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The US presidents behind new wars in ‘modern history’

Four of the 13 presidents in office between 1945 and 2020 officially brought the country into new full-scale wars

Even before its independence in 1775, the US was engaged in wars within the country as well as abroad—something the nation is still involved in. Since then, the first such war in 1775-76—well-known as King Philip’s War– lasted 14 months and destroyed 14 towns.

On the contrary, the Afghanistan war involving American troops is the latest to end in August last year. Initiated following the 9/11 attacks, it is the most protracted war in US history.

More conservatively, considering the five wars as well as other military operations listed below, the presidents who have not started a new war or been involved in escalating or starting a new military operation would include Trump (if we consider action in Syria an extension to the Obama administration’s presence), Carter and Ford.

The article takes into account US presidents — except Joe Biden — between the end of World War II and 2020. Let’s have a look at history.

The Korean War (1950 – 1953)

First articulated before Congress on March 12, 1947, the Truman Doctrine, which said that the US would provide military, political and economic aid to nations “under threat from external or internal authoritarian force,” is often considered the start of the decades-long Cold War.

On June 27, 1950, Truman ordered an intervention in the Korean peninsula.

The Vietnam Era (1955-1975)

In 1954, President Dwight D Eisenhower pledged his support to South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. Between 1955 and 1960, Eisenhower increased the number of US military advisors. President John F Kennedy also escalated US involvement in the war.

The US war in Vietnam officially began in 1964 under Johnson. Despite his policy of Vietnamization (a plan to gradually withdraw), President Richard Nixon intensified the conflict on other fronts, especially in Cambodia and Laos.

The Gulf War (1990-1991)

George H W Bush was the first president since Johnson to officially enter the US into a new war, this time in the Persian Gulf. In response to Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the UNSC authorized the use of force against Iraq when it did not withdraw by January 15, 1991.

The Afghanistan War (2001 – 2022)

On October 7, 2001, less than a month after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, George W Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom.

President Barack Obama increased the deployment of US troops to Afghanistan. The war came to an end after the Biden administration announced withdrawing troops from May 1.

The Iraq War (2003-2011)

In March 2003, George W Bush initiated war on Iraq with the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On December 15, 2011, the US declared an end to the war in Iraq.

Other US military interventions

Since 1945, the US has had an active foreign policy, with its military frequently involved abroad. While these would not be considered “new wars” for the scope of this fact check, they are worth mentioning.

Trump held US military operations attacking Syrian government targets.

Backing Pakistan in Bangladesh Liberation War

 

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