria [105]
    Bosnian War 97,000–105,000 1991–1995 Bosnia and Herzegovinian governments and allies vs. Republika Srpska and allies Bosnia
    1991 Iraqi Civil War 85,000–235,000 1991 Iraq vs various rebels Iraq [106] [107] [108] – Also known as the Sha'aban Intifada
    Sierra Leone Civil War 50,000–300,000 1991–2002 see Sierra Leone Civil War Sierra Leone
    Burundian Civil War 300,000+ 1993–2005 Burundi vs. Hutu rebels vs. Tutsi rebels Burundi [109]
    Rwandan genocide 800,000 April–July 1994 Hutu people vs. Tutsi Rebels Rwanda [110]
    First Congo War 250,000–800,000 1996–1997 Zaire and allies vs. AFDL and allies Congo
    Second Congo War 2,500,000–5,400,000 1998–2003 See Second Congo War Central Africa [111] [112] [113] [114] – Also known as the Great War of Africa
    Ituri conflict 60,000+ 1999–2003 Lendu Tribe vs. Hemu Tribe and allies Congo [115] – Part of the Second Congo War
    War on Terror 272,000–1,260,000 2001–present Anti-Terrorist Forces vs. Terrorist groups Worldwide [116] [117] [118] [119] – Also known as the Global War on Terrorism
    War in Afghanistan (2001–present) 47,000–62,000 2001–present see War in Afghanistan (2001–present) Afghanistan [117] – Part of the War on Terror and War in Afghanistan
    Iraq War 405,000–654,965 2003–2011 See Iraq War Iraq [118] [119] [117] – Also known as the Second Gulf War

    Modern wars with fewer than 25,000 deaths by death toll Edit

    • 22,000+ – Dominican Restoration War – One estimate placed total Spanish deaths from all causes at 18,000. The fatal losses among the Dominican insurgents were estimated at 4,000. (1863–1865) [30]
    • 22,211 – Croatian War of Independence (1991–1995) [124]
    • 21,000+ – Six-Day War (1967) [125]
    • 20,000+ – Yaqui Wars (1533–1929) [23]
    • 20,000+ – War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720) [30]
    • 20,000+ – Ragamuffin War (1835–1845) [126]
    • 20,000+ – Italo-Turkish War (1911–1912) [23]
    • 19,619+ – Rhodesian Bush War (1964–1979)
    • 19,000+ – Mexican–American War (1846–1848) [23]
    • 18,069–20,069 – First Opium War (1839–1842) [127]
    • 17,294+ – 1940–44 insurgency in Chechnya (1940–1944)
    • 17,200+ – First Anglo-Afghan War (1939–1942) [128]
    • 16,765–17,065 – Balochistan conflict (1948–present) [129][130][131]
    • 16,000+ – War of the Pacific (1879–1883)
    • 16,000+ – Nepalese Civil War (1996–2006)
    • 16,000+ – Spanish–American War (1898) [23]
    • 15,200–15,300 – Peasants' War (1798) – Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
    • 15,000+ – Nigerian Sharia conflict (2009–present) [132][133][134]
    • 14,460–14,922 – South African Border War (1966–1990)
    • 14,077–22,077 – Mau Mau Uprising (1952–1960)
    • 13,929+ – Republic of the Congo Civil War (1997–1999)[103]
    • 13,812+ – Naxalite-Maoist insurgency (1967–present) [135][136]
    • 13,100–34,000 – Kurdish separatism in Iran (1918–present) [125]
    • 13,073–26,373 – 1948 Arab–Israeli War (1948–1949) [137]
    • 11,500–12,843 – Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 – Part of the Bangladesh Liberation War
    • 10,000+ – Assam separatist movements (1979–present)
    • 10,000+ – Malayan Emergency (1948–1960) [138]
    • 10,000+ – War in Donbas[139]– Part of theRussian military intervention in Ukraine (2014–present)
    • 10,000+ – Rwandan Civil War (1990–1994)
    • 10,000+ – First Italo-Ethiopian War (1894–1896) [23]
    • 10,000+ – Second Melillan campaign (1909) [23]
    • 10,000+ – Hispano-Moroccan War (1859–60)[23]
    • 10,000+ – Spanish conquest of Tripoli (1510) [140]
    • 9,400+ – Libyan Civil War (2011) (2011) [141]
    • 8,136+ – Iraqi insurgency (2011–2013)[142]
    • 7,500–21,741 – War of 1812 (1812–1815) [23][143]
    • 7,400–16,200 – Yemeni Civil War (2015–present) (2015–present)
    • 7,050+ - Portuguese conquest of Goa (1510) [144]
    • 7,104+ – Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 (1947–1949) [145]
    • 7,000+ – Chadian Civil War (2005–10) (2005–2010) [146]
    • 6,800–13,459 – Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 (1965)
    • 6,859+ – 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict(2020–present)
    • 5,641–6,991 - Opposition–ISIL conflict during the Syrian Civil War ( 2014–present )
    • 6,543+ – South Thailand insurgency (2004–present) [147]
    • 6,295+ – Central African Republic conflict (2012–present)
    • 5,641+ – Sudanese nomadic conflicts (2009–present) [148][149]
    • 5,100+ – Gaza–Israel conflict (2006–present) – Part of the Arab–Israeli conflict
    • 5,000+ – Casamance conflict (1982–2014) [150]
    • 5,000+ – Chilean Civil War of 1891 (1891) [151]
    • 5,000+ - Cuban Revolution (1959) [152]
    • 4,715+ – Libyan Civil War (2014–present) (2014–present)
    • 4,000–10,000 – Conflict in the Niger Delta (2004–present) [153]
    • 3,699+ – Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen (1992–present) [103]
    • 3,552+ – First Schleswig War (1848–1852)
    • 3,529+ – The Northern Ireland Troubles (1966–1998) [154]
    • 3,366+ – Insurgency in the North Caucasus (2009–2017) [155]
    • 3,270+ – Second Schleswig War (1864)
    • 3,222–3,722 – Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (1956)
    • 3,144+ – Allied Democratic Forces insurgency (1996–present)
    • 3,114+ – 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine (1947–1948) – Part of the 1948 Palestine war
    • 3,007+ – War of the Golden Stool (1900) [citation needed]
    • 3,000–6,000 – Negro Rebellion (1912) [156][157]
    • 3,000–5,000 – Croatian-Slovene Peasant Revolt (1573) [158]
    • 3,000+ – Second Ivorian Civil War (2010–2011) [159]
    • 3,000+ – Banana Wars (1914–1933) [48]
    • 2,944+ – Insurgency in the Maghreb (2004–present)
    • 2,800+ – Northern Mali conflict (2012–present)
    • 2,781+ – Iranian Revolution (1978–1979) [160]
    • 2,751+ – Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919) [161]
    • 2,557+ – Sudan internal conflict (2011–present) (2011–present) [162][163][164]
    • 2,394+ – Sinai insurgency (2011–present) [165]
    • 2,300+ – Conflict in the Niger Delta (2003–present) [166][167]
    • 2,221–2,406 – 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict (2014) – Part of the Gaza–Israel conflict
    • 2,150+ – Persian Expedition of 1796 (1796)
    • 2,096+ – Aden Emergency (1963–1967)
    • 2,054+ – South Yemen insurgency (2009–2015)

    Charts and graphs Edit

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    2. ^
    3. "Body Count of the Roman Empire".
    4. ^ ab
    5. "The Jewish Roman Wars". . Retrieved 2020-07-28 .
    6. ^
    7. Robert B. Marks (2011). China: Its Environment and History (World Social Change). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN978-1442212756 .
    8. ^
    9. Graziella Caselli (2005). Demography – Analysis and Synthesis: A Treatise in Population. Academic Press. ISBN012765660X .
    10. ^
    11. Aletheia (1897). The Rationalist's Manual.
    12. ^
    13. Book of Sui. 636.
    14. ^
    15. White, Matthew. "Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century". Necrometrics . Retrieved 2011-01-24 .
    16. ^
    17. "귀주대첩 [네이버 지식백과] 귀주대첩 [龜州大捷] (두산백과)". Naver . Retrieved 4 July 2013 .
    18. ^Chapuis 1995, p. 77 harvnb error: no target: CITEREFChapuis1995 (help)
    19. ^Xu Zizhi Tongjian Changbian《長編》卷三百上載出師兵員“死者二十萬”,“上曰:「朝廷以交址犯順,故興師討罪,郭逵不能剪滅,垂成而還。今廣源瘴癘之地,我得之未為利,彼失之未為害,一夫不獲,朕尚閔之,况十死五六邪?」又安南之師,死者二十萬,朝廷當任其咎。《續資治通鑑長編·卷三百》”。 《越史略》載廣西被殺者“無慮十萬”。 《玉海》卷一九三上稱“兵夫三十萬人冒暑涉瘴地,死者過半”。
    20. ^ Robertson, John M., "A Short History of Christianity" (1902) p.278. Cited by White
    21. ^
    22. White, Matthew. "Crusades (1095-1291)". Necrometrics.
    23. ^
    24. "Massacre of the Pure". Time. April 28, 1961.
    25. ^
    26. McEvedy, Colin Jones, Richard M. (1978). Atlas of World Population History. New York, NY: Puffin. p. 172. ISBN9780140510768 .
    27. ^ Ping-ti Ho, "An Estimate of the Total Population of Sung-Chin China", in Études Song, Series 1, No 1, (1970) pp. 33–53.
    28. ^
    29. White, Matthew. "Mongol Conquests". Necrometrics . Retrieved 2011-01-24 .
    30. ^
    31. White, Matthew. "Twentieth Century Atlas – Historical Body Count". Necrometrics.
    32. ^
    33. White, Matthew. "Timur Lenk (1369–1405)". Necrometrics . Retrieved 2011-01-24 .
    34. ^
    35. White, Matthew. "Miscellaneous Oriental Atrocities". Necrometrics . Retrieved 2011-01-24 .
    36. ^
    37. "War Statistics – Death Tolls, Length, and More". Archived from the original on 10 March 2017.
    38. ^ abcde
    39. "Victimario Histórico Militar".
    40. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrs
    41. Nash (1976). Darkest Hours. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN9781590775264 .
    42. ^
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    Works cited Edit

    • Carlton, Charles (2002). Going to the Wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars 1638-1651. Taylor & Francis. ISBN978-0-203-42558-9 .
    • Čečuk, Božidar (March 1960). "Tragom poginulih seljaka u Seljačkoj buni 1573. godine" (PDF) . Papers and Proceedings of the Department of Historical Research of the Institute of Historical and Social Research of Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (in Croatian). Zagreb, Croatia: Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. 3: 499–503 . Retrieved 5 September 2017 .
      (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Penguin Books. 1101544643. pp. 832. (see also: 2016 update)
    • Levy, Jack S. (1983). War in the Modern Great Power System: 1495-1975. University Press of Kentucky, USA. 081316365X.

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    5 A Bathroom Break Causes A War

    The Marco Polo Bridge Incident took place on July 7&ndash9, 1937. The Bridge, located in Beijing, was right on the border between the Empire of Japan and China. Since it was a period of high tension, the buffer zone was being occupied by both Japanese and Chinese troops. After unplanned night maneuvers by the Japanese on the night of the 7th, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. After the fire ceased, Private Shimura Kikujiro, of the Japanese Army, failed to return to his post.

    After the Chinese allowed a search for Kikujiro, the Japanese, thinking the private had been captured and looking for any excuse, attacked the Chinese positions during the early morning hours of July 8. Both sides took numerous casualties. This battle eventually resulted in the Second Sino-Japanese War, which itself eventually blended into World War II. Private Shimura returned to his position later that day, bewildered at the claims that he&rsquod been captured and saying that he&rsquod become lost after going to the toilet in a secluded spot.

    Counting states, taking sides

    It isn’t entirely inaccurate, however, to say that the war was fought over money. Most human conflicts are, in some way. In this case, the money issue centered around potential losses Southern titans of agribusiness would experience if slavery was abolished at the federal level. Federally mandated emancipation would require a majority of free states in the US Senate—something Southern lawmakers fought tooth-and-nail to impede.

    As a result, the number of free and slave-states was kept equal until 1846, when the count reached 15 and 14, respectively. This imbalance exacerbated tensions between North and South significantly, reducing Southern leaders to a culture of extreme paranoia. Secession, in this sense, was very much a preemptive move.

    The Southern aristocracy feared the impending election of Abraham Lincoln would ultimately bring about nationwide emancipation. He and his supporters were known, after all, as “black Republicans,” a term purposefully designed to conjure an image of radical abolitionism. Lincoln’s famous “House Divided” speech of 1858 only aggravated tensions, clarifying the divide between an abolitionist North and a slave-dependent South:

    “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new—North as well as South.”

    Neo-Confederates regard the material of this speech as “proof” of Lincoln’s priority of concerns: preservation of the Union above abolition of slavery. They may be correct. But at the time of its delivery, Southern leaders heard these words and thought one thing: Lincoln aims to abolish slavery at the federal level. Lincoln aims to destroy our way of life.

    The Belgian weapon was pretty good, regardless

    Name a war, revolution, or revolt during the Cold War that involved the British Commonwealth, Western European nations or their allies and you found the Fabrique Nationale FAL in the hands of the soldiers fighting the battles.

    No wonder the FAL earned its nickname and became a symbol of the struggle against Communism.

    Starting immediately after World War II, FN produced two million copies of the Fusil Automatique Léger—or Light Automatic Rifle. More than 90 nations adopted the weapon. At one time, the FAL was even the official rifle of most NATO countries.

    One of the most famous examples of the FAL’s ubiquity was during the 1982 Falklands War. The Argentine army carried the full-auto version of the FAL. British troops had the semi-auto L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle version.

    After capturing Argentine troops, British infantry and Royal Marines often walked over to the stack of Argentine weapons and retrieved the full-auto FALs.

    In Argentina, thousands of FALs underwent armory rebuilds in 2010, a sure sign that nation will continue to use the weapon.

    Or consider the 1967 Six-Day War. A common misconception is that the nine-millimeter Uzi was the Israeli Defense Force’s weapon of choice. Actually, Israeli soldiers carried more FALs than Uzis when facing Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian forces.

    In many ways, it was the West’s answer to the Kalashnikov, albeit firing the heavier 7.62 x 51-millimeter NATO round instead of the AK-47’s 7.62 x 39-millimeter intermediate round.

    How the FAL saw the light of day is a story that combines the tactical realities that emerged out of World War II and the politics of who would lead who during the Cold War.

    SLR1A1. Photo via Wikipedia. At top—a U.S. Marine tests a British L1A1 during Desert Storm. Defense Department photo

    The success of Germany’s innovative Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle convinced ordnance officers and weapons designers that era of the bolt-action battle rifle was dead and gone. Lighter cartridges in select-fire assault rifles captured the imagination of weapons designers.

    Only the United States fielded a heavy caliber semi-auto battle rifle, the well-regarded M1 Garand .30–06 weapon that Gen. George Patton called “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” But the future was one that fired full auto—and the Garand did not.

    But the other question was, what caliber? As weapons designers on both sides of the Atlantic toyed with prototype battle rifles, the British tested a seven-millimeter round in the new FAL … and liked it.

    In the United States, the Army wanted to stick with the .30-caliber round, flatly stating that no other cartridge could hold its own on the battlefield.

    With the formation of the new NATO alliance in 1949, generals and civilian planners both talked of the necessity to standardize equipment, weapons and supplies.

    “The laudable aim was one that had been much in the minds of many forward-looking military thinkers for a long time,” writes David Westwood, author of Rifles: An Illustrated History of their Impact. “For experience had shown that the United States and Britain often fought side by side, and commonality would be to the benefit of all including soldiers in the field.”

    One thing was certain. The British were impressed with the FAL. They deemed the firearm superior to competitors because it was easy to maintain, field strip and clean. It reassembled without special tools and it was a select-fire weapon—but it fired the lighter round.

    The “gravel belly” U.S. generals would accept nothing but a .30-caliber weapon, insisting on the superiority of a prototype called the T25, a forerunner of the M14 that was nothing more than a glorified Garand.

    Soon, there was a “Battle of the Bullets” that went as high as the White House and 10 Downing Street. Pres. Harry Truman and Prime Minister Winston Churchill even held a mini-summit, where rumor has it they struck a quid pro quo—the U.S. would adopt the FAL as its main battle rifle if Britain backed NATO adopting the 7.62 x 51-millimeter round.

    NATO adopted the round. However, the U.S. reneged, developed the M14—which fired the NATO 7.62-millimeter cartridge—and adopted it as the American military’s main rifle. In the end, it didn’t matter to FN because NATO countries, including Britain, began snapping up the FAL chambered for the NATO round.

    Many consider that combination of weapon and cartridge the quintessential pairing of battle-rifle and bullet during the 20th century—the FAL went into production in 1953 and FN continued to produce the rifle until 1988. The M-14 fell by the wayside as the main U.S. battle rifle within a few years, replaced by the M-16.

    “Regardless of the political activity that went on before its adoption, the 7.62 x 51-millimeter NATO turned out to be an excellent, powerful military cartridge,” writes Robert Cashner, author of The FN FAL Battle Rifle. “With millions of FALs manufactured and internationally distributed, the rifle played a large part in making the 7.62 x 51-millimeter NATO the success that it was.”

    The FAL also proved a success in Vietnam in the hands of Australian troops. More than 60,000 Aussies served in the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1972, including the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. The Aussies often faced well-equipped Viet Cong who carried new AK-47s supplied by the Communist Chinese and Eastern Bloc countries.

    Despite its weight and size—the FAL is one of the longest battle rifles of the 20th century—Australia’s 1RAR’s troops considered their weapon well-suited for jungle warfare.

    Why Don’t Americans Know What Really Happened in Vietnam?

    February 9, 2015

    A napalm strike erupts in a fireball near US troops in South Vietnam, 1966 during the Vietnam War. (AP Photo)

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    The 1960s—that extraordinary decade—is celebrating its 50th birthday one year at a time. Happy birthday, 1965! How, though, do you commemorate the Vietnam War, the era’s signature catastrophe? After all, our government prosecuted its brutal and indiscriminate war under false pretexts, long after most citizens objected, and failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. More than 58,000 Americans were killed along with more than 4 million Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians.

    So what exactly do we write on the jubilee party invitation? You probably know the answer. We’ve been rehearsing it for decades. You leave out every troubling memory of the war and simply say: “Let’s honor all our military veterans for their service and sacrifice.”

    For a little perspective on the 50th anniversary, consider this: we’re now as distant from the 1960s as the young Bob Dylan was from Teddy Roosevelt. For today’s typical college students, the Age of Aquarius is ancient history. Most of their parents weren’t even alive in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson launched a massive escalation of the Vietnam War, initiating the daily bombing of the entire country, North and South, and an enormous buildup of more than half a million troops.

    In the post-Vietnam decades, our culture has buried so much of the history once considered essential to any debate about that most controversial of all American wars that little of substance remains. Still, oddly enough, most of the 180 students who take my Vietnam War class each year arrive deeply curious. They seem to sense that the subject is like a dark family secret that might finally be exposed. All that most of them know is that the Sixties, the war years, were a “time of turmoil.” As for Vietnam, they have few cultural markers or landmarks, which shouldn’t be surprising. Even Hollywood—that powerful shaper of historical memory—stopped making Vietnam movies long ago. Some of my students have stumbled across old films likeApocalypse Now and Platoon, but it’s rare for even one of them to have seen either of the most searing documentaries made during that war, In the Year of the Pig and Hearts and Minds. Such relics of profound antiwar fervor simply disappeared from popular memory along with the antiwar movement itself.

    On the other hand, there is an advantage to the fact that students make it to that first class without strong convictions about the war. It means they can be surprised, even shocked, when they learn about the war’s wrenching realities and that’s when real education can begin. For example, many students are stunned to discover that the US government, forever proclaiming its desire to spread democracy, actually blocked Vietnam’s internationally sanctioned reunification election in 1956 because of the near certainty that Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh would be the overwhelming winner.

    They’re even more astonished to discover the kind of “free-fire zone” bloodshed and mayhem the U.S. military unleashed on the South Vietnamese countryside. Nothing shocks them more, though, than the details of the My Lai massacre, in which American ground troops killed, at close range, more than 500 unarmed, unresisting, South Vietnamese civilians—most of them women, children, and old men—over a four-hour stretch on March 16, 1968. In high school, many students tell me, My Lai is not discussed.

    An American Tragedy

    Don’t think that young students are the only products of a whitewashed history of the Vietnam War. Many older Americans have also been affected by decades of distortion and revision designed to sanitize an impossibly soiled record. The first step in the cleansing process was to scrub out as much memory as possible and it began even before the US-backed regime in South Vietnam collapsed in 1975. A week before the fall of Saigon, President Gerald Ford was already encouraging citizens to put aside a war that was “finished as far as America is concerned.” A kind of willful amnesia was needed, he suggested, to “regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam.”

    At that moment, forgetting made all the sense in the world since it seemed unimaginable, even to the president, that Americans would ever find a positive way to remember the war—and little wonder. Except for a few unapologetic former policymakers like Walt Rostow and Henry Kissinger, virtually everyone, whatever their politics, believed that it had been an unmitigated disaster. In 1971, for example, a remarkable 58% of the public told pollsters that they thought the conflict was “immoral,” a word that most Americans had never applied to their country’s wars.

    How quickly times change. Jump ahead a decade and Americans had already found an appealing formula for commemorating the war. It turned out to be surprisingly simple: focus on us, not them, and agree that the war was primarily an American tragedy. Stop worrying about the damage Americans had inflicted on Vietnam and focus on what we had done to ourselves. Soon enough, President Ronald Reagan and his followers were claiming that the war had been disastrous mainly because it had weakened an American sense of pride and patriotism, while inhibiting the nation’s desire to project power globally. Under Reagan, “Vietnam” became a rallying cry for both a revived nationalism and militarism.

    Though liberals and moderates didn’t buy Reagan’s view that Vietnam had been a “noble” and winnable war, they did generally support a growing belief that would, in the end, successfully supplant lingering antiwar perspectives and focus instead on a process of national “healing.” At the heart of that new creed was the idea that our own veterans were the greatest victims of the war and that their wounds were largely a consequence of their shabby treatment by antiwar protesters upon returning from the battle zone to an unwelcoming home front. Indeed, it became an article of faith that the most shameful aspect of the Vietnam War was the nation’s failure to embrace and honor its returning soldiers.

    Of course, there was a truth to the vet-as-victim belief. Vietnam veterans had, in fact, been horribly ill-treated. Their chief abuser, however, was their own government, which first lied to them about the causes and nature of the war, then sent them off to fight for an unpopular, dictatorial regime in a land where they were widely regarded as foreign invaders. Finally, on their return, it failed to provide them with either adequate support or benefits.

    And corporate America was also to blame. Employers were reluctant to hire or train them, in many cases scared off by crude 1970s media stereotypes about wacko, drug-addled, and violent vets. Nor did traditional veterans’ organizations like the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars provide a warm welcome to those coming home from a deeply contested and unpopular war filled with disillusioned soldiers.

    The Antiwar Movement Dispatched to the Trash Bin of History

    In the 1980s, however, the Americans most saddled with blame for abusing Vietnam veterans were the antiwar activists of the previous era. Forget that, in its later years, the antiwar movement was often led by and filled with antiwar vets. According to a pervasive postwar myth, veterans returning home from Vietnam were commonly accused of being “baby killers” and spat upon by protesters. The spat-upon story—wildly exaggerated, if not entirely invented—helped reinforce the rightward turn in American politics in the post-Vietnam era. It was a way of teaching Americans to “honor” victimized veterans, while dishonoring the millions of Americans who had fervently worked to bring them safely home from war. In this way, the most extraordinary antiwar movement in memory was discredited and dispatched to the trash bin of history.

    In the process, something new happened. Americans began to treat those who served the country as heroic by definition, no matter what they had actually done. This phenomenon first appeared in another context entirely. In early 1981, when American diplomats and other personnel were finally released from 444 days of captivity in Iran, the former hostages were given a hero’s welcome for the ages. There was a White House party, ticker-tape parades, the bestowal of season tickets to professional sporting events, you name it. This proved to be where a new definition of “heroism” first took root. Americans had once believed that true heroes took great risks on behalf of noble ideals. Now, they conferred such status on an entire group of people who had simply survived a horrible ordeal.

    To do so next with Vietnam veterans, and indeed with every soldier or veteran who followed in their footsteps, seemed like a no-brainer. It was such an easy formula to apply in a new, far more cynical age. You no longer had to believe that the missions American “heroes” fought were noble and just you could simply agree that anyone who “served America” in whatever capacity automatically deserved acclaim.

    By the time the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was opened on Washington’s Mall in 1982, a consensus had grown up around the idea that, whatever you thought about the Vietnam War, all Americans should honor the vets who fought in it, no matter what any of them had done. Memorial planners helped persuade the public that it was possible to “separate the warrior from the war.” As the black granite wall of the Memorial itself so vividly demonstrated, you could honor veterans without commenting on the war in which they had fought. In the years to come, that lesson would be repeated so often that it became a bedrock part of the culture. A classic example was an ad run in 1985 on the tenth anniversary of the war’s end by defense contractor United Technologies:

    “Let others use this occasion to explain why we were there, what we accomplished, what went wrong, and who was right. We seek here only to draw attention to those who served… They fought not for territorial gain, or national glory, or personal wealth. They fought only because they were called to serve… whatever acrimony lingers in our consciousness… let us not forget the Vietnam veteran.”

    Since the attacks of 9/11, ritualized support for troops and veterans, more symbolic than substantive, has grown ever more common, replete withyellow ribbons, airport greetings, welcome home ceremonies, memorial highways, honor flights, benefit concerts, and ballgame flyovers. Through it all, politicians, celebrities, and athletes constantly remind us that we’ve never done enough to demonstrate our support.

    Perhaps some veterans do find meaning and sustenance in our endless thank-yous, but others find them hollow and demeaning. The noble vet is as reductive a stereotype as the crazy vet, and repeated empty gestures of gratitude foreclose the possibility of real dialogue and debate. “Thank you for your service” requires nothing of us, while “Please tell me about your service” might, though we could then be in for a disturbing few hours. As two-tour Afghan War veteran Rory Fanning has pointed out, “We use the term hero in part because it makes us feel good and in part because it shuts soldiers up… Thank yous to heroes discourage dissent, which is one reason military bureaucrats feed off the term.”

    13 Years’ Worth of Commemorating the Warriors

    Although a majority of Americans came to reject the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq in proportions roughly as high as in the Vietnam era, the present knee-jerk association between military service and “our freedom” inhibits thinking about Washington’s highly militarized policies in the world. And in 2012, with congressional approval and funding, the Pentagon began institutionalizing that Vietnam “thank you” as a multi-year, multi-million-dollar “50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War.” It’s a thank-you celebration that is slated to last 13 years until 2025, although the emphasis is on the period from Memorial Day 2015 to Veterans Day 2017.

    You won’t be surprised to learn that the Pentagon’s number-one objective is “to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War” in “partnership” with more than 10,000 corporations and local groups which are “to sponsor hometown events to honor Vietnam veterans, their families, and those who were prisoners of war and missing in action.” Additional goals include: “to pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front” (presumably not by peace activists) and “to highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War.” (It’s a little hard to imagine quite what that refers to though an even more effective Agent Orange defoliant or improved cluster bombs come to mind.)

    Since the Pentagon realizes that, however hard you try, you can’t entirely “separate the warrior from the war,” it is also seeking “to provide the American public with historically accurate materials and interactive experiences that will help Americans better understand and appreciate the service of our Vietnam veterans and the history of US involvement in the Vietnam War.” However, it turns out that “accuracy” and “appreciation” can both be served only if you carefully scrub that history clean of untoward incidents and exclude all the under-appreciators, including the thousands of American soldiers who became so disgusted with the war that they turned on their officers, avoided or refused combat missions, deserted in record numbers, and created the most vibrant antiwar GI and veterans movement in our history.

    The most ambitious of the “educational resources” provided on the Vietnam War Commemoration website is an “interactive timeline.” As other historians have demonstrated, this historical cavalcade has proven to be a masterwork of disproportion, distortion, and omission. For example, it offers just three short sentences on the “killings” at My Lai (the word “massacre” does not appear) and says that the officer who led Charlie Company into the village, Lt. William Calley, was “sentenced to life in prison” without adding that he was paroled by President Richard Nixon after just three-and-a-half years under house arrest.

    That desperately inadequate description avoids the most obviously embarrassing question: How could such a thing happen? It is conveniently dropped onto a page that includes lengthy official citations of seven American servicemen who received Medals of Honor. The fact that antiwar Senator Robert Kennedy entered the presidential race on the same day as the My Lai massacre isn’t even mentioned, nor his assassination three months later, nor the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., just weeks after My Lai, an event that spurred bitter and bloody racial clashes on US military bases throughout South Vietnam and the world.

    It should not go unnoticed that the same government that is spending $65 million commemorating the veterans of a once-reviled war has failed to provide sufficient medical care for them. In 2014, news surfaced that the Veterans Administration had left some 100,000 veterans waiting for medical attention and that some VA hospitals sought to cover up their egregious delays. Every day an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide, and among vets of Iraq and Afghanistan the suicide rate, according to one study, is 50% higher than that of their civilian peers.

    The Pentagon’s anniversary commemoration has triggered some heated push-back from groups like Veterans for Peace and the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee (co-founded by Tom Hayden). Both are planning alternative commemorations designed to include antiwar perspectives once so common but now glaringly absent from popular memory. From such efforts might come the first full public critical reappraisal of the war to challenge four decades of cosmetic makeover.

    Unfortunately, in our twenty-first-century American world of permanent war, rehashing Vietnam may strike many as irrelevant or redundant. If so, it’s likely that neither the Pentagon’s commemoration nor the antiwar counter-commemorations will get much notice. Perhaps the most damaging legacy of the post-Vietnam era lies in the way Americans have learned to live in a perpetual “wartime” without war being part of daily consciousness. While public support for Washington’s war policies is feeble at best, few share the Vietnam era faith that they can challenge a war-making machine that seems to have a life of its own.

    Last year, US Special Operations forces conducted secret military missions in 133 countries and are on pace to beat that mark in 2015, yet these far-flung commitments go largely unnoticed by the major media and most citizens. We rely on 1% of Americans “to protect our freedoms” in roughly 70% of the world’s countries and at home, and all that is asked of us is that we offer an occasional “thank you for your service” to people we don’t know and whose wars we need not spend precious time thinking about.

    From the Vietnam War, the Pentagon and its apologists learned fundamental lessons about how to burnish, bend, and bury the truth. The results have been devastating. The fashioning of a bogus American tragedy from a real Vietnamese one has paved the way for so many more such tragedies, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Pakistan to Yemen, and—if history is any guide—an unknown one still emerging, no doubt from another of those 133 countries.

    Christian Appy Christian Appy is the author of American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity (Viking).

    Watch the video: What Were The Deadliest Wars Ever? (September 2022).


  1. Wolfcot

    I to you will remember it! I will pay off with you!

  2. Moogucage

    interesting. only the name is somehow frivolous.

  3. Colfre

    Well done, the sentence excellent and is timely

  4. Baal

    Look at me!

  5. Tatanka Ptecila

    What words ... the phenomenal, brilliant idea

  6. Averill

    That doesn't make sense.

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