The “cut-and-run” crowd has resorted to rewriting history. Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute, a thinktank that I normally have respect for, has written a piece released in the Chicago Sun-Times that would have you believe that our involvement in Iraq has now lasted longer than our involvement in World War II. Unfortunately, that correlation is a direct and deliberate misrepresentation of historical fact.
The U.S. mission in Iraq has now lasted longer than America’s involvement in World War II. That should be an occasion for sober reflection. In less than four years — from 1941 to 1945 — the United States and its allies managed to defeat two of the most powerful militaries in the world. By contrast, today, we are still mired in an endless conflict in a single small country after the same amount of time.
The problem with this line of reasoning is that it “compares apples to oranges.”‚ It is true that by 1945 the powers we battled in World War II had officially surrendered. However, insurgency continued for years after. Our postwar occupation of Japan under MacArthur continued until 1952, seven years longer than Carpenter would have you believe. In Europe, the occupation lasted even longer with the Army as the executive agency for military government until 1949, and leaving an occupation force in place until 1955. During this time there were insurgencies to be fought in both countries. So for Carpenter to state, “America’s involvement in World War II [lasted] less than four years” is simply an absurd analogy that preys on the fact that the average American is more likely to be able to recite pro football stats than key dates in American history.