A Brief Timeline
World War I, also known as The Great War, starts in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and lasts until 1918. During the war, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire (the Central Powers) fight against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan, and the United States (the Allied Powers). 16 million deaths, including 9 million soldier deaths, can be attributed to World War I.
Bonus Fact: On Christmas Eve, in 1914 the British and the German armies declare an unofficial truce and sing Christmas carols across the trenches to each other. They also exchange food and souvenirs. This becomes known as the Christmas Truce.
Japanese military forces attack Chinese barracks in the city of Shenyang in September of 1931, and occupy the city the next day. Since the Chinese government is ill-equipped to mount a war against Japan, this allows Japan to occupy all of Manchuria within five months.
The Second Sino-Japanese War starts in 1937, with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, when a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalates into battle over territory permissions and a missing Japanese solider. This will later escalate to a full-scale war. The Chinese troops lose against the Japanese but remain resistant until 1944. Help then comes to China from the United States, with materials and economic support, later resulting in the Japanese surrender on September 2nd, 1945.
In July of 1940, the skies are filled with the German and British air forces clashing over the United Kingdom. It is at the time the largest-ever sustained bombing campaign. When Germany’s aerial warfare branch fails to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force, they are turned back. This victory allows Britain to save their country from ground invasion and possible occupation by German.
In June of 1950, the Korean War starts with 75,000 North Korean soldiers invading South Korea, causing the United States to come to South Korea’s defense. For the Americans it is seen as war against the expansion of communism. Finally, in July of 1953, after 5 million casualties, the war ends with the signing of an armistice.
The Cuban Revolution is an armed revolt led by Fidel Castro against the authoritarian government of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. It starts in July of 1953 and continues sporadically until January of 1959, when they remove Batista and replace the government with a revolutionary socialist state.
The Algerian War, between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front, starts in 1954 and ends in 1962, resulting in Algeria gaining its independence from France.
The Vietnam War pits the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States, which is intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. President Richard Nixon orders the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973, and Communist forces end the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975. The country is unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the next year. More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) are killed in the Vietnam War, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians.
The U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) attempt to push Fidel Castro from power by launching a failed invasion of Cuba in April of 1961.
In April of 1978, Afghanistan’s centrist government is overthrown by left-wing military officers led by Nur Mohammad Taraki. The Marxist-Leninist government forges close ties with the Soviet Union. Insurgency groups known collectively as the mujahedeen grow out of the largely Muslim and anticommunist population, with backing from the United States. Guerilla warfare and mass killing of both insurgents and civilians continues until an accord is signed in 1988. Soviet Troops withdraw by February of 1989.
When the government of the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina declares independence from Yugoslavia in April of 1992, Bosnian Serb forces along with the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army perpetrate atrocious crimes against the Bosnian and Croatian civilians, resulting in 100,000 deaths by 1995. This is the worst act of genocide since the Nazi regime’s destruction in World War II.
The Longest War ever fought by the United States...
In 2001, triggered by the September 11 attacks, the international conflict in Afghanistan begins in three phases:
The first phase – in just two months the U.S. topples the Taliban (the ultraconservative political and religious faction that rules Afghanistan and provides sanctuary for al-Qaeda, perpetrators of the September 11 attacks).
The second phase - The U.S. defeats the Taliban militarily and rebuilds core institutions of the Afghan State.
The final phase starts in 2008 and accelerates with U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to temporarily increase the U.S. troop presence. This larger force protects the Afghan population from Taliban attacks and supports reintegrating insurgents into society. In 2011, the strategy to withdraw forces and hand over security responsibilities to the Afghan military and police fails to achieve its aims when insurgent attacks and civilian casualties remain high. When the U.S. and NATO combat mission formally end in December of 2014, this war becomes the longest war ever fought by the United States.
The Iraq War starts in March of 2003 but has two phases, the first, month-long, phase consisting of a force of American and British troops (with smaller contingents from several other countries) invading Iraq and defeating the Iraqi military. The second, longer phase consists of a U.S. occupation of Iraq, opposing insurgency. In 2007, when violence starts to decline, the United States gradually reduces its military presence, and formally withdraws from Iraq in December of 2011.