This article from the Washington Post refers to the US' war in Afghanistan as its longest. Others have said the same. As of 2018 it's been about 17 years. The headline says longest foreign, but the article says longest without the foreign qualifier. Other articles lack this disclarity, but refer to the war in Afghanistan only as "Americ's longest war." A Daily Signal article and an article in the Business Insider are among articles listed in a Google search that refer to the war in this way.

The Chicamauga Wars lasted about 19 years. The Texas-Indian Wars lasted about 55. The Yaqui Wars about 22. The Apache Wars about 49. The Occupation of Nicaragua about 21. The Occupation of Haiti about 19. The Laotian Civil War about 22.

Is it because they're domestic? Or because the others are considered "wars" and not each a "war," singular? Or because they were minor and aren't counted? Not all of the other wars satisfy the first two criteria.

  • 1
    Because people barely bother remembering what happened in the 80s (and were too drugged up to remember the 70s), never mind the nuanced history of 19th Century.
    – user4012
    Jan 2 '18 at 3:47
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    I'm torn between answering, flagging to migrate to History.SE, and flagging to close as offtopic (as this is about thought process of a private individuals at a newspaper) and flagging to close as offtopic since we can't read the mind of the editor/writer of the article.
    – user4012
    Jan 2 '18 at 3:58
  • 2
    I've voted to close this as off topic, because it should be at History.se. Jan 2 '18 at 6:55
  • @user4012 - I'd welcome a migration to History, that's a good thought. I added to the question a couple references that refer to the war as America's longest without qualification, in order to address the idea that users of this expression are writing only of foreign wars. However, that also serves to show that the expression isn't the internal thought of a single person, but of multiple, and possibly they have been called to defend their position openly, in which case we wouldn't have to speculate about their thought processes. Jan 2 '18 at 15:25
  • FWIW, I think this is on topic, but may be largely a matter of opinion.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 2 '18 at 21:32

As you noted, the article clearly stated that it was referring to "foreign" wars.

So, any wars with Native tribes don't qualify.

Nicaragua wasn't one but two separate occupations (and it's difficult to consider the first one a full fledged "war" for the full duration, given low casualties and general lack of hostilities after 1913). Similarly with Haiti, where there was occupation but no active war at least since 1922. Laos... we were never in war in Laos. At least, technically speaking. 100% of activity (at least as far as I recall) was CIA, not DoD.

  • The US is listed as a belligerent for the Laotian war and for the Hatian Occupation, both of which are listed as wars involving the United States, according to Wikipedia and the references cited there. Is it not correct that they're included in that list? Jan 2 '18 at 18:27
  • @DonBranson - I don't know what goes through the minds of countless people editing Wikipedia, sorry. I presented specific facts; you can add semantic labels to them as you prefer.
    – user4012
    Jan 2 '18 at 18:37
  • Heh, fair enough. They're at least citing references, which hopefully are credible sources, But yes, application of semantic labels can be influenced by history or politics. That's related to why the original question was posted on Politics. Jan 2 '18 at 18:45

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