Plotting War (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Tue, 14 Jan 2020

Plotting War

A recent article on Pharyngula blog, You ain’t no fortunate one, discussed US wars, specifically the qeustion: depending on when you were born, for how much of your life has the US been at war?

It was an interesting bunch of plots, constantly increasing until for people born after 2001, the percentage hit 100%.

Really? That didn't seem right. Wasn't the US in a lot of wars in the past? When I was growing up, it seemed like we were always getting into wars, poking our nose into other countries' business. Can it really be true that we're so much more warlike now than we used to be?

It made me want to see a plot of when the wars were, beyond Pharyngula's percentage-of-life pie charts. So I went looking for data.

The best source of war dates I could find was American Involvement in Wars from Colonial Times to the Present. I pasted that data into a table and reformatted it to turn it into Python data, and used matplotlib to plot it as a Gantt chart. (Script here: us-wars.py.)

[US Wars Since 1900]

Sure enough. If that Thoughtco page with the war dates is even close to accurate -- it could be biased toward listing recent conflicts, but I didn't find a more authoritative source for war dates -- the prevalence of war took a major jump in 2001. We used to have big gaps between wars, and except for Vietnam, the wars we were involved with were short, mostly less than a year each. But starting in 2001, we've been involved in a never-ending series of overlapping wars unprecedented in US history.

The Thoughtco page had wars going back to 1675, so I also made a plot showing all of them (click for the full-sized version). It's no different: short wars, not overlapping, all the way back to before the revolution. We've seen nothing in the past like the current warmongering. [US Wars Since 1675]

Depressing. Climate change isn't the only phenomenon showing a modern "hockey stick" curve, it seems.

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[ 12:25 Jan 14, 2020    More politics | permalink to this entry | comments ]