The U.S. Has Been At War 222 Out of 239 Years

This morning, I discovered an interesting statistic, America Has Been At War 93% of the Time – 222 Out of 239 Years – Since 1776,  i.e. the U.S. has only been at peace for less than 20 years total since its birth. I wanted to check, get a better understanding and look at other countries in the world.

As always, we can try to extract information from wikipedia, since there are pages dedicated to that information

url="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States"
download.file(url,destfile = "warUS.html")
url="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_France"
download.file(url,destfile = "warFR.html")
url="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_des_guerres_de_la_France#Premi.C3.A8re_R.C3.A9publique"
download.file(url,destfile = "guerre.html")
url="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Canada"
download.file(url,destfile = "warCAN.html")

If we look at the US page, there are tables, so it should be easy to extract it. For instance,

Even if the war did last 1 day, we will say that the US were at war in 1811. The information we want to confirm can be “there were 21 full years – from Jan 1st till Dec 31st – where the US were not at war, once, during those years“. From the row above, we can claim that the US were at war in 1811. Most of the time, we have

I.e. there is a beginning (here 1775) and an end (1783). So here, the US are said to be at war in 1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783. To extract the information, we look for regular expressions in the first column, with number, on 4 digits.

https://f-origin.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2017/03/guerre-us1.png

Well, sometimes it can be a bit tricky, since we have 3 dates, 1941, 1945 and (in the legend) 1944. But if we consider the minimal and the maximal dates, we have our range of dates.

Now that we we how to extract information, let’s do it. The code will be

library(stringr)
ext_date=function(x){
dates12="[0-9]{4}"
#grep(pattern = dates2, x = col1[1])
L=str_extract_all(as.character(x),dates12)
return_L=list()
if(length(L)>0){
for(j in 1:length(L))
if(length(L[[j]])==1) return_L[[j]]=as.numeric(L[[j]])
if(length(L[[j]])>=2) return_L[[j]]=seq(min(as.numeric(L[[j]])),max((as.numeric(L[[j]]))))
}
return(return_L)}

For the US, we get the following years

library(XML)
tables=readHTMLTable("warUS.html")
list_dates=list()
for(i in 1:length(tables)){
if(!is.null(dim(tables[[i]]))){
if(ncol(tables[[i]])>1){
col1=tables[[i]][,1]
list_dates[[i]]=lapply(col1,ext_date)
}
}}
d=unique(unlist(list_dates))

(red means at war, while green means no-war) and indeed,

> length(d)
[1] 222

there were 222 years with war.  Now, what about another country. Like France. Here I use the French wiki page, since information is not in tables in the English one.

tables=readHTMLTable("guerre.html")
list_dates=list()
for(i in 1:length(tables)){
if(!is.null(dim(tables[[i]]))){
if(ncol(tables[[i]])>1){
col1=tables[[i]][,1]
col2=tables[[i]][,2]
col12=paste(col1,col2)
list_dates[[i]]=lapply(col12,ext_date)
}
}}
d=unique(unlist(list_dates))

On the same period of time (starting in 1775), France was also on war most of the time.

Less than the US, but still: 185 years with war,

> length(d[d>=1775])
[1] 185

And on a longer period of time? Why not start, say, around the Hundred Years’s War,

meaning that since 1337, there were (only) 174 years without a single war where France was involved.

Let’s try another one. Like Canada,

tables=readHTMLTable("warCAN.html")
list_dates=list()
for(i in 1:length(tables)){
if(!is.null(dim(tables[[i]]))){
if(ncol(tables[[i]])>1){
col1=tables[[i]][,1]
list_dates[[i]]=lapply(col1,ext_date)
}
}}
d=unique(unlist(list_dates))

Guess what… there’s a lot of green on that graph. Surprised?


24 thoughts on “The U.S. Has Been At War 222 Out of 239 Years”

  1. At the age of 51 My Generation didn’t have Constitution or law or humanrights tot. It may have been something we brushed over quickly. it took quite an Awakening for me to dive in the Constitution lock horses on Hillsdale College but I have. This country is so far off course it’s ridiculous.

  2. This is an amazing bit of research. What is even more important is that the majority of these actions were not defensive in nature but imperialist whether they were domestic or international. Our concept of “manifest destiny “.seems to be alive and well.

  3. I like your research, but I would interject that just using the “Indian Wars” as a benchmark, the US was consistently at war until 1890 with the Apache conquests and up until the wounded knee massacre. Plus all of the clandestine “dark ops” and meddling of the CIA and other government agencies probably would knock the at war percentage to close to 100%.

    1. I was born in 1956, and I haven’t known a real time of peace. Sure makes me very sad. I wish I had the power that comes from money to make sure that this world , the people, realise WE have ONE WORLD, ONE CHANCE! We are more alike, than we are different. Oh, yeah, all the riches in world won’t save your sorry rich ass! You can’t buy your way out of this story.

      1. I looked into this data last year also.
        It’s a truly staggering sad Fact.
        I believe the longest period of peace was under FDR 1936-1941.
        War is financed, therefore people make profit, like the Carlyle group.
        The Bush family are a big part of this.
        Prescott Bush was a shady figure.
        I really don’t think America can stop now, why would it ? It’s a huge money machine.
        After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the ultra rich became scared.
        This is NOT a conspiracy theory, it’s a Fact.
        It’s their World, we are just living in it.

      2. Being rich isn’t an evil 👿 But it does make you suppoedly responsible for all the messed up doings of politiciansand government mess ups. I wish i were rich but its not the answer to world wide stupidity.

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