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This calculation is intentionally fudged, using calendar years, to indicate a broad pattern of more or less permanent war as a condition of the existence of the United States. Since wars, especially modern wars (the only ones listed with more precise start and end dates), typically involve time for mobilization of personnel and materials in advance, and may involve puppet regimes and occupations (for example, in Germany and Okinawa) afterward, David Benfell judges that the conflict extends beyond the precise calendar dates for the start and end of shooting. Some wars, like the Cold War, never break out into shooting as such, except as a series of proxy wars, but nonetheless involve extended periods of mobilization and active hostility. Due to conditions of structural violence, some wars, like the one against American Indians, can be argued to be ongoing well after the date indicated here as its end, and some like what should be understood as the war against the poor and on other people of color, especially African-Americans and Mexican-Americans, (also including that which is more commonly known as the War on Drugs)1) are never listed. Despite these omissions, this spreadsheet adheres to the chronology compiled by Roger Lee. The first four columns are basically copied from his web page,2) modified only to the extent necessary to make a rational spreadsheet. The remaining columns have been added to Lee's table and are used for calculation. The gnumeric spreadsheet is available here

Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture (New York: Seven Stories, 2005); Conor Friedersdorf, “The Past Is Gone: Why Liberals Should Rethink States' Rights,” Atlantic, December 12, 2012,; Herbert J. Gans, The War Against The Poor: The Underclass And Antipoverty Policy (New York: Basic, 1995); Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
Roger Lee, “United States Military History,” The History Guy,
military/united_states_history_of_war.txt · Last modified: 2015/05/24 22:16 by benfell