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War, What Is It (Not) Good For!

by Aakash Sharma
War, What Is It (Not) Good For!

March 2, 2021

What is war? Who causes it? Why are wars fought? — these questions are more than just part of a philosophical rant. Wars are very real and have wreaked havoc on humanity for thousands of years. And the vices of war continue to persecute the people till this day. This is a look into war and the basis of its iniquity.

War is an intense armed conflict between states, governments, or paramilitary groups such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally marked by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and death by using regular or irregular military forces.

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War is general conflict between states, regions, countries etc.

War- What is it (not good) for?

Technically, war is defined as an “active conflict” in which 1,000 people have died. The academic study of war is called polemology, from the Greek word polemos, which means “war” and “reason”, which and logy, meaning “the study of”. While some scholars see war as a primordial and ancestral aspect of human nature, others argue that it arises from specific socio-cultural, economic, or ecological conditions.

The history of war is an important area of research. The narrower approaches to military history that are more traditionally defined are replaced by a broader plan that seeks to understand conflict as part of the more comprehensive human past.

Was there ever a period of no war? How many people died in battles?

In the last 3,400 years of recorded human history, we have been entirely peaceful for only 268 of them, or just 8% of it (source – The New York Times). At least 108 million people died in wars in the 20th century – estimates of the total number of people killed in battles throughout human history range from 150 million to 1 billion.

War has many other effects on the population, including reducing the birth rate and separating men from their wives. During World War II, it was estimated that the declining birth rate caused a population deficit of more than 20 million people.

How many people in the world serve in the military?

The combined armed forces of the world amount to 21.3 million people. China has the largest in the world, with 2.4 million. The United States is second with 1.4 million. India has 1.3 million personnel, North Korea 1 million and Russia 900,000. Of the 20 largest armies globally, 14 are located in developing countries (upset in priorities much?).

Is there a genetic reason due to which we struggle through wars?

There is definitely no “war gene” (not until now, at least). Gene combinations can lead a person to violence. However, aggressive tendencies are a product of biology and the environment. Across the world, sources of wars and conflicts include domestic violence, media violence, threats from enemies, and the fight against oppression.

Do men start all wars? Can women fight as effectively as men?

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Women have fought in many wars throughout the history.

Worldwide, 97% of today’s military are men. It is believed to reflect the masculine military culture and biology. While few women are “natural killers” and women are generally smaller in size than men, many women have the psychological makeup and physical ability to fight — there are many men without any.

Women have shown courage in battles throughout history. Dr Mary Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War. Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, led the first battle of Indian independence against the British in 1857.

Why are civilians so attracted to war? How dangerous is it for them?

Civilian observers often regard war as an honest and noble effort of their motherland against tyranny (textbook propaganda). It can be seen as a competition between nations, an opportunity to compete and be declared the winner. Between 1900 and 1990, 43 million soldiers and fighters died in conflicts.

During the same period, 62 million commoners died. More than 34 million people died in World War II. In post World War II conflicts, one million people died in North Korea, thousands were killed in South Korea, and between 200,000 to 400,000 died in Vietnam. In the battles and conflicts of the 1990s, civilian deaths accounted for between 75 and 90% of all war deaths.

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An Afghan soldier (L) serves an interpreter as a civilian talks to US soldiers from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry during a patrol at a village near Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan June 19, 2011. Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed June 19, that US officials were involved in preliminary talks with the Taliban to seek a political solution to the Afghan war but said he didn't expect significant progress for months. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

What is the civilian experience of the war?

To put it plainly, ordinary people are shot, bombed, raped, starved and persecuted from their homes during wars.

During World War II, 135,000 people lost their lives in two days in the Dresden fire. One week later, in Pforzheim, Germany, 17,800 people were killed in 22 minutes. After the three-year-long Battle of Leningrad, only 600,000 people remained in a city of 2.5 million people in Russia. One million were evacuated, 100,000 enlisted in the Red Army, and 800,000 died.

In April 2003, half of the 1.3 million civilians in Basra, Iraq were trapped for days without food or water at temperatures above 100 degrees Celsius during the Iraq war.

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People who died in Wars in the 20th Century

How many war refugees are there?

As of 2018, an unprecedented 70.8 million people worldwide have been coerced to vacate their homes due to conflict and persecution. Among them are nearly 30 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. In 2001, 40 million people were displaced from their homes due to armed conflicts or human rights disruptions.

Five million Europeans were disrupted from 1919 to 1939. World War II dislodged 40 million non-Germans in Europe, and 13 million Germans were expelled from Eastern European countries.

Armed conflicts drove about 2.5 million of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 4.4 million people from their homes during the war in the region in the early 1990s.

More than 2 million Rwandans fled the country in 1994. In 2001, 200,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan to Pakistan. In early 2003, 45,000 Liberians were expelled from their residences.

What are the outcomes of becoming a refugee?

Refugees have very high death rates, mainly due to malnutrition and infectious diseases. Rwandan fugitives in Zaire in 1994 had a mortality rate 25 to 50 times more than pre-war Rwandans. Iraqi Kurdish evacuees in Turkey in 1991 had a mortality rate 18 times greater than usual.

How do war-torn conditions affect children and women?

More than 2 million children were slaughtered in battles during the 1990s, and three times that number was severely injured. War uprooted twenty million children from their homes in 2001, and many were forced into prostitution.

Women often take on more important economic roles in times of war. They need to find ways to offset their spouses’ military growth or unemployment. Those living in war zones look for food, water, medicine and fuel despite the curtailments.

Some women in war zones are coerced into prostitution to support their families. Hunger and stress lead to increased infant mortality and premature death. The risk of AIDS increases for many women due to war prostitution.

What is Genocide?

Genocide is a series of acts committed to destroying, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Genocide, more widely, is the annihilation of difference as it also dictates the removal of political and social groups to the core. Genocide campaigns have become more frequent since World War I as modern industrial weapons have made slaughter easier.

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The UN convention against genocide turns 70, its failures are tragically apparent

Ongoing Genocides and Alerts

Genocide in India Administered Kashmir

On 5 August 2020, the President of India revoked India’s special autonomous regime administered in Jammu and Kashmir following Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. Since then, India has deployed over 600,000 troops in Kashmir. Mobility of masses and freedom of journalists is restricted.

Early warning of Kashmir massacres:

Ongoing armed conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir border areas;

An ideology of exclusion of “Hindutva” – India as a Hindu nation – from Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP;

Leader of a minority military force (Hindus and Sikhs) against a majority of Muslim civilians.

Interruption of communication and external access via the Internet, media and commerce.

Genocide of Uyghurs Muslims in China

Since 2014, the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has pursued a policy that has led to the detention of more than one million Muslims (most of them Uyghurs) in secret detention camps without any legal process in this regard. It is termed as the most extensive ethnic and religious persecution of religious minorities since the Holocaust. Critics have described it as “Xinjiang’s sin”, calling it genocide or cultural genocide.

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Genocide - Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya genocide in Myanmar

The Rohingya genocide is an ongoing oppressive and abusive movement by the government of Myanmar against the people of Rohingya Muslim community. The genocide took place in two phases: the first was a military crackdown from October 2016 to January 2017. The second is going on since August 2017.

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