THE WAR

THE WAR:

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Prologue:

If I intentionally kill another person, I will be subject to a long term of imprisonment or even, in some jurisdictions, the death penalty. But if I kill 1000 people, I might receive a medal; or if a million, I might be promoted to field marshal or even president, provided only that those killed come from another side of a border in a state known as “war”. Today, violence and war are a routine way of life. Dulled by repetition and numbers, we hardly notice mass death. That hundreds of thousands died in a civil war in Africa may be mentioned briefly on page four of our newspapers. If you look at human history, you will notice war is all the rage. Wars have been fought on every continent and in every century—and we have the written records of events to prove it. In 1976, anthropologist Ashley Montagu detailed evidence of 14,500 wars over the last 5,600 years. That’s 2.6 wars per year. Corroborating Montagu’s research, Charles Burke stated in his 1975 book, Aggression in Man, that there have been only 268 years of peace during the last 3,400 years of civilization. Among the oldest professions in the world, then, is soldier. The frequency and popularity of war have led people to wonder if it is inevitable. Some believe it is man’s destiny to wage war. Some scholars believe humanity has a “propensity for warfare.”  For them, war grows out of something deep within human nature. Perhaps some gene in our DNA drives us to fight, inflaming disagreements and mobilizing people to unite and inflict aggression on one another. Not all wars are the same. Conventional wisdom suggests that each war is as different as the society that produced it. However, broad comparisons among different wars are possible and can lead to the design of policy to better manage or prevent those wars.

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History of war:

In ‘War Before Civilization’, Lawrence H. Keeley, a professor at the University of Illinois, says that approximately 90-95% of known societies throughout history engaged in at least occasional warfare, and many fought constantly. The figure below shows percentages of men killed in war in eight tribal societies, and Europe and the U.S. in the 20th century. The use of the massacre by pre-state societies can be exhibited by the Dogrib tribes of the subartic in North America. The Dogrib tribe eventually destroyed the Yellowknife tribe by killing 4 men, 13 women, and 17 children which accounted for 20 percent of the population. This was a devastating blow from which the Yellowknife tribe never recovered. Before the dawn of civilization, warfare was perpetuated by primitive societies consisting of small-scale raiding, large raids and massacres. One half of the people found in a Nubian cemetery dating to as early as 12,000 years ago had died of violence.

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War is as ancient as humanity and has been studied seriously by human beings for almost as long. Prussian military officer Karl von Clausewitz wrote famously that war was simply politics by other means. Von Clausewitz compared war to a duel between two persons—war between peoples was that duel on an extensive scale.  Sun Tzu much earlier than even Clausewitz wrote a famous treatise on the “Art of War,” in which Sun Tzu attributed victory, among other things, to the strategist’s careful calculations.  “Attack your enemy where he is unprepared and appear where you are not expected” said Sun Tzu.  According to Ray and Kaarbo (2009: 177), there have only been 292 years without war since 3600 BCE and that since 1816 every decade has averaged around 22 wars. Amazingly, when looking at world history, statistics show (Cioffi-Revilla 1996) that the world has been totally free of significant interstate, colonial, or civil war in only 1 out of every 12 years in all of recorded history. Interestingly, armed conflict has become increasingly concentrated in the 3rd world…since 1945, 9 out of every 10 wars have been in the weak or failed states of the Global South (Worldwatch 1999 database diskette). Since 1990, most armed conflicts have occurred in Asia and Africa—regions with the largest countries, largest populations, and lowest levels of incomes. On the other hand, according to Fareed Zakaria (2009: pp8-9), the world feels “very dangerous…but it isn’t. Your chances of dying as a consequence of organized violence of any kind are low and getting lower. The data reveal a broad trend away from wars among major countries, the kind of conflict that produces massive casualties.” Ted Robert Gurr (2005) concurs, arguing that “the general magnitude of global warfare has decreased by over sixty percent [since the mid-1980s], falling by the end of 2004 to its lowest level since the late 1950s.” Zakaria suggests that violence peaked just before the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and has steadily decreased since then. Harvard Sociology professor Steven Pinker (2007) argues “that today we are probably living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence” (vide infra). Obviously war isn’t obsolete, bloody wars between major powers may yet be fought, and human nature still often regresses to solving conflicts through the application of force (see especially the bloodbath that took place in Yugoslavia in the early to mid-1990s as well as the genocides taking place in Rwanda [1995], Sudan [ongoing], and Congo [1994-2005], among others for confirmation that humans are still prone to violence) but in the grand historical sweep of time, the times we are living in right now are unusually calm…

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Nation & state vis-à-vis war:

Most people follow Max Weber’s distinction between nation and state. A nation is a group which thinks of itself as “a people,” usually because they share many things in common, such as ethnicity, language, culture, historical experience, a set of ideals and values, habitat, cuisine, fashion and so on. The state, by contrast, refers much more narrowly to the machinery of government which organizes life in a given territory. Thus, we can distinguish between the American state and the American people, or between the government of France and the French nation. At the same time, you’ve probably heard the term “nation-state.” Indeed, people often use “nation” and “state” interchangeably but we’ll need to keep them conceptually distinct for our purposes. “Nation-state” refers to the relatively recent phenomenon wherein a nation wants its own state, and moves to form one. This started out as a very European trend—an Italian state for the Italian nation, a German state for the German people, etc., but it has spread throughout the world. Note that in some countries, such as America, Australia and Canada, the state actually presides over many nations, and you hear of “multi-national societies.” Most societies with heavy immigration are multi-national. Multi-national countries are sometimes prone to civil wars between the different groups. This has been especially true of central Africa in recent years, as different peoples struggle over control of the one state, or else move to separate themselves from the existing arrangement (itself often having been put in place by distant imperial powers insensitive to local group and ethnic differences). We note how central the issue of statehood is to the essence of warfare. Indeed, it seems that all warfare is precisely, and ultimately, about governance. War is a violent way for determining who gets to say what goes on in a given territory, for example, regarding: who gets power, who gets wealth and resources, whose ideals prevail, who is a member and who is not, which laws get made, what gets taught in schools, where the border rests, how much tax is levied, and so on. War is the ultimate means for deciding these issues if a peaceful process or resolution can’t be agreed upon.

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Since the rise of the state some 5,000 years ago, military activity has occurred over much of the globe. The advent of gunpowder and the acceleration of technological advances led to modern warfare. According to Conway W. Henderson, “One source claims 14,500 wars have taken place between 3500 BC and the late 20th century, costing 3.5 billion lives, leaving only 300 years of peace (Beer 1981: 20).” In Western Europe, since the late 18th century, more than 150 conflicts and about 600 battles have taken place. At the end of each of the last two World Wars, concerted and popular efforts were made to come to a greater understanding of the underlying dynamics of war and to thereby hopefully reduce or even eliminate it all together. These efforts materialized in the forms of the League of Nations, and its successor, the United Nations. The Human Security Report 2005 documented a significant decline in the number and severity of armed conflicts since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. However, the evidence examined in the 2008 edition of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management’s “Peace and Conflict” study indicated that the overall decline in conflicts had stalled. Recent rapid increases in the technologies of war, and therefore in its destructiveness, have caused widespread public concern, and have in all probability forestalled, and may hopefully altogether prevent the outbreak of a nuclear World War III.

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War torn Africa:

Even though there is ample evidence to show that we are living in the most peaceful times of human existence, the exception is, as often, Sub-Saharan Africa, where the trend continues upward. Africa, to a greater extent than any other continent, is afflicted by war. Africa has been marred by more than 20 major civil wars since 1960. Rwanda, Somalia, Angola, Sudan, Liberia, and Burundi are among those countries that have recently suffered serious armed conflict. War has caused untold economic and social damage to the countries of Africa. Food production is impossible in conflict areas, and famine often results. Widespread conflict has condemned many of Africa’s children to lives of misery and, in certain cases, has threatened the existence of traditional African cultures. Conflict prevention, mediation, humanitarian intervention and demobilization are among the tools needed to underwrite the success of development assistance programs. Nutrition and education programs, for example, cannot succeed in a nation at war. Billions of dollars of development assistance have been virtually wasted in war-ravaged countries such as Liberia, Somalia, and Sudan. Africa loses around $18bn per year due to wars, civil wars, and insurgencies. On average, armed conflict shrinks an African nation’s economy by 15 per cent.

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The graph below shows average number of international conflicts per year from 1950 to 2008.


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The figure below shows high-intensity violent conflicts in 2010.


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2011 and war:

In the year 2011, the number of armed conflicts in the world increased markedly, with the strongest increase taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa. 2011 also saw an increase in the most severe conflicts. Six conflicts were categorized as wars, passing the level of at least 1,000 battle-related deaths. This is up from four in 2010. While the wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, and Somalia have received much media attention, the intense conflicts in Sudan and Yemen have been less covered. It should be pointed out, however, that even though we have now witnessed the largest increase between any two years since 1990, the number of conflicts is still far below the peak levels of the early 1990s. At the peak 53 armed conflicts were active.

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Modern conflicts database:

The table below shows estimates includes civilian and military casualties, and indirect deaths from conflict-related famine, disease, and disruptions as well as violent deaths.

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Country Duration of conflict Casualties-Best Estimate
Afghanistan 1978-2002 15000000
Algeria 1991-2005 150000
Angola 1975-2002 800000
Bosnia 1992-1995 125000
Burma 1948-2006 130000
Burundi 1993-2005 300000
Chad 1965-2005 75000
Chechnya 1994-2005 90000
Croatia 1992-1995 40000
Colombia 1984-2005 50000
Congo 1996-2005 380000
East Timor 1975-1999 200000
El Salvador 1979-1992 75000
Ethiopia 1974-1991 750000
Guatemala 1966-1996 200000
India-Kashmir 1989-2005 35000
India-Sikhs 1983-1993 25000
India-Northeast 1952-2006 25000
Iraq-Kurds 1961-1993 150000
Iraq-Shia 1979-1998 25000
Iraq-US 2003-2006 400000
Iraq-Kuwait 1990-1991 150000
Liberia 1989-2005 150000
Lebanon 1975-1991 150000
Mozambique 1975-2002 1000000
Peru 1980-1999 30000
Philippines-moros 1971-present 75000
Philippines-new people’s army 1972-1997 35000
Rwanda 1994-1995 850000
Sudan-Darfur 2002-2005 120000
Sierra-Leone 1991-2002 30000
Somalia 1988-2006 300000
Sri Lanka 1983-present 75000
Tajikistan 1991-1998 40000
Turkey 1983-2005 35000

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Largest war by death toll:

The death toll of World War II, being 60 million plus, surpasses all other war-death-tolls by a factor of two. This may be due to significant recent advances in weapons technologies, as well as recent increases in the overall human population.

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List of wars by death tolls:

60,000,000–72,000,000 – World War II (1939–1945)

36,000,000 – An Shi Rebellion (China, 755–763)

30,000,000–60,000,000 – Mongol Conquests (13th century)

25,000,000 – Qing dynasty conquest of Ming dynasty (1616 – 1662)

20,000,000 – World War I (1914–1918)

20,000,000 – Taiping Rebellion (China, 1850–1864)

20,000,000 – Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945)

8,000,000–12,000,000 – Dungan revolt (China, 1862–1877)

7,000,000–20,000,000 Conquests of Tamerlane (1370–1405)

5,000,000–9,000,000 – Russian Civil War and Foreign Intervention (1917–1922)

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World war:

A world war is a war affecting the majority of the world’s most powerful and populous nations. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents, with battles fought in multiple theaters. The term is usually applied to the two conflicts of unprecedented scale that occurred during the 20th century, World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945). It also applies to the next conflict that may occur in the future, World War III, which generally ranges from limited war with nuclear weapons, to destruction of the planet. The two World Wars of the 20th century caused unprecedented casualties and destruction across the theatres of conflict. The First World War saw major use of chemical weapons. The Second World War was also the first conflict in which nuclear weapons were used, devastating the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The figure below shows World Map with the participants in World War I. The Allies depicted in green, the Central Powers in orange and neutral countries in grey.


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The figure below shows World Map with the participants in World War II. The Allies depicted in green (those in light green entered after the attack on Pearl Harbor), the Axis Powers in blue and neutral countries in grey. The Xikang region of Tibet was under Chinese control.


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World War II:

When World War II swept through Europe and pulled in all of the major powers around the globe, it left oceans of blood in its wake. Having taken approximately 60 million lives (20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians), it’s said to be the bloodiest war known to history. The war began with German dictator Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and hostile invasion of Poland in 1939. Germany, Italy, Japan and other countries made up the Axis powers. The opposing side was the Allies, which consisted of powerful nations like Britain, France, the USSR and the United States. The conflict didn’t end until 1945, after the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Effects of both world wars are depicted in table below:

World War I

World War II

Deaths 15 to 20 millions 60 millions
Injured 9 to 15 millions 20 millions
Conscripts 65 millions 90 millions
Battlefield Size 3 million km² 17 million km²

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World war III:

Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, there has been a widespread and prolonged fear of a Third World War between nuclear-armed superpowers. The world is perhaps standing on the brink of another major war, which may kick off in Iran. The war may begin when Israel strikes “nuclear” objects in Iran. The United States will support the attack. If it happens, the new large-scale war will become inevitable. It must be stated more clearly: if Israel carries out a strike against Iran, Iran will launch a counterstrike that, according to its own statements, will also hit American installations; this will then, ultimately, lead to the deployment of British and American military operations against Iran. That would be just the trigger for thermonuclear war, with the United States, Britain, and NATO on the one side, and Russia, China, Iran, Syria, and other allies on the other. If just a fraction of the available thermonuclear weapons were used, any form of human life on the planet would be extinguished. It is clear to any sane person that only the insane would risk the extinction of the human species in this way. Iran has recently shot down a US stealth drone, which was at first disavowed by US military then confirmed. Iran has also been performing drills practicing closing the Strait of Hormuz, and has threatened to close it if attacked. As Paul Joseph Watson reports, “closing the Strait for a period of just 30 days would send crude racing up to $300-$500 dollars a barrel, a level that would trigger global economic instability and cost the U.S. nearly $75 billion in GDP.” World War III is also a common theme in popular culture. Who might start World War III and how it might start are perennial topics of discussion in press. A vast apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic science fiction literature exists describing the postulated execution and aftermath of World War III, several notable movies have been made based on World War III, and it is the topic of various comics, video games, songs, magazines, radio programs, newspapers and billboards.  Albert Einstein said “I do not know what weapons World War III will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”.

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List of ongoing wars/conflicts:

Conflicts in the following list are currently causing at least 1,000 violent deaths per year, a categorization used by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program and recognized by the United Nations.

Start of conflict

War/conflict

Location

Cumulative fatalities

Fatalities in 2010/11

1964

Colombian Armed Conflict Colombia 50,000+ 1,000+

1967

Naxalite-Maoist insurgency India ~11,200 1,174+

1978

Afghan Civil war Afghanistan 600,000–2,000,000 10,461+

1991

Somali Civil War Somalia 300,000-400,000 2,318+

2004

War in North-West Pakistan Pakistan 30,452 7,435

2004

Shia Insurgency in Yemen Yemen and Saudi Arabia 25,000 8,000

2006

Mexican Drug War Mexico 39,392+ 24,374

2009

Sudanese nomadic conflicts Sudan 2,000–2,500 708

2011

Sudan–SPLM-N conflict  Sudan 1,500+ 1,500+

2011

2011 Syrian uprising Syria 3,000+ 3,000+

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Etymology:

The English word war derives from the late Old English words wyrre and werre; the Old North French werre; the Frankish werra; and the Proto-Germanic werso. The denotation of war derives from the Old Saxon werran, Old High German werran, and the German verwirren: “to confuse”, “to perplex”, and “to bring into confusion”. Another posited derivation is from the Ancient Greek barbaros, the Old Persian varhara, and the Sanskrit varvar and barbara. In German, the equivalent is Krieg; the equivalent Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian words for “war” is guerra, derived from the Germanic werra (“fight”, “tumult”). Etymologic legend has it that the Romanic peoples adopted a foreign, Germanic word for “war”, to avoid using the Latin bellum, because, when sounded, it tended to merge with the sound of the word bello (“beautiful”).

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Definition of war:

War is an organized, armed, and often a prolonged conflict that is carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of political violence. The set of techniques used by a group to carry out war is known as warfare. At the one end lies the endemic warfare of the Paleolithic with its stones and clubs, and the naturally limited loss of life associated with the use of such weapons. Found at the other end of this continuum is nuclear warfare, along with the recently developed possible outcome of its use, namely the potential risk of the complete extinction of the human species.

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An absence of war (and other violence) is usually called peace.

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War is a state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties. It also includes the period of such conflict and the techniques and procedures of war; military science. It is characterized by intentional violence on the part of large bodies of individuals organized and trained for that purpose. On the national level, some wars are fought internally between rival political factions (civil war); others are fought against an external enemy. Wars have been fought in the name of religion, in self-defense, to acquire territory or resources, and to further the political aims of the aggressor state’s leadership. 

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Ray and Kaarbo (2009: 177) disaggregate war into two components:

1. Interstate wars: wars between states

2. Internal or intrastate wars: civil wars within states

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Nevertheless, there are good reasons to define operationally what one accepts as an international war versus what one defines as, say, a civil war or even a riot.  That is not to say that riots or events less than full international war are unimportant.  On the contrary, they can be exceptionally important.  Anytime the authorized representatives of national sovereignty use the ultimate means of coercion, something important has happened.  Moreover, since essentially internal domestic wars (from riots to outright civil hostilities between multiple disputants) often spillover onto other nation-states, internal domestic conflict may be an important cause of international war.  Therefore, it is undoubtedly worthwhile to study many types of conflict.

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War vis-à-vis conflict:

A war is a conflict but a conflict is not necessarily a war. A war is an effort to exterminate an opposing side. War is a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation.  “Conflict is a social situation that arises because two or more actors (states and group) pursue mutually incompatible goals. In International Relations, conflict behavior observed as bargaining (non-violent), armed conflict (violence) or war (organized violence). While war is from conflict turns into an armed contest by using the organized military force and each side holds territory, which can be conquered. And also each side has a leader/organization that can surrender or collapse, thus ending of war. ” By this definition war is distinguished from conflict in that (1) it is organized violence while conflict is not necessarily organized, (2) each side of a war holds territory while conflict does not.

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War, in the popular sense, is a conflict among political groups involving hostilities of considerable duration and magnitude. Clausewitz cogently defines war as a rational instrument of foreign policy: “an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.” Modern definitions of war, such as “armed conflict between political units,” generally disregard the narrow, legalistic definitions characteristic of the 19th century, which limited the concept to formally declared war between states. Such a definition includes civil wars but at the same time excludes such phenomena as insurrections, banditry, or piracy. Finally, war is generally understood to embrace only armed conflicts on a fairly large scale, usually excluding conflicts in which fewer than 50,000 combatants are involved.

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War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities. Thus, fisticuffs between individual persons do not count as a war, nor does a gang fight, nor does a feud on the order of the Hatfields versus the McCoys. War is a phenomenon which occurs only between political communities, defined as those entities which either are states or intend to become states (in order to allow for civil war). Classical war is international war, a war between different states, like the two World Wars. But just as frequent is war within a state between rival groups or communities, like the American Civil War. Certain political pressure groups, like terrorist organizations, might also be considered “political communities,” in that they are associations of people with a political purpose and, indeed, many of them aspire to statehood or to influence the development of statehood in certain lands.

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Definition of armed conflict:

The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) has recorded ongoing violent conflicts since the 1970s. The data provided is one of the most accurate and well-used data-sources on global armed conflicts and its definition of armed conflict is becoming a standard in how conflicts are systematically defined and studied. An armed conflict is a contested incompatibility over government or territory between two organized parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, in which the use of armed force between the parties has resulted in at least 25 battle‐related deaths in a calendar year. Armed conflict is also referred to as “state-based conflict”, as opposed to “non-state conflict”, in which none of the warring parties is a government. Actor is a state or a non-state organized group. Arms (state based, non-state, one-sided) denote any material means, e.g. manufactured weapons but also sticks, stones, fire, water, etc. A ceasefire agreement is an agreement that regulates the conflict behavior of warring parties in a state-based conflict, but which does not address the incompatibility. Interstate conflict is a conflict between two or more governments. Intrastate conflict is a conflict between a government and a non-governmental party, with no interference from other countries. An extra-systemic conflict is a conflict between a state and a non-state group outside its own territory. These conflicts are by definition territorial, since the government side is fighting to retain control of a territory outside the state system. Incompatibility is the stated (in writing or verbally) generally incompatible positions. Negotiations are talks that are held between at least two of the warring parties in a state-based conflict. To be classified as negotiations, talks have to be connected to one or more issues related to the armed conflict, such as ceasefires, an exchange of prisoners, or the incompatibility. 

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 ”A ‘major armed conflict’ is the use of armed force between the military forces of two or more governments, or of one government and at least one organized armed group, resulting in the battle-related deaths of at least 1,000 people in any single calendar year and in which the incompatibility concerns control of government and/or territory.  According to the United Nations “Major Wars” are military conflicts inflicting 1,000 battlefield deaths per year. In 1965, there were 10 major wars under way. As of mid-2005, there were eight Major Wars under way [down from 15 at the end of 2003], with as many as two dozen ongoing conflicts with varying degrees of intensity. Most of these are some type of civil wars, fueled by racial, ethnic, religious animosities or even by ideological fervor. Unfortunately it should be noted that most victims are civilians, because is a feature that distinguishes modern conflicts. During World War I, civilians made up fewer than 5 percent of all casualties. Today, 75 percent or more of those killed or wounded in wars are non-combatants.

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Major conflicts are defined here as wars and conflicts in which more than a thousand people have died per year, involve more than one nation (for internal conflicts) or more than two nations (for international conflicts), and/or have the near-term potential to turn into a multi-national regional conflict. Minor conflicts involve few than 1,000 deaths, involve only one nation (for internal conflicts) or only two nations (for international conflicts) and/or do not possess the likelihood of developing into multi-national regional conflicts.

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List of some major conflicts:

Algerian civil war

Basque separatist conflict

Burma civil war

Burundi civil war

Colombian civil war

Congolese war

Chechen war

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Al-Aqsa Intifada

Ivory Coast civil war

Kashmir conflict

Liberian civil war

Northern Ireland conflict

Philippines conflict

Rwandan civil war

Sri Lankan civil war

Sudanese civil war

War on terror

Ugandan civil war

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Armed conflict between two or more parties usually fought for political ends. Its everyday meaning is clear, and the main focus of the idea is on the use of force between large-scale political units such as states or empires, usually over control of territory. The boundaries of the idea are, however, difficult to pin down. Some of this difficulty is suggested by the numerous adjectives that can be placed in front of it: civil war, guerrilla war, limited war, total war, gang war, tribal war, cold war, race war, trade war, liberation war, propaganda war, class war, and so forth. Some of these are metaphors exploiting the image of ruthless and violent conflict over political ends taken from international relations, and transferred to actors other than states. In a legal sense, states can be at war without actually using force against each other, but merely by declaring themselves to be in a state of war (phony war). Conversely, states can be using force against each other on quite a large scale without actually making formal declarations that they are in a state of war. The political element in wars blurs messily between the international system and civil wars, preventing any clear location of the phenomenon at the interstate level. At both levels, wars are often about disputes over sovereignty and territory.

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In 2011 there were 26 active armed conflicts worldwide, an increase of two from the previous year. Two new conflicts were added and none were removed. A significant development in global armed conflict in 2011 was a series of pro-democracy movements—beginning in December 2010 and continuing throughout 2011—that swept the Middle East and North Africa and came to be known as the Arab Spring or Arab Awakening. By the end of 2011, regimes had been toppled in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen; civil uprisings of varying intensity had taken place or were taking place in Bahrain, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Western Sahara and Palestine; and an increasingly bloody civil uprising was under way in Syria.

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Several points should be noted regarding armed conflicts:

1. Intrastate (civil) conflict is the most common form of armed conflict and this has been the case since World War II.

2. Since 2004, there has been no interstate conflict. This is the longest period without interstate conflict since before World War II. Given the relative rareness of interstate conflict, we focus on civil conflict (both intrastate and internationalized intrastate conflict).

3. The number of armed conflicts trended upward until 1991-92, when it peaked. Since then the pattern has been a general trend of declining number of conflicts, although the trend has leveled out in recent years. This pattern of decline will serve as a theme in this report.

4. Little change is evident in the number of civil conflicts with external intervention (i.e. internationalized intrastate armed conflict).

5. Interstate conflicts (fought between at least two countries) have been relatively rare.

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International humanitarian law and armed conflict:

There are three types of conflicts that are recognized by international humanitarian law: international armed conflict, internationalized armed conflict, and non-international armed conflict. International armed conflict is a conflict between the legal armed forces of two different states. A good example would be the North Korean- South Korean war of 1950. The second armed conflict recognized by international humanitarian law is a new phenomenon known as ‘an internationalized armed conflict’. The situation of an internationalized armed conflict can occur when a war occurs between two different factions fighting internally but supported by two different states. The most visible example of an internationalized armed conflict was the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998 when the forces from Rwanda, Angola, Zimbabwe and Uganda intervened to support various groups in the DRC. Non-international armed conflicts, according to common article 3 of the Geneva Convention, are ‘armed conflicts that are non-international in nature occurring in one of the High contracting parties’ (Geneva Convention, common article 3, 1949). This means that one of the parties involved is nongovernmental in nature. However, common article 3 also states that it does not apply to other forms of violence such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence. This abstract definition has made it difficult to make a clear distinction between a mere disturbance and an armed conflict, therefore relying heavily on the political will of states to classify the situation as an armed conflict. For a situation to be classified as a non-international armed conflict, it has to achieve two variables: first, the hostilities have to reach a certain minimum level of intensity and form in a collective character; and second, there has to be a level of organization of the parties.

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Conflict is present when two or more parties perceive that their interests are incompatible, express hostile attitudes, or take pursue their interests through actions that damage the other parties. These parties may be individuals, small or large groups, and countries. Interests can diverge in many ways:

1. Over resources—territory, money, energy sources, food—and how they should be distributed.

2. Over power, how control and participation in political decision-making are allocated.

3. Over identity, concerning the cultural, social and political communities to which people feel tied.

4. Over status, whether people believe they are treated with respect and dignity and whether their traditions and social position are respected.

5. Over values, particularly those embodied in systems of government, religion, or ideology.

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Peaceful conflicts:

Conflicting interests can be pursued without violence or coercion: not all conflicts are violent. Conflicts handled peacefully and non-coercively can be positive events. Societies can progress when parties’ changing needs are identified and accommodated, as happens when minorities are recognized and better served. Peaceful conflicts are handled according to regulated mechanisms to pursue competing interests. Various factors regulate conflict: national constitutions and laws, family and clan structures, court systems, Robert’s Rules of Order, the Law of the Sea, religious codes, habits of decorum, debate and discourse, among other mechanisms. These can be informal and tacit—social mores and customs. They can also be highly formal and institutionalized, as in a nation’s written statutes. Elections are a classic way that conflicts can be addressed peacefully. Recent research shows that violent conflicts—irredention, rebellion, inter-communal violence, civil war—account for less than one percent of potential conflicts in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and the former republics of the Soviet Union. Peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms can be traditional or modern, local, national, or international. Such mechanisms operate effectively in the regions and communities around the world called “zones of peace,” generally keeping these areas’ social and international conflicts from becoming destructive and violent. Conflicts can become violent when parties go beyond seeking to attain their goals peacefully, and try to dominate or destroy the opposing parties’ ability to pursue their own interests (violent conflicts).

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Life cycle of a conflict:

The Greater Horn of Africa suffers from ongoing conflicts and tensions. The degree of conflict varies from country to country: dealing with conflict in the Greater Horn ranges from stopping active wars to protecting and strengthening peace so that violence is not triggered. The smooth bell curve in the figure below simplifies conflict; the arrows that deviate from the line show that conflicts exhibit different trajectories, thresholds, jumps or discontinuities, and conflicts that have ceased can re-ignite. Nonetheless, most violent conflicts exhibit periods of initial growth, full-blown antagonism, and abatement from high points of hostility. Figure suggests where current conflicts in the Greater Horn of Africa might fall. While observers may disagree about a particular conflict’s position on this diagram, differentiation according to a conflict’s level and stage is useful in diagnosing the conflict prior to selecting policy interventions.

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 Basic concepts regarding conflicts:

1. Conflict and peace are not random, unexplainable phenomena. Both are created, and both can be influenced.

2. Conflict and peace are not static. They are dynamic, connected processes that evolve over time.

3. Not all conflict is violent; some conflicts are settled peacefully.

4. Preventing violent conflicts requires understanding the dynamics of conflict—peaceful and violent—and understanding the ingredients of peace.

5. Effective conflict prevention and mitigation requires an understanding of the particular conflict’s causes and applying different policies, programs and techniques according to the particular type and stage of conflict.

6. It is possible to develop a framework to analyze conflicts and choose policy options to prevent or mitigate conflict.

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TABLE : ILLUSTRATIVE INDICATORS OF POSSIBLE VIOLENT CONFLICT

* Proximate Factors:

1. Governing elites express exclusionary ideologies (beliefs that elevate some ethnic group or class to a position of superiority over other groups).

2. Competition occurs among governing elites in a context in which the state security apparatus has few constraints.

3. A charismatic leadership emerges that attracts a mass following through abstract appeals to a group’s destiny.

4. Severe economic hardship or differential treatment occurs for certain ethnic or other groups. Scapegoats are sought.

5. Provision and distribution of public services decline.

6. Government responds to threats by enacting emergency measures or suspending rule of law.

7. Paramilitary organizations and militias grow or conduct training exercises.

8. Arms flows increase.

9. Politically active communities are increasingly polarized.

10. The state’s perceived legitimacy appears to erode.

* Triggering Factors:

1. A regime enacts new discriminatory or restrictive policies such as abuses of human rights.

2. Clashes occur between regime supporters and targeted groups.

3. Politically active groups receive external material or rhetorical support.

4. Sudden economic events such as price drops affect large numbers of people.

5. Political leaders call openly to overthrow the government or expel certain groups.

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Terrorism vis-à-vis armed conflict:

The UN definition states that terrorism is attempting to bring about political and/or social change by deliberately attacking civilians. This definition has made it difficult especially in trying to differentiate resistance movements that oppose forms of occupation and a terrorist organization that often use violence to obtain a political change. For example, during the colonial period in Kenya, the Mau Mau fighters attacked Europeans in their farms and stole their goods, if the same situation was to be replayed in the 21st century then many scholars would consider the Mau Mau as a terrorist organization. Terrorism in international law is also seen as a form of aggression. However, aggression is defined as “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State”, (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314), more specifically in article 3(g) it states that aggression can be “the sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.” So basically we are caught in the play of words where organized violence is given different names like terrorism or aggression. Please read my article on “Terrorism versus freedom fight” published earlier in the website.

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Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC):

The LOAC arises from a desire among civilized nations to prevent unnecessary suffering and destruction while not impeding the effective waging of war. A part of public international law, LOAC regulates the conduct of armed hostilities. It also aims to protect civilians, prisoners of war, the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked. LOAC applies to international armed conflicts and in the conduct of military operations and related activities in armed conflict, however such conflicts are characterized. LOAC comes from both customary international law and treaties. Three important LOAC principles govern armed conflict—military necessity, distinction, and proportionality. Military necessity requires combat forces to engage in only those acts necessary to accomplish a legitimate military objective. Distinction means discriminating between lawful combatant targets and noncombatant targets such as civilians, civilian property, POWs, and wounded personnel who are out of combat. Proportionality prohibits the use of any kind or degree of force that exceeds that needed to accomplish the military objective.

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Until quite recently, war was held to be a legitimate practice of states in pursuit of their national interest. European states fought regularly amongst themselves in pursuit of territory, dynastic claims, and colonies, and resort to war was an accepted mechanism for maintaining the balance of power. In the late nineteenth century laws of war began to develop to put some constraints on the use of some of the nastier technological possibilities for weapons. The shock of the unexpected cost and carnage of the First World War established war prevention firmly on the international agenda, but the overambitious and weak collective security mechanism of the League of Nations conspicuously failed to expunge war from the practice of states. After the Second World War, a stronger legal regime against war was constructed, making war illegal for nearly all purposes except self-defense and collective security. The lesson of the First, and even more so the Second, World War for the great powers was that their capacity to inflict destruction on each other had outrun the possible gains to be made from war amongst themselves except as a last resort of self-defense. This lesson was hugely reinforced by the arrival of nuclear weapons, whose obliterative powers were so great as to plausibly eliminate the distinction between total victory and total defeat. This development has not eliminated war amongst the lesser powers, or between great powers and lesser powers. Recent US-led wars against terrorism and wars on drugs reopen the prospect of non-state actors becoming principal players in the practice of war.

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War has been a feature of history since primitive times. In ancient states warfare was usually a community enterprise, but as society divided on a functional basis a warrior class developed, and the army & navy became component parts of the state. In many instances, both recent and historic, the military has ruled the state. The use of fighting forces as instruments of war became a scientific art with the development of strategy and tactics. Modern war was been even more greatly influenced by industrial development, scientific progress, and the spread of popular education; a new era of machine warfare, prosecuted by masses of troops raised by conscription, rather than by rulers and the military class alone, developed after the wars of Napoleon I. Modern total war calls for the regimentation and coordination of peoples and resources; the state is compelled to demand a surrender of private rights in order that unity of purpose may enable it to prosecute the war to a victorious conclusion. Wars are waged not only against a nation’s government and armed forces but also against a nation’s economic means of existence and its civilian population in order to destroy the means and will to continue the struggle.

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Types of warfare:

War, to become known as one, must entail some degree of confrontation using weapons and other military technology and equipment by armed forces employing military tactics and operational art within the broad military strategy subject to military logistics.

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Conventional warfare is an attempt to reduce an opponent’s military capability through open battle. It is a declared war between existing states in which nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons are not used or only see limited deployment in support of conventional military goals and maneuvers. The opposite of conventional warfare, unconventional warfare, is an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence, capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing conflict. Nuclear warfare is warfare in which nuclear weapons are the primary, or a major, method of coercing the capitulation of the other side, as opposed to a supporting tactical or strategic role in a conventional conflict. Asymmetric warfare is a conflict between two populations of drastically different levels of military capability or size. Asymmetric conflicts often result in guerrilla tactics being used to overcome the sometimes vast gaps in technology and force size.

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Chemical war:

Intentional air pollution in combat is one of a collection of techniques collectively called chemical warfare. Poison gas as a chemical weapon was principally used during World War I, and resulted in an estimated 91,198 deaths and 1,205,655 injuries. Various treaties have sought to ban its further use. Non-lethal chemical weapons, such as tear gas and pepper spray, are widely used, sometimes with deadly effect. Chemical weapons, which are used to produce toxic effects rather than explosions or fire, include vesicant agents such as mustard gas; agents producing pulmonary edema such as chlorine and phosgene; agents affecting oxidizing enzymes such as cyanide; and anticholinesterase inhibitors known as nerve agents. Chemical weapons were used extensively in World War I, leading to the negotiation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which banned the use of chemical and bacteriologic weapons. During World War II, chemical weapons were stockpiled by several nations, but were little used. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which was opened for signature in 1993 and entered into force in 1997, bans the development, production, transfer, and use of chemical weapons. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), headquartered in The Hague, has broad enforcement powers under the CWC. The United States and Russia are proceeding with destruction of stockpiles of chemical weapons, but there remains controversy about the health consequences of the methods being used. In 1995, the Aum Shinrikyo sect in Japan released nerve agent gas in the Tokyo subway, resulting in a number of deaths and many injuries. This incident heightened the concern about future use of chemical weapons.

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Biological war:

Biological weapons, which are used to cause disease in living organisms, were developed and stockpiled by the United States, Great Britain, and other nations during World War II, but saw only very limited use by Japan in China. In 1969 the United States unilaterally renounced the use of biological weapons and announced the destruction of its stockpiles. The Biologic Weapons Convention (BWC), which was opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975, is much weaker than the CWC. It permits “defensive” research, which has led to suspicion that offensive research and development is being done. Efforts are currently being made to strengthen the BWC. Concern has recently been raised about the possible use of biological agents by groups or individuals to attack civilian populations. Biological weapons are living organisms or replicating entities (viruses) that reproduce or replicate within their host victims or toxins generated by living organisms. Agents considered for weaponization, or known to be weaponized, include bacteria such as Bacillus anthracis, Brucella spp., Burkholderia mallei, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Chlamydophila psittaci, Coxiella burnetii, Francisella tularensis, some of the Rickettsiaceae (especially Rickettsia prowazekii and Rickettsia rickettsii), Shigella spp., Vibrio cholerae, and Yersinia pestis. Many viral agents have been studied and/or weaponized, including some of the Bunyaviridae (especially Rift Valley fever virus), Ebolavirus, many of the Flaviviridae (especially Japanese encephalitis virus), Machupo virus, Marburg virus, Variola virus, and Yellow fever virus. Fungal agents that have been studied include Coccidioides spp. Toxins that can be used as weapons include ricin, staphylococcal enterotoxin B, botulinum toxin, saxitoxin, and many mycotoxins.

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Nuclear war:

Nuclear weapons were used by the United States in 1945 to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In each city, a bomb of explosive power equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT caused approximately 100,000 deaths within the first few days. Nuclear weapons have not been used in war since, but enormous quantities of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons have been stockpiled by the United States and the Soviet Union. Nuclear warfare (sometimes atomic warfare or thermonuclear warfare), is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is used to inflict damage on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage, and in a much shorter time scale. A major nuclear exchange could have severe long-term effects, primarily from radiation release, but also from the production of high levels of atmospheric pollution leading to a “nuclear winter” that could last for decades, centuries, or even millennia after the initial attack. A large nuclear war is considered to bear existential risk for civilization on Earth. Explosive tests of these weapons have been conducted by these two nations and by the United Kingdom, France, China, South Africa, and, in 1998, India and Pakistan. There have been 518 tests documented in the atmosphere, under water, or in space and, after the signing of the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, approximately 1,500 tests underground. The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimated in 1997 that the release of Iodine-131 in fallout from U.S. atmospheric nuclear test explosions was responsible for 49,000 excess cases of thyroid cancer among U.S. residents. Another study estimated that radioactive fallout from nuclear test explosions would be responsible for 430,000 cancer deaths by the year 2000. A Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was negotiated in 1997, but a number of nations, including the United States, have refused to ratify it. There are now approximately 35,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled in the seven nations that have declared possession—the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, and Pakistan. Israel is also widely believed to possess nuclear weapons. The declared nuclear-weapons nations agreed in the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to work toward elimination of these weapons, but progress has been slow.

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Warfare environment:

The environment in which a war is fought has a significant impact on the type of combat which takes place, and can include within its area different types of terrain. This, in turn, means that soldiers have to be trained to fight in specific types of environments and terrains that generally reflect troops’ mobility limitations or enablers. These include:

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Warfare by objective:

Defensive warfare

Offensive warfare

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Warfare by doctrine:

Attrition warfare/Fabian warfare

Maneuver warfare

Guerilla warfare

Static warfare/Positional warfare

Insurgency warfare

Counterinsurgency warfare

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Warfare by terrain:

Jungle warfare

Desert warfare

Mountain warfare

Arctic warfare

Naval warfare

Littoral warfare

Urban warfare

Amphibious Warfare

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Behavior and conduct in war:

The nature of warfare never changes, only its superficial manifestations. Joshua and David, Hector and Achilles would recognize the combat that our soldiers and marines have waged in the alleys of Somalia and Iraq. The uniforms evolve, bronze gives way to titanium, arrows may be replaced by laser-guided bombs, but the heart of the matter is still killing your enemies until any survivors surrender and do your will. The behavior of troops in warfare varies considerably, both individually and as units or armies. In some circumstances, troops may engage in genocide, war rape and ethnic cleansing. Commonly, however, the conduct of troops may be limited to posturing and sham attacks, leading to highly rule-bound and often largely symbolic combat in which casualties are much reduced from that which would be expected if soldiers were genuinely violent towards the enemy. The psychological separation between combatants, and the destructive power of modern weaponry, may act to override this effect and facilitate participation by combatants in the mass slaughter of combatants or civilians, such as in the bombing of Dresden in World War II. The unusual circumstances of warfare can incite apparently normal individuals to commit atrocities.

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Varieties of War:

1. Recurrent wars:

The essence of these wars is “the inability of one side to defeat the other decisively”. Gives the series of Russo-Turkish wars as an example, but there are many others, which today go under the title “enduring rivalries.”

2. Long wars:

 These coincide with “a period when the defense was in the ascendant”. However it is not technology, but the scope: “The long wars between 1700 and 1815 were general wars in which many nations participated… the only general war in the northern hemisphere during the ninety-nine years from the defeat of Napoleon to the start of the First World War was the Crimean War: significantly it was the longest European war in the period”.

Why are general wars longer?

A. military strength more likely to be evenly distributed between the two sides;

B .fighting occurs on several fronts and it is unlikely that one side is winning everywhere;

C. war alliances do not usually coordinate campaigns efficiently;

D. with everyone involved, there is no fear that a third party would come in unexpectedly, a factor which shortens wars between two sides.

Also, colonial wars tend to be long because the conquering nation is unable to use its military might against the specific techniques used by the indigents.

3. Short wars:

All wars in Europe during the 19th century (after 1815) were short. This was widely attributed to (i) new war technology and means of transport, and (ii) scarcity of gold and credit. However these are mistaken and they were proven so by the outbreak of the First World War, and it’s stalemated fighting (at least on the Western front). “In the last century and a half those short wars, which seemed most dramatically to proclaim the value of mechanized methods, were shortened only in part by new techniques of warfare. Thus the Seven Weeks War of 1866 was ended quickly, less by the decisive battle of Sadowa than by the realization of each side that if they continued the war other powers might intervene and so worsen their position”.

4. Wide wars:

A war was more likely to widen if it began near the hub of Europe and first involved at least one major European power. These wars begin as simple wars between two nations and others gradually get drawn in. Each such entry is a beginning of a new war. A general war is a series of wars happening simultaneously and entangled with one another… The spread of … war to other countries was the result of the same kind of conditions which began the war. For the fighting often raised issues vital to countries which were adjacent but aloof: it endangered their independence or it offered an opportunity to increase their independence. Decisive fighting in the early phase of some wars not only raised issues that were vital to adjacent nations but it led to contradictory perceptions of military power.

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Levels of War—tactical, operational, strategic — modern military thought.

The most basic and thoroughly understood is the tactical level of warfare. It is concerned with the planning and executing of battles and engagements to accomplish military objectives that are assigned to tactical units or to task forces. With army and marine forces, these are normally division‐size units or smaller; in the air force and navy, the force size is roughly the squadron and battle group level, respectively. At the tactical level, the focus of activities is the ordered arrangement and maneuver of combat elements to achieve combat objectives. Actions here are focused on specific missions, and victory in battle and engagements is attained by achieving superiority over an enemy by exercising adroitly the principles of war: objective, initiative, maneuver, mass, surprise, security, simplicity, economy of force, and unity of command. Success or failure at this level may determine victory or defeat at the operational and ultimately strategic levels. Tactics employ both the art and science of warfare to use all available means to defeat the enemy; normally, there is more emphasis on the science and less on the art of warfare. In essence, the tactical level of warfare involves battlefield problem solving. The operational level of warfare is the level at which campaigns and major operations are planned and conducted. It provides the linkage between the tactical level, where individual battles and engagements are fought, and strategic‐level objectives. The operational level focuses on conducting joint (multiservice) operations through the design, structure, and execution of subordinate campaign plans and major operations. Emphasis here is on operational art defined as “the skillful employment of military forces to attain strategic and/or operational objectives within a theater through the design, organization, integration, and conduct of theater strategies, campaigns, major operations and battles.” The essence of operational art is to determine when, where, and for what end forces will fight. At this level, warfare is more an art than a science as senior commanders seek to balance the ends sought with the ways to accomplish those ends in light of the resources available. The study of the strategic level of war is the most recent area of development in military thinking. At this level, there is the closest linkage between military and civilian leaders in defining and articulating national objectives. Military leaders must then translate national objectives into national security objectives attainable by military means. The pursuit of these military objectives is often done as a member of a coalition of nations. The strategic level then determines national or multinational security objectives and guidance, and uses national resources to achieve these aims. The strategic level of warfare includes activities to “sequence initiatives; define limits and assess risks for the use of military and other instruments of national power; develop global plans or theater war plans to achieve these objectives; and provide military forces and other capabilities in accordance with strategic plans.” At the strategic level, again, warfare is much more an art than a science.

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International war:

An international conflict is a conflict that involves at least one nation-state and one other international actor (nation-state or any number of non-state actors).  By conflict we mean the use of the ultimate means of coercion:  military and/or paramilitary means.  Since some international actors about which we have concerned ourselves have no national military, we include paramilitary though we hasten to add that even nation-states with official militaries often use paramilitary instruments for a variety of reasons. International wars are outright military and or/ paramilitary hostilities between two international actors where at least one is a nation-state in which a thousand fatalities result each year. International wars can be divided, conceptually, into three main phases.

1. Trigger of war

2. Combat phase

3. Endgame

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There is an initial event that triggers the war. In World War I, the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo triggered a series of events that became world war.  From America’s standpoint, the attack at Pearl Harbor triggered U.S. involvement in World War Two. Sometimes the trigger is not apparent until sometime later when analysts reconsider what caused a particular war.  The French Defeat at Dien Bien Phu triggered America’s direct involvement in Indochina—though relatively few argue that Dien Bien Phu was the beginning of America’s war in Viet Nam. Rather, the Tonkin Gulf Affair in early August 1964 that resulted in the Tonkin Gulf Resolution whereby Congress gave President Lyndon Baines Johnson a blank check that acted as a declaration of war, is usually cited as the trigger for the Viet Nam War. Whether obvious at the time or not, wars begin with some event or series of events that eventually unleash the horrors of war.  Systemic definitions of international crises often use the trigger; though we define crises as a function of decision making functions as will be seen.

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Wars have a middle or major combat phase. Two or more powers unleash their respective wrath and death & destruction follows. The intensity often ebbs and flows during the major combat phase of war. Often, equilibrium points are reached beyond which neither side can easily progress without upping the ante considerably. To use Viet Nam again, by 1968 (following the desperate gambit of the North Vietnamese known as the Tet Offensive), an equilibrium was reached.  Thereafter, both sides had exhausted themselves and the war continued with little strategic advantage accruing to either.  Had U.S. policymakers actually perceived winning in Viet Nam worth it, they could have resorted to say nuclear weapons and obliterated Viet Nam. Obliterating Viet Nam more than occurred through conventional war would hardly have served U.S. purposes and U.S. policymakers may well have been even more subject to war crimes accusations had they employed such horrible weapons. They did not, of course, for few policymakers thought the stakes in Viet Nam justified such drastic actions. The major combat phase of wars can be relatively short or last several years. As equilibrium points are reached, wide-based acceptance of the equilibrium versus the status quo ante determines how much longer wars may continue.

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Wars also have an end phase or endgame. Sometime the end phase is clean and everyone understands its significance. Hitler’s suicide and the Russian’s occupation of Berlin signaled the end of WW II in Europe, though not in Asia.When Saddam Hussein’s military was routed and chased back toward Baghdad, the endgame of the first Gulf War began. Saddam sent his generals to sign instruments of surrender shortly thereafter. The significance of the end phase is more than merely the war is over. It signals a re-assessment by the disputants of their relative power and a new equilibrium, albeit sometimes temporary, in the system. Other times, the endgame is obvious but far from clean and decisive. The Korean War became a stalemate by sometime in 1952. The following year with President Eisenhower having replaced President Truman, a ceasefire was signed which signaled the end of major hostilities and more or less signaled the endgame of the Korean War.  Nevertheless, no surrender document has ever been signed and technically the Korean War has not ended but has merely been in a sustained state of armistice (so far its only endgame). However an international war may concludes, the result is a new equilibrium point on a regional level at least and often on a systemic level.  On occasion, new equilibriums are not accepted by the system’s interested actors resulting in additional conflict to correct perceived inequities.

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There are six types of international conflicts.

Three are conflicts over tangible material interests:

1. Territorial border disputes, including secession attempts

2. Conflicts over who controls national governments

3. Economic conflicts over trade, money, natural resources, drug trafficking, and other economic transactions

The other three types of conflict concern less-tangible clashes of ideas:

1. Ethnic conflicts

2. Religious conflicts

3. Ideological conflicts

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Limited war:

A limited war is a conflict in which the belligerents participating in the war do not expend all of each of the participants’ available resources at their disposal, whether human, industrial, agricultural, military, natural, technological, or otherwise in a specific conflict. This may be to preserve those resources for other purposes, or because it might be more difficult for specific participants to be able to utilize all of an areas resources rather than part of them. Limited war is an opposite of the concept of total war.

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Psychological warfare:

Psychological warfare employs any weapon to influence the mind of the enemy. The weapons are psychological only in the effect they produce and not because of the weapons themselves. In psychological warfare, various techniques are used, by any set of groups, and aimed to influence a target audience’s value systems, belief systems, emotions, motives, reasoning, or behavior. It is used to induce confessions or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator’s objectives, and is sometimes combined with black operations or false flag tactics. Target audiences can be governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.  

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Most uses of the term psychological warfare refer to military methods such as:

1. Distributing pamphlets, e.g. in the Persian Gulf War, encouraging desertion or (in World War II) supplying instructions on how to surrender

2. Propaganda radio stations, such as Lord Haw-Haw in World War II on the “Germany calling” station

3. Renaming cities and other places when captured, such as Ho Chi Minh City

4. Shock and awe military strategy

5. Projecting repetitive and annoying sounds and music for long periods at high volume towards groups under siege like in Operation Nifty Package. In Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. counterinsurgency used music, most commonly American heavy metal or rock music, to confuse or scare local militia.

6. Disturbing chicken noises were repeatedly played over a loud-speaker at Guantanamo Bay for over 25 hours as a form of sleep deprivation.

7. Use of loudspeaker systems to communicate with enemy soldiers

8. Direct phone calls to intimidate enemy commanding officers and their families

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Most of these techniques were developed during World War II or earlier, and have been used to some degree in every conflict since. However there is little evidence that any of them were dramatically successful, except perhaps surrender instructions over loudspeakers when victory was imminent. It should be noted, though, that measuring the success or failure of psychological warfare is very hard, as the conditions are very far from being a controlled experiment.

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Is it time to regulate the $60 billion-a-year arms trade?

The figure below shows Arms Deliveries to the developing World vis-à-vis developed world between 2002 to 2009.

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The figure below shows Military expenditure in 2002 as % of government spending:


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World Military Spending in 2009 was total $1.45-trillion.


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Various studies found that arms transfers are significant and positive predictors of increased probability of war and weapons acquisitions are virtually necessary as ingredients in the recipe for war, and that meaningful restraint by suppliers and recipients alike is needed to break the nexus between arms and conflicts. Delegates from around the world gather in New York this July for the start of month-long U.N.-hosted negotiations to hammer out the first-ever binding treaty to regulate the global weapons market, valued at more than $60 billion a year. Arms control campaigners say one person every minute dies as a result of armed violence around the world and that a convention is needed to prevent illicitly traded guns from pouring into conflict zones and fueling wars and atrocities. This would be the first treaty that regulates a trade in arms that results in the deaths of 1500 people every day, half a million people every year in conflicts around the world. In Syria, Sudan and the Great Lakes of Africa, the world is now once again bearing witness to the horrific human cost of the reckless and overly secret arms trade. Why should millions more people be killed and lives devastated before leaders wake up and take decisive action to properly control international arms transfers?  Russian representative openly admitted that they’re selling weapons to Syria. There was literally nothing anybody could do. They just said if we don’t sell them someone else will.” 

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Balkanization:

Balkanization is a geopolitical term, originally used to describe the process of fragmentation or division of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are often hostile or non-cooperative with each other, and it is considered pejorative. The term refers to the division of the Balkan peninsula, formerly ruled almost entirely by the Ottoman Empire, into a number of smaller states between 1817 and 1912. The term however came into common use in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, with reference to the numerous new states that arose from the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire.

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Clash of civilizations:

The Clash of Civilizations is a theory, proposed by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Huntington believed that while the age of ideology had ended, the world had only reverted to a normal state of affairs characterized by cultural conflict. In his thesis, he argued that the primary axis of conflict in the future will be along cultural and religious lines. As an extension, he posits that the concept of different civilizations, as the highest rank of cultural identity, will become increasingly useful in analyzing the potential for conflict. Huntington divided the world into the “major civilizations” in his thesis as seen in the figure below.

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There are also others which are considered “cleft countries” because they contain large groups of people identifying with separate civilizations. Examples include India (“cleft” between its Hindu majority and large Muslim minority), Ukraine (“cleft” between its Eastern Rite Catholic-dominated western section and its Orthodox-dominated east), France (cleft between Sub-Saharan African, in the case of French Guiana; and the West), Benin, Chad, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Togo (all cleft between Islam and Sub-Saharan Africa), Guyana and Suriname (cleft between Hindu and Sub-Saharan African), China (cleft between Sinic, Buddhist, in the case of Tibet; and the West, in the case of Hong Kong and Macau), and the Philippines (cleft between Islam, in the case of Mindanao; Sinic, and the West). Sudan was also included as “cleft” between Islam and Sub-Saharan Africa; this division became a formal split in July 2011 following an overwhelming vote for independence by South Sudan in a January 2011 referendum. Huntington explains why civilizations will clash by giving various reasons including the main reason which states that differences among civilizations are too basic in that civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition, and, most important, religion. These fundamental differences are the product of centuries, so they will not soon disappear. Huntington has fallen under the stern critique of various academic writers, who have empirically, historically, logically and ideologically challenged his claims.

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Civil war:

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A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly united nation state. Civil war is a war where the forces in conflict belong to the same nation or political entity and are vying for control of or independence from that nation or political entity. The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change government policies. A civil war is a violent conflict within a country fought by organized groups that aim to take power at the center or in a region, or to change government policies. Since 1945, civil wars have resulted in the deaths of over 25 million people, as well as the forced displacement of millions more. Civil wars have further resulted in economic collapse; Burma (Myanmar), Uganda and Angola are examples of nations that were considered to have promising futures before being engulfed in civil wars. Scholars investigating the cause of civil war are attracted by two opposing theories, greed versus grievance. Roughly stated: are conflicts caused by who people are, whether that be defined in terms of ethnicity, religion or other social affiliation, or do conflicts begin because it is in the economic best interests of individuals and groups to start them?  Scholarly analysis supports the conclusion that economic and structural factors are more important than those of identity in predicting occurrences of civil war. A high proportion of primary commodities in national exports significantly increase the risk of a conflict. Higher male secondary school enrollment, per capita income and economic growth rate all had significant effects on reducing the chance of civil war. Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa has argued that an important cause of intergroup conflict may be the relative availability of women of reproductive age.

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The figure below shows classic example of ongoing civil war in Syria as this article is written.


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Regions and autonomous provinces that are struggling for Independence:

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Africa:

Autonomous region or province struggling for independence

Country

Cabinda (Angola)
Democratic Republic of Congo
Ogaden
Oromo
(Ethiopia)
Sahara Occidentale (Maroc)
Somaliland (Somalia)
Darfur (Sudan)

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Asia:

Autonomous region or province struggling for independence

Country

Kachin
Karen
Shan State North
Shan State South
Chin State
New Mon State
Palaung State
United Wa State
(Burma-Myanmar)
Kashmir
Karen
Nagaland
Assam
Bodoland
(India)
Papua
Aceh
(Indonesia)
Balochistan (Pakistan)
Tamil (Sri Lanka)
Patani Malay Nation (Thailandia)

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Europe:

Autonomous region or province struggling for independence

Country

Corsica (France)
Northern Ireland (United Kingdom)
Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan)
Chechnya (Russia)
Paesi Baschi (Spagna-Francia)
Trasnistria (Moldavia)

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Middle East:

Autonomous region or province struggling for independence

Country

Kurdistan (Iran, Iraq, Turkey)
Palestine (Israel)

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Colonial war:

Colonial war is a blanket term relating to the various conflicts that arose as the result of overseas territories being settled by foreign powers creating a colony. The term especially refers to wars fought during the nineteenth century between European armies in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. The wars may be split into several categories. First, a revolt of the indigenous population against rule by the Imperial power. Second, war of self-determination by settlers and descendants of settlers against rule by the “mother country”. Third, a conflict with neighbors of the colony as part of Imperial policy.  

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Cold war:

The Cold War (often dated 1947–1991) was a sustained state of political and military tension between the powers of the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, and the communist world, led by the Soviet Union, its satellite states and allies. This began after the success of their temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences. The Soviet Union created the Eastern Bloc with the eastern European countries it occupied, maintaining these as satellite states. The Cold War was so named as it never featured direct military action, since both sides possessed nuclear weapons, and because their use would probably guarantee their mutual assured destruction. Cycles of relative calm would be followed by high tension which could have led to war. The most tense involved the Berlin Blockade (1948–1949), the Korean War (1950–1953), the Suez Crisis (1956), the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), the Vietnam War (1959–1975), the Yom Kippur War (1973), the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989), and the “Able Archer” NATO military exercises (1983). Cold war ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Fault line war:

A fault line war is one that takes place between two or more identity groups (usually religious or ethnic) from different civilizations. It is a communal conflict between states or groups from different civilizations that has become violent. These wars may take place between states, between nongovernmental groups, or between states and nongovernmental groups. The issue at stake in a fault line war is very symbolic for at least one of the groups involved. Because the issue is one of fundamental identity, these wars are longer and more difficult to resolve than conventional warfare.

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Territorial dispute as a cause of war:

The world is divided in countless ways, by seas, cultures, languages, religions and wealth. But the most contentious divide is that of the political borders. They can be traced back to the early Egyptian Dynasties and have shaped the history that we know today. As a result of their long history, borders are ever changing and continually disputed. Some disputes end up being peacefully solved, some end in war, and some continue to this day. Right from Kosovo to Western Sahara to Gibraltar to Tibet to Cyprus to Falkland Islands to Kashmir to Taiwan to Palestine, we see territorial dispute as cause of war. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be by far the most important dispute with the most history, thousands of years of it in fact, and the most interesting to study. A territorial dispute is a disagreement over the possession/control of land between two or more states or over the possession or control of land by a new state and occupying power after it has conquered the land from a former state no longer currently recognized by the new state. Territorial disputes are a major cause of wars and terrorism as states often try to assert their sovereignty over a territory through invasion, and non-state entities try to influence the actions of politicians through terrorism.

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Palestinian-Israeli conflict:

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The Land of Canaan or Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) was, according to the Torah, promised by God to the Children of Israel. According to biblical studies and archaeological evidence, the Israelites ruled that land from the 13th or 14th century BCE to the 1st century BCE (with short periods of foreign rule), remaining an ethnic majority of the population in the area until the 7th century CE. Contrary to the Jewish claim that this land was promised only to the descendants of Abraham’s younger son Isaac, Muslims argue that the Land of Canaan was promised to all descendants of Abraham, including his elder son Ishmael, from whom Arabs claim descent. The Jews and the Arabs have fought for generations over the land of Palestine, and each believes they have a right to live there. The modern conflict began after WWII and the genocide committed on the Jews by the Nazis. When the camps were liberated, thousands of Jews needed a place to live and, naturally, they flocked en mass to Palestine, where some Jews were already living, but with a mainly Arab population. The British mandate of Palestine fought with the Jews to restore peace to the region, and try to find a solution that would enable the two religions to live in harmony. However, the mandate failed and withdrew in 1947. The UN intervened to restore peace with the 1947 Partition Plan, which called for the creation of two separate states – one Arab and one Jewish. Jerusalem would become an international, UN controlled, city, belonging to neither state. The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arabs refused to agree. On May 14, 1948, the Jews proclaimed independence, creating the state of Israel. The following day, the armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iran attacked Israel, launching the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. After a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared and temporary borders were established. Jordan annexed what became known as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. By 1966, Arab-Israeli relations further deteriorated, eventually leading to the Six Day war, in 1967. After the war, Israel had successfully captured the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza strip from Egypt, West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. The State of Palestine was declared by the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1988, but they didn’t exercise any control over the Palestine territories. Since then, the PLO has campaigned for recognition of the state, using the 1967 borders. The Israeli point of view is that the conflict did not begin after WWII as a result of the war. The first Zionist congress was held in 1897. The Zionist movement called for the return of the Jewish people to its homeland in Israel a long time before the war. The holocaust only demonstrated why this was necessary. Israel never took any Arab land but it is the only country to give land to Palestinians. Arab view has been that bringing up the Holocaust as a justification to occupy Arab land as Jews needed somewhere to live as they couldn’t continue living in Germany after the Third Reich was defeated is patently wrong. Arabs believe that the invasion and subsequent takeover of the majority of Palestine was nothing but your typical rape and pillage of a nation and its people. A report by Strategic Foresight Group has estimated the opportunity cost of conflict for the Middle East from 1991–2010 at $12 trillion. In terms of the human cost, it is estimated that the conflict has taken 92,000 lives (74,000 military and 18,000 civilian from 1945 to 1995).

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Kashmir conflict:

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The Kashmir conflict is a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region, the northwestern region of South Asia. India claims the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir and as of 2012, administers approximately 43% of the region, including most of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, and the Siachen Glacier. India’s claims are contested by Pakistan, which controls approximately 37% of Kashmir, namely Azad Kashmir and the northern areas of Gilgit and Baltistan. India has officially stated that it believes that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan maintains that Kashmir is the “jugular vein of Pakistan”and a currently disputed territory whose final status must be determined by the people of Kashmir. India and Pakistan have fought at least three wars over Kashmir, including the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947, 1965 and 1999. In 1947, British rule in India ended with the creation of two new nations: the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan, while British suzerainty over the 562 Indian princely states ended. According to the Indian Independence Act 1947, “the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses, and with it, all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian States”, so the states were left to choose whether to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent. Jammu and Kashmir, the largest of the princely states, had a predominantly Muslim population, while having a Hindu ruler (Maharaja Hari Singh.). After rumors that the Maharaja supported the annexation of Kashmir by India, militant Muslim revolutionaries from western Kashmir and Pakistani tribesmen made rapid advances into the Baramulla sector. Unable to withstand the invasion, the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession on 25 October 1947 that was accepted by the government of India on 27 October 1947. The resulting war over Kashmir, the First Kashmir War, lasted until 1948, when India moved the issue to the UN Security Council. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 on 21 April 1948. The resolution imposed an immediate cease-fire and called on Pakistan to withdraw all military presence. The resolution stated that Pakistan would have no say in Jammu and Kashmir politics. India would retain a minimum military presence and “the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. The Indian and Pakistani governments agreed to hold the plebiscite, but Pakistan did not withdraw its troops from Kashmir, thus violating the conditions for holding the plebiscite. In addition, the Indian Government distanced itself from its commitment to hold a plebiscite. Over the next several years, the UN Security Council passed four new resolutions, revising the terms of Resolution 47 to include a synchronous withdrawal of both Indian and Pakistani troops from the region, as per the recommendations of General Andrew McNaughton. To this end, UN arbitrators put forward 11 different proposals for the demilitarization of the region. All of these were accepted by Pakistan, but rejected by the Indian government. In 1989, a widespread armed insurgency started in Kashmir. India claims these insurgents are Islamic terrorist groups from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Afghanistan, fighting to make Jammu and Kashmir, a part of Pakistan.  They claim Pakistan is supplying ammunitions to the terrorists and training them in Pakistan. India states that the terrorists have been killing many citizens in Kashmir and committing human rights violations. They deny that their own armed forces are responsible for human rights abuses. In a ‘Letter to American People’ written by Osama bin Laden in 2002, he stated that one of the reasons he was fighting America is because of its support of India on the Kashmir issue. While on a trip to Delhi in 2002, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggested that Al-Qaeda was active in Kashmir, though he did not have any hard evidence.  An investigation in 2002 unearthed evidence that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates were prospering in Pakistan-administered Kashmir with tacit approval of Pakistan’s National Intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence.

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Water dispute over Kashmir:

Another reason for the dispute over Kashmir is water. Kashmir is the origin point for many rivers and tributaries of the Indus River basin. The river basin is divided between Pakistan, which has about 60 per cent of the catchment area, India with about 20 per cent, Afghanistan with 5 per cent and around 15 per cent in Tibet. The river tributaries are the Jhelum and Chenab rivers, which primarily flow into Pakistan while other branches—the Ravi, Beas, and the Sutlej—irrigate northern India. The Indus is a river system that sustains communities in both countries India and Pakistan. They both have extensively dammed the Indus River for irrigation of their crops and hydro-electricity systems. In arbitrating the conflict in 1947 Sir Cyril Radcliffe, decided to demarcate the territories as he was unable to give to one or the other the control over the river as it was a main economic resource forth both areas. The Line of Control (LoC) was recognized as an international border establishing that India would have control over the upper riparian and Pakistan over the lower riparian of Indus and its tributaries. However they might seem separate issues, the Kashmir dispute and the dispute over the water control are somehow related and the fight over the water remains as one of the main problems when establishing good relationships between the two countries.

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 Sino-Indian War and Kashmir:

In 1962, troops from the People’s Republic of China and India clashed in territory claimed by both. China won a swift victory in the war, resulting in the Chinese annexation of the region called Aksai Chin, which has continued as of 2012. Another smaller area, the Trans-Karakoram, was demarcated as the Line of Control (LoC) between China and Pakistan, although some of the territory on the Chinese side is claimed by India to be part of Kashmir. The line that separates India from China in this region is known as the “Line of Actual Control”.

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Korean conflict:

The Korean War (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953) was a war between the Republic of Korea (supported primarily by the United States of America, with contributions from allied nations under the aegis of the United Nations) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (supported by the People’s Republic of China, with military and material aid from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). Total casualties include 900000 combatant’s deaths and 2000000 civilian’s deaths. The Korean War was primarily the result of the political division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War at the end of World War II. The Korean Peninsula was ruled by the Empire of Japan from 1910 until the end of World War II. Following the surrender of the Empire of Japan in September 1945, American administrators divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel, with U.S. military forces occupying the southern half and Soviet military forces occupying the northern half. The failure to hold free elections throughout the Korean Peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides; the North established a communist government, while the South established a capitalist one. The 38th parallel increasingly became a political border between the two Korean states. Although reunification negotiations continued in the months preceding the war, tension intensified. Cross-border skirmishes and raids at the 38th Parallel persisted. The Korean War (1950-1953) officially never really ended. The war’s major fighting ended with an armistice signed on July 27, 1953 between North Korea and its foes, South Korea and the United Nations. Over the 50-plus years, numerous border battles, clashes, incidents, espionage thrillers, assassination attempts, and terrorist acts have occurred between North and South Korea, often involving American forces as well. The U.S. maintains 28,500 troops defending South Korea and a treaty obligation to aid the South in the event of war with North Korea.

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There are many territorial dispute wars but it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss all disputes and wars. Also, many territorial dispute wars have overlapping religious or ethnic conflict connotations as discussed in the following paragraphs.

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Religion and war:

If we try to provide an analysis of conflicts around the world, two patterns emerge. One relates to ethnicity, and the other relates to religion. Religion still forms the basis of major conflicts worldwide as in Israel-Palestine, although in case of India-Pakistan and Russia-Chechnya, the religious roots of such conflicts tend to have a close association with Islamic separatism. A clash of religious ideologies seems to be a common factor in such conflicts. But even if these inter-religious conflicts have worldwide impact, intra-religious conflicts as was seen in Northern Ireland or even Iraq can seriously question any analysis of conflicts that stresses on only religion per se. Is religion the only basis of such conflicts in the world? Or is religion a tool to satisfy political motives?  The fact that struggles within religions can be sufficient to cause civil wars, undermine the explanation that a clash of different religious ideologies would be sufficient to cause culture conflicts. Intra-religious and inter-religious conflicts as well as separatism/terrorism are all broadly religious feuds. The history of all major conflicts and wars will probably suggest several explanations for these conflicts and religion will be one of these. Religious feuds and separatism as in Chechnya and Kashmir have links with international terror although brutal bombing and raids in these regions, as done by Russian forces for instance, are not solutions to problems and can only worsen the plight of innocent civilians.

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Religious practices and beliefs have often been at the center of conflicts throughout history. Religious conflict can involve two or more completely different religions or can rip apart one religion from within. Religious beliefs are so deeply engrained into cultures that conflicts arise with change or when religions come into contact. Even if the differences are minor, followers of all religions can become fervent when threatened. In short, religion is something worth fighting for, according to history. However, possibly one of the greatest ironies is that religious conflict usually goes against the teachings of the religions involved. Imagine the strength of religion when war and violence are justifiable only when defending the faith, a faith that promotes good-will, peace, and the acceptance of others.

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A religious war is a war caused by, or justified by, religious differences. It can involve one state with an established religion against another state with a different religion or a different sect within the same religion, or a religiously motivated group attempting to spread its faith by violence, or to suppress another group because of its religious beliefs or practices. The Crusades, the French Wars of Religion, the Muslim conquests, and the Reconquista are frequently cited historical examples.

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The map below shows various religious conflicts in the world.


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During the Middle Ages, Europeans had only one significant unifying aspect of life. The Catholic Church permeated every aspect of society. For about 200 years, Western Europe under the sway of the Catholic Church, attempted to retake the Holy Land away from the Muslims. The largest target was the holy city of Jerusalem; however, other areas were fought over, such as the city of Constantinople.  Jerusalem remains a religiously significant and contested site today with Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all having a vested interest. The Christians were never able to effectively take, and then maintain control; however, many changes occurred as a result of the Crusades. The Crusades — A series of campaigns from the 11th to the 13th centuries with the stated goal of reconquering the Holy Land from Muslim invaders and coming to the aid of the Byzantine Empire. Following the Crusades, Europe entered into a period known as the Renaissance. The European wars of religion were a series of wars waged in Europe from ca. 1524 to 1648, following the onset of the Protestant Reformation in Western and Northern Europe. Although sometimes unconnected, all of these wars were strongly influenced by the religious change of the period, and the conflict and rivalry that it produced. India and Pakistan have been involved in conflict since the creation of their respective nations. This conflict is religious at its core and continues into today. A series of wars were fought between the Jewish state of Israel and the various surrounding Islamic states. Religion was the core issue, while political and economic contentions made the wars have a global significance. 

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However, others disagree saying although religion very often plays a part in the conflict it is not the cause. There are a few exceptions when religion can be blamed for causing conflict, but they are not common. The fighting between Palestine and Israel is an example of a conflict where religion plays a major part but was not the cause. The fighting was started after Palestinian land was taken to form the country of Israel. The fact that Israel is Jewish and that Palestine is Muslim has not helped the conflict, though. Often, the media does not identify the precise causes of some of the conflicts around the world. Clashes are frequently described as being ethnic in origin, even though religion may have been a main cause. The true causes of unrest are sometimes difficult to determine. Frequently, there are a mixture of political alliances, economic differences, ethnic feuds, religious differences, and others.

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It is important to realize that most of the world’s current “hot spots” have a complex interaction of economic, racial, ethnic, religious, and other factors. We list below some conflicts which have as their base at least some degree of religious intolerance:

Country

Main religious groups involved

Type of conflict

Afghanistan Extreme, radical Fundamentalist Muslim terrorist groups & non-Muslims Osama bin Laden headed a terrorist group called Al Qaeda (The Source) whose headquarters were in Afghanistan. They were protected by, and integrated with, the Taliban dictatorship in the country. The Northern Alliance of rebel Afghans, Britain and the U.S. attacked the Taliban and Al Qaeda, establishing a new regime in part of the country. The fighting continues.
Bosnia Serbian Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholic), Muslims Fragile peace is holding, due to the presence of peacekeepers.
Côte d’Ivoire Muslims, Indigenous, Christian Following the elections in late 2000, government security forces “began targeting civilians solely and explicitly on the basis of their religion, ethnic group, or national origin. The overwhelming majorities of victims come from the largely Muslim north of the country, or are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants…” A military uprising continued the slaughter in 2002.
Cyprus Christians & Muslims The island is partitioned, creating enclaves for ethnic Greeks (Christians) and Turks (Muslims). A UN peace keeping force is maintaining stability.
East Timor Christians & Muslims A Roman Catholic country. About 30% of the population died by murder, starvation or disease after they were forcibly annexed by Indonesia (mainly Muslim). After voting for independence, many Christians were exterminated or exiled by the Indonesian army and army-funded militias in a carefully planned program of genocide and religious cleansing. The situation is now stable.
India Animists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims & Sikhs Various conflicts that heat up periodically producing loss of life. Christians are regularly attacked in Orissa province by militant Hindu extremists. Babri mosque demolition and its aftermath and massacre of Sikhs in 1984 are other examples.
Indonesia, province of Ambon Christians & Muslims After centuries of relative peace, conflicts between Christians and Muslims started during 1999 in this province of Indonesia. The situation now appears to be stable.
Indonesia, province of Halmahera Christians & Muslims 30 people killed. 2,000 Christians driven out; homes and churches destroyed.
Iraq Kurds, Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims, western armed forces By mid-2006, a small scale civil war, primarily between Shiite and Sunni Muslims started. The situation appears to be steadily improving since the coalition forces have withdrawn from the cities.
Kashmir Hindus & Muslims A chronically unstable region of the world, claimed by both Pakistan and India. The availability of nuclear weapons and the eagerness to use them are destabilizing the region further. Thirty to sixty thousand people have died since 1989. UN resolution suggested plebiscite as a solution which is rejected by India.
Kosovo Serbian Orthodox Christians & Muslims Peace enforced by NATO peacekeepers. There is convincing evidence of past mass murder by Yugoslavian government (mainly Serbian Orthodox Christians) against ethnic Albanians (mostly Muslim)
Kurdistan Christians, Muslims Periodic assaults on Christians (Protestant, Chaldean Catholic, & Assyrian Orthodox).
Macedonia Macedonian Orthodox Christians & Muslims Muslims (often referred to as ethnic Albanians) engaged in a civil war with the rest of the country who are primarily Macedonian Orthodox Christians during the 1990s. A peace treaty has been signed. Disarmament by NATO is complete.
Middle East Jews, Muslims, & Christians The peace process between Israel and Palestine suffered a complete breakdown. This has resulted in the deaths of thousands, in the ratio of three Muslim dead for each Jew who died. Large scale violence in 2000. Flare ups repeat. No resolution appears possible.
Nigeria Christians, Animists, & Muslims Yourubas and Christians in the south of the country are battling Muslims in the north. Country is struggling towards democracy after decades of Muslim military dictatorships.
Northern Ireland Protestants, Catholics After 3,600 killings and assassinations over 30 years. A ceasefire is holding.
Pakistan Suni & Shi’ite Muslims Low level mutual attacks, overshadowed by Taliban insurrectionists.
Philippines Christians & Muslims A low level conflict between the mainly Christian central government and Muslims in the south of the country has continued for centuries.
Russia,
Chechnya
Russian Orthodox Christians, Muslims The Russian army attacked the breakaway region. Many atrocities have been alleged on both sides. According to the Voice of the Martyrs: “In January 2002 Chechen rebels included all Christians on their list of official enemies, vowing to ‘blow up every church and mission-related facility in Russia’.”
Somalia Wahhabi and Sufi Muslims Sufi Muslims — a tolerant moderate tradition of Islam are fighting the Shabab who follow the Wahhabi tradition of Islam in a continuing conflict.
South Africa Animists & “Witches” Hundreds of persons, suspected and accused of witches practicing black magic, are murdered each year.
Sri Lanka Buddhists & Hindus Tamils (a mainly Hindu 18% minority) are involved in a war aimed at dividing the island and creating a homeland for themselves. Conflict had been underway since 1983 with the Sinhalese Buddhist majority (70%). Over a hundred thousand people have been killed. The conflict took a sudden change for the better in 2002, when the Tamils dropped their demand for complete independence. The South Asian Tsunami in 2004 induced some cooperation. By 2009 the Tamil uprising was crushed by the government.
Sudan Animists, Christians & Muslims Complex ethnic, racial, religious conflict in which the Muslim regime committed genocide against both Animists and Christians in the south of the country. Slavery and near slavery were practiced. A ceasefire was signed in 2006 between some of the combatants. Warfare continues in the Darfur region, primarily between a Muslim militia and Muslim inhabitants.
Thailand Buddhists & Muslims Muslim rebels have been involved in a bloody insurgency in southern Thailand — a country that is 95% Buddhist.
Tibet Buddhists & Communists Country was annexed by Chinese Communists in late 1950′s. Brutal suppression of Buddhism continues.
Uganda Animists, Christians, & Muslims Christian rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army are conducting a civil war in the north of Uganda. Their goal is a Christian theocracy whose laws are based on the Ten Commandments. They abduct, enslave and/or raped about 2,000 children a year.

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Islam and war:

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The map below shows various regions of world where Muslims are in conflict.


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In Islam, we see the concept of jihad, or “holy war.” The word jihad literally means “struggle,” but the concept has been used to describe warfare in the expansion and defense of Islamic territory. The beginnings of Jihad are traced back to the words and actions of Muhammad and the Quran. This encourages the use of Jihad against non-Muslims. Sura 25, verse 52 states: “Therefore, do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them with this, a great striving.” It was, therefore, the duty of all Muslims to strive against those who did not believe in Allah and took offensive action against Muslims. The Holy Quran, however, never uses the term Jihad for fighting and combats in the name of Allah; qital is used to mean “fighting.”  [Please read my article on “Islam and mathematics”] The almost continual warfare in the Middle East over the past half century certainly has contributed to the idea that religion is the cause of many wars. The September 11 attack on the United States has been seen as a jihad against the “Great Satan” America, which in Muslim eyes is almost synonymous with Christianity. In the 1990s violence occurred between Muslims and non-Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kashmir & India, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Middle East, Sudan and Nigeria. In the mid-1990s, roughly half the ethnic conflicts in the world involved Muslims fighting each other or non-Muslims.  In one inventory by The Economist, Muslims were responsible for 11 and possibly 12 of 16 major acts of international terrorism between 1983 and 2000. Five of the seven states listed by the U.S. State Department as supporting terrorism are Muslim, as are a majority of foreign organizations listed as engaged in terrorism. In counter-actions between 1980 and 1995, the U.S. armed forces engaged in 17 military operations against Muslims. According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies, 32 armed conflicts were underway in 2000; more than two thirds involved Muslims. Yet Muslims are only about one fifth of the world’s population.

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The rise of religious movements in the late 20th century with a proclivity toward violence and terrorism – predominantly Islamic extremism – has significantly changed the landscape of international politics. It has also shifted the focus in analyzing the international system from the “power struggle” of Cold War politics and its attendant conceptual toolbox to a reality that emphasizes culture, violence in the name of religion, identity, and nationalism. Most of the non-Islamic terrorist groups – the Basque separatists known as ETA, the IRA, the Tamil Tigers, the Identity Movement, the Solar Temple, and others –are pale by comparison to Islamic terrorism in their effect on the landscape of international politics, even if they have some religious motivation. By contrast with all the others, the Islamic form of religiously motivated terrorism has geographical base across many countries and a preexisting organizational network. Its ideology, rather than utterly new and therefore dependent on a charismatic leader, is the revival of something quite old with menacing variations.

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Resolving intra-religious and inter-religious conflicts:

The most effective way to reduce inter-religious and intra-religious disputes is for the major religions of the world to give greater priority to the teaching of universal human rights. I feel that leaders of the main religions — Christianity and Islam — are contributing to regional conflicts. If they were to emphasize human rights more than they currently do, they could make a major impact towards world peace. A main source of inter-religious and intra-religious conflict it is the way in which religions teach their Ethic of Reciprocity. This is the code of behavior taught by almost all faiths. It states that we must treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves. In Christianity, this is caused the Golden Rule. Almost all religions teach that one’s primary responsibility is towards their one or more deities. Of lesser importance is how one reacts to fellow believers as described in their Ethic of Reciprocity. Even less stress is given to treating persons from other faith groups, traditions, or denominations in the same religion. Finally, the treatment of people of other religions is often virtually ignored. I feel that the universal application of the Ethic of Reciprocity should be taught. A second source of inter and intra-religious conflict is the binary thinking found in so many faith groups. Too often, groups teach the principle of extreme particularism — the belief that one’s own faith group possesses all of the truth, as revealed to them directly by God. Other faith groups in the same religion and other religions worship demons and are led by Satan. The end result is fear of and contempt towards other faith groups and religions. In extreme cases, this can escalate to include genocide. Two alternative teachings are:

1. Inclusivism: One’s own group possesses the whole truth; other religious groups contain parts of the truth. 

2. Pluralism: All group’s beliefs and practices are equally valid, when interpreted within their own culture. 

These concepts lead to greater inter- and intra-religious peace.

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In a letter addressed to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders in 2007, 138 prominent Muslim scholars from every sect of Islam urged Christian leaders “to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions”, spelling out the similarities between passages of the Bible and the Qur’an. The letter said “If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants. Our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”  

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Ethnicity:

An ethnic group, or ethnicity, is defined as a large group of people who share a distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or otherwise cultural heritage. Ethnic groups are historically given collectivities or psychological communities whose members share a persisting sense of common interest and identity that is based on some combination of shared historical experience and valued cultural traits – beliefs, culture and religion, language, ways of life, a common homeland. Such groups exist over time, even as they emerge and may well change and disappear. Several criteria about this definition must be met before a group can be called ethnic group or ethnic community. First, the group must have a name for itself. Names are important not only for self-identification, but also as expressive emblems of the collective “personality”. Second, language is also a powerful indicator of ethnic and national identity. The struggle over language policies and language rights are often a major reason in ethnic conflicts. Many linguistic minorities around the world are officially prohibited from using their language in public places, or in the communication media. Third is religion that has historically been an important marker of the ethnic identity. Especially, in the societies in which religion intervenes in the various spheres of public life, it may become a hegemonic factor and thus determinant for ethnicity. It becomes an ethnic marker. The more the religious factor is interwoven with other elements of social life, the more important does religion become as a determining factor of ethnicity. For example, in Lebanon, being Christian or Muslim refers not only to a private expression of religious faith, but to community, and to collective behavior and belonging. A fourth feature is territory. Territory is the basis of economic and political structures, which are the fundamental units in the life of ethnic groups and nations. The territorial state is considered to be the determining element of the existence of a nation in modern times. Many ethnic groups which consider themselves to be nations aspire to have their own territorial state (Kurds, Palestinians, Tamils of Sri Lanka). The majority of ethnic groups in the world are identified with some territories, which are not only their vital environment, but also their real or mythical land of origin, sometimes imbued with sacred meaning. Serbia denies rights to the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, because of the historically important (for Serbian identity) battle of Kosovo in the fourteenth century. A fifth feature, shared culture constitutes a complex of distinctive elements of any ethnic groups. In the definition of ethnic groups, culture is a system of values, symbols and meanings, norms, and customs shared by the members of a group. Culture defines the way of life, which distinguishes one ethnic group from another. The ethnic groups whose status is of greatest concern in international politics today are those that are the targets of discrimination and that have organized to take political action to promote and defend their interests.

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Ethnic conflict:

Ethnic conflicts can be defined as conflicts between ethnic groups within a multi-ethnic state, which have been going on some time, which may appear to be unsolvable to the parties caught up in them. According to Michael E. Brown, an ethnic conflict is a dispute about important political, economic, cultural, or territorial issues between two or more ethnic communities. Many ethnic conflicts result in a significant loss of life, a serious denial of basic human rights and considerable material destruction, some escalating into interethnic or internal war. The twentieth century has not been, as Karl Marx predicted, a period of revolutionary class struggles, but rather of ethno-nationalist conflicts. Wars fought in the name of national liberation or ethnic autonomy counted for roughly one fifth of the wars that broke out between the end of the Napoleonic Empire and Versailles, the rest being revolutions, wars fought between states, or of conquest. From Versailles to 2001, however, the share of ethno-nationalist wars was almost 45%, peaking at 75% in the period following the end of the Cold War1. Ethnic and nationalist claims play an important role in many of today’s most prominent civil wars. In Iraq, lines of conflict run parallel to the major ethnoreligious divides and ethnic cleansing is routinely pursued by various militias and factions. In the Darfur war, the division between Arab and non-Arab tribes animates the dynamics of political alliance and conflict on the ground. Ethnic politics also shapes the Afghan conflict: much of the support for the Taliban is nourished by Pashtun elite resentment for being less represented in government than many think they deserve, given the Pashtun’s historical role as the Staatsvolk of Afghanistan. Ethnicity remains a distinct issue as in the troubled regions of Burma and Sudan.The Burmese military government has driven out and tortured ethnic minorities as the Sudanese military and Janjaweed militia have attacked the non-Baggara civilians and in both these regions the human rights situations have deteriorated considerably in the last few years leading to major humanitarian crises. Ethnic problems could thus be considered more widespread yet can be solved with international pressure, negotiations and agreements between rebel groups and political leaders of troubled regions with a greater emphasis on democracy and this would be mainly applicable in case of Sudan and Burma. On the other hand, conflicts in Somalia or Cambodia are not ethnic conflicts, because these conflicts are not between rival ethnic groups, but between rival political groups, all of which belong to the same ethnic group.   

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Ethnic ‘conflict’ describes a situation in which two or more actors pursue incompatible, yet from their individual perspectives entirely just, goals. Ethnic conflicts are one particular form of such conflict: that in which the goals of at least one conflict party are defined in (exclusively) ethnic terms, and in which the primary fault line of confrontation is one of ethnic distinctions. Whatever the concrete issues over which conflict erupts, at least one of the conflict parties will explain its dissatisfaction in ethnic terms—that is, one party to the conflict will claim that its distinct ethnic identity is the reason why its members cannot realize their interests, why they do not have the same rights, or why their claims are not satisfied. Thus, ethnic conflicts are a form of group conflict in which at least one of the parties involved interprets the conflict, its causes, and potential remedies along an actually existing or perceived discriminating ethnic divide. Violence does not spontaneously erupt between otherwise peacefully coexisting ethnic groups. Ethnicity is not the ultimate, irreducible source of violent conflict in such cases. Power and material gain can be equally strong motivations, for leaders and followers alike, to choose conflict over cooperation, violence over negotiations. Civil war can be understood in terms of insurgency or rural guerrilla warfare, a particular form of military practice that can be harnessed to diverse political agendas, including but not limited to ethnic nationalism. The factors that explain which countries have been at risk for civil war are not their ethnic or religious characteristics but rather the conditions that favor insurgency. These include poverty, which marks financially and bureaucratically weak states and also favors rebel recruitment, political instability, rough terrain, and large populations.

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An ethnic conflict or ethnic war is a conflict between ethnic groups often as a result of ethnic nationalism. They are of interest because of the apparent prevalence since the Cold War and because they frequently result in war crimes such as genocide. Academic explanations of ethnic conflict generally fall into one of three schools of thought: primordialist, instrumentalist or constructivist. Proponents of primordialist accounts of ethnic conflict argue that “ethnic groups and nationalities exist because there are traditions of belief and action towards primordial objects such as biological features and especially territorial location”. The primordialist account relies on a concept of kinship between members of an ethnic group. The instrumentalist account theory sought to explain such persistence as the result of the actions of community leaders, “who used their cultural groups as sites of mass mobilization and as constituencies in their competition for power and resources, because they found them more effective than social classes”. In this account of ethnic identification, “ethnicity and race are viewed as instrumental identities, organized as means to particular ends”. Constructivism is a theory describing how learning happens, regardless of whether learners are using their experiences to understand or follow the instructions. In both cases, the theory of constructivism suggests that learners construct knowledge out of their experiences. However, Constructivism is often associated with pedagogic approaches that promote active learning, or learning.

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John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary have developed taxonomy of eight macro-political ethnic conflict regulation methods, which they note are often employed by states in combination with each other. They include a number of methods that they note is clearly morally unacceptable.

Methods for eliminating differences:

Genocide

Forced mass-population transfers

Partition and/or secession (self-determination)

Integration and/or assimilation

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 Methods for managing differences:

Hegemonic control

Arbitration (third-party intervention)

Cantonisation and/or federalisation

Consociationalism or power-sharing

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Ethnic conflicts have an important and central role in contemporary world politics. By and large only conflicts with a violent nature, survive in the heart of the international public opinion, above some other current controversies, no less important. The nationalism and the term “identity” usually have an important role in these kind of conflicts; even if there is no war or violence, confrontations between national powers often cause important conflicts that affect the dailys life of societies. In Spain there are two examples of each type: the fight between the Basque and Spanish nations, where we see violence through the terrorist band ETA and “diplomatic conflict” between autonomous and central government, and the political conflict between the Catalan and Spanish nations.

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Ethnic cleansing:

The term ethnic cleansing literally refers to the attempt to completely wipe out entire ethnicities. When borders were redrawn at the close of World War II, many ethnicities were grouped together within the same nation.  Conflicts arose and some would escalate to mass murder. There are numerous examples of ethnic cleansing ranging from the past to the present. The major examples of genocide and ethnic cleansing include Armenian massacre, Nazi holocaust, Balkan situation and ethnic conflicts in Africa.  
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Water war:

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Many argue that water must be viewed as a human right, not solely as a market commodity. That’s been the United Nations’ position for years – not least because a lack of access to clean water constitutes a huge health problem in much of the developing world. Rainfall in the area has diminished markedly in the past 50 years, probably due to global warming. In Syria alone, some 300,000 farmers and herders abandoned their homes, families in tow, for urban camps because of the drought. Water is becoming a grave issue for the very existence of the people worldwide. The growing population and the rising global temperature are adding pressures on the growing water demands. Water is needed to meet the domestic, agricultural and industrial demands in all regions of the world. The fresh water resources are extremely limited in supply. A comparison of freshwater withdrawal per country and per sector (domestic use, industrial use, agricultural use) shows a large variation between various countries. For example, in 1994 the withdrawal for domestic use in Malawi was 9 m3 per person per year, whereas for Iceland this was 176 m3 per person per year. Such variation is not only present between countries: the inequality within countries is enormous as well. Water consumption in Israel and in the settlements is much higher than that of their Arab neighbors in occupied territories who are restricted from pumping water. It seems that – in some cases – controlling groups are able to capture resources at the cost of politically marginalized groups due to asymmetrical power relations. More than one billion people do not to have access to clean drinking water, and approximately 2.4 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. Gleick indicates that an estimated 80% of the diseases in developing countries are water related. Every day 14 to 30 thousand people, mainly children and elderly, die because of waterborne diseases, or due to floods and droughts. Almost half of humanity will face water scarcity by 2030 and strategists from Israel to Central Asia prepare for strife. Water shortages could cost the unstable country 750,000 jobs, slashing incomes in the poorest Arab country by as much as 25 per cent over the next decade, according to a report from the consulting firm McKinsey and Company produced for the Yemeni government in 2010.

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Much blood has been spilled over water. Water resources can be military goals (seize the water), military targets (bomb a hydro plant, reservoir, canal, or irrigation channel), and military means (cause a flood), and the absence of water can precipitate conflict. The problem is often the discrepancy between the borders of nature and politics. Ninety-seven percent of Egypt’s surface water flow originates outside its borders. Per capita water availability in Jordan, according to the UN, is about one-quarter of the minimum requirement for an efficient, moderately industrialized nation.

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With all of its life-giving properties, water is infrequently associated with acts of war. Yet many important interconnections are apparent in modern life. For example, wars are sometimes fought on waterways; those engaged in military operations have many needs for water; war can adversely impact water resources; and increasingly, observers worry that wars might break out due to escalating conflicts over water resources. Water plays a critical role in wars between and within nations. Access to drinkable water is a daily concern in arid regions such as Palestine and Israel. For millions of people—from Bosnia to Iraq, and from Chechnya to Somalia—water’s intricate relation with war is an everyday reality. This use of chemical agents significantly affected the area’s water resources. Impacts included contaminated waters, increased runoff and sedimentation, and the spread of malarial diseases due to stagnating waters. Military troops have many water-use needs in field conditions, particularly in arid environments. Water is not everywhere conveniently accessible, even for drinking. The United States military funds research into water desalinization and portable desalinization units to help ensure that its troops will have access to usable water in military situations where water is scarce. The first human-on-human conflict over water occurred around 2500 BC in Mesopotamia. The “War over Water” refers to a series of confrontations between Israel and its Arab neighbors from November 1964 to May 1967 over control of available water sources in the Jordan River drainage basin. Many view the conflict in Darfur, for example, as partly motivated by a growing population and a shrinking supply of water.  The most recent water conflict: In 2008, the Taliban threatened to blow up Pakistan’s Warsak Dam.

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Water-related conflicts existed from 3,000 B.C. until the present day. The different categories and types of conflict based on the severity of the event include:

1. Control of water resources (state and non-state actors): where water supplies or access to water is at the root of tensions.

2. Military tool (state actors): where water resources or water systems themselves are used by a nation or a state as a weapon during a military action.

3. Political tool (state and non-state actors): where water resources or water systems themselves are used by a nation, state, or non-state actor for a political goal.

4. Terrorism (non-state actors): where water resources or water systems are either targets or tools of violence or coercion by non-state actors.

5. Military target (state actors): where water resources or systems are targets of military actions by nations or states.

6. Development disputes (state and non-state actors): where water resources or water systems are a major source of contention and dispute in the context of economic and social development.

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Water resources are crucial for domestic, industrial, agricultural, and environmental use. By controlling water resources, a country has the ability to control the economy and population. For instance, upstream regions or countries enjoy the benefit of using water flows firsthand, while downstream areas might receive lesser amounts of many watersheds across state borders. Cooperation between riparian states can be highly problematic.

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Water infrastructure such as supply pipes, treatment plants, and dams can become a prime target during military operations, leaving local populations vulnerable to water scarcity and water-related diseases. This can be particularly difficult in areas of the developing world, because water is not typically piped into people’s homes and must be fetched some distance from the home and carried back. Increased water scarcity can also compound food insecurity, and therefore human survival. Lack of access to water during military conflict increases the vulnerability of local populations. War activities often push local peoples to migrate in search of safer areas. These refugee populations typically are large, sometimes congregating in makeshift or tent cities of considerable size. Movement of displaced populations in situations of conflict is common in the developing world. These tent cities have significant water-related needs for drinking, washing, and cooking, yet have little or no infrastructure to draw upon. The influx of people into an area places great stress on the existing population and resources. Health crises often accompany war situations, and water-related diseases become a serious concern. Diarrhea is the most common disease. Typhoid fever is also common and has been severe in the Central Asian Republics during recent civil wars.

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Humanitarian crises, epidemic disease, destabilizing violence, and corrupt, failed states are already rife in the most water-deprived regions, where 20 percent of humanity lacks access to sufficient clean freshwater for drinking and cooking and 40 percent to adequate sanitation. Those who have predicted that the wars of the twenty-first century will be fought over water have foremost in mind the water-starved, combustible Middle East, where water looms omnipresently over every conflict and peace negotiation, and where those with oil are desperately trying to postpone their day of reckoning by burning it to pump dry aquifers and desalinate seawater in order to sustain farms and modern cities in the desert. Freshwater is an Achilles’ heel of fast-growing giants China and India, which both face imminent tipping points from unsustainable water practices that will determine whether they lose their ability to feed themselves and cause their industrial expansions to prematurely sputter. The buffeting global impact will be especially far-reaching for the fates of water-distressed developing nations that are reliant on food imports to feed their swelling, restive populations. While the West, too, has some serious regional water shortages, its relatively modest population pressures and generally moist, temperate environments make it an overall water power possessing significant water resource advantages. If aggressively exploited, these advantages can help relaunch its economic dynamism and world leadership.

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The picture below shows world regions of water scarcity.


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The picture above shows the geographic location where conflicts over water have occurred, and information about each conflict. Correlating with the map above, it is clear that wars have occurred more frequently in areas of water scarcity. In the past, wars were fought for the cause of religion, usurpation of territories and control of resources. But in view of the acute shortage of water in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and elsewhere, the future wars will be fought for the sake of fresh water. On the other hand, experts say that while the potential for international conflict over water certainly exists, international water crises are usually resolved peacefully. Countries need not go to war over water; they solve their water shortages through trade and international agreements. The real potential for water conflicts is intra-national (within-country.) If wars will be fought, they will not be over water; but bad water relations may contribute to chronic bad blood between countries that will then exacerbate other more vexing grievances, which in turn may trigger martial responses. There is something about water- and the need to ensure its sustainable harvest over many years and generations rather than any one-time mining- that requires for its harnessing a strong degree of mutual cooperation within and between countries over an extended period of time. It cannot be done in the manner of surrounding a mine or an oil well with a security cordon and extracting the resource.

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India faces water conflicts:

Conflicts caused by severe water shortages could plague India in the coming decades as rivers dry up, groundwater is depleted and canals are polluted, a World Bank expert reported in 2005. To head off the “extremely grave” situation, India’s government needs to dramatically change the way it manages water, such as decentralizing management of water supplies and linking rivers. Demand for water is increasing rapidly because of India’s growing population — already above 1.2 billion — and high economic growth. But increased demand has not been matched by efforts to conserve and better manage water supplies, meaning that the resource is being depleted faster than it can be replenished. The report predicted that availability of surface and ground water would decline to less than 80 cubic kilometers (2.8 million cubic feet) in 2050, from about 500 cubic kilometers (17.6 million cubic feet) in 2005. It is extremely grave situation. Making matters worse, there is widespread complacency in the government. About 15 percent of the country’s aquifers are already in critical condition, a number that could increase to 60 percent by 2030. Heavily subsidized electricity for farmers in some states also encourages them to switch to groundwater, which can be cheaply siphoned with electric pumps.

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Prevent water war:

A new report, “Global Water Security,” by U.S. intelligence agencies states that over the next decade “water problems will contribute to instability in states important to U.S. national security interests.”  Moreover, “as water shortages become more acute beyond the next 10 years, water in shared basins will increasingly be used as leverage; the use of water as a weapon or to further terrorist objectives will become more likely.” That sounds like bad news. But here’s the good news: “Historically, water tensions have led to more water-sharing agreements than violent conflicts.”  The report notes that India and Pakistan have managed to reach water-sharing agreements in spite of their hostility toward each other; so have Israel and Jordan. The report adds that “improved water management (e.g., pricing, allocations and ‘virtual water’ trade) and investments in water-related sectors (e.g., agriculture, power and water treatment) will afford the best solutions for societal and global water problems. Because agriculture uses approximately 70 percent of the global fresh water supply, the greatest potential for relief from water scarcity will be through technology that reduces the amount of water needed for agriculture. In other words, we are not facing “inevitable” conflict. We are facing, as always, a choice. When water shortages loom, nations vying for control of a river, say, may build up armaments, threaten each other and carry out pre-emptive strikes. Or they can join together in finding technological, economic and political solutions that provide greater long-term benefits to both populations. I wish and hope that the world chooses this latter option instead of claiming that we’re doomed to wage wars over water.

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Energy (oil & gas) and conflict:

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had its origins, at least in part, in a decision by the United States to limit oil exports to Japan in 1941 in response to the Japanese invasion of China. Japan was almost totally reliant on imported oil, mainly from the United States, and it needed oil for its navy. It concluded that if the American tap was going to be turned off, it would have to get its oil elsewhere. This was a factor in its decision to invade the oil-rich Dutch-held Indonesian islands. An intelligence assessment by the British government revealed that in 1973 Washington drew up a plan to seize oilfields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi to counter an Arab oil embargo against the West. Saddam Hussein himself is a prime example: it was oil that gave him the resources with which to arm himself. The intervention by the United States and its allies over Kuwait in 1991 was in large part motivated by a need to secure oil and also to prevent Saddam Hussein from expanding his access to it. Conflict and intrigue over valuable energy supplies have been features of the international landscape for a long time. Major wars over oil have been fought every decade or so since World War I, and smaller engagements have erupted every few years; a flare-up or two in 2012, then, would be part of the normal scheme of things. Instead, what we are now seeing is a whole cluster of oil-related clashes stretching across the globe, involving a dozen or so countries, with more popping up all the time. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Argentina to the Philippines, here are the six areas of conflict — all tied to energy supplies — that have made news in just the first few months of 2012:

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1. A brewing war between Sudan and South Sudan: On April 10th, forces from the newly independent state of South Sudan occupied the oil center of Heglig, a town granted to Sudan as part of a peace settlement that allowed the southerners to secede in 2011.  The northerners, based in Khartoum, then mobilized their own forces and drove the South Sudanese out of Heglig.  Fighting has since erupted all along the contested border between the two countries, accompanied by air strikes on towns in South Sudan.

2. The South China Sea is thought to harbor large deposits of oil and natural gas, and all the countries that encircle it, including China and the Philippines, want to exploit these reserves.  Manila claims a 200-nautical mile “exclusive economic zone” stretching into the South China Sea from its western shores, an area it calls the West Philippine Sea; Filipino companies say they have found large natural gas reserves in this area and have announced plans to begin exploiting them. Claiming the many small islands that dot the South China Sea (including Scarborough Shoal) as its own, Beijing has asserted sovereignty over the entire region, including the waters claimed by Manila; it too has announced plans to drill in the area. Despite years of talks, no solution has yet been found to the dispute and further clashes are likely.

3. Egypt cuts off the natural gas flow to Israel: On April 22nd, the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company informed Israeli energy officials that they were “terminating the gas and purchase agreement” under which Egypt had been supplying gas to Israel.This followed months of demonstrations in Cairo by the youthful protestors who succeeded in deposing autocrat Hosni Mubarak and are now seeking a more independent Egyptian foreign policy — one less beholden to the United States and Israel. It also followed scores of attacks on the pipelines carrying the gas across the Negev Desert to Israel, which the Egyptian military has seemed powerless to prevent.

4. Argentina seizes YPF: On April 16th, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced that her government would seize a majority stake in YPF, the nation’s largest oil company. Under President Kirchner’s plans, which she detailed on national television, the government would take a 51% controlling stake in YPF, which is now majority-owned by Spain’s largest corporation, the energy firm Repsol YPF. The seizure of its Argentinean subsidiary is seen in Madrid (and other European capitals) as a major threat that must now be combated. Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel García Margallo, said that Kirchner’s move “broke the climate of cordiality and friendship that presided over relations between Spain and Argentina.”  Several days later, in what is reported to be only the first of several retaliatory steps, Spain announced that it would stop importing biofuels from Argentina, its principal supplier — a trade worth nearly $1 billion a year to the Argentineans.

5. When Argentina and the U.K. fought their war over the Falklands, little was at stake save national pride, the stature of the country’s respective leaders (Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher vs. an unpopular military junta), and a few sparsely populated islands. Since then, the stakes have risen immeasurably as a result of recent seismic surveys of the waters surrounding the islands that indicated the existence of massive deposits of oil and natural gas. Several UK-based energy firms, including Desire Petroleum and Rockhopper Exploration, have begun off-shore drilling in the area and have reported promising discoveries. Desperate to duplicate Brazil’s success in the development of offshore oil and gas, Argentina claims the discoveries lie in its sovereign territory and that the drilling there is illegal; the British, of course, insist that it’s their territory. No one knows how this simmering potential crisis will unfold, but a replay of the 1982 war — this time over energy — is hardly out of the question.

6. One can debate the extent to which Washington’s long-running feud with Iran is driven by oil, but there is no question that the current crisis bears heavily on global oil supply prospects, both through Iran’s threats to close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for forthcoming sanctions on Iranian oil exports, and the likelihood that any air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities will lead to the same thing. Either way, the U.S. military would undoubtedly assume the lead role in destroying Iranian military capabilities and restoring oil traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. This is the energy-driven crisis that just won’t go away.

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All of these disputes have one thing in common: the conviction of ruling elites around the world that the possession of energy assets — especially oil and gas deposits — is essential to prop up national wealth, power, and prestige. The world has long been bifurcated between energy-surplus and energy-deficit states, with the former deriving enormous political and economic advantages from their privileged condition and the latter struggling mightily to escape their subordinate position. Now, that bifurcation is looking more like a chasm. In such a global environment, friction and conflict over oil and gas reserves — leading to energy conflicts of all sorts — is only likely to increase.

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Theories, motivations and reasons for war:

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Why kill another human:

During World War II, research conducted by US Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall found that, on average, only 15% to 20% of American riflemen in WWII combat fired at the enemy. In Civil War Collector’s Encyclopedia, F.A. Lord notes that of the 27,574 discarded muskets found on the Gettysburg battlefield, nearly 90% were loaded, with 12,000 loaded more than once and 6,000 loaded 3 to 10 times. These studies suggest that most soldiers resist firing their weapons in combat, that- as some theorists argue- human beings have an inherent resistance to killing their fellow human beings.

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Motivations for war:

Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. … the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. There are no scholarly agreements on which are the most common motivations for war. Motivations may be different for those ordering the war than for those undertaking the war. For example, in the Third Punic War, Rome’s leaders may have wished to make war with Carthage for the purpose of eliminating a resurgent rival, while the individual soldiers may have been motivated by a wish to make money. Since many people are involved, a war may acquire a life of its own from the confluence of many different motivations.

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The Jewish Talmud describes in the BeReshit Rabbah commentary on the fight between Cain and Abel (Parashot BeReshit XXII: 7) that there are three universal reasons for wars:

A) Economic,

B) Ideological/religious, and

C) Power/pride/love (personal).

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In Why Nations Go to War, by John G. Stoessinger, the author points out that both sides will claim that morality justifies their fight. He also states that the rationale for beginning a war depends on an overly optimistic assessment of the outcome of hostilities (casualties and costs), and on misperceptions of the enemy’s intentions. As the strategic and tactical aspects of warfare are always changing, theories and doctrines relating to warfare are often reformulated before, during, and after every major war. Carl Von Clausewitz said, ‘Every age had its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions.’  The one constant factor is war’s employment of organized violence and the resultant destruction of property and/ or lives that necessarily follows. While some scholars see warfare as an inescapable and integral aspect of human culture, others argue that it is only inevitable under certain socio-cultural or ecological circumstances. Some scholars argue that the practice of war is not linked to any single type of political organization or society. Rather, as discussed by John Keegan in his History of Warfare, war is a universal phenomenon whose form and scope is defined by the society that wages it. Another argument suggests that since there are human societies in which warfare does not exist, humans may not be naturally disposed for warfare, which emerges under particular circumstances.

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The analysis of war may be divided into several categories. Philosophical, political, economic, technological, legal, sociological, and psychological approaches are frequently distinguished. These distinctions indicate the varying focuses of interest and the different analytical categories employed by the theoretician, but most of the actual theories are mixed because war is an extremely complex social phenomenon that cannot be explained by any single factor or through any single approach. Contemporary theories of the causes of war divide roughly into two major schools. One attributes war to certain innate biological and psychological factors or drives, the other attributes it to certain social relations and institutions. Both schools include optimists and pessimists concerning the preventability of war.

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Ethologists’(people who study animal behavior in order to understand human behavior) view:

Ethologists start with the persuasive argument that study of animal warfare may contribute toward an understanding of war as employed by man. The behavior of monkeys and apes in captivity and the behavior of young children, for example, show basic similarities. In both cases it is possible to observe that aggressive behavior usually arises from several drives: rivalry for possession, the intrusion of a stranger, or frustration of an activity. The major conflict situations leading to aggression among animals, especially those concerning access of males to females and control of a territory for feeding and breeding, are usually associated with patterns of dominance. The analogies of animal to human behavior drawn by many ethologists, however, are severely questioned by their more restrained colleagues as well as by many social scientists. The term “aggression,” for example, is imprecisely and inconsistently used, often referring merely to the largely symbolic behavior of animals involving such signals as grimaces. Observed animal behavior can be regarded as a possible important source of inspiration for hypotheses, but these must then be checked through the study of actual human behavior. As this has not yet been adequately done, the hypotheses advanced have little foundation and are merely interesting ideas to be investigated. Further, human behavior is not fixed to the extent that animal behavior is, partly because man rapidly evolves different patterns of behavior in response to environmental factors, such as geography, climate, and contact with other social groups. The variety of these behavior patterns is such that they can be used on both sides of an argument concerning, for example, whether or not men have an innate tendency to be aggressive. Two particularly interesting subjects studied by ethologists are the effects of overcrowding on animals and animal behavior regarding territory. The study of overcrowding is incomplete, and the findings that normal behavior patterns tend to break down in such conditions and that aggressive behavior often becomes prominent are subject to the qualification that animal and human reactions to overcrowding may be different. Ethologists have also advanced plausible hypotheses concerning biological means of population control through reduced fertility that occurs when animal populations increase beyond the capacity of their environment. Whether such biological control mechanisms operate in human society, however, requires further investigation. Findings concerning the “territorial imperative” in animals—that is, the demarcation and defense against intrusion of a fixed area for feeding and breeding—are even more subject to qualification when an analogy is drawn from them to human behavior. The analogy between an animal territory and a territorial state is obviously extremely tenuous. In nature the territories of members of a species differ in extent but usually seem to be provided with adequate resources, and use of force in their defense is rarely necessary, as the customary menacing signals generally lead to the withdrawal of potential rivals. This scarcely compares with the sometimes catastrophic defense of the territory of a national state.

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Psychology of war:

The psychology of war tells us, in part, what it means to be human. No other animal on the planet has invented positive things like the internet, subsistence farming, or the vibrating massage chair. Yet for all the progress humanity has made, we still find ourselves facing off in military conflict. We still perpetrate barbaric acts such as genocides and mass murders. Dutch psychoanalyst Joost Meerloo held that, “War is often…a mass discharge of accumulated internal rage (where)…the inner fears of mankind are discharged in mass destruction.”  Thus war can sometimes be a means by which man’s own frustration at his inability to master his own self is expressed and temporarily relieved via his unleashing of destructive behavior upon others. In this destructive scenario, these others are made to serve as the scapegoat of man’s own unspoken and subconscious frustrations and fears. Other psychoanalysts such as E.F.M. Durban and John Bowlby have argued that human beings are inherently violent. This aggressiveness is fueled by displacement and projection where a person transfers his or her grievances into bias and hatred against other races, religions, nations or ideologies. By this theory, the nation state preserves order in the local society while creating an outlet for aggression through warfare. If war is innate to human nature, as is presupposed and predetermined by many psychological theories, then there is little hope of ever escaping it. The Italian psychoanalyst Franco Fornari, a follower of Melanie Klein, thought that war was the paranoid or projective “elaboration” of mourning. Fornari thought that war and violence develop out of our “love need”: our wish to preserve and defend the sacred object to which we are attached, namely our early mother and our fusion with her. For the adult, nations are the sacred objects that generate warfare. Fornari focused upon sacrifice as the essence of war: the astonishing willingness of human beings to die for their country, to give over their bodies to their nation. Despite Fornari’s theory that man’s altruistic desire for self-sacrifice for a noble cause is a contributing factor towards war, in history only a tiny fraction of wars have originated from a desire for war from the general populace. Far more often the general population has been reluctantly drawn into war by its rulers. One psychological theory that looks at the leaders is advanced by Maurice Walsh. He argues that the general populace is more neutral towards war and that wars only occur when leaders with a psychologically abnormal disregard for human life are placed into power. War is caused by leaders that seek war such as Napoleon and Hitler. Such leaders most often come to power in times of crisis when the populace opts for a decisive leader, who then leads the nation to war.

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Meanwhile, there are several key points to remember regarding psychology of soldiers at war.

1. Historically, many soldiers in wars—even World War II—did not fire their weapons.

2. The fear of letting one’s fellow soldiers down is the key motivation during war.

3. The longer soldiers are at war, the greater the chance they develop psychological problems.

4. The weight of killing another person can be a tremendous burden for a soldier.

5. To make the act of killing more psychologically acceptable, a soldier employs tactics that create distance—physical, emotional, cultural, or moral—between him and the victim.

6. Often in war, the language of soldiers allows them to dehumanize the enemy.

7. A desire for personal vengeance creates permission to kill.

8. Child soldiers, who have been used throughout history, show the effectiveness of behavioral conditioning, group mind, and dehumanization on young, developing minds.

9. A recent development in warfare is the rise of suicide terrorism, where individuals are willing to kill themselves to facilitate an attack, frequently against civilians.

10. The future of military combat is moving towards peacekeeping missions.

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Primitive human violent indeed:

Why does popular culture portray primitives as peace-loving folk living in harmony with nature, as opposed to rapacious and brutal civilization?  Why is it that the modern public revels in a demonstrably false portrait of primitive life? Hollywood grinds out stories of wise and worthy native Americans, African tribesmen, Brazilian rainforest people and Australian Aborigines. The overwhelming consensus in popular culture holds that primitive peoples enjoy a quality – call it authenticity – that moderns lack, and that by rolling in their muck, some of this authenticity will stick to us. Colonial guilt at the extermination of tribal societies does not go very far as an explanation, for the Westerners who were close enough to primitives to exterminate them rarely regretted having done so. European civilization arose by stamping out the kind of authenticity that characterizes primitive peoples. Two billion war deaths would have occurred in the 20th century if modern societies suffered the same casualty rate as primitive peoples, according to anthropologist Lawrence H Keeley, who calculates that two-thirds of them were at war continuously, typically losing half of a percent of its population to war each year. However badly civilized peoples may have behaved, the 100 million or so killed by communism and the 50 million or so killed by National Socialism seem modest compared with the 2 billion or so who would have died if the casualty rates of primitive peoples had applied to the West. Native Americans, Eskimos, New Guinea Highlanders as well as African tribes slaughtered one another with skill and vigor, frequently winning their first encounters with modern armed forces. “Even in the harshest possible environments [such as northwestern Alaska] where it was struggle enough just to keep alive, primitive societies still pursued the more overriding goal of killing one another. Guiding the warlike inclinations of primitive peoples is genetic kinship, and the micro-cultures (such as dialect) that attend it.

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Evolutionary and biological theories:

Several theories concern the evolutionary origins of warfare. There are two main schools one sees organized warfare as emerging only in the mesolithic, as a result of the emergence of complex social organization, higher population density and political organization and competition over resources. The other school tends to see human warfare simply as an extension of animal behavior, such as territoriality and sexual competition. This school argues that since organized warlike behavior patterns are also found in many other primate species such as chimpanzees, as well as in many ant species, this suggests that between group conflict is a general feature of animal social behavior. Biologists studying primate behavior have added to the debate, documenting warlike activities among several primate species and seeing similarities to humans.

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War as evolutionary traits:

War is an evolved human trait, as much a part of our genetic endowment as our large brains and bipedal gait. The evolutionary logic of war is actually fairly straightforward. All of the evidence suggests that our earliest human ancestors lived in small, family-based groups. Males in all likelihood stayed with their natal groups, while females were more able to be absorbed into neighboring groups. And the groups were almost certainly dominated by a strict male hierarchy. This is important for one big reason: males at the top of the hierarchy, and their friends and allies, had way more sex, with way more females, than those lower in the social order. That’s the way it works with chimpanzees, and that’s the way it worked in a whole lot of traditional human societies. And it leaves an awful lot of young males, who have not yet worked up the social hierarchy, with precious few opportunities to mate. So who was war good for? For our ancestors, the answer was clear: any male strong and violent enough to fight his neighbors to the death, and young enough to need to risk death in order to mate. Because war goes past the simple act of killing and maiming one’s rivals—that’s just a prelude to the raping and pillaging that follow. Our male ancestors evolved this astoundingly bizarre behavior of intentionally setting out to kill members of their own species because doing so meant they could then usurp their territory and mate, as forcefully as need be, with any females who happened to survive. No wonder, when you study Indian mythology, the War of Ramayana was fought for a woman and the War of Mahabharata was fought for territory. History is replete with plenty of stories of war fought by humans over woman & territory in all cultures. Evolutionary biologically, feeding (territory) and breeding (mating) are genetically hardwired in our genes for survival and this instinct is expressed even today when war is fought for territory gain and when mass rapes are perpetuated on hapless women by warring factions. Human civility is override by dangerous instincts during war, the instinct to kill another human for his territory and rape his woman for reproduction.

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Is war behavior in genes of male humans?

Anthropologists have always thought that war was uniquely human and sought explanations in horticulture, high population densities, or the development of tools as weapons. But chimps show behavior equivalent to primitive human warfare, which indicates that you don’t need to grow vegetables or fashion a spear in order to kill. For years many of us, even those who studied chimpanzees in their natural habitat, considered them to be peaceful apes enjoying an idyllic life in the forest. Now, not only have researchers proved that they have a dark side, one scientist has also developed a theory that shows how our lust for war was born in an ancestral and bloody past shared with chimps. Hunter-gatherer societies, rather than being noble “savages”, frequently fought their neighbors for food and females. Our ancestors may have fought in the same manner; since then the human male psyche has changed little and we have taken that instinct into the realm of modern warfare – with disastrous consequences. Prof Wrangham’s theory is called the Demonic Male Hypothesis. He argues that human males and chimps share a tendency to be aggressive with our closest common ancestor. Chimpanzees and humans have many attributes in common: we share approximately 98.5 per cent of our DNA, we both hunt and males show a strong desire to form alliances against other males while jockeying for status. Male chimpanzees are hostile towards other groups of chimps; you don’t even have to go to Arsenal to know that men are not dissimilar. Our last common ancestor, which lived about six million years ago, is thought to have been chimp-like, leading Prof Wrangham to suggest that shared traits evolved before the two species separated. “We think about this as being demonic male behavior because, of course, females don’t do it,” he says. His theory encapsulates not only violence but war itself. A group of chimpanzees setting off to attack a neighboring male show a very particular pattern of behavior: unlike their usual noisy deportment, they walk silently through the jungle in single file. So reminiscent is this of soldiers that primatologists refer to it as a “Border Patrol”. The actual killing is a “Lethal Raid”: a number of males will murder one male. Chimpanzees are thought to kill males in other groups to gain access to food in their territory. Eliminating these males also prevents them from mating with their females. Sometimes they “persuade” females whose males they have killed to join their group. The situation in our evolutionary past was no different, according to Prof Wrangham. Even today, hunter-gatherer tribes fight for food, women and status. The key aspect of a lethal raid is that it affords men these advantages at a low risk to themselves. For example, the Yanomamö tribe who live in the Amazon basin are renowned for their aggression: the men call themselves waiteri, which means fierce. Forty per cent have undergone a ritual purification, which occurs when they have killed or participated in killing. A third of their young men die violently. Although one might consider the Yanomamö exceptional, Prof Wrangham argues that many hunter-gatherers follow a similar pattern: out of 31 hunter-gatherer societies, 64 per cent engage in warfare every two years and only 10 per cent do not fight their neighbors. However, some primatologists disagree saying that humans and chimps have a propensity for aggression is saying very little, because all animals have a propensity for aggression given different circumstances. Yet there is no denying that both chimpanzees and humans do have a capacity for violence. Moreover, there seems to be a difference between the sexes. Only three per cent of same sex murders in Britain, Canada and America are committed by women. In Britain, men are 24 times more likely to kill or assault another person, and 263 times more likely to commit a sexual offence than a woman.  Research into the aggressive behavior of male chimpanzees, our closest biological ally, suggests that the urge to go to war is in our DNA and that only women can stop it. Wars are mostly fought by men and have been throughout recorded history. This fact leads us to ask a question central to psychology: nature or nurture? Does genetics, culture, or some combination of the two results in the high ratio of male to female warriors? Whatever the reason, there is little doubt that, on the whole, men behave more aggressively than women. Violent crime statistics worldwide confirm this fact. In New Zealand, researchers followed about 1000 individuals from age 3 to 21 in a longitudinal study.22 They found that males were 2.4 times more likely than females to be involved in antisocial behavior—a way of acting that is inconsiderate or harmful to others. According to the United States Department of Justice, between 1976 and 2005, men were 8 times likelier than women to commit a homicide as seen in the graph below. The United States Department of Justice also found the rate of female offender homicides remained fairly stable in the thirty year period. This implies there may be biological or societal factors at work, which prevent women from acting as violently as men, regardless of the overall violent crime rate. In nearly all societies, men are more likely to commit acts of crime or violence than women.

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Male sex drive ‘to blame for world’s conflicts’:

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Men are programmed to be aggressive towards anyone they view as an outsider as seen in the picture above (from a movie).

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The male sex drive is to blame for most of the world’s conflicts from football hooliganism to religious disputes and even world wars, according to scientists.  Research by Californian scientists in 2008 showed that the evolution of aggression and bravery in men was down to competition for mates and territory. Their study showed that our genes can have a significant impact on traits like belligerence, meaning that in the course of our history the most aggressive group was singled out by natural selection. Hunter-gatherer communities engaged in frequent skirmishes with other, neighboring groups, taking land, goods and women as a reward for victory. This meant belligerence was rewarded with reproductive success, and the benefits of the trait were genetically passed down to future generations, while those lacking aggression were filtered out. The research established that conflict with other groups of men presented our ancestors with opportunities to improve their status and gain more access to territory and potential mates. We see similar behavior in chimpanzees. For example, the males continuously monitor the borders of their territory. If a female from another group comes along, she may be persuaded to emigrate to his group. When a male strays too far, however, he is likely to be brutally beaten and possibly killed. One line of evidence for violent conflict among the ancestors of humans is sexual dimorphism. In species that have high levels of male competition over females, males tend to be larger and stronger than females. Humans have considerable sexual dimorphism, although lower than our nearest primate relatives. The strength difference is greater for upper-body strength than for lower-body strength. Men are in general terms also larger, faster, and more aggressive. Their skeleton, especially in the vulnerable face, is more robust. This suggests that male competition has been an important factor in human evolution. In evolutionary terms an instinct for violence against others helped early men improve their status and gain more access to mates, but in modern terms this can translate into large-scale wars. In contrast women are naturally equipped with a “tend and befriend” attitude which means they seek to resolve conflicts peacefully in order to protect their children, researchers said. Although men’s hostile responses most likely evolved to combat the threat from outsiders, they might not be functional in modern times and are often counterproductive.

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Testosterone and conflict:

Testosterone is related to thickening of vocal chords, growing of body hair and increasing of musculature, increasing of bone density and obviously sexual development. But territoriality? That is a bit more complex to explain. Evidence from Holland and South Africa suggests testosterone may make people more sensitive to aggressive impulses. Men and women given extra testosterone were more likely to perceive facial expressions as angry. They were more likely to see other people as aggressive—whether or not they actually are. It seems testosterone creates interference between the thinking and feeling parts of the brain, making it harder to act rationally in an emotional situation. When researchers increased the testosterone levels of a group of healthy young women to male levels, the women had trouble recognizing others’ emotions, including fear, disgust, and especially anger. Together, these findings suggest that testosterone elevate a person’s perceptions of a threat while lowering his or her ability to make accurate judgments about the nature of that threat. Even if the threat is real—like someone approaching us with an angry face—testosterone may prevent us from correctly assessing the degree of anger or recognizing if the person has gone from angry to scared. If people with higher testosterone levels are more likely to perceive threats, one would think we could also prove them more likely to engage in conflict However, it is not so easy to prove this cause-and effect scenario in humans, most likely because there are other body chemicals working along with testosterone. For example, experiments that have shown testosterone to be a direct cause of aggressive behavior have required a second condition: a lack of the chemical cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone the body produces under conditions of stress or anxiety. It helps the body cope with adverse conditions. Mix high testosterone with low cortisol levels, and you have a recipe for violent outbursts. A study of boys in a delinquency program found boys were more likely to act aggressively if their testosterone were increased—but only if they had low cortisol levels. If a boy had higher cortisol levels, the increased testosterone did not make him more likely to behave violently. Therefore, it seems cortisol is able to diminish the effects of testosterone. When cortisol is present in medium to high levels, extra testosterone does not produce extra aggression. When cortisol is lacking, extra testosterone increases aggressive behavior. We can extend this conclusion to mean that, among people with high testosterone levels, those whose bodies have a lower-than-usual response to stress—producing less cortisol—may be likelier to act violently. If their bodies are not responding normally to stressful situations, they might also be more fearless or reckless than their peers. This could make them more likely to start or continue a fight when others would back off. The blueprint for our bodies, including our limbic system, neurotransmitters, and hormones, is found in our DNA. Therefore, how we respond to emotions has roots in our genetic code. Genes we inherit from our parents can affect how we feel and behave. One of the most notable genetic findings related to aggression involves a gene that leads to the production of the brain enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). High levels of MAOA have been found to reduce aggressive behavior. The science of genetics is on the rise, but is just beginning to discover connections between certain traits and genes. It is possible that a gene or series of genes on the Y chromosome primes men to be more aggressive that women. Testosterone is found in very high levels in female hyenas, even in fetuses. Some zoologists believe that testosterone causes female hyenas to perform traditionally male functions such as hunting and to be more aggressive than females of other species. The idea that hormones contribute to behavior is hardly exclusive to the spotted hyena. Researchers across many species turn to hormones to help explain gender differences. Genetic factors can also influence a person’s chances of acting aggressively. Willpower affects people’s likelihood of behaving aggressively.

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Others argue that while war may be a natural phenomenon, the development of technology and complex social organization has accelerated the scale of warfare to exceptional levels among modern humans, starting at some point in the mesolithic, and escalating with the development of weaponry and large-scale state formations.  Steven Pinker in his book The Blank Slate argues that raiding or warfare between groups of humans in the ancestral environment was often beneficial for the victors. This includes gaining control over scarce resources as well as the women of the defeated or raided group. Various features of modern warfare such as alliances between groups and preemptive wars were likely part of these conflicts. In order to have a credible deterrence against other groups (as well as on an individual level), it was important to have a reputation for retaliation, causing humans to develop instincts for revenge as well as for protecting a group’s (or an individual’s) reputation (“honor”). Pinker argues that the development of the state and the police have dramatically reduced the level of warfare and violence compared to the ancestral environment. Whenever the state breaks down, which can be very locally such as in poor areas of a city, humans again organize in groups for protection and aggression and concepts such as violent revenge and protecting honor again become extremely important. Ashley Montagu strongly denied universalistic instinctual arguments, arguing that social factors and childhood socialization are important in determining the nature and presence of warfare. Thus, he argues, while human aggression may be a universal occurrence, warfare is not, and would appear to have been a historical invention, associated with certain types of human societies. This argument has been supported by ethnographic research conducted in societies where the concept of aggression seems to be entirely absent, e.g., the Chewong of the Malay peninsula. Crofoot and Wrangham have instead argued that warfare, if defined as group interactions in which “coalitions attempt to aggressively dominate or kill members of other groups”, is a characteristic of most human societies. Those in which it has been lacking tend to be societies that were politically dominated by their neighbors.

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Memes and war:

Wars and related social disruptions are here seen to be the outcome of a behavioral switch activated by particular environmental situations and mediated by xenophobic memes.

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A meme is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures. A meme is a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes. In addition to genetic inheritance with its possibilities and limitations, humans can pass their ideas from one generation to the next, allowing them to surmount challenges more flexibly and more quickly than through the longer process of genetic adaptation and selection. Examples of memes might include the idea of God; the importance of the individual as opposed to group importance; the belief that the environment can to some extent be controlled; or that technologies can create an electronically interconnected world community.

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Behavioral switches:

Even ants engage in “wars”–that is, organized fighting between groups of social animals. But–like humans–they don’t do it all the time. Some combination of environmental factors that probably includes time of the year, temperature, and presence of ants from another nest turns on ant “war mode behavior.” Modern evolutionary theory states that all physical characteristics and species-typical behaviors (including behavioral switches for wars) are the direct or indirect outcome of evolution. The world is full of examples of behavioral switches. Drop a rat in water and it swims. Bears hibernate during the winter. Birds fly south or north depending on the season. It is easy to see how behavioral switches evolved. Birds that flew the wrong direction didn’t leave many descendants. Perhaps the most spectacular behavioral switch in the animal kingdom causes certain solitary grasshoppers to become gregarious migratory locusts. “At low population densities, these insects behave like typical grasshoppers, to which they are closely related. But when crowded, this insect Dr. Jekyll transforms into Mr. Hyde. Chemical cues from their feces and frequent disturbance of tiny hairs on their hind legs set off the changes. The changelings aggregate in unruly mobs, feed in preference to mating, grow longer wings and a darkened body, and irrupt into rapacious swarms. (Lockwood 2003) This switch has such profound effects on body shape and behavior that for a long time the different forms were thought to be different species. Humans have behavioral switches too. Ones we understand include maternal behavior (switched on by a flood of oxytocin during birth), and Stockholm syndrome, where the brain chemicals released by fear, abuse and minor acts of kindness cause rapid social reorienting to captors. Ants and chimpanzees engage in behavior similar to human wars. Bees sacrifice themselves in the face of an immediate attack. Mammal parents will take serious risks to save offspring, but again only for immediate threats. In a time when birds and other primates are found to be toolmakers, perhaps only the capacity for suicidal self-sacrifice without an immediate threat sets humans apart from any other animal. Why did we evolve it? And what turns on the mechanism? Memes and behavior switch. Evolutionary psychology and memetics are used to propose a model of war. Population growth leads to a resource crisis. An impending resource crisis activates a behavioral switch in humans allowing the buildup of xenophobic or dehumanizing memes, which synchronizes attacks on neighboring tribes. However, many researchers say that meme is a myth.

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Group behavior of humans:

There are several key points to remember from this discussion of mental behavior of groups. The narcissism of minor difference is the tendency of groups of people to view themselves as different from others based on small distinctions. Shibboleth is a use of language or a custom that indicates membership in a specific group. Different structures act on how we perceive the world, which affects the choices we make. People form personal identities in relation to their membership in a group. People who are in conflict with each other will join together to work to defeat a common enemy. This is called antagonistic cooperation. The object of conflict is usually a scapegoat, a target chosen for the ease with which it can be blamed for other people’s problems. This deflects responsibility from those within the group. The Stanford Prison Experiment found that the social context of a situation could lead people to commit acts they normally would not consider appropriate. The behavior of individuals within groups can be quite different than their behavior as separate individuals. Collective psychology has the power to transform how individuals think. Conflict, including war, has the ability to give purpose and direction to people’s lives. Soldiers find family structures within the military, developing extremely close emotional relationships with their brothers- and sisters-at-arms. War can seem exciting to soldiers and to the people of nations in conflict. Some even become addicted to the exhilaration or to the nonstop news coverage. War and conflict can simplify the complex relationships of life. Wars generate powerful myths to help explain why such conflict occurs. Propaganda is information constructed and presented with the goal of influencing how people think and feel. Propaganda is commonly employed to convince people to fight wars. Human beings have difficulty feeling emotional attachments to statistics or numbers. Using them leads to psychic numbing, lowering the emotional response to the problems of others. Priming occurs when the context of a situation activates or deactivates certain feelings.

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Gene-culture Co-evolution as a cause of multi-ethnicity:

Co-evolution is a change in the genetic composition of one species (or group) in response to a genetic change in another. More generally, the idea of some reciprocal evolutionary change in interacting species is a strict definition of co-evolution. The term co-evolution is used to describe cases where two (or more) species reciprocally affect each other’s evolution. So for example, an evolutionary change in the morphology of a plant, might affect the morphology of an herbivore that eats the plant, which in turn might affect the evolution of the plant, which might affect the evolution of the herbivore…and so on. Each party in a co-evolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures on the other, thereby affecting each other’s evolution. Bumblebees and the flowers they pollinate have coevolved so that both have become dependent on each other for survival. Co-evolution is primarily a biological concept, but has been applied to other fields by analogy. Russian scientists showed in the 1990s that a strong selection pressure (picking out and breeding only the tamest fox pups in each generation) created what was — in behavior as well as body — essentially a new species in just 30 generations. That would correspond to about 750 years for humans. Humans may never have experienced such a strong selection pressure for such a long period, but they surely experienced many weaker selection pressures that lasted far longer, and for which some heritable personality traits were more adaptive than others. It stands to reason that local populations (not continent-wide “races”) adapted to local circumstances by a process known as gene-culture “co-evolution” in which genes and cultural elements change over time and mutually influence each other. Gene–culture co-evolution theory was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s to explain how human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution. One of the theory’s central claims is that culture evolves partly through a Darwinian selection process, which dual inheritance theorists often describe by analogy to genetic evolution. Genes have an impact on cultural evolution via psychological predispositions on cultural learning. Genes encode much of the information needed to form the human brain. Genes constrain the brain’s structure and, hence, the ability of the brain to acquire and store culture. Genes may also endow individuals with certain types of transmission bias. Culture can profoundly influence gene frequencies in a population. One of the best known examples is the prevalence of the genotype for adult lactose absorption in human populations, such as Northern Europeans and some African societies, with a long history of raising cattle for milk. Other societies such as East Asians and Amerindians, retain the typical mammalian genotype in which the body shuts down lactase production shortly after the normal age of weaning. This implies that the cultural practice of raising cattle for milk led to selection for genetic traits for lactose digestion. Recently, analysis of natural selection on the human genome suggests that civilization has accelerated genetic change in humans over the past 10,000 years. Ethnicity (including race) is culture. If your ancestors develop a culture, it is because they adapted to it. This violates the taboo that says humans are above nature, not shaped by it. Each ethnicity has produced unique traits that are worth preserving. Different ethnicities amount to different abilities due to different traits caused by different evolutionary paths resulting in constant infighting which may ultimately lead to war. So scientifically speaking, all human beings are not same as different selection pressures in different regions of the world resulting in different process of co-evolution of different subsets of humans in whom genes and cultural elements influence each other differently resulting in ethnically different humans. My life as human experiment proves this point. Ethnically, I am a European-American Caucasian male genetically programmed to behave in a specific way, far different from Indian Caucasian human environment in which I lives, resulting in various conflicts in my life (broken marriage, conflict with regime, conflict with media etc). Had I been brought up in a country of European-American Caucasians, the clash of ethnicity would have been prevented and my life would have been peaceful. This is no longer a hypothesis but a fact of life. There is obvious dissimilarity between my personality traits and that of other humans in my environment. I would not call it a clash of civilization but indeed a mismatch. No wonder Indian media had declared a war against me. No wonder Indian regime wrote to UN that my personality is bad. Their actions were not error of judgment but evidence of ethnic divide.

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Economic theories:

War can be seen as a growth of economic competition in a competitive international system. In this view wars begin as a pursuit of markets for natural resources and for wealth. While this theory has been applied to many conflicts, such counter arguments become less valid as the increasing mobility of capital and information level the distributions of wealth worldwide, or when considering that it is relative, not absolute, wealth differences that may fuel wars. There are those on the extreme right of the political spectrum who provide support, fascists in particular, by asserting a natural right of a strong nation to whatever the weak cannot hold by force. Some centrist, capitalist, world leaders, including Presidents of the United States and US Generals, expressed support for an economic view of war.

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Marxist theories:

The Marxist theory of war is quasi-economic in that it states that all modern wars are caused by competition for resources and markets between great (imperialist) powers, claiming these wars are a natural result of the free market and class system. Part of the theory is that war will only disappear once a world revolution, over-throwing free markets and class systems, has occurred. German Marxist Rosa Luxembourg theorized that imperialism was the result of capitalist countries needing new markets. Expansion of the means of production is only possible if there is a corresponding growth in consumer demand. Since the workers in a capitalist economy would be unable to fill the demand, producers must expand into non-capitalist markets to find consumers for their goods, hence driving imperialism.

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Demographic theories:

Demographic theories can be grouped into two classes, Malthusian theories and youth bulge theories. Malthusian theories see expanding population and scarce resources as a source of violent conflict. Youth bulge theory differs significantly from Malthusian theories. Its adherents see a combination of large male youth cohorts – as graphically represented as a “youth bulge” in a population pyramid – with a lack of regular, peaceful employment opportunities as a risk pool for violence. While Malthusian theories focus on a disparity between a growing population and available natural resources, youth bulge theory focuses on a disparity between non-inheriting, ‘excess’ young males and available social positions within the existing social system of division of labor. 

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Rationalist theories:

Rationalist theories of war assume that both sides to a potential war are rational, which is to say that each side wants to get the best possible outcome for itself for the least possible loss of life and property to its own side. Given this assumption, if both countries knew in advance how the war would turn out, it would be better for both of them to just accept the post-war outcome without having to actually pay the costs of fighting the war. This is based on the notion, generally agreed to by almost all scholars of war since Carl von Clausewitz that wars are reciprocal, that all wars require both a decision to attack and also a decision to resist attack. Rationalist theory offers three reasons why some countries cannot find a bargain and instead resort to war: issue indivisibility, information asymmetry with incentive to deceive, and the inability to make credible commitments.

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Political science theories:

The statistical analysis of war was pioneered by Lewis Fry Richardson following World War I. More recent databases of wars and armed conflict have been assembled by the Correlates of War Project, Peter Brecke and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. There are several different international relations theory schools. Supporters of realism in international relations argue that the motivation of states is the quest for security. There is much empirical evidence to support the claim that states that are democracies do not go to war with each other, an idea that has come to be known as the democratic peace theory. Other factors included are difference in moral and religious beliefs, economical and trade disagreements, declaring independence, and others. Another major theory relating to power in international relations is the Power Transition theory, which distributes the world into a hierarchy and explains major wars as part of a cycle of hegemons being destabilized by a great power which does not support the hegemons’ control. Military adventurism can sometimes be used by political leaders as a means of boosting their domestic popularity, as has been recorded in US war-time presidential popularity surveys taken during the presidencies of several recent US leaders.

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Seminal scholar of international relations Kenneth Waltz (1959) calls the three images of war–the individual, the state, and the international system:

1st level: the individual: that the causes of war are traceable to human nature and individual behavior

2nd level: the state: that the causes of war are traceable to states’ internal characteristics (i.e. economic system, type of government, extreme love for country)

3rd level: the international system: that the cause of war are found at the global level (power transitions, cycles)  

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The First Level of Analysis: Human Nature (discussed vide-supra) or Individual Leaders?

John Rourke and Mark Boyer (2009: 244-245), suggest two explanations at this level–the nature of the human species or beliefs and behavior of individual leaders. Sigmund Freud argued that aggression is simply an instinctive part of human nature that stems from humans’ genetic programming and psychological makeup. According to Konrad Lorenz, an ethologist , Freud was right to believe that humans are instinctively deadly since they are one of the few species  that practice intra-species aggression (“routine killing of its own”) in comparison with most other species who practice inter-species aggression (“killing only other species, except in the most unusual circumstances”).  Realists, of course, also argue that violence is a product of bad human nature and the fact that there is nothing to police this bad human nature. They assume that the drive for power is innate and cannot be eliminated and that humans are essentially selfish and aggressive and that people murder and kill because of their innate genetic drives. Some scholars make a national character argument—(i.e. “the collective characteristics ascribed to the people within a state”)—i.e. that entire nationalities are predisposed to war (like Iraq, Germany in the 1930s-1940s, and China today) or peace/neutrality (Costa Rica, Switzerland, etc). There are a ton more biological and psychological theories of aggression—but they all center on the idea that mankind is predisposed—for whatever reason…learning, biology, psychology etc—towards violence. Ralph Bunche (Nobel Prize winner) argues that “there are no warlike people—just warlike leaders”. Along similar lines, 16th century English political philosopher Sir Thomas More argues that “the common folk do not go to war of their own accord, but are driven to it by the madness of kings”.

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The Second Level of Analysis: States’ Internal Characteristics:

A. Poverty/Level of Economic Development:

As K&W explain, historically, most warlike states have been poor—in other words, the argument here is that poverty or lack of economic development breeds war. Conflict is more likely to happen in poor countries, partly because people are desperate for land, rights, water or even food. Between 1950 and 1990, around 15 million deaths were caused (directly or indirectly) by war in developing countries. The end of the Cold War led to a transition to peace in many of the areas in which conflict had been fuelled by East-West antagonism, but new wars erupted. From 1989 to 1995, between 34 and 51 armed conflicts were waged each year, the great majority in poor developing countries. This pattern persists today, as almost all of the world’s 35 interstate and internal wars are taking place in the 3rd world. On the other hand, the most impoverished countries in the world—like Haiti, Honduras, Somalia, Bangladesh and so on—are generally the least prone to start wars because they lack the military or economic resources to do so. As K&W suggest, most IR research suggests that when the most impoverished countries begin to develop economically they can then afford to acquire armaments and pay their troops. Cashman (1993) argues that countries are likely to initiate foreign wars after sustained periods of economic growth—i.e. during periods of rising economic prosperity. A recent example is a country like China…once poor, now a lot more developed economically and hostile militarily…Pakistan and India are also potential examples—they went from poor to more developed and more armed and now probably more likely to go to war.

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Chronic poverty and violent conflicts:

Wars and conflict are major causes of poverty and suffering. They kill and injure thousands and leave many orphaned and homeless. They destabilize economies, traumatize communities and make the poorest people even poorer. Schools, hospitals and roads are destroyed. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent by governments every year on military forces. Yet far less is spent on proactive peace building and community development. The sums involved are so huge that even a modest reduction in global military spending could be redirected to significantly reduce worldwide poverty. A research study examined the relationship between chronic poverty and violent conflict. Three types of potential linkage are examined: (a) long-term conflict causes chronic poverty, (b) chronic poverty causes violent conflict (grievance-based analysis), (c) resource wealth (rather than chronic poverty) causes violent conflict (greed-based analysis). Research to date has analyzed poverty-war linkages but chronic poverty has not been a focus. It is hypothesized that long-term conflict is likely to be a “driver” and “maintainer” of chronic poverty but a relationship in the opposite direction is less likely i.e., the chronically poor are less likely to ferment violent conflict than the transiently poor. The study highlights the fact that current knowledge on poverty–conflict links is contested and further research is required on chronic poverty and war.

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B. Type of Government: Is democracy anti-war?

The question here is: does a states’ type of government impact its likelihood of going to or waging war. Realists argue that type of government is irrelevant to the likelihood of war…they argue that in an anarchic world system where there is no higher authority than the state, that the system is a self-help “war of all against all”—neo-Darwinist, survival of the fittest. Liberals/idealists conversely argue that type of government does matter—that democratic countries do not wage war against each other (Democratic Peace Proposition)—that in a world of democracies, there would be no war.

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As per the figure above, democratization is on the rise. The number of democracies in the world has steadily increased since the post–World War II period, including a dramatic spike in the early 1990s following the end of the Cold War. Democratically elected leaders now govern more than half (91) of the world’s states. Not surprisingly, the spread of democracy has brought with it a decline in autocratic government. More often than not, stable democracies were sprung from anocracies (hybrid states exhibiting characteristics of both democracies and autocracies). The annual risk that anocracies and autocracies experience are irregular leadership transitions, coups, internal wars, or external wars and a study finds they are approximately equal. In comparison to democracies, however, their respective risks are roughly three to four times higher.

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Theoretical and empirical research establishes that democratic civil liberties and political rights promote nonviolence and is a path to a warless world. The clearest evidence of this is that there has hardly been a war between mature democracies, while numerous wars have occurred between all other political systems; and that of the over 119 million people genocidally killed in cold blood in 20th century, virtually all were killed by non-democracies, and especially totalitarian ones. That democracies are relatively non-violent is not a new discovery. It was fundamental to 17th and 18th century classical liberalism. But this truth has become forgotten or ignored in our time. It appears that absolutist states with geographically and functionally centralized governments under autocratic leadership are likely to be most belligerent, while constitutional states with geographically and functionally federalized governments under democratic leadership are likely to be most peaceful.   

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Winston Churchill famously expressed a similar pragmatism when he remarked: “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. It may not be perfect, but in an imperfect world it is the best option available. As universal human rights become increasingly accepted as the core principles of governance, democracy becomes more and more clearly the most effective way of implementing those principles – equality, representation, participation, accountability and so on. Quite rightly, every democracy is unique in some aspects, depending on context, culture and values. But each has those principles at its heart. Additionally democracy is unique among forms of governance in its capacity to manage conflict. And this is a key attribute in a post-violence context. Democracy is a system for managing difference without recourse to violence. Differences (of opinion, belief, ideology, culture etc.) are a natural part of every society. And conflict arises from such differences. Rather than eradicating or removing differences, or excluding some groups who differ within society, democracy functions as a process through which differences are brought out, acknowledged and dealt with in a way that permits them to exist without threatening the whole system. It is, in other words, a system for managing conflict. This process of conflict management involves debate, argument, disagreement, compromise and cooperation, all within a system that permits opposing points of view to coexist fairly without recourse to violence. Of course, sometimes democracy fails, but evidence from around the world suggests that it succeeds more often than the alternatives.

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C. Type of economy:

Marxist theorists of war (Trotsky and Lenin in particular) argue that capitalist economies are inherently war like and conflict prone. They argue that capitalist states are inherently war like because they need to conquer other lands to secure markets, cheap labor and access to raw materials. Dependency theorists argue along the same lines that capitalist states use imperialism–i.e. conquest–to convert resource or labor rich 3rd world states into smaller and weaker states dependent on them… On the other hand, many argue that capitalist states are less likely to want war because it gets in the way of doing business, gets in the way of the global supply chain, and disrupts markets, trade, and generates political and economic instability…Ray and Kaarbo (190) make the points that not all capitalist states have engaged in imperialism, that war has been around longer than capitalist economic systems, and that wars between capitalist states were not fought for economic reasons… They also make the point that centrally planned economies may be more inherently war prone because they are very often (i.e. see Bulgaria, North Korea, Cuba, etc) isolated economically and therefore will not hurt their economy as much as war can shrink the profits of capitalist states involved in wars..

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The Third Level of Analysis: The Global Level System:

A. Power Transition Theory:

According to Power Transition theorists like Jacek Kugler, Ken Organski, and Doug Lemke, when changes occur in the world’s most powerful countries’ military capabilities look out: major power wars have often been the result. These theorists argue therefore that war is more likely—but not inevitable—whenever competitive states’ power ratios—differentials in their military capabilities…usually measured in terms of total spending on the military, of men under arms and % of total military spending by total population—have narrowed. Whereas realists argue that balances of power generally promote peace, these theorists argue that power imbalances between great powers promote peace. Power preponderance = more stability and less likelihood of major power war. This is because when one country has so much more power than others, the likelihood of a lesser power winning such a war is slim, hence the rational decision not to challenge such a hegemon in the 1st place.

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B. Long Cycle Theory:

Besides the idea of Power Transitions, another prominent theory at this level of analysis is the idea of “long cycles” of great power rises and declines. K&W (p432): “an interpretation of world history that focuses on repeating patterns of interstate behavior, such as the outbreak of system-wide general wars at regular intervals, after long periods during which other patterns (global peace) were dominant”. That isn’t a very clear definition of the theory—let’s more clearly examines the theory. The theory seeks to explain: the rise and fall of great powers and periods of war and peace. The theory claims: global system goes through distinct and identifiable cycles or patterns of behavior, usually 50 to 100 year cycles of GPs rising and declining (GP means great power)—usually GP war causes a country to rise and another to decline. Modelski was the originator of this theory—since AD 1500, 4 states have played dominant, or hegemonic (“a single, dominant military and economic state that uses its power…to preserve existing world order and its own position in that order”) roles, each one corresponding to a long (50 to 100 year) cycle—Portugal, Dutch, Britain, and USA. As K&W suggest, these countries rise to become the hegemonic power & remain in that position about 100 years—and then the hegemon declines and another GP takes its place atop the world hierarchy…Modelski notes that war tends to mark the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

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C. Anarchy:

 I think we know the argument here: realists argue that because the international system is anarchic–no overarching world government with the capacity to make and enforce laws-each state must look out for its national interests (generally defined as security) or risk losing out in a war of “all against all” (Hobbes, Leviathan). In such a system, realists argue that all states–even the ones who “love peace” for its own sake–need to “self help” and strike aggressive poses for their own collective survival. Ray and Kaarbo (p 181) call this the “security dilemma” which is a fancy way of saying that when one state (say Iran) tries to enhance its power for security usually leads other states to do the same thing, which ineluctably leads to less security for all states (again, see the North Korean and Iranian examples). Realists and structural-realists therefore see war, conflict, and violence as an inevitable outcome of this anarchic international realm. In plain English wars occur because there is no central authority to restrain them and to protect the weaker countries from being preyed upon by the larger, more powerful ones (though sometimes smaller states defeat more powerful adversaries…)

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Colonial power Britain as creator of historical problems resulting in wars:

Britain is responsible for many of the world’s historic problems, including the conflict in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Whether Britain acted in haste or whether its actions were influenced by the imminent threat of civil war is a perennial argument but no decision was taken on Kashmir at the time of the controversial partition of India in August 1947. Despite an expectation that Muslim areas of the subcontinent would become part of Pakistan, Muslim-majority Kashmir became part of India. Pakistan and India have fought three wars over Kashmir since partition, and the dispute continues to strain their relationship. Just like Kashmir, Britain bears historic responsibility for other international disputes. Many trace the Israel-Palestine dispute back to Britain’s decision in 1917 to establish a “national home for the Jewish people” in the territory then known as Palestine. The borders of many Middle Eastern states were also drawn by Britain. The badly-defined and highly unstable border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan was also largely defined by Britain in the late 19th century.

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Globalization and war:

Globalization is the new hegemony of the transnational capital. This hegemony has not changed the nature of ethno-territorial conflicts in the sense that such conflicts are still based on ethnic and territorial claims. However, it has modified both their conduct and resolution efforts. Globalization has created conditions in which both territorial states and ethno-territorial entities must maneuver within a global context. This certainly enables ethno-territorial discourses to become internationalized more effectively and escape the nation-state’s hegemony. Globalization has also created unambiguous conditions in which military superiority does not anymore guarantee political legitimacy, but participation to the ‘globalised world’ can. Therefore, actors involved in any ethno-territorial conflict today, as first, secondary or third parties are well aware of these conditions and take their actions accordingly. The global capitalist economy imposes concrete restrictions or dictates prescriptions for the peripheral countries and these conditions lead to identity transformations or sometimes de-territorialisation and sometimes re-territorialisation foreign policy articulations. Peripheral states and people are more compelled to redefine identities, in order to adapt to the global changes and attract the help of transnational organizations. They can also resist by developing even more rigid identities and consolidating or defending their territorial claims. However, they are usually the vulnerable sides of the world’s system. Core states, instead are more able to maintain their rigid identities and firm geopolitical and foreign policy articulations thanks to their comparative economical and technological advantage.

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World society and conflict:

An important part of contemporary conflict studies is concerned with understanding why conflicts emerge and persist. Many explanations are limited, though, in the sense that they stay within the materialistic realm and overlook the systemic processes underlying the self-activation of social conflicts. Both Hironaka’s Neverending Wars: the International Community, Weak States, and the Perpetuation of Civil War, representing the Stanford School, and Stephan Stetter’s edited volume Territorial Conflicts in World Society: Modern Systems Theory (MST), International Relations and Conflict Studies suggest shifting the focus from an actor-oriented approach that primarily considers the individual motives and interests of the conflicting parties to analyzing conflicts from a world society perspective. World society involves a systemic unit that sets not only normative but also cognitive standards and thus, the very limits of political agency. There are, however, significant differences between the two macrosociological approaches. The Stanford School emphasizes the cultural aspects of world society whereas Luhmann’s school relies upon its functional dimension. The difference in their ontological stance is demonstrated in their conceptualization of actors. The Stanford School considers actors as open system units whose behavior could be predicted by the world cultural structure, whereas MST defines actors as closed units which are inclined to reject external structural pressures. In light of this ontological difference, both approaches define conflicts in distinct ways. According to the Stanford School, conflicts arise from a clash between global cultural scripts. So, world society could provide contradictory models for legitimate behavior and this might lead to conflicts. States’ location within world culture is also likely to affect their conception of self-interests. Hence, core and periphery states within world society would maintain clashing self-interests, which might lead to wars. For instance, in the post-Westphalian era, many advanced countries – core states in world society – exclude territorial annexation as a choice of foreign policy. Hence, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, it led to a significant reaction on the part of the advanced states. Different than the Stanford School, MST directs attention to the dialectical relationship between territorial and functional levels in explaining conflicts. Stetter (2007, p. 48) argues that conflicts are likely to arise “if inclusion/exclusion patterns at the functional level accumulate across various social spheres and affect specific social groups within a distinct spatial context.” In this sense, if particular groups in specific geographies become able to claim that they are deprived from using their economic freedoms or legal rights, this paves the way for the emergence of conflicts. Altogether, given their different conceptions of actors and conflicts, it is difficult to claim that these macro-sociological approaches are complementary. Rather, it is suggested that the Stanford School provides a strong account of the structural origins of conflicts whereas MST has a greater explanatory power in explaining internal complexities of conflicts.

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Causes of war:

There have been nine wars and almost 130 violent conflicts across the world in the year 2008, according to an annual report by the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research, a think-tank. The study classifies conflicts broadly to include peaceful disputes over politics or borders (low intensity), as well as those involving sporadic or constant violence (medium or high intensity) as depicted in the figure below. Conflict at the local and international level can stem from exploitation, poverty, corrupt governance, resource scarcity, and dehumanizing beliefs. 

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Among the causes of war are ideological, political, racial, economic, and religious conflicts. Imperialism, nationalism, and militarism have been called the dynamics of modern war. According to Karl von Clausewitz, war is a “continuation of political intercourse by other means.” As such it often occurs after arbitration and mediation have failed. Conflict arises due to various reasons. Malthus, the eminent economist says that reduced supply of the means of subsistence is the root cause of conflict. According to him, conflict is caused by the increase of population in geometrical progression and the food supply in arithmetical progression. According to Charles Darwin, the biological principles of “Struggle for existence” and “the survival of the fittest” are the main cause of conflict. Sigmund Freud and other psychologist hold the view that the innate instinct for aggression in man is the main cause of conflict (vide supra).

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The international system is structured in a way that creates permissive conditions for the occurrence of war. In the words of Kenneth Waltz, war occurs because there is nothing to prevent it. However, as we also noted further, even if the system creates such conditions, it cannot really explain why war sometimes breaks out and other times does not. It appears that reason alone would never be sufficient to create peace. In fact, reason can positively lead to war even between actors who find war costly, who do not make mistakes, and who would love to be able to avoid fighting.

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War arises because of the changing relations of numerous variables–technological, psychic, social, and intellectual. There is no single cause of war. Peace is an equilibrium among many forces. Change in any particular force, trend, movement, or policy may at one time make for war, but under other conditions a similar change may make for peace. A state may at one time promote peace by armament, at another time by disarmament, at one time by insistence on its rights, at another time by spirit of reconciliation. To estimate the probability of war at any time involves, therefore, an appraisal of the effect of current changes upon the complex of intergroup relationships throughout the world.

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Generally war is the result of a national entity wishing to improve the standard of living for its people. A major second cause is when a nation perceives a possible reduction in a current standard of living and fights to protect what it already has. Britain for example, fought myriad wars all over the globe in conquest of other peoples. These were mostly wars of imperialism, where the local population was subverted to the will of the English. Ireland, India, South Africa, Australia, Ghana, etc. all suffered as the British advanced. Once in power the British would establish laws that forced the locals to produce goods for the pleasure of English industry, at less than market rates. Meanwhile English manufactured goods were sold at inflated prices to these same people. Thus the colonial peoples all subsidized the English standard of living for centuries.

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The table below shows various causes of war.

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Fundamental Causes of War

1. The optimism with which leaders begin wars:

Everyone believes war will be short and they will win it (non-rationalist). While optimism about the duration of war can be explained (limited nature of recent wars, financial and commercial dependence), the simultaneous beliefs about victory are contradictory but cannot be explained rationally. Rival expectations due to relative assessments of each other’s ability to attract allies, their ability to finance the war, their internal stability and national morale, their qualities of civilian leadership and their performance in recent wars etc all matters. The problem is not only that each state attaches different weights to each factor, but that even if they used the same formula, they still would draw different conclusions, which is untenable in a strict rationalist framework. War ends when beliefs about the likely outcome converge: “…at the end of a war those rival expectations, initially so far apart, are so close to one another that terms of peace can be agreed upon”.

2. The expectations about behavior of third parties: opportunism and restraint:

Predictions about how others will react to possible war always part and parcel of the decision to fight. This can go either war: if third parties are expected to be restrained, an aggressor might go for the prize; on the other hand, a probable intervention may cause forbearance.

3. Internal strife or dramatic change (e.g. death of monarch):

 Debunks (very well) the diversionary “theory” of war by noting that in every historical case internal strife and disunity had deterrent effects and did not provoke war. On the other hand, there is a strong relationship between domestic instability (revolution, death of monarch) and war. The reason, according is opportunism by outside parties when internal developments muddy previously well-known power calculations. In essence, war is caused by the perception that a state is temporarily weakened and will not be able to respond to challenge. Most of these cases usually involve great optimism by the attacker.

4. Economic causes:

 It is not depression that causes war, but periods of economic recovery and relative prosperity, usually because they foster inordinate optimism, but also affect the revenues and expenditure of governments. In periods of decline or depressions, “the mood of governments tends to be cautious or apprehensive”.

5. Seasonal factors:

 Wars are usually fought in the spring or in the summer. Though not really a cause of war, the seasons are an influence because “anything which increases leaders’ beliefs that they can forcibly impose their will on an enemy, and anything which increases the desire to impose their will, should be called a cause of war”.

6. Measuring relative strength:

 Warfare is the one convincing way of measuring the distribution of power. The end of a war produces a neat ledger of power which has been duly audited and signed. According to that ledger an agreed preponderance of power tends to foster peace… one can almost suggest that war is usually the outcome of a diplomatic crisis which cannot be resolved because both sides have conflicting estimates of their bargaining power… In essence the very factor which made the enemies reluctant to continue fighting also persuaded them to negotiate. That factor was their agreement about their relative bargaining position.

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Causes of civil war: multi-ethnicity or poverty:

The commonplace assumption that a more homogeneous society is a more peaceful society certainly sounds reasonable. Surely monoethnic Japan should have an easier time maintaining domestic order than Indonesia; or Slovenia than Macedonia. After all, in a country with numerous ethnic or religious groups, politicians are easily tempted to organize factions along group lines — which can lead to rising tensions and even civil war or the collapse of the state. Odd as it may seem, there is a growing body of work that suggests that multiethnic countries are actually no more prone to civil war than other countries. In a sweeping 2003 study, the Stanford civil war experts James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin came to a startling finding: “it appears not to be true that a greater degree of ethnic or religious diversity — or indeed any particular cultural demography — by itself makes a country more prone to civil war.”  Fearon and Laitin looked at 127 civil wars from 1945 to 1999, most often in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. They found that regardless of how ethnically mixed a country is, the likelihood of a civil war decreases as countries get richer. The richest states are almost impervious to civil strife, no matter how multiethnic they might be — think for instance of Belgium, where Flemings and Walloons show almost no inclination to fight it out. And while the poorest countries have the most civil wars, Fearon and Laitin discovered that, oddly enough, it is actually the more homogeneous ones among them that are most likely to descend into violence. Fearon and Laitin explained their findings by noting that while the world is awash with political grudges, ethnic and otherwise, civil wars only begin under particular circumstances that favor rebel insurgencies. The most common situation involves a weak, corrupt or brutal government confronting small bands of rebels protected by mountainous terrain and sheltered by a sympathetic rural population, and possibly bolstered with foreign support or revenues from diamonds or coca. These insurgents may be ethnic chauvinists, but they could equally well be anti-colonialists, Islamists, drug lords, greedy opportunists, communists of various stripes and so on. The Fearon and Laitin argument has not gone unchallenged. In a 2004 paper, the Oxford economists Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler noted that when an ethnic group makes up more than 45 percent but less than 90 percent of a population, strife becomes more likely. Such a group, they reasoned, will be especially tempted to exploit smaller groups. Other scholars have backed up Fearon and Laitin’s general argument. Young emphasizes that rebels do not need much popular support if they can manage to finance themselves: trading in illicit diamonds helped bankroll and sustain Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, not to mention rebels in Sierra Leone and Angola. This argument also helps explain why Colombia’s civil war, fueled by coca profiteering, has dragged on for so many decades. Far from needing ethnic grievances to perpetuate them, some civil wars can perpetuate themselves. If true, the notion that ethnic diversity does not make civil war more likely would be reassuring news for citizens of multiethnic countries like the United States and India. It would also call into question the thinking of pundits like Robert D. Kaplan, who has written that that multiethnic Nigeria “is likely to split into several pieces,” and Samuel P. Huntington, whose book “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” previews a world torn apart by cultural differences between Muslims and other civilizations — ethnic warfare on a global scale. The Fearon-Laitin thesis suggests that the debate over the future of fragile countries should turn from questions of ethnic demography to the need for good government, economic development and adequate policing. It also implies that there was nothing inevitable about the terrible sectarian strife in Iraq. Ethnic wars do not just happen; they are made.

What is a ‘just cause’ of war?

A war is only just if it is fought for a reason that is justified, and that carries sufficient moral weight. The country that wishes to use military force must demonstrate that there is a just cause to do so. The main just cause is to put right a wrong. Sometimes a war fought to prevent a wrong from happening may be considered a just war. In modern times wars to defend the innocent are increasingly regarded as just (which fits with the idea in some religious literature that it is better to defend an innocent than to defend oneself).

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Just causes:

1. Self-defence:

A. Invasion: The clearest example of a just cause is self-defense against an aggressor. For example when an enemy has crossed your borders and invaded your territory.  

B. Assassination of a prominent person: – a monarch or president

C. Attack on national honor: (e.g. burning the flag, attacking an embassy)

D. Attack on state religion

E. Economic attack(trade embargo or sanctions)

F. Attack on a neighbor or ally

G. Preemptive strike: attacking the enemy to prevent an anticipated attack by them. Preemptive strikes may no longer be acceptable by UN members, since the Charter says that short of actual attack, “all Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means”.

2. Assisting an invaded friendly nation.

3. Human rights violations: Another common example is putting right a violation of human rights so severe that force is the only sensible response.

4. To punish an act of aggression: This is not accepted by everyone. Some people would say that a war of punishment can never be a just war.

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Causes of WWI:

In the 1930s, historians argued that there were four underlying long-term causes of the First World War:

1. Nationalism – the belief that your country is better than others. This made nations assertive and aggressive.

2. Imperialism – the desire to conquer colonies, especially in Africa. This brought the powers into conflict – Germany wanted an empire. France and Britain already had empires.

3. Militarism (Arms Race) – the attempt to build up a strong army and navy gave nations the means and will to make war.

4. Alliances – in 1882, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance. This alarmed, France, Britain and Russia. By 1907, they had all joined the Triple Entente. Europe was divided into two armed camps, to help each other if there was a war.

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Causes of WWII:

The four root causes of World War II were :

1. The Prussian Militarism – developed in 200 years of history, it was the force that made Germany so powerful, and made it possible for a man like Adolf Hitler to gain total control of it.

2.Adolf Hitler – a madman and political genius, Adolf Hitler re-ignited the Prussian militarism after the German defeat in World War 1, and with this great power under his total control, he started the greatest and cruelest war in history, in his planned attempt to vastly expand Germany and to dominate the entire world.

3.Appeasement – Britain and France could easily stop Hitler when Germany was still weak, but their war-traumatized pacifist desire to totally avoid violence just helped Hitler rebuild Germany’s military strength more rapidly, until it was too late to stop him.

4.The Japanese Militarism – One cannot write about the causes of World War II without referring to the Japanese militarism, that was very similar to the German militarism, and which put Japan in the hands of militarist leaders with expansionist aggression similar to Hitler’s. After all, Japan started the war in East Asia even before Hitler became dictator of Germany, and its militarism was defeated only after Hitler’s.

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Root causes versus triggers:

It is important to distinguish between root causes and triggers. While root causes refer to the underlying fundamental incompatibilities of a conflict, triggers constitute more proximate events or factors that cause a conflict to escalate. This distinction is relevant for understanding both the sources and the dynamics of a conflict, as well as for coordinating the efforts of management and resolution. Triggers must be identified and tackled for effective preventive action. Root causes must be addressed and eradicated in order to find long term and sustainable solutions.

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Michael E. Brown, in his book The International Dimension of Internal Conflict, writes that the literature identifies four main clusters of variables that “predispose” some places in the world to conflict, while not others. These root causes are:

1. Structural Factors (weak states; intra-state security concerns; ethnic geography)

2. Political Factors (Discriminatory political institutions; exclusionary national ideologies; inter-group politics; elite politics)

3. Economic/Social Factors (Economic problems; Discriminatory economic systems; modernization)

4. Cultural/Perceptual Factors (patters of cultural discrimination; problematic group histories)

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The figure below depicts genesis of war.


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Stephen Van Evera frames five conditions that increase the risk of interstate war: false optimism about the likely outcome of a war, a first-strike advantage, fluctuation in the relative power of states, circumstances that allow nations to parlay one conquest into another, and circumstances that make conquest easy. According to Van Evera, all but one of these conditions—false optimism—rarely occurs today, but policymakers often erroneously believe in their existence. He argues that these misperceptions are responsible for many modern wars, and explores World Wars, the Korean War, and the 1967 Mideast War as test cases. Finally, he assesses the possibility of nuclear war by applying all five hypotheses to its potential onset.

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Factors that increase likelihood of war:

Antagonistic Beliefs:

Antagonistic beliefs manifest as the “us versus them” dichotomy in which members of one group view members of another mistrustfully and ascribe negative characteristics to them. Antagonistic beliefs cause people to assume that the ambiguous acts of others are threats and that friendly overtures are manipulations.

Problematic Societal Self-Concept:

When members of a given society believe in their own superiority or experience collective self-doubt, they are more inclined to wage war or seek internal scapegoats. A combination of superiority and self-doubt, which is particularly dangerous, is more likely to occur when members of a group feel that they have been wronged or harmed in some way, particularly if they have experienced what they believe is a threat to their survival.

Excessive Nationalism:

People are predisposed to define their sense of self in relation to group membership. The family is the first such group, and in ancient times, the group focus would have expanded to the tribe or clan as a child grew older. In modern times, there is less likely to be a large extended family living together or a small tribe with which to identify, so the focus often becomes nationalistic. However, there are other ways to achieve group identity, including positive strategies, such as joining a team or club, and negative ones, such as joining a criminal gang. Nationalism provides a sense of belonging, but to maintain this identity, people often exaggerate differences between their supposedly national or ethnic traits and those of other groups. They are also more likely to be threatened by nonconformity and to project their own negative traits or subconscious thoughts and feelings onto members of other ethnic or social groups.

Obsession with National Security:

An obsession with national security, which usually stems from an antagonistic belief system, can lead to the persecution of those perceived as internal enemies and the waging of war against those thought to be external enemies. This obsession usually manifests as the belief that all those of other groups want to subvert the paranoid group’s government, way of life, economy, values, and religious beliefs. A national security ideology may manifest as constant preparation for war, preemptive military strikes against other nations, or surveillance and persecution of certain groups within the country. Non-military approaches to conflict resolution are abandoned, and those in power limit the flow of information to the public, discouraging open discussion of policies and facts.

Glorification of War:

The belief that war is glorious increases the likelihood that citizens will support a government’s desire to wage war. Glorification of war occurs in movies, television programs, and literature, and many people associate warfare with worthy causes, courage, self-discipline, honor, powerful friendships among soldiers, and opportunities for heroism.

Negative Views of Human Nature:

Another ideology that increases the likelihood of going to war is the bleak “realism” of philosophers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes, which holds that people act to fulfill their own selfish desires and that they do not care what happens to others in the process. Such philosophies assume that others will attack to get what they want if they believe that they can get away with it. Therefore, conflict resolution requires a show of force; those who compromise will be taken advantage of or worse.

Monolithic Societies:

Pluralistic societies – those that support a broad array of ethnic and religious groups — have a lower risk of war and genocide than monolithic societies, where a rigid adherence to uniform behavior and world view is encouraged. Pluralism doesn’t entirely remove the risk of warfare, however. In some cases, particularly if the country is nationalistic, antagonistic, and obsessed with national security, various groups will band together against what they believe to be a common threat.

Authoritarian Leadership:

Leaders, particularly those with an authoritarian style, can increase the likelihood of warfare or genocide by initiating a cycle of hostility. This is particularly easy to do if there has recently been a hostile act committed by another nation against the nation in question. The leader can make use of the insecurity felt by the wronged nation’s citizens to arouse patriotic fervor, which will make them more accepting of the possibility of going to war. Even a democratic nation can have authoritarian leadership. This is referred to as soft authoritarianism or illiberal democracy, whereby certain democratic freedoms, such as freedom of the press, speech, and assembly, are curtailed when they conflict with government interests.

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Common Fallacies of Explanations for War:

1. Accidental wars:

Argues that wars never start unintentionally and probably only rarely by accident. The only thing unintentional is the outcome of fighting since wars sometimes end with the defeat with “at least one nation which had expected victory”.

2. Ambitions and war aims:

War aims are simply varieties of power. The vanity of nationalism, the will to spread an ideology, the protection of kinsmen in an adjacent land, the desire for more territory or commerce, the avenging of a defeat or insult, the craving for greater national strength or independence, the wish to impress or cement alliances — all these represent power in different wrappings. The conflicting aims of rival nations are always conflicts of power… It is dangerous to accept any explanation of war which concentrates on ambitions and ignores the means of carrying out those ambitions. A government’s aims are strongly influenced by its assessment of whether it has sufficient strength to achieve these aims.

3. Surprise attacks:

 Argues that “the day that lives in infamy” only does so because the enemy attack was so successful due to surprise attack. However, the attack without declaration of war was, in fact, part of a long tradition of war. Opportunism, and the veiled or open use of force, pervades every phase of the sequence of war and peace.

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The Causes of Peace:

Various researchers contend (with good reason) that we really do not know what causes peace. They outline and debunk several common explanations:

1. War-weariness (Richardson, Toynbee): finds very little evidence, argues that if there is an effect, it is weak and does not last for long beyond the last war.

2. Economic pursuits deflect from war: this is most evidently wrong.

3. Revolutions are substitutes for war (Thompson): many wars actually sprang from civil strife.

4. Powerful statesmen: cannot do anything unless the environment is permissive.

5. Ideas (Nef): despite the enthusiasm in Europe and the belief that no war will be fought between civilized nations, we saw two world wars in 20th century. Nonetheless in 21st century, I believe that civilized nations have forsaken war as a policy instrument because they (supposedly) do not even consider fighting as a means of resolving conflicts

6. Moderate peace terms: little evidence of this, Blainey argues that most stable and peaceful periods followed the decisive defeat of some country and a harsh treaty imposed by the victorious state.

7. Liberalism: free trade, democracy, the free flow of ideas, etc. will lead to peace; there are many arguments that debunk this. Of course, the naive version of liberalism has had a hard time anyway, but it is not clear that some form of it does not contain a tenable explanation for peace, as the modern prevalence of institutionalism (neo-liberalism) in academia can attest. Of course, many seem to neglect the simple fact that the benign developments of the last half century (at least in the Western hemisphere) have taken place in the shadow of complete military and economic dominance of the US.

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Climate change, poverty and war:

For the first time in recorded history, a single species, Homo sapiens, bears responsibility for causing significant change to the global environment. Through the burning of fossil fuels and resultant accumulation of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, humanity is provoking accelerated global warming, which is already causing problems in the ecosystems on which our health depends. These alterations in global ecology are aggravating the already parlous state of the world’s most vulnerable populations, and if not tackled will lead to widespread social and economic devastation; the consequences of which, though caused by the rich, fall most heavily on the poor, in an all too familiar story. The impact of climate change is to widen the already substantial resource gulf between the rich and the poor. This gap is increasingly recognized as a significant cause of the increasing levels of despair and desperation among the dispossessed, emotions which frequently spiral into violent conflict. The widening gap is mirrored in the deteriorating health status of the poor. The security implications of climate change have been debated in the UN Security Council; Margaret Beckett, the UK Foreign Secretary at that time, stated that ‘An unstable climate will exacerbate some of the core drivers of conflict’. The US Senate is debating a Bill to have climate change recognized as a security concern, and in a report on US National Security, senior American military personnel described climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ for instability. It is not surprising that when considering the major threats to the health of humanity, the interrelated problems of climate change and the gulf between the rich and poor are seen as triggers for war, risking the ultimate health crisis of nuclear war. Resolving these interrelated risks is therefore the key to reducing the possibilities of violent conflict and improving global public health.

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War ethics and morality:

The seeming contradiction between warfare and morality has led to serious moral questions, which have been the subject of debate for thousands of years. The debate, generally speaking, has two main viewpoints: Pacifists, who believe that war is inherently immoral and therefore is never justified regardless of circumstances, and those who believe that war is sometimes necessary and can be moral. Marxism, and other such historicist ideals, hold that history advances through a set of dialectics (as stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus: thesis, antithesis, synthesis). Marx, and his followers, in particular held that history advances through violence. Marxism-Leninism, in fact, held the belief that outright incitement to violence and war was necessary to topple Capitalism and free the proletariat. In these theories, the question of ethics has no place, as the value of the war is entirely dependent on whether it advances the revolution or synthesis. Fascism, and the ideals it encompasses, such as Pragmatism, Racism, and Social Darwinism, hold that violence is good. Pragmatism holds that war and violence can be good if it serves the ends of the people, without regard for universal morality. Racism holds that violence is good so that a master race can be established, or to purge an inferior race from the earth, or both. Social Darwinism thinks that violence is sometimes necessary to weed the unfit from society so that civilization can flourish. These are broad archetypes for the general position that the ends justify the means.

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Most people in the world have experienced the effects caused by war. War causes negative effects on religion, moral values, death and destruction of properties. The morality of war has become a debatable issue in the modern society. This is because of the adverse effects caused by war. Morality in the society is determined by the behavior and character of an individual. For example, society appreciates people having good behaviors as they are viewed as morally right. The society condemns people who have bad behavior as they are not morally right.

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Casus belli:

Casus belli is a Latin expression meaning the justification for acts of war. Casus means “incident”, “rupture” or indeed “case”, while belli means bellic (“of war”). Countries need a public justification for attacking another country. This justification is needed to galvanize internal support for the war, as well as gain the support of potential allies. In the post World War Two era, the UN Charter prohibits signatory countries from engaging in war except 1) as a means of defending themselves against aggression, or 2) unless the UN as a body has given prior approval to the operation. The UN also reserves the right to ask member nations to intervene against non-signatory countries which embark on wars of aggression. In effect, this means that countries in the modern era must have a plausible casus belli for initiating military action, or risk UN sanctions or intervention. Casus belli for World War I was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo in Austria-Hungary by a Serbian nationalist from Bosnia. The Russian Empire started to mobilize its troops in defense of its ally Serbia, which resulted in the German Empire declaring war on Russia in support of its ally Austria-Hungary. Very quickly, after the involvement of France, the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire, five of the six great European powers became involved in the first European general war since the Napoleonic Wars. Adolf Hitler had in the 1920s advocated a policy of lebensraum (“living space”) for the German people, which in practical terms meant German territorial expansion into Eastern Europe. Casus belli for World War II was  Germany’s Nazi government which under Hitler’s leadership staged the Gleiwitz incident, which was used as a casus belli for the invasion of Poland the following September. Poland’s allies, the UK and France, honored their alliance and subsequently declared war on Germany. In 1941, acting once again in accordance with the policy of lebensraum, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, using the casus belli of pre-emptive war to justify the act of aggression. The casus belli cited by Israel for its June 1982 invasion of Lebanon was the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador in London, which the Israeli government blamed on the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The casus belli for the Bush administration’s conceptual War on Terror, which resulted in the 2001 Afghanistan war and the 2003 Iraq war, was the September 11 attacks in 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York City.

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War should always be a last resort. This connects intimately with presenting a just cause – all other forms of solution must have been attempted prior to the declaration of war. It has often been recognized that war unleashes forces and powers that soon get beyond the grips of the leaders and generals to control – there is too much “fog” in war, as Clausewitz noted, but that fog is also a moral haze in which truth and trust are early casualties. The resulting damage that war wrecks tends to be very high for most economies and so theorists have advised that war should not be lightly accepted: once unleashed, war is not like a sport that can be quickly stopped at the blow of a whistle and its repercussions last for generations. Holding “hawks” at bay though is a complicated task – the apparent ease by which war may resolve disputes, especially in the eyes of those whose military might is apparently great and victory a certainty, does present war as a low cost option relative to continuing political problems and economic or moral hardship. Yet the just war theorist wishes to underline the need to attempt all other solutions but also to tie the justice of the war to the other principles of jus ad bellum too.

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Just war theory:

The principles of the justice of war are commonly held to be: having just cause, being a last resort, being declared by a proper authority, possessing right intention, having a reasonable chance of success, and the end being proportional to the means used. One can immediately detect that the principles are not wholly intrinsicist nor consequentialist—they invoke the concerns of both models. Whilst this provides just war theory with the advantage of flexibility, the lack of a strict ethical framework means that the principles themselves are open to broad interpretations. Just war theory deals with the justification of how and why wars are fought. The justification can be either theoretical or historical. The theoretical aspect is concerned with ethically justifying war and the forms that warfare may or may not take. The historical aspect, or the “just war tradition,” deals with the historical body of rules or agreements that have applied in various wars across the ages.

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Just war doctrine:

The Just War doctrine has always insisted that “the onus of proof should rest on those seeking to disturb the tranquility of the world by resorting to war”. It is permissible if and only if it is authorized by a competent authority, if it is for a just cause, if it is undertaken as a last resort and if the good likely to be achieved exceeds the harm of the war itself. And, of course, non-combatants should not be targeted. Clearly these principles are subject to much interpretation. After a detailed examination, I consider the NATO war to free the Kosovo Muslims from the attentions of Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic to have been justified both in content and execution. I also approves of the first Gulf war undertaken in response to Saddam Hussein’s annexation of Kuwait. But the second Bush-Blair Iraq war was undertaken “without sufficient just cause and without adequate planning to secure a just outcome”.  Clearly the world would be a better place if its rulers were to observe Just War principles consistently, and if, they were taught to all ranks and not just to leaders. We can say that a conventional war fought to defend a nation’s sovereignty against aggression is normally proportional, while a tactic that kills many enemy civilians rather than sacrifice a few soldiers is not. In the first case the relevant goods clearly outweigh the relevant evils; in the second they do not. The Just War standard is as old as Western Civilization itself, and still has significant impact on thinking about the morality of wars and violence today.  Just War Theory was foundational in the creation of the United Nations and in International Law’s regulations on legitimate war. These two positions generally cover the broad philosophical and ethical bents mainstream society.

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Why just war concept:

In the modern world, a large body of ethical and legal thought attempts to limit, constrain, and to establish criteria that sanction the use of violence in the name of the state and society. Through the mechanisms of The Hague and Geneva Conventions, the Charter of the United Nations, mili­tary manuals such as the U.S. Army’s “Law of Land Warfare,” and similar documents, modern governments and militaries attempt to distinguish “just war” and just conduct in war from other types of killing of human beings. Morally conscientious military personnel need to understand and frame their actions in moral terms so as to maintain moral integrity in the midst of the actions and stress of combat. They do so to explain to themselves and others how the killing of human beings they do is distinguishable from the criminal act of murder. Attempts to conduct warfare within moral limits have met with uneven success. Many cultures and militaries fail to recognize these restraints, or do so in name only. The realities of combat, even for the best trained and disciplined military forces, place severe strains on respect for those limits and sometimes cause military leaders to grow impatient with them in the midst of their need to “get the job done.” In the history of the U.S. Army, events like My Lai in Vietnam show that even forces officially committed to just conduct in war are still capable of atrocities in combat—and are slow to discipline such violations. Despite these limitations, the idea of just war is one to which the well-led and disciplined military forces of the world remain committed. The fact that the constraints of just war are rou­tinely overridden is no more a proof of their falsity and irrelevance than are similar points about morality: we know the standard, and we also know human beings fall short of that standard with depressing regularity. The fact of moral failure, rather than proving the falsity of morality, points instead to the source of our disappointment in such failures: our abiding knowledge of the morally right. A war or conflict is only moral if you are fighting a just cause. Now many people believe they are fighting just causes, for example the IRA in Northern Ireland for 30 years believed they were fighting a just cause, and the British Army thought they were fighting a just cause. The belief is very different to the reality. If you fight by unjust means then it is not moral by respected sociological views, i.e.-Terrorism in the case of the IRA.

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Just war theory can be meaningfully divided into three parts, which in the literature are referred to, for the sake of convenience, in Latin. These parts are:

 1) jus ad bellum, which concerns the justice of resorting to war in the first place;

 2) jus in bello, which concerns the justice of conduct within war, after it has begun;

 3) jus post bellum, which concerns the justice of peace agreements and the termination phase of war.

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Jus ad bellum:

The rules of jus ad bellum are addressed, first and foremost, to heads of state. Since political leaders are the ones who inaugurate wars, setting their armed forces in motion, they are to be held accountable to jus ad bellum principles. If they fail in that responsibility, then they commit war crimes. In the language of the Nuremberg prosecutors, aggressive leaders who launch unjust wars commit “crimes against peace.” What constitutes a just or unjust resort to armed force is disclosed to us by the rules ofjus ad bellum. Just war theory contends that, for any resort to war to be justified, a political community, or state, must fulfill each and every one of the following six requirements:

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1. Just cause (vide supra):

This is clearly the most important rule; it sets the tone for everything which follows. A state may launch a war only for the right reason. The just causes most frequently mentioned include: self-defense from external attack; the defense of others from such; the protection of innocents from brutal, aggressive regimes; and punishment for a grievous wrongdoing which remains uncorrected. Vitoria suggested that all the just causes be subsumed under the one category of “a wrong received”. Walzer, and most modern just war theorists, speak of the one just cause for resorting to war being the resistance of aggression. Aggression is the use of armed force in violation of someone else’s basic rights.

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How does this conception of just cause impact on the issue of armed humanitarian intervention?

This is when a state does not commit cross-border aggression but, for whatever reason, turns savagely against its own people, deploying armed force in a series of massacres against large numbers of its own citizens. Such events happened in Cambodia and Uganda in the 1970s, Rwanda in 1994, Serbia/Kosovo in 1998-99 and in Sudan/Darfur from 2004 to the present. Our definitions allow us to say it’s permissible to intervene on behalf of the victims, and to attack with defensive force the rogue regime meting out such death and destruction. Why? There’s no logical requirement that aggression can only be committed across borders. Aggression is the use of armed force in violation of someone else’s basic rights. That “someone else” might be: a) another person (violent crime); b) another state (international or “external” aggression); or c) many other people within one’s own community (domestic or “internal” aggression). The commission of aggression, in any of these forms, causes the aggressor to forfeit its rights. The aggressor has no right not to be resisted with defensive force; indeed, the aggressor has the duty to stop and submit itself to punishment. If the aggressor doesn’t stop, it is entirely permissible for its victims to resort to force to protect themselves—and for anyone else to do likewise in aid of the victims. Usually, in humanitarian intervention, armed aid from the international community is essential for an effective resistance against the aggression, since domestic populations are at a huge disadvantage, and are massively vulnerable, to the violence of their own state. Terrorists can commit aggression too. There’s nothing to the concept which excludes this: they too can deploy armed force in violation of someone else’s basic rights. When they do so, they forfeit any right not to suffer the consequences of receiving defensive force in response. Indeed, terrorists almost always commit aggression when they act, since terrorism is precisely the use of random violence—especially killing force—against civilians, with the intent of spreading fear throughout a population, hoping this fear will advance a political objective. On 9/11, the al-Qaeda terrorist group clearly used armed force, both to gain control of the planes and then again when using the planes as missiles against the targets in The Pentagon and The World Trade Center. This use of armed force was in violation of America’s state rights to political sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to all those people’s human rights to life and liberty. The terrorist strikes on 9/11 were aggression—defiantly so, deliberately modeled after Pearl Harbor. As such, they justified the responding attack on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban had sponsored and enabled al-Qaeda’s attack, by providing resources, personnel and a safe haven to the terrorist group.

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An important issue in just cause is whether, to be justified in going to war, one must wait for the aggression actually to happen, or whether in some instances it is permissible to launch a pre-emptive strike against anticipated aggression. The tradition is severely split on this issue. International law, for its part, sweepingly forbids pre-emptive strikes unless they are clearly authorized in advance by the UN Security Council. These issues, of course, were highlighted in the run-up to the 2003 U.S.-led pre-emptive strike on Iraq. The U.S. still maintains, in its National Security Strategy, the right to strike first as part of its war on terror. Many other countries find this extremely controversial.

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2. Right intention:

 A state must intend to fight the war only for the sake of its just cause. Having the right reason for launching a war is not enough: the actual motivation behind the resort to war must also be morally appropriate. Ulterior motives, such as a power or land grab, or irrational motives, such as revenge or ethnic hatred, are ruled out. The only right intention allowed is to see the just cause for resorting to war secured and consolidated. If another intention crowds in, moral corruption sets in. International law does not include this rule, probably because of the evidentiary difficulties involved in determining a state’s intent.

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3. Proper authority and public declaration:

A state may go to war only if the decision has been made by the appropriate authorities, according to the proper process, and made public, notably to its own citizens and to the enemy state(s). The “appropriate authority” is usually specified in that country’s constitution. States failing the requirements of minimal justice lack the legitimacy to go to war.

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4. Last Resort:

A state may resort to war only if it has exhausted all plausible, peaceful alternatives to resolving the conflict in question, in particular diplomatic negotiation. One wants to make sure something as momentous and as serious as war is declared only when it seems the last practical and reasonable shot at effectively resisting aggression.

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5. Probability of Success:

 A state may not resort to war if it can foresee that doing so will have no measurable impact on the situation. The aim here is to block mass violence which is going to be futile. International law does not include this requirement, as it is seen as biased against small, weaker states.

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6. Proportionality:

A state must, prior to initiating a war, weigh the universal goods expected to result from it, such as securing the just cause, against the universal evils expected to result, notably casualties. Only if the benefits are proportional to, or “worth”, the costs may the war action proceed. (The universal must be stressed, since often in war states only tally their own expected benefits and costs, radically discounting those accruing to the enemy and to any innocent third parties.)

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Just war theory insists all six criteria must each be fulfilled for a particular declaration of war to be justified: it’s all or no justification, so to speak. Just war theory is thus quite demanding, as of course it should be, given the gravity of its subject matter. It is important to note that the first three of these six rules are what we might call deontological requirements, otherwise known as duty-based requirements or first-principle requirements. For a war to be just, some core duty must be violated: in this case, the duty not to commit aggression. A war in punishment of this violated duty must itself respect further duties: it must be appropriately motivated, and must be publicly declared by (only) the proper authority for doing so. The next three requirements are consequentialist: given that these first principle requirements have been met, we must also consider the expected consequences of launching a war. Thus, just war theory attempts to provide a common sensical combination of both deontology and consequentialism as applied to the issue of war.

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Jus in bello:

Jus in bello refers to justice in war, to right conduct in the midst of battle. Once a just war has been declared, the second standard, or aspect, is put into effect. Jus in bello, which literally translates to “right in war”, are the ethical rules of conduct when conducting war. The two main principles in jus in bello are proportionality and discrimination. Proportionality regards how much force is necessary and morally appropriate to the ends being sought and the injustice suffered. The principle of Discrimination determines who are the legitimate targets in a war, and specifically makes a separation between combatants, who it is permissible to kill, and non-combatants, who it is not.  Failure to follow these rules can result in the loss of legitimacy for the just war belligerent, and so thereby forfeit the moral right and justice of their cause. Responsibility for state adherence to jus in bello norms falls primarily on the shoulders of those military commanders, officers and soldiers who formulate and execute the war policy of a particular state. They are to be held responsible for any breach of the principles which follow below. Such accountability may involve being put on trial for war crimes, whether by one’s own national military justice system or perhaps by the newly-formed International Criminal Court (created by the 1998 Treaty of Rome).

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Jus post bellum:

Jus post bellum refers to justice during the third and final stage of war: that of war termination. It seeks to regulate the ending of wars, and to ease the transition from war back to peace. There is little international law here—save occupation law and perhaps the human rights treaties—and so we must turn to the moral resources of just war theory. But even here the theory has not dealt with jus post bellum to the degree it should. There is a newness, unsettledness and controversy attaching to this important topic. To focus our thoughts, consider the following proposed principles for jus post bellum:

1. Proportionality and Publicity. The peace settlement should be measured and reasonable, as well as publicly proclaimed. To make a settlement serve as an instrument of revenge is to make a volatile bed one may be forced to sleep in later. In general, this rules out insistence on unconditional surrender.

2. Rights Vindication. The settlement should secure those basic rights whose violation triggered the justified war. The relevant rights include human rights to life and liberty and community entitlements to territory and sovereignty. This is the main substantive goal of any decent settlement, ensuring that the war will actually have an improving affect. Respect for rights, after all, is a foundation of civilization, whether national or international. Vindicating rights, not vindictive revenge, is the order of the day.

3. Discrimination. Distinction needs to be made between the leaders, the soldiers, and the civilians in the defeated country one is negotiating with. Civilians are entitled to reasonable immunity from punitive post-war measures. This rules out sweeping socio-economic sanctions as part of post-war punishment.

4. Punishment -1. When the defeated country has been a blatant, rights-violating aggressor, proportionate punishment must be meted out. The leaders of the regime, in particular, should face fair and public international trials for war crimes.

5. Punishment -2. Soldiers also commit war crimes. Justice after war requires that such soldiers, from all sides to the conflict, likewise be held accountable to investigation and possible trial.

6. Compensation. Financial restitution may be mandated, subject to both proportionality and discrimination. A post-war poll tax on civilians is generally impermissible, and there needs to be enough resources left so that the defeated country can begin its own reconstruction. To beggar thy neighbor is to pick future fights.

7. Rehabilitation. The post-war environment provides a promising opportunity to reform decrepit institutions in an aggressor regime. Such reforms are permissible but they must be proportional to the degree of depravity in the regime. They may involve: demilitarization and disarmament; police and judicial re-training; human rights education; and even deep structural transformation towards a minimally just society governed by a legitimate regime. This is, obviously, the most controversial aspect of jus post bellum.

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The terms of a just peace should satisfy all these requirements. There needs, in short, to be an ethical “exit strategy” from war, and it deserves at least as much thought and effort as the purely military exit strategy so much on the minds of policy planners and commanding officers.

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Realism:

 Referring specifically to war, realists believe that it is an inevitable part of an anarchical world system; that it ought to be resorted to only if it makes sense in terms of national self-interest; and that, once war has begun, a state ought to do whatever it can to win. In other words, “all’s fair in love and war.” During the grim circumstances of war, “anything goes.” So if adhering to the rules of just war theory, or international law, hinders a state during wartime, it should disregard them and stick steadfastly to its fundamental interests in power, security and economic growth. Prominent classical realists include Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes. Modern realists include Hans Morgenthau, George Kennan, Reinhold Niebuhr and Henry Kissinger, as well as so-called neo-realists, such as Kenneth Waltz.

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Pacifism:

 Pacifism is defined as “anti-war-ism.” Literally and straightforwardly, a pacifist rejects war in favor of peace. It is not violence in all its forms that the most challenging kind of pacifist objects to; rather, it is the specific kind and degree of violence that war involves which the pacifist objects to. A pacifist objects to killing (not just violence) in general and, in particular, he objects to the mass killing, for political reasons, which is part and parcel of the wartime experience. So, a pacifist rejects war; he believes that there are no moral grounds which can justify resorting to war. War, for the pacifist, is always wrong.

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The philosophical discourse on war is dominated by three major traditions of thought: just war theory (and its international law subsidiary); realism; and pacifism. The interaction between these three traditions structures the contemporary discussion of wartime issues, at the same time as it fuels fascinating debate about them. While just war theory occupies an especially large and influential space within the discourse, its realist and pacifist alternatives endure as provocative challenges to the philosophical mainstream which it represents.

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War seems to be the most destructive and horrific type of human interaction. No other venue allows people to kill each other in such massive numbers or to cause such incredible and widespread suffering. Wars often take years to develop, can last for years longer, and the effects reverberate for decades if not centuries. If war is so awful, why do people continue to allow it to happen? Why don’t we simply eliminate it? Curiously, some people actually seem to like war. Armed combat is glorified in song and story, with many throughout history praising “martial values” for making us better, stronger, and more worthwhile human beings (even as we kill other human beings). Although it may seem strange at first, there have been many arguments offered in defense of war. Some are deontological, defending war either as a positive value itself or as an expression of positive values. Others are teleological and defend war as a justified means towards some important and valuable end. Finally, some are virtue-based in that they defend war as something which helps produce good character and positive virtues in people. Some say that protests during war are unethical and unpatriotic. Are protesters really ungrateful, or are their critics acting unethically and unpatriotically by trying to squelch dissent?

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The statement that peace weakens a nation is only made by those who have too little to do. People say that the war may be an occasion for moral development, or that virtues may appear in war which do not appear in peace; but so may disease be an occasion for virtues which cannot appear when one is in health. It would not follow that disease was in any sense more valuable morally than health unless the total results of disease were morally preferable to the total results of health. Let me put it differently. Just because many diseases stimulate our immunity and strengthen our immune system, we must suffer from diseases to become healthy. Would anyone buy this logic? We must have a war to become virtuous and strong. Are you willing to buy this logic?

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 It is right to defend people, culture, and civilization. It is wrong to destroy these things unnecessarily with no end in view, no logic, purpose, nor goal. What makes a war right or wrong depends on which of these two sides or positions is being held by individuals and groups — so it is the individuals and their groups, who are being moral or immoral, not the war itself. War is as wrong and immoral as it brings about the least amount of survival, or the most harm, to all concerned. War is as right and moral as it brings about the most amount of survival, or the most benefit, to all concerned. You must take into account everyone and everything concerned within the sphere of influence of the war. It is no simpler, no more complicated than that. One day, our leaders and governments will learn enough to be able to avert war before there is a chance of it, ever. But that day is at least decades away. But when this finally occurs, then war itself will become very taboo. Because when one learns a better way of doing something (such as building a bridge or building, or governing people and nations) one then doesn’t keep doing it the old way. War is part of the old way — new ways are coming.

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Effects of war:

Let me start with benefits of war and later on harms of war. You be the judge of benefits versus harms.

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Who does war benefits?

When the decision is being made whether or not to go to war, special interest groups are much more influential than the average citizen. Here are five to consider.

1. The profit motive is always present for the companies who supply war materials. (Now that the United States has privatized many aspects of war-making, these types of companies have proliferated and tasted the honey. This lobby will be gaining in power.)

2. Military and intelligence branches of government that do business with the aforementioned companies are staffed with people who have made a career of war and may be looking to be hired by one of the companies they are doing business with after their government service is over. These branches also directly benefit from war by having their budgets increased and their sense of importance raised. Also once a war starts, prior intelligence failures or missed opportunities may be glossed over by the need to address the crisis at hand. Critical oversight is weakened.

3. Access to territory and the natural resources in it can motivate non-military companies or special interest groups to promote a war as a means of gaining preferential access.

4. If a religious disagreement is involved, the religious group most savvy in lobbying the government may join forces with the other interest groups to sell the conflict. They may never realize a true long term benefit, but they can vociferously support a war anyway.

5. In modern society, the media may also be enlisted to sell war. If media outlets find they will be rewarded for sending pro-war messages or disseminating false or misleading information, the profit motive may cause them to avoid or minimize anti-war messages or opinions. A threat to withhold the purchase of ad time or to boycott advertised products could also be used to alter the media slant on a conflict. Even letter writing or e-mail campaigns, if well organized, could serve to pressure media to favor a particular line of reasoning. The average citizen writes no letter, sends no e-mail to the media, so a small, focused minority can seem larger than life.

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The US benefitted economically in both WWI and WW II. If you look at war as a way to keep the world safe, WWII did eliminate Hitler as a threat to world peace at that time. Other benefits may be the acquisition of land such as Israel in the 1973 war which enabled citizens to expand the boundaries and settle in previously forbidden territory. In South America, Chile has taken land which has closed off the Bolivian access to the ocean and the resulting ease of trade. Many times the benefit is natural resources like oil or water. Wars also tend to focus research and development of new products and technologies, which can be adapted for civilian use when no longer needed specifically for military applications. Consider the advances in medical treatments that have come about as injuries from actions in the Middle East have led to increased awareness of brain injury treatment and developments in prosthetic limbs. It’s a terrible price to pay, but there are benefits. Companies can make an awful lot of money if they sell a product needed in war. It was one of the main things that spurred our economic growth in the mid 20th century. War also distracts people from other problems and keeps them focused and patriotic.

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War harms:

It not only causes death and disability among military personnel and civilians, but it also destroys the social, economic, and political infrastructure necessary for well-being and health. War violates basic human rights. As a violent method of settling conflicts, it promotes other forms of violence in the community and the home. War causes immediate and long-term damage to the environment. And war and preparation for war sap human and economic resources that might be used for social good. In addition, since an increasing percentage of wars are civil wars or are indiscriminate in the use of weapons, civilians are increasingly caught in the crossfire. Civilian deaths as a percentage of all war-related deaths rose from 14 percent during World War I to 90 percent during some wars of the 1990s. Moreover, during civil wars civilians may find it difficult to receive medical care and may be unable to obtain adequate and safe food and water, shelter, medicinal care, and public health services. The physical, mental, and social impacts of war on civilians are especially severe for vulnerable populations, including women, children, the elderly, the ill, and the disabled. Further, war is responsible for many million refugees and internally displaced persons. 

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Armed conflicts now leading cause of world hunger – UN repot:

Armed conflicts have become the leading cause of world hunger, with the effects of HIV/AIDS and global warming close behind, according to a new report out today by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “Conflict destroys lives, opportunities and environments and may be one of the most significant obstacles to sustainable development as it can destroy in hours and days what has taken years and decades to develop,” says the report, presented to an FAO committee meeting in Rome to review policies towards reducing world hunger, including food production and physical and economic access to food. The proportion of food emergencies that can be considered human-made has increased over time, the report says, warning that the goal of halving the world’s hungry by 2015 is almost certain to be missed by a wide margin if current trends continue. More than a third of food emergencies between 1992 and 2003 were due to conflict and economic problems, compared with around 15 per cent from 1986 to 1991, the report says, adding that war also contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS through displacement, rape or commercial sex.

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War is in itself a disadvantage to the society as a whole, it not only is a costly affair but leaves an ever lasting impact on any nation, who are a part of it & in most cases the people involved can never overcome the after effects it leaves behind on their minds. The death, casualties where people are wounded by the bullets, land mines, rocket launchers, chemical / nuclear weapons, people massacred or the wealth / resources plundered are some of the horrifying experiences the world has witnessed in all the wars to date. War has left many a nation both politically and economically poor & they have lagged behind in terms of development, poor health, lack of food, clothing & shelter; the very basic needs of the people. Water & energy crisis; polluted land, air & water; abnormal or stillborn children; damaged animal & vegetation; which are caused due to devastation caused during the war. Disarmament of weapons of mass destruction by all nations; ban on war lords, supply or illegal means of procurement of weapon’s by rough elements; continuous information sharing & dialogue with all member countries to ensure there is no disturbance in any part of the globe are key to establishing stability, world peace, survival of human race & all living on this universe.

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Effects of war on soldiers:

Soldiers subject to combat in war often suffer psychological and physical casualties, including depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), disease, injury, and death. In every war in which soldiers have fought in, the chances of becoming a psychiatric casualty – of being debilitated for some period of time as a consequence of the stresses of military life – were greater than the chances of being killed by enemy fire. 1 in 8 returning soldiers suffers from PTSD but less than half with problems seek help. Swank and Marchand’s WWII study found that after sixty days of continuous combat, 98% of all surviving soldiers will become psychiatric casualties.  Psychiatric casualties manifest themselves in fatigue cases, confusional states, conversion hysteria, anxiety, obsessional and compulsive states, and character disorders. One-tenth of mobilized American men were hospitalized for mental disturbances between 1942 and 1945, and after thirty-five days of uninterrupted combat, 98% of them manifested psychiatric disturbances in varying degrees. Additionally, it has been estimated that anywhere from 18% to 54% of Vietnam war veterans suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white American males aged 13 to 43 died in the American Civil War, including about 6% in the North and approximately 18% in the South. The war remains the deadliest conflict in American history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers. United States military casualties of war since 1775 have totaled over two million. Of the 60 million European soldiers who were mobilized in World War I, 8 million were killed, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured. During Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, more French soldiers died of typhus than were killed by the Russians. More soldiers were killed from 1500-1914 by typhus than from all military action during that time combined. In addition, if it were not for the modern medical advances there would be thousands of more dead from disease and infection. For instance, during the Seven Years’ War, the Royal Navy reported that it conscripted 184,899 sailors, of whom 133,708 died of disease or were ‘missing’.

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Army wives with deployed husbands suffer higher mental health issues:

Wives of soldiers sent to war suffered significantly higher rates of mental health issues than those whose husbands stayed home, according to the largest study ever done on the emotional impact of war on Army wives. Those rates were higher among wives whose husband deployed longer than 11 months, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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War and family:

The effects of war are profoundly evident in terms of family forms and behavior. Mobilization separates families; casualties destroy them. In the aftermath of war, millions of families are reconstituted. These processes have had significant long‐term effects. For example, the cult of domesticity underlying the post‐1945 “Baby Boom” is related to the vast upheaval of war and its effects on family life. An inner migration to domesticity happened in most major combatants after World War II; the United States was no exception. War also changes ideas about divorce. At the outbreak of hostilities, many unfortunate people marry hastily. Over time they see the error of their choice, or grow apart, or find other partners during a spouse’s absence. Sexual loyalty is the exception, not only in wartime but perhaps especially during such anxious and emotionally charged periods. During wartime, civilian migration increases—not only to get out of the way of the fighting, as in the Civil War, but also to take up new jobs in new places. Women’s contribution to postwar recovery was always configured in terms of their domestic work: childbearing; organizing and maintaining the home; and caring for the husband, defined as the key breadwinner and figure of authority. In this network of social tasks, women’s outside lives or aspirations had little place. Thus, the irony of war is that it encourages women to leave home to help produce the goods and services needed for victory, and then encourages them to go home again because their primary obligation is not to produce but to reproduce. When wars destroy families, it is their reconstruction that takes precedence over women’s rights. This has been as true in the United States as it was for other combatant countries of the major wars of this century. If there is increased recognition of women’s talents and services in wartime, that recognition is withdrawn as soon as the shooting stops. One step forward, two steps back is one way to characterize the impact of war on this aspect of family life.

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War and poor families:

War has a more devastating effect on poor families than families with more resources. This may indicate that poor families are more vulnerable and are at risk for severe effects of war; it could also indicate that wealthier families have the resources to get out of harm’s way to avoid many negative consequences. War can ruin a society’s infrastructure (businesses, schools, utilities, transportation, etc), an effect that leaves many poorer families with an unemployed head of household. Therefore, “not only do the usual problems that [poor families] face not evaporate because of the onset of political violence, but it is likely that there is a cumulative effect with the negative consequences of political violence added to the effect of economic and social disadvantage”. During war situations, families can expend most of their efforts trying (and often failing) to meet the basic needs of their members. Displaced families (either in refugee camps or those staying with friends or relatives within the war zone) face a constant struggle to meet the basic needs of their members in a situation in which there are never enough resources to meet the needs of all.

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Effects of war on civilians:

How do you define civilians during war?


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Many wars have been accompanied by significant depopulations, along with destruction of infrastructure and resources (which may lead to famine, disease, and death in the civilian population). Civilians in war zones may also be subject to war atrocities such as genocide, while survivors may suffer the psychological aftereffects of witnessing the destruction of war. During the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, for example, the population of the German states was reduced by about 30%. The Swedish armies alone may have destroyed up to 2,000 castles, 18,000 villages and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns. Estimates for the total casualties of World War II vary, but most suggest that some 60 million people died in the war, comprising around 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians. The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people during the war, about half of all World War II casualties. Since a high proportion of those killed were young men, the postwar Soviet population was 45 to 50 million fewer than post–1939 projections would have led one to expect. The largest number of civilian deaths in a single city was 1.2 million citizens dead during the 872-day Siege of Leningrad. It is estimated that 378 000 people died due to war each year between 1985 and 1994. Between 1900 and 1988 there were 207 conventionally defined wars, in which 78 million people were killed; two-thirds of all nation-states were involved in at least one, and ninety-three states were created- most violently- between 1945 and 1985.

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What types of traumatic events do civilians experience during war?

Typically when we think about being exposed to traumatic events during a war, we think about what soldiers’ experience (e.g., being fired upon, becoming a prisoner of war, sustaining an injury, or witnessing serious injury or death). However, civilians who are not directly involved in the war effort are also frequently confronted with war related stressors. Some typical civilian stressors include life threat; being bombed, shot at, threatened, or displaced; being confined to one’s home; losing a loved one or family member; suffering from financial hardships; and having restricted access to resources such as food, water, and other supplies. Particularly horrific stressors experienced by some civilians during war include torture, beatings, rape, forced labor, witnessing sexual abuse of or violence toward a family member, and mock execution. Most of the research on the effects of war on civilians has been conducted on refugee samples and people who were displaced as a result of war. Compared to other war-exposed civilians, these individuals’ experiences may be more traumatic not only because of the situations that led to their exile but also because of stressors experienced in refugee camps and during the process of resettlement. In general, refugees exhibit high rates of PTSD and depression as well as other psychiatric problems, particularly if they were tortured. PTSD and other problems are prevalent in non-refugee samples as well. An article in a 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on PTSD in survivors of war or mass violence in four low-income countries. Rates of PTSD were 37.4% in Algeria, 28.4% in Cambodia, 17.8% in Gaza, and 15.8% in Ethiopia. These rates are considerably higher than the U.S. rate of 8%.

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The WHO estimated that, in the situations of armed conflicts throughout the world, “10% of the people who experience traumatic events will have serious mental health problems and another 10% will develop behavior that will hinder their ability to function effectively. The most common conditions are depression, anxiety and psychosomatic problems such as insomnia, or back and stomach aches”.

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War and children:

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The figure below shows armed conflicts affecting children and armed conflicts using children as soldiers.


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Millions of children are caught up in conflicts in which they are not merely bystanders, but targets. Some fall victim to a general onslaught against civilians; others die as part of a calculated genocide. Still other children suffer the effects of sexual violence or the multiple deprivations of armed conflict that expose them to hunger or disease. Just as shocking, thousands of young people are cynically exploited as combatants. In 1995, 30 major armed conflicts raged in different locations around the world. All of them took place within States, between factions split along ethnic, religious or cultural lines. The conflicts destroyed crops, places of worship and schools. Nothing was spared, held sacred or protected – not children, families or communities. In the past decade, an estimated two million children have been killed in armed conflict. Three times as many have been seriously injured or permanently disabled, many of them maimed by landmines. Countless others have been forced to witness or even to take part in horrifying acts of violence. These statistics are shocking enough, but more chilling is the conclusion to be drawn from them: more and more of the world is being sucked into a desolate moral vacuum. This is a space devoid of the most basic human values; a space in which children are slaughtered, raped, and maimed; a space in which children are exploited as soldiers; a space in which children are starved and exposed to extreme brutality. Such unregulated terror and violence speak of deliberate victimization. But apart from direct violence, children are also deeply affected by other distressing experiences. Armed conflict destroys homes, splinters communities and breaks down trust among people, undermining the very foundations of children’s lives. The impact of being let down and betrayed by adults is measureless in that it. Children who suffer from stress display a wide range of symptoms, including increased separation anxiety and developmental delays, sleep disturbances and nightmares, lack of appetite, withdrawn behavior, lack of interest in play, and, in younger children, learning difficulties. In older children and adolescents, responses to stress can include anxious or aggressive behavior and depression. Thousands of children are killed every year as a direct result of fighting, from knife wounds, bullets, bombs and landmines, but many more die from malnutrition and disease caused or increased by armed conflicts. The interruption of food supplies, the destruction of food crops and agricultural infrastructures, the disintegration of families and communities, the displacement of populations, the destruction of health services and programs and of water and sanitation systems all take a heavy toll on children. Many die as a direct result of diminished food intake that causes acute and severe malnutrition, while others, compromised by malnutrition, become unable to resist common childhood diseases and infections. One of the most alarming trends in armed conflict is the participation of children as soldiers. Children serve armies in supporting roles, as cooks, porters, messengers and spies. Increasingly, however, adults are deliberately conscripting children as soldiers. Some commanders have even noted the desirability of child soldiers because they are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers”. A series of 24 case studies on the use of children as soldiers covering conflicts over the past 30 years, indicate that government or rebel armies around the world have recruited tens of thousands of children. Most are adolescents, though many child soldiers are 10 years of age or younger. While the majority are boys, girls also are recruited. The children most likely to become soldiers are those from impoverished and marginalized backgrounds and those who have become separated from their families.

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Children as soldiers:

When we think of warfare, children rarely come to mind. Throughout the last four thousand years of war as we know it, children were never an integral, essential part of any military forces in history. But the rules of war have changed. The participation of children is now not a rarity, but instead a growing feature of war. The practice of child soldiers is far more widespread, and more important, than most realize. There are as many as 300,000 children under the age of 18 presently serving as combatants around the globe. Their average age is just over 12 years old. The youngest ever was an armed 5 year old in Uganda.The youngest ever terrorist bomber was a 7 year old in Colombia. Roughly 30% of the armed forces that employ child soldiers also include girl soldiers. Underage girls have been present in armed groups in 55 countries. Children now serve in 40% of the world’s armed forces, rebel groups, and terrorist organizations and fight in almost 75% of the world’s conflicts; indeed, in the last five years, children have served as soldiers on every continent but Antarctica. An additional half million children serve in armed forces not presently at war. The children are often abducted to fight and participate in all the full horrors of war; indeed they are sometimes forced to carry out atrocities that adults shy away from. Children are recruited through all sorts of means. Some are abducted. Typically, recruiting parties from rebels groups of the like are given conscription targets that change according to need and objective. Some, like the Tamil Tigers, even use sophisticated computerized population databases to direct recruiting efforts, so they target the communities that have the most children. All children are not automatically taken, but only those who meet certain criterion. Those judged too small are often killed in order to intimidate both the local populace and the new recruits. Once caught, children have no choice; usually they must comply with their captors or die. To maximize efficiency, both state armies and rebel groups target the places that they know children will be both vulnerable and in the greatest number. The most frequent targets are secondary schools, marketplaces, and refugee camps. Sudan is an example of where this happened. Some children choose to join an armed group of their own volition. However, to describe this choice as “voluntary” is misleading. Leaving aside that they are not yet of the age considered able to make mature decisions, many are driven into conflict by pressures beyond their control, usually economic in nature. Hunger and poverty are endemic in conflict zones and children, particularly those orphaned or disengaged from civil society, may volunteer to join any group that guarantees regular meals. The same factors may also drive parents to offer their children for combat service. Structural conditions may also oblige children to join armed organizations. If surrounded by violence and chaos, they may decide they are safer with guns in their hands. Revenge can also be a particularly powerful impetus to join. Lastly, some groups may take deliberate advantage of adolescence, a stage in life where identify is still defining. Through propaganda or media distortion, violence may be glorified or fictions created to induce children to self-identify with an organization. This took place in places ranging from Rwanda to Palestine.

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The United Nations and the international community use the term “children and armed conflict” to capture the following six grave violations against children in situations of conflict:

The recruitment and use of children as soldiers;

Rape and other grave sexual violence against children;

Killing and maiming of children;

Abduction of children;

Attacks against schools or hospitals;

Denial of humanitarian access to children.

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According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2 million children have been killed by conflict over the last decade; 6 million children have been made homeless; 12 million have been injured or disabled; and there are at least 300,000 child soldiers operating in 30 different conflicts across the globe. The physical effects of war on children include not only injury and death from weapons, but also the effect of the disruption of the basic infrastructures of the country; public health, medicine, education, and social services. Furthermore, as a result of war, families are disrupted, children are orphaned, and people are forced to become refugees both within and without their countries. The greatest effects on children occur when parents are killed, harmed, terrified, or unable to function and when the child experiences violent harm to self or loved ones, threats of such violence, or engages in harming others.

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Listing the impacts of war on children is sadly a straightforward task:

Death: Hundreds of thousands of children die of direct violence in war each year. They die as civilians caught in the violence of war, as combatants directly targeted, or in the course of ethnic cleansing.

Injury: Children suffer a range of war injuries. Certain weapons affect them particularly. A landmine explosion is more likely to kill or seriously injure a child than an adult. Thousands of children suffer landmine injuries each year.

Disability: Millions of children are disabled by war, many of whom have grossly inadequate access to rehabilitation services. A child may have to wait up to 10 years before having a prosthetic limb fitted. Children who survive landmine blasts rarely receive prostheses that are able to keep up with the continued growth of their limbs.

Illness: Conditions for maintenance of child health deteriorate in war – nutrition, water safety, sanitation, housing, access to health services. There may be loss of immunity to disease vectors with population movement. Refugee children are particularly vulnerable to the deadly combination of malnutrition and infectious illness. There is also interruption of population immunization programs by war which may be responsible for increases in child mortality.

Rape and prostitution for subsistence: These phenomena which often occur in situations of war, ethnic cleansing, and refugee life leave lasting physical impacts in sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, psychological impacts and changes in life trajectory.

Psychological suffering: Children are exposed to situations of terror and horror during war – experiences that may leave enduring impacts in posttraumatic stress disorder. Severe losses and disruptions in their lives lead to high rates of depression and anxiety in war-affected children. These impacts may be prolonged by exposures to further privations and violence in refugee situations.

Moral and spiritual impacts: The experience of indifference from the surrounding world, or, worse still, malevolence may cause children to suffer loss of meaning in their construction of themselves in their world. They may have to change their moral structure and lie, steal, and sell sex to survive. They may have their moral structure forcibly dismantled and replaced in training to kill as part of a military force.

Social and cultural losses: Children may lose their community and its culture during war, sometimes having it reconstituted in refugee or diaspora situations.

Child soldiers: It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of young people under 18 serving in militias in about 60 countries. They are particularly vulnerable to all of the impacts listed above.

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According to WHO, the Psychological Consequences of conflict situation on children are as follows:


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Distress responses expressed as:

Insomnia

Sense of Vulnerability

Emotional liability

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Behavioral changes expressed as:

Domestic Violence

Increased health care use

Smoking

Alcohol Consumption

Drug addict

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Psychiatric illness expressed as:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Major Depression

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Girl soldier:

The table below shows roles and activities assumed by girls working as soldiers:


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War and gender:

It is stated that ‘gender’ is the ‘socially constructed differences between men and women’, in turn the social construction of masculinity and femininity. Hague claims that ‘society constructs masculinity as a bearer of power and subjugates femininity to maintain the dominance of that power through patriarchy’ (Hague, 1997:51). There are some gender stereotypes that are often referred to universally. These include, with reference to masculinity: rationality, dominance, active, power, strength, economic provider, protector, public sphere, mind and culture. Contrastingly, femininity can often be paralleled with irrationality, submissiveness, nurturer, domestic, caring, passive, private sphere, body and nature. During wartime, males make up the main part of the military and as this is controlled by the state they are often left with no choice but to fight. Many are constantly on the front line and are therefore more likely to be captured or killed. Also, men are described as having a more prominent role in the peace-making process. UNIFEM has commented that during the peace process sometimes women are not consulted, even though they are the ones that will benefit the most, and who know the situation in the host community better (Rehn & Johnson Sirleaf, 2002:64). Trite expressions like ‘women love peace and men make war’ are misleading… women represent the best bet for peace, not because they are ‘naturally’ or ‘inherently’ peace-loving human beings… but because women are usually excluded from the male-dominated political groups which take war-like decisions (Mansaray 2000, p. 144).

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Now take into account the effects of war during wartime with specific reflection on the example of Bosnia-Herzegovinia. There are many examples detailing the horrific treatment of women during wartime whereby rape is often administered in a brutal and aggressive manner, more frequently than not, to symbolize the invasion of a certain territory. Kelly asserts that ‘women’s bodies are constructed as both territory to be conquered and vehicles through which the nation/group can be reproduced’ (Kelly, 2000:50). ‘Much of the theorization of rape comes from Western feminist thought’ thus Hague goes on to argue that rape is ‘an alliance of masculine sexuality’s aggressive, violent and dominating position with respect to femininity’s allegedly inherent passivity’ (Hague, 1997:51). Hague claims that ‘the Serb and Bosnian Serb military policy of genocidal rape presented very particular relationships of power, subordination and masculinity’ (Hague, 1997:51) and consequently states that ‘rape, in whatever context, is founded upon assumptions of power, domination and gender identity’ (Hague, 1997:50). ‘It is these wider assumptions about certain types of soldierly masculinities that provide the basis for the perpetration of these crimes’ (Hague, 1997:50). Women are seen as easy targets, and symbolically represent the ‘motherland’. In turn, their rape has a double meaning and impact and can be termed as ‘symbolic violence’ (Morgan & Thapar Bjorkert, 2006:441). There is also extra pressure placed on women to put themselves in danger, which can often be overlooked, as they shelter, feed and clothe soldiers, courier messages secretly at the risk of getting caught by the opposition, and sometimes take part in guerrilla warfare.

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According to recent studies on life expectancy among unarmed civilians caught in armed conflict, women are the primary adult victims of war. A unique harm of war for women is the trauma inflicted in military brothels, rape camps, the growing sex trafficking for prostitution, and increased domestic violence. Widows of war, women victims of landmines, and women refugees of war are particularly vulnerable to poverty, prostitution, and higher illness and death in the post-conflict period.

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Contrastingly, women can be empowered during wartime as the traditional ‘feminine’ role is challenged, allowing them to be heads of households, work in the public sphere, and display qualities and skills which are often reserved for men or regarded as ‘masculine’ (Kelly, 2000:61-62). In essence, war can give many women the opportunity to prove themselves as equal and just as capable as men, in turn disproving traditional or stereotypical gender roles that have been ascribed to each sex for hundreds of years. It is crucial here to highlight the fact that women are not just passive victims of war, as is habitually the perception. Thapar Bjorkert, ‘by using a specific example of caste conflicts in rural Bihar, North India’, documents the way in which the Dalit women are referred to as ‘the chief arm bearers who defend their interests over economic resources…and have taken the responsibility to protect their own integrity against sexual violence from the upper caste men’ (2006:474). Here the notions of femininity in relation to violence are confronted and overturned.

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 Rape: A weapon of war:

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 Rape as a weapon of war has lasting effects on both individuals and society, and thus proves that rape as a weapon of war is not an individual issue, but a societal issue. The 21st century may see an increase in what is possibly one of the world’s most powerful and destructive weapons against humanity. Rape shapes not only the future of an individual victim, but families, communities, generations, nations and has the potential to reach a global scale. The use of rape as a weapon is one of the most violent and humiliating offences inflicted on the enemy, the brutalization of rape permanently scars the victim’s mind, soul and often body. Rape is often used as a predecessor to murder, where others survive only to serve as daily reminders to those around them of the tragedies of war. Victims are shunned by their families and communities and many become pregnant as a result of their rapes. Rape leaves a permanent reminder of war and of the enemy through the birth of a child, which places both the mother and child in continual victimization and isolation. Rape as a weapon of war affects not only the rape victim, but their entire family, village and community.

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One of the greatest historical instances of mass rape warfare dates back to the 13th century as Genghis Khan, whose great rise to power came from his military mastery as he amassed an empire across Asia and Central Europe. Genghis Khan established his overwhelming power through strategic methods of violence and terror at the expense of millions of women and young girls, as he established strategic policies of rape warfare. Bidwell (1973) gives examples, such as Genghis Khan telling his courtiers: “The greatest pleasure in life is to defeat your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses, and to ravage their wives and daughters”. In recent history, rape was used in World War II by the Nazis, Soviets, and by the Japanese (as was the case with ‘Comfort Women’ and the infamous Rape of Nanking) and it was used in Vietnam. The last decade has seen a growing number of civil conflicts around the world increasingly target women and girls, leaving the number of rapes and forms of abuse at alarming levels, triggering an epidemic of sexual violence as a form of warfare. Countries such as: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Guatemala, India, Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Uganda have used rape as a weapon in a conflict. Currently the use of rape as a weapon of war continues in many countries such as the Sudan and the Congo, to name only a few.

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“Rape, as with all terror-warfare, is not exclusively an attack on the body- it is an attack on the ‘body-politic’. Its goal is not to maim or kill one person but to control an entire socio-political process by crippling it. It is an attack directed equally against personal identity and cultural integrity” (Nordstrom 1991).

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It is argued that wartime time systematic rape is a weapon of war that often destroys the foundations that hold societies together. According to Sideris (2001: 148) the use of rape is to humiliate women and destroy communities constitute only part of the threat to social stability because the ways women are raped in war distorts social norms and in this way threatens social and cultural integrity. This is a shared gendered condition of war perpetrated by warring factions in the countries under review. In Liberia, for example, Aning (1998, 11) noted that sexual abuse formed part of the war strategy of Charles Taylor’s NPFL: In the case of the NPFL, rape was specifically elevated to a central position in its intimidation tactics and exercised as a tool of coercion and terrorism…. In mid-1993, an excerpt of a radio conversation between Taylor and his field commander, John T. Richardson, was clear as to its purpose. Taylor is heard giving orders to Richardson, who had surrounded a displaced persons centre in Harbel and Kakata, to shoot ‘at anything that moves’. Questioned for clarification as to what to do with the civilian populace, Taylor retorts, ‘…if you have men among them, chop them, and for the women, rape them. To hell with them!’  Right across Africa it was (and still is, in Congo and Darfur’s case) evident that the rape of women served strategic militaristic purpose. According to Turshen (1998, p. 11) “rape is a weapon of war used to spread political terror… rape is used to terrorize and silence women and force them to flee homes, families and communities.” In Sierra Leone, systematic rape characterized the ‘joint criminal venture’ between all factions, irrespective of their political affiliations.

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War-time sexual violence has been one of history’s greatest silences. Long dismissed as the random acts of renegade soldiers, rape has been steeped in a self-serving myth of inevitability. Indeed, conflict creates a climate for rampant sexual abuse. Law and order is held in abeyance; communities are awash with small arms and light weapons; moral and social restraints give way to the peril and privation of war; and a culture of sexual entitlement prevails among armed groups that loot, pillage and rape with impunity, treating women as the “spoils of war”.

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The wars that raged in Bosnia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, DRC and Darfur have made the military logic of mass rape undeniable. Desolate villages and fallow fields bear stark witness to the terror of sexual violence in displacing populations. Eye-witnesses recount the gang-rape of women by rebels with the stated intent of causing them to bear children of a certain lineage. An average of 48 women are raped every hour in DRC; between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped during the war in Bosnia in the early 1990s; in Sierra Leone, between 50,000 and 64,000 internally displaced women suffered sexual assault at the hands of combatants; 40000 women were raped by the Pakistani Army during the 1971 Bangladesh war of secession; the Rwandan genocide memorial notes that 500,000 women were raped during 100 days of conflict.

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Yet sexual violence statistics notoriously under-count real totals. Rape victims caught up in conflict or crisis are among the world’s least visible, least accessible people in some of the most austere, remote regions. Rape is a torture tactic of choice, because victims are reticent to report. Survivors are stigmatized: wives rejected by husbands, girls rendered “unmarriageable”, pregnant women accused of adultery or of tainting family “honor”. This misplaced blame and shame has deep roots in a historical absence of accountability. Legal and policy reform to assign the shame of rape squarely to the perpetrator can shatter the stigma that makes it a potent tool of family and community breakdown. Yet reporting is impeded not only by fear of stigmatization and the disintegration of institutions – it is often seen as futile. Of some 14,200 rape cases registered in South Kivu, DRC, between 2005-2007, just 2% of perpetrators were ever called to account.

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Systematic rape is often used as a weapon of war in ‘ethnic cleansing’. More than 20,000 Muslim girls and women have been raped in Bosnia since fighting began in April 1992, according to a European Community fact-finding team. Teenage girls have been a particular target in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, according to The State of the World’s Children 1996 report. The report also says that impregnated girls have been forced to bear ‘the enemy’s’ child. In some raids in Rwanda, virtually every adolescent girl who survived an attack by the militia was subsequently raped. Many of those who became pregnant were ostracized by their families and communities. Some abandoned their babies; others committed suicide. Sexual violation of women erodes the fabric of a community in a way that few weapons can. Rape’s damage can be devastating because of the strong communal reaction to the violation and pain stamped on entire families. The harm inflicted in such cases on a woman by a rapist is an attack on her family and culture, as in many societies women are viewed as repositories of a community’s cultural and spiritual values.

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In addition to rape, girls and women are also subject to forced prostitution and trafficking during times of war, sometimes with the complicity of governments and military authorities. During World War II, women were abducted, imprisoned and forced to satisfy the sexual needs of occupying forces, and many Asian women were also involved in prostitution during the Viet Nam war. The trend continues in today’s conflicts.

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War and environment:

War has a severe, indirect impact on humans and the environment through the diversion of human and economic resources. The governments of many developing countries spend five to twenty-five times more on military than on health expenditures. From this culture of violence people learn at an early age that violence is the way to try to resolve conflicts. War and preparation for war use huge amounts of nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels, as well as toxic and radioactive substances that cause pollution of the air, water, and land.

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Environmental impacts of conflict:

Scientific assessment of the environmental effects of conflict is generally categorized as direct and indirect impacts. Direct impacts relate to those whose occurrence may be physically and lineally linked to military action and which typically arise within the immediate short-term (up to six months), whereas indirect impacts are those that can be reliably attributed to the conflict but which usually interact with a web of factors and only become fully manifest in the medium to longer run. Some examples of direct impacts include environmental contamination from bombing of industrial sites, deliberate natural resource destruction, and military debris and demolition waste from targeted infrastructure. Indirect impacts include the environmental footprint of displaced populations, collapse of environmental governance and data vacuum, and lack of funding for environmental protection.

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Habitat Destruction:

Perhaps the most famous example of habitat devastation occurred during the Vietnam War, when U.S. forces sprayed herbicides like Agent Orange on the forests and mangrove swamps that provided cover to guerrilla soldiers. An estimated 20 million gallons of herbicide were used, decimating about 4.5 million acres of the countryside. Some regions are not expected to recover for several decades.

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Refugees:

When warfare causes the mass movement of people, the resulting impacts on the environment can be catastrophic. Widespread deforestation, unchecked hunting, soil erosion and contamination of land and water by human waste occur when thousands of humans are forced to settle in a new area. During the Rwandan conflict in 1994, much of that country’s Akagera National Park was opened to refugees; as a result, local populations of animals like the roan antelope and the eland became extinct.

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Invasive Species:

 Military ships, cargo airplanes and trucks often carry more than soldiers and munitions; non-native plants and animals can also ride along, invading new areas and wiping out native species in the process. Laysan Island in the Pacific Ocean was once home to a number of rare plants and animals, but troop movements during and after World War II introduced rats that nearly wiped out the Laysan finch and the Laysan rail, as well as bringing in sandbur, an invasive plant that crowds out the native bunchgrass that local birds depend on for habitat.

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Infrastructure Collapse:

Among the first and most vulnerable targets of attack in a military campaign are the enemy’s roads, bridges, utilities and other infrastructure. While these don’t form part of the natural environment, the destruction of wastewater treatment plants, for example, severely degrades regional water quality. During the 1990s fighting in Croatia, chemical manufacturing plants were bombed; because treatment facilities for chemical spills weren’t functioning, toxins flowed downstream unchecked until the conflict ended.

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Increased Production:

Even in regions not directly affected by warfare, increased production in manufacturing, agriculture and other industries that support a war effort can wreak havoc on the natural environment. During World War I, former wilderness areas of the United States came under cultivation for wheat, cotton and other crops, while vast stands of timber were clear-cut to meet wartime demand for wood products. Timber in Liberia, oil in Sudan and diamonds in Sierra Leone are all exploited by military factions. These provide a revenue stream that is used to buy weapons.

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Scorched Earth Practices:

The destruction of one’s own homeland is a time-honored, albeit tragic, wartime custom. The term “scorched earth” originally applied to burning crops and buildings that might feed and shelter the enemy, but it’s now applied to any environmentally destructive strategy. To thwart invading Japanese troops during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), Chinese authorities dynamited a dike on the Yellow River, drowning thousands of Japanese soldiers — and thousands of Chinese peasants, while also flooding millions of square miles of land.

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Hunting and Poaching:

 If an army crawls on its stomach, as is often said, then feeding an army often requires hunting local animals, especially larger mammals that often have slower rates of reproduction. In the ongoing war in Sudan, poachers seeking meat for soldiers and civilians have had a tragic effect on bush animal populations in Garamba National Park, just across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At one point, the number of elephants shrunk from 22,000 to 5,000, and there were only 15 white rhinos left alive.

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Biological, Chemical and Nuclear Weapons:

 The production, testing, transport and use of these advanced weapons are perhaps the single most destructive effects of war on the environment. Though their use has been strictly limited since the bombing of Japan by the U.S. military at the end of World War II, military analysts have grave concerns about the proliferation of nuclear material and chemical & biological weaponry. Researchers point to the use of depleted uranium (DU) as one particularly dangerous military trend. DU is a byproduct of the uranium-enrichment process. Almost twice as dense as lead, it’s valued in weapons for its ability to penetrate tank armor and other defenses. An estimated 320 tons of DU were used in the Gulf War in 1991; in addition to soil contamination, experts are concerned that soldiers and civilians may have been exposed to dangerous levels of the compound.

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Fossil fuel use:

With the high degree of mechanization of the military large amounts of fossil fuels are used. Fossil fuels are a major contributor to global warming and climate change, issues of increasing concern. Access to oil resources is also a factor for instigating a war.

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Regional Nuclear War Could Create the Mother of all Ozone Holes:

A new computer modeling study by CU-Boulder scientists Brian Toon and Michael Mills shows that even a regional nuclear war (between Pakistan and India, for example) could create a near global hole in the ozone layer. This, aside from the other terrifying effects of such a war, would affect life on Earth for at least a decade.

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Effects of war on civilization:

As civilized men we want the all-round development of human culture, literature, science and the arts, giving good-bye to the jungle laws, In a word, civilization is a state when the highest ideals of the human society are naturally and spontaneously reflected in man’s thoughts and actions. If we admire the civilization of ancient India or Greece and Rome, it is not for the wars that they waged, but for their literature, art and architec­ture, their philosophic thoughts. History teaches us one thing, that is, man has attained his highest civilization in times of peace. The military successes of ancient times are mostly forgotten: The poets have praised war but it is only to illustrate the greatness of the human mind, which the exploits of heroic fighters displayed. But imagine the cost of wars. Disturbance of peace destroys the conditions on which civilization depends. In the first place, war rouses the brutal passions of the human mind where man is less than human. It is organized butchery, mass killing of young men at the doorstep of life. Modern war carries destruction even to areas of peace, inhabited by civil population, cities and cornfields and bridges and factories are blasted out by heavy bombing from the air. It puts back the hands of progress for years, and man has to rebuild afresh what he had created with so much money and toil. Finally, modern war demands a people’s all-out, efforts, and little time is left to devote to art and architecture. To be thinking all the time about the best way to ruin the enemy is certainly not a very healthy or civilized occupation. A school of modern apologists of war argues that war is a biological necessity of increasing the vitality of people. War brings out effectively the more virile qualities of body and mind. A nation becomes brave, self-respective and self-reliant as a result of war. That this is not the whole truth should have been clear to anyone studying the recent history of Germany, Italy or other nations following their footsteps. It is possible by generating a kind of war-hysteria to carry a people forward to some extent, but re-action is always disastrous. The test of real civilization is the all-round and harmonious development of both the individual and the social man.

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Effect of war on society:

One of the social effects which affected almost all participants to a certain degree was the increased participation of women in the workforce (where they took the place of many men during the war years), though this was somewhat reduced in the decades following the war, as changing society forced many to return to home and family. According to historian Antony Beevor, amongst others, in his book Berlin – The Downfall 1945, the advancing Red Army had left a massive trail of raped women and girls of all ages behind them. Between several tens of thousands to more than 2,000,000 were victims of rape, often repeatedly. This continued for several years. As a result of this trauma East German women’s attitude towards sex was affected for a long time, and it caused social problems between men and women. Russian authorities dispute the event. The German soldiers left many war children behind in nations such as France and Denmark, which were occupied for an extended period. After the war, the children and their mothers often suffered recriminations. The situation was worst in Norway, where the “Tyskerunger“ (German-kids) suffered greatly. However, today that factor is not present in Norway. The casualties experienced by the combatant nations impacted the demographic profile of the post war populations. One study found that the male to female sex ratio in the German state of Bavaria fell as low as 60% for the most severely affected age cohort (those between 21 and 23 years old in 1946). This same study found that out-of-wedlock births spiked from approximately 10-15% during the inter-war years up to 22% at the end of the war. This increase in out-of-wedlock births was attributed to a change in the marriage market caused by the decline in the sex-ratio.

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Effect of war on health:

Direct effects:


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The indirect effects of conflict on health:

The immediate impact of conflict on physical and mental health accounts for a relatively small proportion of the suffering. In the longer term too, health is harmed by conflict-related damage to essential health-sustaining infrastructure and to the health system, as well as the corrosive effects of conflict related factors such as poverty, unemployment, disrupted education and low morale. Nations customarily measure the ‘costs of war’ in dollars, lost production, or the number of soldiers killed or wounded. Rarely do military establishments attempt to measure the costs of war in terms of individual human suffering. Psychiatric breakdown remains one of the most costly items of war when expressed in human terms.

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The figure below shows Disability-adjusted life year rates from war by country per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004.



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War and economy:

In some cases war has stimulated a country’s economy (World War II is often credited with bringing America out of the Great Depression) but in many cases, such as the wars of Louis XIV, the Franco-Prussian War, and World War I, warfare serves only to damage the economy of the countries involved. For example, Russia’s involvement in World War I took such a toll on the Russian economy that it almost collapsed and greatly contributed to the start of the Russian Revolution of 1917. One of the starkest illustrations of the effect of war upon economies is the Second World War. The Great Depression of the 1930s ended as nations increased their production of war materials to serve the war effort. The financial cost of World War II is estimated at about a trillion U.S. dollars worldwide, making it the most costly war in capital as well as lives. By the end of the war, the European economy had collapsed with 70% of the industrial infrastructure destroyed. Property damage in the Soviet Union inflicted by the Axis invasion was estimated to a value of 679 billion rubles. The combined damage consisted of complete or partial destruction of 1,710 cities and towns, 70,000 villages/hamlets, 2,508 church buildings, 31,850 industrial establishments, 40,000 miles of railroad, 4100 railroad stations, 40,000 hospitals, 84,000 schools, and 43,000 public libraries.

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Are Wars Good for the Economy? – The Myth

One of the more enduring myths in Western society is that wars are somehow good for the economy. Many people see a great deal of evidence to support this myth, after all World War II came directly after the Great Depression. This faulty belief stems from a misunderstanding of the economic way of thinking. The standard “a war gives the economy a boost” argument goes as follows: Let’s suppose that the economy is in the low end of the business cycle, so we’re in a recession or just a period of low economic growth. The unemployment rate is high, people may be making less purchases than they were a year or two ago, and overall output is flat. But then the country decides to prepare for war! The government needs to equip its soldiers with the extra gear and munitions needed in order to win the war. Corporations win contracts to supply boots, and bombs and vehicles to the army. Many of these companies will have to hire extra workers in order to meet this increased production. If the preparations for war are large enough, large numbers of workers will be hired reducing the unemployment rate. Other workers may need to be hired to cover reservists in private sector jobs who get sent overseas. With the unemployment rate down we have more people spending again and people who had jobs before will be less worried about losing their job in the future so they’ll spend more than they did. This extra spending will help the retail sector, who will need to hire extra employees causing unemployment to drop even further.

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Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, figure below shows the composition of U.S. GDP in consumption, investment, government spending and net exports and imports in per-capita terms. It can be seen the war years of 1941 to 1945 saw one of the most significant short term increases in economic growth in the history of the U.S. economy. The top line in blue is GDP, and the increase around World War II is very visible. This was driven by government spending denominated in purple.

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The bottom line in the above study findings is that:

1, Public debt and levels of taxation increased during most conflicts;

2. Consumption as a percent of GDP decreased during most conflicts;

3. Investment as a percent of GDP decreased during most conflicts;

4. Inflation increased during or as a direct consequence of these conflicts.

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Military spending, like other forms of government spending, can be an important source of economic demand during times of low confidence and downturn. It can lead to the development of new technologies, generate new industries and create sources of demand and employment. If military spending is funded by progressive taxation, as it was during World War II, it can indirectly result in more efficient income distribution. The flattening of income distribution after 1945 helped facilitate the creation of a large consumer oriented middle class which was the foundation stone for the long post-war boom that underpinned the U.S.’s subsequent political economic pre-eminence. On the other hand, Paul Kennedy, in his widely read Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987), is perhaps the best known historian for the view that persistent and high military expenditures have played an important role in the relative economic decline of major nations since 1500. In this and subsequent works, he argues that the United States now runs the risk of “imperial overstretch”; that America’s global commitments are greater than its capacity to fund them. For him, war is not only a burden, but continuous high levels of defense spending can and generally has turned major nations into minor ones. Although his is a popular view, he had yet to persuade the experts that the United States was well down the road to relative economic decline.
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The most sophisticated studies on the prop v/s burden issue—whether defense spending contributes to economic growth and well‐being by stimulating the economy, or whether defense spending uses up scarce resources or diverts resources into less productive channels—tend to emphasize that growth in the GDP has been rather constant, with little lasting impact from the nine major wars America has fought since independence. Wars temporarily reduce long‐run productive capacity by reducing the growth of population and the inflow of immigrants; but the general burden of any given war falls largely on the current generation, according to Chester Wright in a seminal study on the more enduring economic consequences of American wars to 1940. More recently, Todd Sandler and Keith Hartley demonstrated that defense spending generally inhibits economic growth in developed countries by crowding out public and private investment, and siphoning off of R & D resources. Indeed, since the late 1980s, world military expenditures as a percentage of GDP have decreased dramatically without any evidence of harmful effects on the world economy. In truth, the overall economic burden of America’s wars is less significant than the inequitable manner in which so much of that burden has been placed upon the working class and those with modest education, while others largely escape or even profit from such wars.
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Although not often explicitly expressed, there is a belief out there that the institution of war, even if not actual wars, is vital to modern economies. According to this position, industrial economies are intimately connected with the production of military technology and military capacity. Because of this, the elimination of war would prove economically devastating as large sectors of society, both in technology and manufacturing, would be wiped out. In essence, this is a very cold, utilitarian argument because it justifies the existence of war as in institution in order to maintain some desirable end (employment, a strong economy) despite the possibility that an actual war may break out and real people may die. The argument that war is necessary to keep the economy going is often put forth as a criticism by Marxists who have long denounced capitalism for encouraging conflict and war among nations. Many capitalists have, however, argued just the opposite: capitalism and free markets are the best guarantors of peace because war, while good for the defense industry, is so bad for just about every other industry. A number of studies have tended to refute the Marxist arguments, revealing that while economic factors can play a role in wars, other factors like political ideology, legal claims, and technological change play a larger role.

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Over 600 million people live in countries affected by fragility and conflict (World Bank Institute). Poverty rates in these countries average 54%, in contrast to 22% for low-income and peaceful countries. Most of these countries don’t get a 54% poverty rate overnight, instead it is the result of years or even decades of fighting and insecurity which lead to stagnation of economic growth, capital flight, fewer opportunities and increasingly disabled and incapable state apparatuses. Without accountability, taxation, and capacity some conflict affected states also become “failed” states where the rule of law and jurisdiction of institutions becomes totally absent and ineffectual.

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The figure below shows relationship between human development index and armed conflicts. Lesser the index, greater the distribution and intensity of conflict in a given region.


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Economic Effects of War:

Wars are expensive (in money and other resources), destructive (of capital and human capital), and disruptive (of trade, resource availability, labor management). Large wars constitute severe shocks to the economies of participating countries. Notwithstanding some positive aspects of short-term stimulation and long-term destruction and rebuilding, war generally impedes economic development and undermines prosperity. Several specific economic effects of war recur across historical eras and locales.

Inflation:

The most consistent short-term economic effect of war is to push up prices, and consequently to reduce living standards. This is war-induced inflation.

Capital Depletion:

In addition to draining money and resources from participants’ economies, most wars create zones of intense destruction of capital such as farms, factories, and cities. These effects severely depress economic output. The famine and plague that accompanied the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) killed as much as one-third of Germany’s population, as mercenaries plundered civilians and civilians became mercenaries to try to survive. World War I reduced French production by nearly half, starved hundreds of thousands of Germans to death, and led to more than a decade of lower Soviet output. One estimate put World War I’s total cost at $400 billion – five times the value of everything in France and Belgium at the time. Battle casualties, war-induced epidemics, and other demographic disruptions have far-reaching effects. World War I contributed to the 1918 influenza epidemic that killed millions. Military forces in East Africa may have sparked the outbreak of what became a global AIDS epidemic. Quincy Wright estimates that “at least 10 percent of deaths in modern civilization can be attributed directly or indirectly to war” (Wright, 1942). The U.S. “baby boom” after World War II continues decades later to shape economic policy debates ranging from school budgets to social security. Wars also temporarily shake up gender relations (among other demographic variables), as when men leave home and women take war jobs to replenish the labor force, as in the Soviet Union, Britain, and the United States during World War II.

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Broken Window Fallacy of War:

The Broken Window Fallacy is brilliantly illustrated in Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in one Lesson. The book is still as useful today as it was when it was first published in 1946. In it, Hazlitt gives the example of a vandal throwing a brick through a shopkeeper’s window. The shopkeeper will have to purchase a new window from a glass shop for a sum of money, say $250. A crowd of people who see the broken window decide that the broken window may have positive benefits:  After all, if windows were never broken, what would happen to the glass business? Then, of course, the thing is endless. The glazier will have $250 more to spend with other merchants, and these in turn will have $250 to spend with still other merchants, and so ad infinitum. The smashed window will go on providing money and employment in ever-widening circles. The logical conclusion from all this would be … that the little hoodlum who threw the brick, far from being a public menace, was a public benefactor.  The crowd is correct in realizing that the local glass shop will benefit from this act of vandalism. They have not considered, however, what the shopkeeper would have spent the $250 on something else if he did not have to replace the window. He might have been saving that money for a new set of golf clubs, but since he has now spent the money, he cannot and the golf shop has lost a sale. He might have used the money to purchase new equipment for his business, or to take a vacation, or to purchase new clothing. So the glass store’s gain is another store’s loss, so there hasn’t been a net gain in economic activity. In fact, there has been a decline in the economy: Instead of [the shopkeeper] having a window and $250, he now has merely a window. Or, as he was planning to buy the suit that very afternoon, instead of having both a window and a suit he must be content with the window or the suit. If we think of him as a part of the community, the community has lost a new suit that might otherwise have come into being, and is just that much poorer. The Broken Window Fallacy is enduring because of the difficulty of seeing what the shopkeeper would have done. We can see the gain that goes to the glass shop. We can see the new pane of glass in the front of the store. However, we cannot see what the shopkeeper would have done with the money if he had been allowed to keep it, precisely because he wasn’t allowed to keep it. We cannot see the set of golf clubs not purchased or the new suit foregone. Since the winners are easily identifiable and the losers not, it’s easy to conclude that there are only winners and the economy as a whole is better off. From the Broken Window Fallacy it is quite easy to see why the war will not benefit the economy. The extra money spent on the war is money that will not be spent elsewhere. The war can be funded in a combination of three ways:

1. Increasing taxes

2. Decrease spending in other areas

3. Increasing the debt

4. Print more money

Increasing taxes reduces consumer spending, which does not help the economy improve at all. Suppose we decrease government spending on social programs. Firstly we’ve lost the benefits those social programs provide. The recipients of those programs will now have less money to spend on other items, so the economy will decline as a whole. Increasing the debt means that we’ll either have to decrease spending or increase taxes in the future; it’s a way to delay the inevitable. Another way to pay for war is to borrow money, which increases government debt, but war-related debts can drive states into bankruptcy as they did to Spain in 1557 and 1596. A fourth way to fund war is to print more currency, which fuels inflation. Inflation thus often acts as an indirect tax on a national economy to finance war. Plus there are all those interest payments in the meantime. So the economy will decline due to the war as shown by the Broken Window Fallacy.

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World Bank urges new thinking to tackle conflicts and violence:

A new World Bank report, challenging a view long embraced by global institutions, says high economic growth alone cannot reduce the poverty and unemployment that breed conflict and violence. The World Bank’s World Development Report released in 2011 shows instead that access to jobs, security and justice, not higher gross domestic product, are key to breaking repeated cycles of political and criminal violence. High unemployment and inequality can combine with weakness in government capacity or problems of corruption, accountability and human rights abuses, to create risks of conflict and violence. Such thinking resonates in the unrest engulfing countries across the Middle East and North Africa from Tunisia to Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and fighting in Libya where the government is struggling to survive. Growth rates in Tunisia and Egypt averaged 5 percent or higher annually, enough to reduce poverty, but it failed to benefit the masses and address repression, corruption and high unemployment, which led to protests that toppled their rulers. The World Bank report found that in countries which moved beyond conflict and violence, governments focused on early reforms in security, justice and jobs. Where one of these elements was missing, transitions usually faltered. The World Bank found that more than 1.5 billion people are affected by conflict and violence around the world, which poses a huge development challenge for governments and the international community. The impact of conflict is so devastating on economies that not a single conflict-affected country has yet achieved any of the U.N.-agreed goals — the so-called Millennium Development Goals — to halve poverty and eradicate hunger around the world by 2015, the report noted. Unlike before, modern-day conflicts are more prone to be within countries instead of across borders, the report found, with more than 90 percent of civil wars in the 2000s repeating themselves in countries that experienced conflict in the last 30 years. Surveys in countries affected by conflict show that unemployment is the main reason why people join gangs and rebels movements, while corruption, injustice and exclusion are the main drivers behind violence. The report said countries where government effectiveness, rule of law and control of corruption are weak have a 30 to 45 percent higher risk of civil war and a much higher chance of experiencing extreme criminal violence. Meanwhile, it typically takes somewhere between 15 to 30 years to build stronger states and institutions in countries emerging from conflict.

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What are the economic benefits of the war on terror?

The US has lost over 5,000 soldiers (small compared to other wars) in war on terror trying to find Osama Bin Laden, and spent $3 trillion in the process. Terrorism is not like conventional enemies. Terrorists want to be recognized, they want to drive economies into bankruptcy trying to fight them. The more we ignore their presence and persist in our way of the life, the more we kick them while they are down. You have to look at the fact that the US economy was $9.6 trillion in 1996, and is $14 trillion today. Any time you can fight 2 to 3 major wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror) simultaneously and still grow your economy 46%, you’re doing something right. The one major economic benefit that comes to mind when discussing the war on terror is uncertainty, which is a major factor in the economic climate. The death of Osama Bin Laden may have decreased the level of global risk and uncertainty which would increase the incentive to invest.

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Pros and cons of war:

Advantage:
Territorial Gain
Respect and fear amongst other nations
Excuse to build up a stronger military and government
New Allies
Freedom
Security
Potential for gaining additional territory or resources
Successful wars can increase the popularity of the ruling political party
Provides an opportunity to provide real world experience for troops and test equipment

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Disadvantage:
Military Spread thinner
Hate amongst other nations
Increased spending
New Enemies
Reduced liberties for security
Blow-back (Unintended consequences such as more terrorism)

Loss of life
Economic struggles due to the cost of military spending
Potential reprisals i.e. terrorist activity
Potential for losing territory or resources

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Can killing innocent people in war be justified?

This is a major reason people should be concerned about the nature of their government. The majority in any country at war is often innocent. But if by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness, they couldn’t overthrow their bad government and establish a better one, then they must pay the price for the sins of their government, as we are all paying for the sins of ours. And if people put up with dictatorship—as some do in Soviet Russia, and some did in Nazi Germany—they deserve what their government deserves. The action of Hitler was directly responsible for death of thousands of innocent German civilians but German people indeed supported Hitler during WWII. Had German people somehow overthrew Hitler, their own massacre could have been prevented. How long so called innocent people blame their leaders for atrocities of war when these leaders were elected or supported by people themselves?  Our only concern should be who started the war. Once that’s established, there’s no need to consider the “rights” of that country, because it has initiated the use of force and therefore stepped outside the principle of rights. The counter argument is that an individual inside a country should be made secure from the social system under which he lives and that he accepts—willingly or unwillingly, because he hasn’t left the country—and that others should respect his rights and succumb to aggression themselves. This is the position of the pacifists, who won’t fight, even if attacked, because they might kill innocent people. If this were correct, nobody would have to be concerned about his country’s political system. But we must care about the right social system, because our lives depend on it—because a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it. 

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Should deaths due to “starvation + disease” resulting from war itself be included as war deaths?

Conflicts that produced comparatively small numbers of battlefield or combat deaths but hundreds of thousands and even a million or more civilian casualties appear to be trivial events if only combat mortality is tabulated. Counts of dead resulting from World War II certainly include both military and civilian mortality, including deaths caused by the bombing of urban centers. The most significant and meaningful quantity is the total number of deaths caused to the nation or the warring party, military or civilian, and irrespective of what the means of killing was, whether by high explosive or by other means, and whether in active combat or not. For example, of the 2 million people that are estimated to have died in Cambodia after 1975 under the Pol Pot regime, only 80,000 to 100,000 were directly killed; all the rest died of starvation or disease resulting from policies and programs carried out by the Pol Pot administration. Noncombatant mortality is therefore included in this civil war. It is particularly pertinent to include deaths caused by starvation and disease during war and conflict when such deaths are a direct concomitant of the conflict. This is especially important because food denial has become an explicit and very significant strategic policy in several wars and conflicts in recent decades (Biafra, Angola, Ethiopia, Somalia, Cambodia, and Sudan). It accounts for some of the highest mortalities, and that mortality is, of course overwhelmingly civilian. The Correlates of War project, and the very many others that followed and used its criteria, set a threshold of 1,000 “war deaths” annually—which meant battlefield deaths—for a conflict to be included in their compilations and analyses. There were few “battlefield deaths” in Cambodia between 1975 and 1978, comparatively few in Somalia in 1990 and 1991, or in Rwanda in 1994; but it would simply be bizarre if two million dead in Cambodia, 350,000 in Somalia and 800,000 or more in Rwanda were omitted from compilations. It is for these reasons that it is decided that the tally presented in some studies would absolutely include deaths of civilians, deaths due to bombing, deaths due to starvation, etc.

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Genocide as tool of war:



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Although genocide was committed by all sides during breakup of Yugoslavia, the Serbs pervasively used genocide as a tool of war. Serbs consistently killed, imprisoned or forcibly transferred over ninety percent of Muslims living in Bosnia. Those Bosnian Muslims not killed or forcibly transferred were taken to Serb run death camps and were starved, summarily executed, or beaten to death. On certain occasions as many as 7,000 Muslims were executed within a five-day period. The Genocide Convention specifically prohibits the use of genocide as a tool of war, and the perpetrators of genocidal aggressions are subject to the provisions of that Convention. The international community was unable to stop the proliferation of atrocities in Yugoslavia despite the numerous international human rights treaties specifically designed to prevent such horrors. Ironically, after World War II, the international community promised itself and its population that the devastation of that war would never again pervade any sector of the world. The violence that took place in Yugoslavia undermined that promise as thousands were killed in the name of ethnic homogeneity.

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Massacre:


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Conflicts worldwide uproot millions (displacement): 

As the world focuses on the people unable to escape the violence in Syria, a new report released  by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) sheds light on the threats facing millions of people worldwide caught up in situations of internal displacement which follow such conflicts. The Global Overview 2011, People Displaced by Conflict and Violence indicates that a total of 26.4 million people were internally displaced in the world at the end of 2011. 3.5 million People were newly displaced during the year 2011, 20 per cent more than in 2010; 830,000 of them fled the impact of the Arab Spring uprisings, an almost six-­‐fold increase from the 177,000 newly displaced in 2010. While the Arab Spring uprisings caused significant surges in internal displacement, events in other regions, such as the spread of the armed conflict in Afghanistan and the activities of drug cartels and paramilitary gangs in Colombia, all added to this figure, while famine and conflict added to the already extreme vulnerabilities of millions of displaced people in Somalia.

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Factors ending a war:

The political and economic circumstances, in the peace that follows war, usually depend on the facts on the ground. Where evenly matched adversaries decide that the conflict has resulted in a stalemate, they may cease hostilities to avoid further loss of life and property. They may decide to restore the antebellum territorial boundaries; redraw boundaries at the line of military control, or negotiate to keep or exchange captured territory.  A warring party that surrenders or capitulates may have little negotiating power, with the victorious side either imposing a settlement or dictating most of the terms of any treaty. A common result is that conquered territory is brought under the dominion of the stronger military power. In cases of complete surrender conquered territories may be brought under the permanent dominion of the victorious side. A raid for the purposes of looting may be completed with the successful capture of goods. In other cases an aggressor may decide to end hostilities to avoid continued losses and cease hostilities without obtaining the original objective, such as happened in the Iran–Iraq War.  Some wars or aggressive actions end when the military objective of the victorious side has been achieved. Others do not, especially in cases where the state structures do not exist, or have collapsed prior to the victory of the conqueror. In such cases, disorganized guerilla warfare may continue for a considerable period. Some hostilities, such as insurgency or civil war, may persist for long periods of time with only a low level of military activity. In some cases there is no negotiation of any official treaty, but fighting may trail off and eventually stop after the political demands of the belligerent groups have been reconciled, a political settlement has been negotiated, the combatants are gradually killed or decide the conflict is futile, or the belligerents cease active military engagement but still threatens each other.

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Efforts to stop wars:

 Anti-war movements have existed for every major war in the 20th century, including, most prominently, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. In the 21st century, worldwide anti-war movements occurred ever since the United States declared wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2001, the US government decided to invade Afghanistan to fight against international terrorism that caused the September 11 attacks. Opposition to the War in Afghanistan spread all over the world. Protests occurred in cities in Europe, Asia, and all over the United States, criticizing its ineffectiveness and illegitimacy. However, they did not stop the US engagement in the war. As of now, the public view worldwide does not seem to favor the war. Organizations like Stop the War Coalition, based in the United Kingdom, keep working on campaigning against the War. They raise awareness of the war, organize demonstrations, and lobby the governments. There also exists significant worldwide opposition to the Iraq War. The US engaged in the war to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction that the Iraqi government allegedly had developed. Critics oppose the war based on the argument of violation of sovereignty, civilian deaths, absence of the UN approval, and lack of justification. However, they did not stop the involvement again. Since then, the US government has been harshly criticized by the public, domestically and internationally, for its conduct during the war, especially in the killings of civilians. Even though the government has been counting the US soldiers up until now, they have refused to release numbers on the civilian deaths. The Mexican Drug War, with estimated casualties of 40,000 since December 2006, has been recently facing a fundamental opposition. In 2011, the movement for peace and justice has started a popular middle-class movement against the war. It has won the recognition of President Calderon, who started the war, but has not ended it. Governments also use the method of disarmament to stop and prevent the cost of war.   

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Reconciliation:

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Reconciliation is a complex term, and there is little agreement on its definition. This is mainly because reconciliation is both a goal – something to achieve – and a process – a means to achieve that goal. A great deal of controversy arises from confusing these two ideas. The goal of reconciliation is a future aspiration, something important to aim towards, perhaps even an ideal state to hope for. But the process is very much a present tense way of dealing with how things are – building a reconciliation process is the means to work, effectively and practically, towards that final goal – and is invaluable in itself. A second source of complexity is that the process of reconciliation happens in many contexts – between wife and husband, for example, between offender and victim, between friends who have argued or between nations or communities that have fought. We are focusing on reconciliation after sustained and widespread violent conflict. Typically, we have in mind what is often called a post-conflict situation: war has ended, a settlement has been reached, and a new regime is struggling to construct a new society out of the ashes of the old. Part of that task of construction is to build better relationships between the previously warring factions. There is no handy roadmap for reconciliation. There is no short cut or simple prescription for healing the wounds and divisions of a society in the aftermath of sustained violence. Creating trust and understanding between former enemies is a supremely difficult challenge. It is, however, an essential one to address in the process of building a lasting peace. Examining the painful past, acknowledging it and understanding it, and above all transcending it together, is the best way to guarantee that it does not – and cannot – happen again. As the experience in South Africa has taught us, each society must discover its own route to reconciliation. Reconciliation cannot be imposed from outside, nor can someone else’s map get us to our destination: it must be our own solution. This involves a very long and painful journey, addressing the pain and suffering of the victims, understanding the motivations of offenders, bringing together estranged communities, trying to find a path to justice, truth and, ultimately, peace. Faced with each new instance of violent conflict, new solutions must be devised that are appropriate to the particular context, history and culture in question. And yet, despite the differences between Cape Town and Kigali, between Belgrade and Belfast, there are also similarities in each situation.

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Reconciliation is an over-arching process which includes the search for truth, justice, forgiveness, healing and so on. At its simplest, it means finding a way to live alongside former enemies – not necessarily to love them, or forgive them, or forget the past in any way, but to coexist with them, to develop the degree of cooperation necessary to share our society with them, so that we all have better lives together than we have had separately. Politics is a process to deal with the issues that have divided us in the past. Reconciliation is a parallel process that redesigns the relationship between us. This is an immense challenge, and no one should think that it is quick or easy. But the effort carries a great reward: effective reconciliation is the best guarantee that the violence of the past will not return. If we can build a new relationship between us that is built on respect and a real understanding of each other’s needs, fears and aspirations, the habits and patterns of cooperation that we then develop are the best safeguard against a return to violent division. And so we reach our basic definition of reconciliation: it is a process through which a society moves from a divided past to a shared future.

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Policy recommendations to decrease the risk of internal conflict onset:

A. Promoting economic growth and diversification is the best long term strategy for reducing the risk of conflict. Natural resource based growth requires very good resource revenue management to have positive political effects. Wealthy nations may contribute to growth and diversification through foreign aid, liberalization of trade in goods exported by low and middle income countries, and by promoting transparent and redistributive management of resource revenues. Regional development strategies should be emphasized.

B. Promoting greater democracy and improved human rights in low and middle income countries is desirable for a number of reasons but does not necessarily reduce conflict levels. In countries where democratic processes function reasonably well, policies to maintain and develop the democratic institutions will reduce the risk of conflict. In countries where electoral institutions are nonexistent or dysfunctional, however, encouraging constraints on the executive (through mechanisms to ensure budgetary transparency, auditing bodies, and the stimulation of the emergence of an independent press and non-governmental organizations) is more important than promoting free and fair elections. As long as executives can operate with few constraints, the incentives for electoral fraud will be too large.

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Policy recommendations to terminate ongoing armed conflict:

 A. Promote and finance UN and other peacekeeping operations (PKO). In addition, long-term guarantees of rapid intervention resembling the UK guarantee in Sierra Leone should be supported. Such guarantees should be used to press post-conflict governments to reduce military spending which diverts valuable budgetary resources. Military spending in low income countries is in general counterproductive as means of preventing domestic conflict and also leads to regional arms races.

B. Promote post conflict aid. Tie aid to limits on military spending. Aid regularly spills over into military spending (Collier and Hoeffler estimate that 11.4% of development aid leaks into military budgets). Moreover, military spending typically increases substantially during conflicts. Caps on military spending as a condition for development aid is therefore both a necessary and potentially effective tool to reduce risk of conflict recurrence.

C. Promote role and efforts of the International Court of Justice to criminalize wrongdoing during war. Also promote local post-conflict justice efforts. Work to discourage blanket amnesty for war crimes.

D. Promote international regimes such as the Kimberley Process to regulate trade in contraband resources used to finance war. While there are holes in the Kimberley Process, and regulatory regimes alone will not stop a conflict, such measures in combination with PKOs and other policies can be effective.

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Conflicts can be resolved by discussing, avoiding and compromising. It is much easier to resolve conflict during times of peace between individuals. Often, they agree to abide by the decisions of a mediator, who can be an advocate’s strongest ally; it is the mediator’s neutral voice that is most powerful in carrying the lawyer’s argument to the other side. War can be resolved through peace treaties and agreements. One practical way to end war is to negotiate and sacrifice. Even if one is the victor, they must sacrifice and appease the loser to some extent to avoid future hostilities. While not destroying the opposing side’s economy or political system, the winning country may alter certain aspects to ensure safety or achieve the goal of the war in the first place.

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Conflict prevention:

All people need to feel that they have a fair share in decision-making, equal access to resources, the ability to participate fully in civil and political society and the freedom to affirm their own identities and fully express their aspirations. Such ideas have been eloquently expressed, with analytic power that cannot be attempted here, in such texts as The Challenge to the South: The Report of the South Commission and the report of the Commission on Global Governance entitled “Our Global Neighbourhood”. Preventing conflicts from escalating is a clear responsibility of national governments and the international community, but there is also an important role for civil society. Religious, community and traditional leaders have often been successful at conflict management and prevention, as have scholars and NGOs involved in mediation and capacity building. Women’s organizations, too, have been very influential, promoting the presence of women at the negotiating table, where they can act as their own advocates and agents for peace.

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Conflict prevention does not seek to end conflict per se but to replace violence or armed conflict with non-violent responses and resolution. Although conflicts are not always rational, finding ways to avoid them makes good sense. As some analysts argue, it is far less costly to prevent armed conflicts than to respond to them once they have started. It is estimated that every dollar spent on prevention can potentially save the international community more than four dollars. Conflict prevention has come to mean taking a distinctly proactive stance in response to volatile situations. Since conflicts result from numerous influences at many levels, preventing them requires action at the local, national, regional and inter-regional levels. At the same time, a ‘culture of peace’ must be promoted, based on the principles of tolerance, rights, responsibilities, reconciliation and coexistence. In the words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, preventing conflicts requires that we “understand their origins and seek to make violence a less reasonable option. We must also take care that preventive action does not ignore the underlying injustices or motivations that caused people to take up arms.” Both conflict prevention and peace building require the willingness and capacity of the population to resolve conflict by non-violent means, which must be sustained through generations. Yet sadly, one of the best predictors of future conflict is having recently emerged from one: About half the countries transitioning from war will likely slip back into conflict within a decade. According to one assessment, all ‘new’ conflicts in 2005 and 2006 were actually post-conflict relapses.

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People have tried before to find a way of preventing war, but they have not succeeded. If the problem can be solved at all, one thing is certain: It will not be solved without a lot of hard thinking. And it isn’t enough to leave this hard thinking to a few statesmen and scholars. In a democracy these are not the people who settle the great issues. They can only be settled by the will of the majority. And they can be settled wisely only if the majority are willing to think about them coolly and carefully and to weigh the arguments for and against any proposed ways of settling them.

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There are three things that must occur for nations to avoid warfare.

1. First, people must be made aware of faulty individual and group belief systems that bias their perceptions of others, a process that requires free access to information.

2. Second, the basic needs of individuals, such as food and shelter, must be met, and there must also be opportunities to fulfill greater human potentials, such as self-confidence, achievement, creative expression, and spirituality. People are more inclined to look for scapegoats in times of scarcity when competition is fierce and insecurity is high. Reducing such insecurities diminishes the feeling of threat and increases the likelihood that people will embrace peaceful solutions to conflict.

3. The third precondition for peace is to create a cycle of positive reciprocity. It is well known that people are more inclined to help those who have helped them in the past and to harm those who have harmed them. As such, friendly initiatives made to adversaries have the potential to bridge the gap, improving relations over time and reducing the likelihood that conflicts will escalate.

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“Taming the Violence of Faith: Win-Win Solutions for Our World in Crisis”, a social treatise by Jay Stuart Snelson, sets forth a method of shifting cultural paradigms to produce beneficial results rather than destructive conflict. Throughout history, humans have sought dominance over one another according to a win-lose perception of reality believing that for one party to gain the other must be forced to lose. According to Snelson, another form of conflict resolution is not just possible but necessary to avoid ultimate social destruction. Based on the understanding that cultural paradigms, not human nature, are responsible for our ongoing religious and political conflicts, Snelson offers an analysis of these paradigms and how to shift away from violence to nonviolence. Not content with abstract theorizing disconnected from critical evidence, he builds his Science of Social Causation model on scientific observation and seeks to present a well-reasoned and practicable method of moving toward a win-win success for mutual gain. “If we cannot tame the violence of religious and political faith in the nuclear age, not only is all civilization at risk, but our species faces the ominous prospect of self-extinction,” says Snelson.

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Education for peace:

All sectors of society must come together to build “ethical frameworks”, integrating traditional values of cooperation through religious and community leaders with international legal standards. Some of the groundwork for the building of “ethical frameworks” can be laid in schools. Both the content and the process of education should promote peace, social justice, respect for human rights and the acceptance of responsibility. Children need to learn skills of negotiation, problem solving, critical thinking and communication that will enable them to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence. To achieve this, a number of countries have undertaken peace education programs. In Lebanon, education for peace program is jointly undertaken in 1989 by the Lebanese Government, NGOs, youth volunteers and UNICEF and now benefiting thousands of children nationally. In Liberia, the student palaver conflict management program employs adolescents as resources in peer conflict resolution and mediation activities in schools. In Northern Ireland, there is an initiatives aimed at the universal inclusion of peace education elements in school curricula. Similarly in Sri Lanka, an education for conflict resolution program has been integrated into primary and secondary school education. An innovative element is the program’s use of various public media to reach to out-of-school children and other sectors of the community. While such initiatives are not always successful, they are indispensable to the eventual rehabilitation of a shattered society.

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Demilitarization:

In addition to pursuing equitable patterns of development, Governments can lower the risk of armed conflict by reducing levels of militarization and by honoring the commitments made at the World Summit for Social Development to support the concept of human security. Towards that end, Governments must take firm action to shift the allocation of resources from arms and military expenditures to human and social development. Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is heavily militarized: between 1960 and 1994, the proportion of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) devoted to military spending rose from 0.7 per cent to 2.9 per cent. The region’s military expenditure is now around $8 billion, despite the fact that 216 million people live in poverty. South Asia is another region that spends heavily on arms. In 1994, it spent $14 billion on the military although 562 million South Asians live in absolute poverty. Governments worldwide should take uncompromising steps to demilitarize their societies by strictly limiting and controlling access to weapons. At the international level, Governments must exercise the political will to control the transfer of arms to conflict zones, particularly where there is evidence of gross violation of children’s rights. The United Nations must adopt a much firmer position on the arms trade, including a total ban on arms shipments to areas of conflict and determined efforts to eliminate the use, production, trade and stockpiling of anti-personnel landmines. The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms should be expanded to include more types of weapons and mandatory reporting should be required.

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How World War III prevented so far?

Better communications and diplomacy. For instance, the US President and Soviet Premier had a direct telephone hotline which enabled them to talk during times of emergency. Also, the United Nations while imperfect proved itself more strong and effective than the League of Nations. And there was the concept known as ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ which maintained a balance of power, as a third world war most likely would have been fought with nuclear weapons, and there would be no winners.

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 Is assassination an acceptable tool for government to use to prevent war?

There is no correct answer to this question. Would you have ordered a hit on Hitler if you were in a position to do so? You think so. Gaddafi, you are not so sure. We would like to see him go to trial. Ask whether it is ever right and just to kill. Does it matter whether it is on a field of battle far removed from you or it is the person who is raping your wife or driving an icepick into your sister’s jugular?  Military strategists say that after a declared war had commenced, it would be acceptable to assassinate a leader if the assassination was likely to result in a serious detrimental effect on the enemy’s ability to wage war, and thus shorten the conflict. Equally the killing of Reynardt Heydrich during the Second World War was acceptable because he was instrumental in implementing mass persecutions. All such killing should be decided on an individual basis, and all should have clearly understood justification. However, if assassination is acceptable then, we are eliminating any limits to the way we act; to our morals and conduct. Thus, road-side bombs and suicide bombers will become acceptable as well.

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Human Rights, Conflicts and UN:

Today, some of the most serious threats to international peace and security are armed conflicts that arise, not among nations, but among warring factions within a State. Although situations of internal violence, they often spill over borders, endangering the security of other States and resulting in complex humanitarian emergencies. The human rights abuses prevalent in internal conflicts are now among the most atrocious in the world. In 1996, there were 19 ongoing situations of internal violence around the world in which 1,000 people or more were killed yearly. These so-called “high-intensity conflicts” cumulatively led to between 6.5 million and 8.5 million deaths. In the same year, there were also 40 “low-intensity conflicts”, each causing between 100 and 1,000 deaths yearly. Another 2 million deaths can be added to these figures if one includes situations of internal violence that had de-escalated in 1996. The number of conflict-related deaths is only a small indication of the tremendous amount of suffering, displacement and devastation caused by conflicts. Assaults on the fundamental right to life are widespread — massacres, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, executions of prisoners, starvation of entire populations. Torture is common in internal conflicts, as are measures restricting people’s freedom of movement — forcible relocations, mass expulsions, denial of the right to seek asylum or the right to return to one’s home. Women and girls are raped by soldiers and forced into prostitution, and children are abducted to serve as soldiers. Tens of thousands of people detained in connection with conflicts “disappear” each year, usually killed and buried in secret, leaving their families with the torment of not knowing their fate. Thousands of others are arbitrarily imprisoned and never brought to trial or, if they are, are subject to grossly unfair procedures. Homes, schools and hospitals are deliberately destroyed. Relief convoys, which try to assist civilians by providing humanitarian aid, are attacked. The denial of fundamental rights relating to employment, housing, food or the respect for cultural life, and large-scale discrimination and exclusion from the decision-making processes of society are the root causes of many grave crises today. Armed conflicts clearly illustrate the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights. The collapse of infrastructure and civic institutions undermines the range of civil, economic, political and social rights. The rights to adequate health, housing, education, freedom of movement and expression, privacy and fair trial are only some of the fundamental rights and freedoms affected when hospitals and schools are closed, water and sanitation polluted, local administrations unable to function, and police and judicial systems shattered or corrupted. Government institutions often become increasingly militarized, with the armed forces assuming civilian policing functions and military courts trying civilians. Prolonged conflicts also affect rural areas; crops are destroyed, crippling productivity in subsistence farming and agriculture and leading to chronic food shortages, malnutrition and famines. Ill health and poverty are often the most devastating long-term consequences of conflicts. The United Nations is increasingly combining efforts to prevent or end conflicts with measures aimed at reducing human rights abuses in situations of internal violence. Special emphasis is placed on ensuring the protection of minorities, strengthening democratic institutions, realizing the right to development and securing universal respect for human rights. The United Nations is currently leading efforts to establish minimum humanitarian standards, seeking to identify fundamental rules of human rights and humanitarian law that can be applied in all circumstances, in times of conflict, as well as in situations of mass exodus, for the protection of human rights. These efforts aim to provide the human rights framework necessary to find long-term solutions to the root causes of conflict and to prevent the excesses that make reconciliation so difficult. The United Nations urges national authorities to respect international human rights standards in such situations. But one of the most pressing problems now is enforcing accountability of non-State actors committing crimes against humanity. For these reasons, the United Nations is incorporating human rights concerns into all aspects of its response to conflicts — from preventive action to humanitarian assistance. Just as human rights forge vital links between peace, democracy and development, bringing the full weight of the United Nations human rights program to bear can also facilitate the successful transition between peacekeeping operations and humanitarian emergency assistance to long-term peace-building and sustainable development. The United Nations has intensified efforts to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice and break the cycle of impunity. Ensuring that individuals are held criminally responsible and punished for committing serious human rights abuses is one of the most effective means of dealing with grave injustice and fostering necessary reconciliation. The International Criminal Court (ICC) was finally created at the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, held in Rome from 15 June to 17 July 1998. Delegations from 160 countries, 17 intergovernmental organizations, 14 United Nations specialized agencies and funds and 124 NGOs participated in the five-week landmark Conference. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted by a vote of 120 in favor to 7 against, with 21 abstentions. The treaty establishing the Court needs to be ratified by at least 60 States parties before entering into force. The establishment of the Court makes it clear that the international community no longer tolerates violations of human rights without assigning responsibility. Unlike the ad hoc Tribunals, the Court provides a comprehensive mechanism for punishing perpetrators of genocide and other crimes against humanity. The assurance that at least some perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide may be brought to justice acts as a significant deterrent, and in itself may provide incentives to end conflicts.

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Are we less at war than before?

The wars that took place in the 20th century killed around 200 million people. Recently, there has been a drop in the number of wars and in their intensity in terms of their deadliness. The graph below gives the number of armed conflicts since the Second World War, including inter-state wars, intra-state wars (civil wars) and colonial wars. The end of the Cold War in 1991 was a big step towards making the world a safer place with dramatic fall in the number of conflicts.

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Joshua Goldstein argues that despite Iraq and Afghanistan, Congo and Sudan, the past 10 years have seen fewer war deaths than any decade in the past 100 years. And Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker goes even further. We may be living in the most peaceful period in the history of our species. Statistics reveal dramatic reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and all sorts of mayhem. The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species. And it runs counter to what the mass media is reporting and essentially what we feel in our guts. Pinker makes the case that a smarter, more educated world is becoming more peaceful in several statistically significant ways. His findings are based on peer-reviewed studies published by other academics using examinations of graveyards, surveys and historical records: The number of people killed in battle – calculated per 100,000 population – has dropped by 1,000-fold over the centuries as civilizations evolved. Before there were organized countries, battles killed on average more than 500 out of every 100,000 people. In 19th century France, it was 70. In the 20th century with two world wars and a few genocides, it was 60. Now battlefield deaths are down to three-tenths of a person per 100,000. There were fewer than 20 democracies in 1946. Now there are close to 100. Meanwhile, the number of authoritarian countries has dropped from a high of almost 90 in 1976 to about 25 now. Pinker says one of the main reasons for the drop in violence is that we are smarter. IQ tests show that the average teenager is smarter with each generation. The tests are constantly adjusted to keep average at 100, and a teenager who now would score a 100 would have scored a 118 in 1950 and a 130 in 1910. So this year’s average kid would have been a near-genius a century ago. And that increase in intelligence translates into a kinder, gentler world. As we get smarter, we try to think up better ways of getting everyone to turn their swords into plowshares at the same time. Human life has become more precious than it used to be.

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The world is a safer place than it has been in a long time. There are pockets of violence of course, but most of us stand a better chance of living in peace and quiet than any other time in history. There are fewer wars perhaps, but does that necessarily mean the world is more peaceful?  The reasons for more peace and less war are as follows.

1. The first was the move from the ‘anarchy’ of hunter-gatherer existence to settled communities with cities and organized authorities. By analyzing human remains from the time, paleontologists estimate that 15% of people were killed by acts of violence in pre-historic times. That falls to around 3% as early forms of state power emerge, since they are the only ones who can use violence.

2. The second step happened in the Middle Ages when criminal law first began to be codified, and as feudal kingdoms began to unite into larger states. With a justice system, those who have been wronged can turn their problem over to the authorities rather than take revenge – another step towards peace.

3. The enlightenment drove the third, with a new respect for human dignity. The state reduced the number of crimes that warranted the death sentence, torture became less common, and many cruel physical punishments were phased out.

4. The fourth step towards peace is more familiar to us. That’s the ‘long peace’ that came after the Second World War. There are numerous factors, including the burnout from the sheer scale of the World Wars, the nuclear deterrent, the rise of democracy, and increasing trade and diplomatic links between countries.

5. The post-Cold War peace is the fifth step.

6. A sixth is underway around human rights.

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Guilt of war: Difference between Postwar Germany and Japan:

Sixty years on, the end of the war against Japan is generally regarded by British historians very differently from the way they view the end of the war against Germany. Despite the firestorms in German cities, despite the murder and rape of millions of German women and children by the advancing Soviets, the defeat of Nazi Germany is still seen in terms that are morally unambiguous. The vast majority of Germans today accept the guilt of the ‘Hitler time’, and are determined that nothing like it will ever occur again. There is no such acceptance of war guilt in Japan. It was only with the greatest difficulty that China managed to secure a grudging acknowledgement that ‘regrettable’ things may have happened in Nanking in December 1937, when Japanese troops went on the rampage – looting, raping and burning, and killing some 200,000 Chinese. Japanese school text-books still refer to the total war Japan waged against China between 1937 and 1945, in which some 20 million Chinese died, as the ‘China incident’. Similarly, the government of South Korea is making little progress in securing an apology from Japan for the enforced prostitution of tens of thousands of Korean girls as ‘comfort women’ for the Imperial armed forces. Most Japanese see themselves not as the perpetrators of a barbarous expansionist war in Asia and the Pacific, but as hapless victims of overwhelming and brutal American power. The key to understanding the difference between Japan and Germany is the way in which the war against Japan came to an end. On 6 August 1945 an American B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. In a split second 100,000 people ceased to exist. Three days later another B-29 dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, killing another 40,000. Despite horrendous atrocities committed by Japanese army on Chinese and Korean people during World War II, it is the atom bomb dropped on Japan which made them look like victims rather than perpetrators and therefore there is no collective guilt shown by Japanese people as opposed to German people. Or, is it the race? I mean German race is different than Japanese race and therefore Germans are feeling guilty about WWII atrocities while Japanese are not. More research studies are required.

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Happy people:

Despite Conflicts, world a happier place in 2012 than in 2007 as 22% (+2 points) of Global Citizens say they’re ‘Very Happy’. New poll conducted by global research company Ipsos for What Makes You Happy Magazine finds that while eight in 10 (77%) citizens in 24 countries generally say they are ‘happy’ in their lives, one quarter (22%) report they are ‘very happy’—a key measure that identifies comparative depth and intensity of happiness among country citizens and the world. Of course, happy people are unlikely to go for war.

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Future wars:

The map below shows risks of future instability in various regions of the world.


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The Peace and Conflict Instability Ledger is a ranking of 163 countries based on their estimated risk of experiencing major bouts of political instability or armed conflict in the three-year period 2010–2012. The estimates are obtained from a statistical forecasting model that uses 2009 data (the most current data available) for several variables that correlate strongly with the onset of political instability or armed conflict. Figure above shows how the countries in the analysis were classified according to their estimated risk scores. A quick review of the map offers a broad overview of what the geographic landscape looks like from the perspective of the risks of instability. Undoubtedly, Africa remains the most serious concern. Of the 46 African countries covered in the Ledger, 20 (43%) qualify for the high or highest risk categories. 

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Future Israel Iran war:

As each day passes, war in the Middle East seems increasingly likely. The truth is that Israel will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and Iran is absolutely determined to continue developing a nuclear program. So right now Israel and Iran are engaged in a really bizarre game of “nuclear chicken” and neither side is showing any sign of blinking. In fact, even prominent world leaders are now openly stating that it is basically inevitable that Israel is going to strike Iran. One of the very first things a war with Iran would do is that it would severely constrict or even shut down oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz. Considering the fact that approximately 20% of the world’s oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz, world oil markets would instantly be plunged into frenzy. In fact, some analysts believe that oil prices would rise to $250 per barrel. Fear would explode in World Financial Markets. World Trade would instantly seize up. Military spending would escalate. Massive Inflation would occur – A huge jump in the price of oil and dramatically increased military spending by the U.S. government would most definitely lead to price inflation. We would probably see a dramatic rise in interest rates as well.  In fact, it is quite likely that if a war with Iran does break out we would see a return of “stagflation” – a situation where prices are rapidly escalating but economic growth as a whole is either flat or declining. War is never pleasant. If war with Iran does break out it could potentially set off a chain of cascading events that would permanently alter the world economy for the rest of our lifetimes. I personally feel that the international community has double standard as far as Iran is concerned. The international community allows nuclear powered Pakistan who covertly support terrorism as state policy but isolate Iran from developing nuclear weapons because of its role in supporting terrorism. Also, Israel has plenty of nuclear weapons and if Iran does indeed attack Israel with their sole nuclear bomb, Israel will strike back with impunity destroying entire Iran. So what we have is mutually assured destruction of Iran and Israel. I don’t think Iranian leaders are so stupid that they will ensure their own destruction.

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NGO and war:

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The graphic above was published in the June 1945 issue of The Rotarian. Conflicts have played a major part in the effects of Rotary upon the world. Clubs have come, and clubs have gone. But Rotary has come, and stayed and it has endured world war, numerous civil wars and even a “Cold War.” The NGOs can also make a war to end all wars.

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War and Media:

Most journalists don’t go to war planning to die. But with each year that passes there seems to be more to think about, at moments even to worry. Every death of a close colleague gives pause for thought, and wrenching conversations with fellow travelers. American journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed during the shelling of the opposition stronghold of Homs by Syrian troops. They’re enemies of the state by reporting uprising in Syria. It has got more dangerous for all journalists to do their job, not just for members of international news organizations, although their deaths get more publicity. It is all about control of the media battlefield, the wired world and the 24/7 news cycle and a big part of the conflict between the weak and the strong. In Syria, the regime is being hurt by the fact it can’t do things privately any more. It is many months now since the mass demonstrations of the Arab spring morphed into civil wars. In Cairo last January, journalists had to dodge teargas and rocks, but by the time Libya’s revolution was in full force, the job had become considerably more dangerous. The Vietnam War’s contraversiality spurred a great many sources of protest, against our government’s use of power, how far we could stretch the rights of free expression, and primarily against the violence of the war itself. These changes in the behavior of society have left a lasting mark on our perception and the demand to be informed since that influential period of social turmoil. The war provided a controversial issue that formed a catalyst for a social structure just ready to be provoked. When the American public became aware of the situation at hand, through the recently unchained media, it was only a matter of time before there was some form of action or reaction. The media played a key role in the empowerment of the sway of the people. With the addition of television journalism, a whole new depth was added to how people perceived what they were being told, because there was an added truth to seeing it. People rising and uniting in protest, and journalists bucking the government-imposed censorship began stretching the limits to how far we would take our rights to free expression. 

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Four ways social media could transform the face of conflict throughout the developing world:

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1. Social media platforms could help reduce civilian conflict casualties by serving as early warning systems, helping citizens stay connected to humanitarian organizations, and keeping citizens secure in the aftermath of crimes. For instance, in the turmoil of Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence, a blogger’s plea for real time information on political deaths led to the creation of Ushahidi (or “testimony,” in Swahili), a platform that allows people to send tweets, SMS text, or web-based messages sharing the location and nature of outbreaks of violence. This Twitter and mobile based violence reporting platform offers certain improvements over traditional media outlets’ coverage, and has since been used to track conflict trends in the lead-up to South Sudan’s independence, as well as instances of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.

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2. Social media could make states more sensitive to audience costs (that is, the benefits and drawbacks that it could accrue from lying or telling the truth), since citizens can now interact with their governments and with others in civil society in ways that they couldn’t before. Arab spring is a classical example. The flip side, of course, is that social media can be manipulated by the state, making less-democratic states like many of those found in Africa less susceptible to these costs. Examples proliferate: Cameroon has previously shut down mobile-Tweeting capabilities on its national network, fearing a revolt; Swaziland’s king has threatened to ban government dissent on Facebook and Twitter; and the Democratic Republic of Congo disabled SMS texting (including Twitter) for three weeks after its November 2011 election. Most oppressively, Skyping in Ethiopia can now result in a 15-year prison sentence.

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3. Social media could lead to a greater degree of clarity or veracity in reporting about various dimensions of conflicts. However, while Twitter could encourage transparency, it could also serve as a tool of misinformation.

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4. Social media could serve as a tool to galvanize transnational peace and social justice advocacy groups, even bringing a swifter end to conflicts.  Particularly noteworthy in the African peace and social justice internet community is the vibrant online presence of award-winning Pambazuka News, as well as that of U.S.-based Pan-African advocacy organization, TransAfrica Forum. In addition, the role of social media was an essential part of “Save Darfur’s” intervention campaigns to stop the alleged genocide in Sudan.

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Having said this, social media could just as easily serve as a tool to facilitate greater communication between groups inciting violence themselves. Transnational extremist groups based in Africa, like Al Shabaab (Somalia), Boko Haram (Nigeria), and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Mali, Mauritania, and Nigeria) rely on Twitter and Facebook to gain new recruits. Whether social media ultimately will prove itself to be a tool of greater pacification or belligerence throughout the developing world is yet to be seen; that it will remain a powerful lever capable of conveying advantages to whichever side in a conflict wields it most strategically is beyond question.

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Final words:

War has been with us—in one form or another—since prehistoric times, and looking at the behavior of our close relatives, the chimpanzees, it argues that a penchant for group violence has been bred into us over millions of years of biological evolution. The Most Dangerous Animal takes the reader on a journey through evolution, history, anthropology, and psychology, showing how and why the human mind has a dual nature: on the one hand, we are ferocious, dangerous animals who regularly commit terrible atrocities against our own kind, on the other, we have a deep aversion to killing, a horror of taking human life. So there is obviously duality of human psyche killing a human on one occasion and showing aversion to human killing on another occasion. As Erasmus Rotterdamus said long time ago: “The war is only sweet to those who never experienced one” – an important point against the naive, self-exculpatory German:”War is a law of nature”- (Der Krieg ist ein Naturgesetz). War both needs and generates certain virtues; not the highest, but what may be called the preliminary virtues, as valor, veracity, the spirit of obedience, the habit of discipline. Any of these, and of others like them, when possessed by a nation, and no matter how generated, will give them a military advantage, and make them more likely to stay in the race of nations. War like slavery, colonialism and patriarchy; is a social institution, known to a number of societies. If social = structural + cultural then we have already two handles to limit war. The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death-wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression, nor, finally and more plausibly, the serious economic and social dangers inherent in disarmament, but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in national or international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.

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Imaginary experiment:

Let me put forward the imaginary experiment. Let all humans of this world stop cutting nails and stop trimming hair and beard (in males) for one year and see how we look. All men will have very long hair, very long beard and very long nails. All women will have very long hairs and very long nails. Just have a look at all of us in a mirror. We have become primitive, barbarians and somewhat like animals. The thin veil of civility, the mask of culture & civilization has disappeared. The real biological human species is visible. That is what we really are, a sophisticated animal. Now look up and look down. Few kilometers above in sky temperature is so low that we cannot survive. Few kilometers below in earth temperature is so high that we cannot survive. We can survive only on the surface of earth. So we the sophisticated animals with long hair and long nail can survive only on the surface of earth without any aid. This is the moment of truth. Our so called social-cultural-scientific development is merely development of human brain which is far ahead than biological development of our rest of the body. So in order to look civilized we trim hair, beard and nails. But biologically speaking, we are still animals with all animal instinct hardwired in our genes. It is only the neo-cortex of brain which separates us from non-human animals. And this neo-cortex makes us think whether we should go for war to kill another human. We have to use our neo-cortex to find a better alternative to war to resolve disputes. The day we do it, we have really become humans far far away from animals.

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 ”From the happy expression on their faces you might have supposed that they welcomed the war. I have met with men who loved stamps, and stones, and snakes, but I could not imagine any man loving war.” – Margot Asquith

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The moral of the story:

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1. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities (states or nations, or between factions within a state), with purpose of compelling the defeated side to do the will of the victor. Certain political pressure groups, like terrorist organizations, might also be considered “political communities,” in that they are associations of people with a political purpose and, indeed, many of them aspire to statehood or to influence the development of statehood in certain lands. So fight against terrorist organizations can also be classified as war.

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2. Since around 3600 BC, over 14.500 major wars have killed about four billion people, a number that not so long ago equaled the whole of humanity. At least 10 percent of deaths in modern civilization can be attributed directly or indirectly to war. According to UNICEF, 2 million children have been killed by conflict over the last decade; 6 million children have been made homeless; 12 million have been injured or disabled; and there are at least 300,000 child soldiers operating in 30 different conflicts across the globe. Rape as a weapon of war was used in World War II by Nazis, Soviets, and Japanese. About 48 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo every hour; between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped during the war in Bosnia; 40,000 women were raped by the Pakistani Army during the 1971 Bangladesh war of secession; between 50,000 and 64,000 women were raped at the hands of combatants in Sierra Leone; and 500,000 women were raped during 100 days of conflict in the Rwandan genocide. The list is endless and appalling.

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3. The major conflict situations leading to aggression among animals, especially those concerning access of males to females and control of a territory for feeding and breeding are usually associated with patterns of dominance. Research into the aggressive behavior of male chimpanzees, our closest biological ally, suggests that the urge to go to war is in DNA of males. Our male ancestors evolved this astoundingly bizarre behavior of intentionally setting out to kill members of their own species because doing so meant they could then usurp their territory and mate, as forcefully as need be, with any females who happened to survive. Evolutionary biologically, feeding (territory) and breeding (mating) are genetically hardwired in our genes for survival and this instinct is expressed even today when war is fought for territory gain and when mass rapes are perpetuated on hapless women by warring factions. Wars are mostly fought by men throughout recorded history and history is replete with plenty of stories of war fought by men over women & territory in all cultures. Although men’s hostile responses most likely evolved to combat the threat from outsiders, they might not be functional in modern times as this can translate into large-scale wars and are often counterproductive. Human civility is override by dangerous instincts during war, the instinct to kill another human for his territory and rape his woman for reproduction.  

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4. The human mind has a dual nature: on the one hand, we are ferocious, dangerous animals who regularly commit terrible atrocities against our own kind; on the other hand, we have a deep aversion to killing, a horror of taking human life. So there is obviously duality of human psyche killing a human on one occasion and showing aversion to human killing on another occasion. The instinct to kill another human for territory (feeding) and woman (breeding) is biological but the aversion to kill another human is the effect of socialization. That is why development of the state and socialization has dramatically reduced the level of warfare and violence compared to the ancestral environment. Many studies suggest that most soldiers resist firing their weapons in combat suggesting that human beings have evolved resistance to killing their fellow human beings. We are less at war in 21st century than previous century because we have become smarter, educated and democratized as compared to history and it is this socialization which has curbed our biological instinct to kill.

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5. It stands to reason that local populations adapted to local circumstances by a process known as gene-culture co-evolution in which genes and cultural elements change over time and mutually influence each other developing ethnicity. Scientifically speaking, all human beings are not same as different selection pressures in different regions of the world resulting in different process of co-evolution of different subsets of humans in whom genes and cultural elements influence each other differently resulting in ethnically different humans having different approaches to life resulting in infighting which may ultimately lead to war. However, regardless of how ethnically mixed a country is, the likelihood of a civil war decreases as countries get richer. The richest states are almost impervious to civil strife, no matter how multiethnic they might be. Civil wars only begin under particular circumstances that favor rebel insurgencies involving weak, corrupt or brutal government associated with poverty and higher economic inequality.

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6. Inter-religious and intra-religious disputes need to be resolved to prevent war by teaching ethics of reciprocity, inclusivism and pluralism by all religions.

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7. Democracy succeeds more often than alternatives in preventing war. Theoretical and empirical research establishes that democratic civil liberties and political rights promote nonviolence and is a path to a warless world. The clearest evidence of this is that there were very few wars between mature democracies, while numerous wars have occurred between all other political systems.

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8. High economic growth alone cannot reduce poverty and unemployment that breed conflict and violence; instead access to jobs, security and justice are keys to breaking repeated cycles of political and criminal violence. 

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9. It is a myth that war is good for economy.

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10. It is estimated that every dollar spent on prevention of war can potentially save the international community more than four dollars.

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11. Arms transfers (sales) are significant and positive predictors of increased probability of war and meaningful restraint by suppliers and recipients alike is needed to break the nexus between arms and conflicts.

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12. The impact of climate change is to widen the already substantial resource gulf between the rich and the poor resulting in conflicts.

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13.The propensity for war to kill and/or rape another human is an animal instinct and the day humans find a better alternative to war to resolve ethnic/economical/religious/territorial disputes, the ‘animalness’ in humans shall disappear and true human species will evolve.

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Dr. Rajiv Desai. MD.

August 1, 2012

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Postscript:

Difference between soldier and doctor is that soldier is programmed to kill humans and doctor is programmed to save human. So article written on war by a doctor is unlikely to be a hit. I request all political and military strategist involved in planning and executing war to read my article. Even if only one war is prevented by this article, my efforts have not gone in vain.

 

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