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The Iraq war in history

Tuesday marks the beginning of the fifth year of the war in Iraq. At that point, the US engagement in Iraq will have lasted longer than its involvement in which of the following wars?

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

A. World War I is correct. The First World War began in August 1914 and ended on Nov. 11, 1918, lasting for four years and nearly five months. However, the United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, meaning its engagement in World War I lasted only about 19 months.

B. World War II is correct. The Second World War began on Sept. 1, 1939, with Germany's invasion of Poland and ended on Aug. 14, 1945, with Japan's capitulation, thus lasting for almost six years in total.

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

C. Vietnam War is not correct. The US engagement in Vietnam began with the commitment of combat troops in March 1965 and ended in March 1973, when the last US military unit left Vietnam covering a total of 96 months of combat.

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

D. Civil War is correct. The US Civil War began in April 1861 and lasted until April 1865, a period of 48 months. On March 20, 2007, the US military engagement in Iraq will exceed the length of the Civil War between the US North and South.

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

The Globalist Quiz is produced by The Globalist, a Washington-based research organization that promotes awareness of world affairs. © 2006 The Globalist,