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What Is Your Definition of Winning a War?

Updated on January 6, 2018

Wars and results of fighting those wars!

Over the last several years, I have mentioned numerous times that the US hasn't won a War since 1898. This brings on the knee jerk reaction by many rejecting this premise.

The Real Issue here is who actually benefits from the US even engaging in WAR, much less the outcome of the war. In either a Win, Loss, or Even a Draw there are benefactors. The benefactors are the ones that keep getting us in Wars, and when we aren't at war they create the atmosphere that war is looming over the horizon.

There still is a need to determine if we have Won a War?

  • The difference between my opinion on winning or losing a war and those opinions in conflict with mine is the definition of war. It also includes when is a war over?
  • It is difficult to determine the win or loss of a war that is still being actively fought.
  • What would be the most correct definition for winning a war. Or in the alternative what factors would indicate that a war has not been won. What factors determine when a war has actually ended, as opposed to being simply deferred? The deferment would be evidence by the start of another war based on the original factors in the previous war.


The use of the word WAR has been as loosely defined as the determination of the outcome of wars.

Is there a difference between a Military Victory and Winning a War?

Much of the confusion of classifying the outcome of a war centers on victory. Many people consider a military victory as having won the war. Sure, a military victory is better than a military loss, but there is more to actually winning the War.

Reasons for going to War

One of the factors that needs to be consider when declaring a Win for the war is the Reason that the War was fought in the first place. Sometimes that Reason for going to War determines that the war cannot be won by definition. The many and continuous wars that have been engaged in by the United States can be attributed to in many case to social issues and politics.

Returning to the loose definition of War, we include the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, the War of Gun Control and others. These are not Wars per se, but Social Issues that use the word War to show political toughness on the issue.

We cannot win wars based on Social Issues. No matter who appears to have won, the opposition will continue to battle the issue.

Wars of social issues are also found outside of the United States, but the United States Politics gets is involved in foreign matters.

Of course there is a difference, when there is an actual physical attack on the United States versus a Political difference by a country, or the influence of that countries politics.

This would include the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. These two wars were initiated by the failure to win World War II. World War II resulted in a Military Victory, but it was not a Win for multiple reasons.

  • 1. The Soviet Union are reluctant Allie took Eastern Europe from the NAZIs and made it part of the USSR.
  • 2. The Cold War. Number 1 above turned into the Cold War. Winning a War cannot be claimed if the War generates a new war.
  • 3. The Cold War was responsible for both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
  • 4. Reasons 1-3 center on Communism versus American Democracy. The United States politicians decided to free the countries from the spread of communism. It is debatable whether the United States was successful in stopping communism during the cold war. In the 80s, the USSR collapsed ending the cold war and returning Eastern Europe sort of back to pre World War II order. In any case, the cold war almost forty years, hardly a win.

Korean War

Additional to the ideological threat of Communism by North Korea to encompass all of Korea, there was an actual attack by North Korea to forcibly take control of the entire country.

Many people look at the intervention of the United States into the Korean War as a United States Victory, but we didn't even have a Military Victory. The result of the United States intervention was to save South Korea from communism.

Korean War 1950s to North Korea 21st Century

Another reason that the Korean War could be determined as not being Won is the continued hostile activity of North Korean since the active fighting ended in the 50s.

Definition of Winning a War

Winning a War means more than just a military victory or a simple declaration by politicians that a war has been won. The Korean War didn't have a military victory nor that it really stop the conflict.

Winning a War should include that the conflict has been resolved and that no future wars will be deferred. World War I was not a win because it failed to resolved the conflict. It merely deferred a future war.

World War II was a deferred and predicable war resulting the failure to win World War I.

This can also be applied to the 1950s failure to win the Korean War. Winning that War would have precluded North Korea a being a Military threat to the country of Korea.

Today North Korea has transcended a regional threat to a single country to possibly being the catalyst for a World War III.

Does that sound like any definition of winning a war?

The Vietnam War - Another Loss for the United States

Vietnam War

It is necessary to provide the foundation for the Vietnam War loss.

Both the Korean War and the Vietnam War were the result of the failure to win World War II, which was the loss of World War I. World War I was originally the War to end all Wars. And that should also be the Definition of Winning a War.

Unfortunately, that is not the common definition of winning a war.

Losing World War II is evidenced by the wars in Korea and Vietnam. The common thread in both wars was communism. The two big countries that were communist countries were the USSR and China. Both of these major powers backed the communists in Korea and Vietnam. They were also a major part of the reason why we didn't even have military victories in Korea or Vietnam. And why the United States lost the entire country of Vietnam.

Vietnam while appearing to be much more stable than North Korea is still a major threat to global peace. And even after the fall of the USSR, Russia is still a major threat to continued wars in the world.

Part 1 Conclusion of Definition of Winning Wars

Part 1 has addressed the time from 1914 to the 1970s. And although there hasn't been a World War since the end of World War II, the frequencies and complexities of wars since the Vietnam War has increased to give us the continuity of wars to this day.


Part one was not an in depth look at the time period, but it does give a foundation of why the definition for winning wars should be reduced to preventing future wars.

Part two continues the thread of losing wars by the United States.


To comment on this part, it would be very helpful if you could include your definition of winning a war, and how it applies and differs from my opinions here.


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    • ptosis profile image

      ptosis 6 months ago from Arizona

      Hi Brad. Didn't read your entire article, but so glad you brought this topic up. What does 'winning' look like? :)