07:01 | 16/03/2022 Print
|Where are there wars and conficts in the world right now?|
War is generally defined as violent conflict between states or nations.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes war as “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations.”
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “war should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities.”
On the first page of On War, Carl von Clausewitz defines war as “an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.”
Most would agree that these are understandable and accurate definitions in the general context of what the average person thinks when they hear the word war.
However, from the strategic perspective, these definitions are arguably too simplistic to convey the complexity of war and the many facets which contribute to national success in the international arena.
Today’s strategic leaders need to conceptualize and define war in a broader perspective, and the following analysis will attempt to do so by offering an expansive definition for the term war. This new definition encompasses three attributes: the complex characteristics and nuances of war fought in a global society, a broader interpretation of who engages (or should be engaged) in war, as well as how wars may be fought and won in the future.
Reasons of War
Nations go to war for a variety of reasons. It has been argued that a nation will go to war if the benefits of war are deemed to outweigh the disadvantages, and if there is a sense that there is not another mutually agreeable solution. More specifically, some have argued that wars are fought primarily for economic, religious, and political reasons. Others have claimed that most wars today are fought for ideological reasons.
In the United States, the legal power to declare war is vested in Congress; however, the president is the commander-in-chief of the military, so he or she holds power to conduct a war once it has been declared. In many instances, the president has used military force without declaring war.
In Western tradition, there is a sense that the reasons for war must be just. This idea dates back to ancient times, but is most clearly traced to the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. They attempted to justify war, and reconcile it with the Christian belief that taking a human life is wrong.
Once just reasons for going to war are satisfied, conduct in the war—jus in bello—must be just as well. Just conduct in a war means that it must be specific and proportional. That is, noncombatants and civilians must not be deliberately targeted. Further, only such force as is necessary must be used, and harms must be proportionate to the goal sought.
|Reasons for going to war—jus ad bellum—are just if (1) war is declared by an appropriate authority; (2) the war is waged for a just cause; and (3) the war is waged for just intentions. An appropriate authority is a proper, governing authority. A “just cause” may include self-defense or a response to injustice. “Just intentions” mean that it must not be fought for self-interest, but for justice or a common good. In addition, (4) there must be a reasonable chance of success; (5) the good that will be achieved must outweigh the bad; and (6) war must be a last resort.|
Law of War
Some of the just war theories have been adopted as parts of international agreements and incorporated into the law of war (i.e., international law) that regulates the resort to armed force, the conduct of hostilities, and the protection of war victims.
The Geneva Conventions, for example, are a series of international treaties that are designed to protect noncombatants, civilians, and prisoners of war. The treaties were negotiated in Geneva, Switzerland, between 1864 and 1977.
The First and Second Geneva Conventions apply to sick and wounded soldiers and sailors. They contain provisions related to protecting the wounded and sick, as well as medical personnel and transports.
The Third Geneva Convention applies to prisoners of war, and the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to people in occupied territories. The Third Convention requires humane treatment of prisoners, including adequate food and water.
The Fourth Convention includes provisions that forbid torture and the taking of hostages, as well as provisions related to medical care and hospitals.
War Today and How War End
Many might say that the world changed with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States; this was certainly the case for the majority of the American public. Terrorism was no longer something that occurred at bus stops in Israel or in discos in Berlin.
The world of terrorism became something tangible to America. It solidified in Americans’ minds that war can and will be conducted between state and non-state actors. This distinction is significant in the context of the traditional perception that war was fought between nation-states (or city-states as early as the Peloponnesian War). It also challenges the belief that war is governed by some form of decorum or rule of law, in which the belligerents agree to engage utilizing specific limitations and exclusions; whether the combatants have honored that agreement, is another discussion.
From the battlefield engagements of the Clausewitzian era, to the formal rule of law and Geneva Conventions that nation-states operate under today, there existed a certain level of restraint. Terrorism and violent aggression conducted by non-state actors requires strategic leaders to rethink these traditional characteristics of warfare and the definition of war itself.
War is no longer limited to “conflict between states or nations,” nor is it fought solely between political communities as the Global War on Terrorism has proven.
As the proffered definition implies, there is no “end” to the spectrum of war. Therefore, the answer to the question of “how does war end?” would be…they do not; this answer however, would be unsatisfying at best.
A more succinct question would be, “how does armed conflict end?”
In this case, the resultant response is when sufficient adherence to national will has been achieved. The concept encourages nation-states and non-state actors to clearly define objectives for armed conflict and those actions/events that must occur in order to bring about an end to armed hostility. This is arguably somewhat naïve, but there is potential for tangible benefits by embracing this approach. Internally, this furthers the theory of “one voice” by clarifying the objectives to all entities. Externally, it provides the opposition with a clear path towards peace, while allowing for modifications via negotiations, course of battle, escalation and de-escalation of hostilities.
War is no longer a discrete action of armed conflict but a continuum of engagement in order to limit the dissonance between a nation’s will and that of other state and non-state actors. In war, nation-states and non-state actors utilize all means available; diplomacy, economic influence (including multi-national corporations and non-governmental organizations), information operations, social influence, and educational influence as well as military force in order to encourage adherence to their will. As such wars do not end; rather imposing one’s will and maintaining harmony between national objectives and those of the international community to the level of acceptable adherence precludes the use of armed conflict.
|What is war? Wars and Conflicts in the World Today|
While there are conflicts today, deaths from violence and wars have and wars have decreased over time. For example, battle death rates in state-based conflicts have reduced significantly in a period from 1946 to 2016.
However, according to the UN, although battle related deaths have been decreasing, the number of conflicts occurring in the last few years has actually been on the rise (they have simply remained less deadly). Most conflicts have been waged by non-state actors, like organized criminal groups and political militias.
The UN found that the most common causes of conflict today are:
-Breakdowns in the rule of law
-Co-opted or absent state institutions
-Illicit economic gain
-Scarcity of resources exacerbated by climate change
Traditional war between countries and war-related deaths may be becoming a thing of the past, but the threat of violence is still very real. Many countries know this as they continue to build up armies and spend significant amounts on military and defense.
|How Many Wars and Conflict around the World Today? Source Design: Visualcapitalist.com|
We live in an era of relative peace compared to most of history, however, this does not mean that there are no conflicts in the world today.
This map using data from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) reveals where the world’s 27 ongoing conflicts are today, and what type of conflicts they are. However, there is no war between Russia and Ukraine in the lates data from CFR.
|Conflict Name||Type||Countries Involved|
|Civil War in South Sudan||Civil War||South Sudan|
|War in Yemen||Civil War||Yemen|
|Civil War in Libya||Civil War||Libya|
|War in Afghanistan||Civil War||Afghanistan|
|Civil War in Syria||Civil War||Syria|
|Instability in Iraq||Civil War||Iraq|
|Criminal Violence in Mexico||Criminal||Mexico|
|Confrontation of U.S. & Iran||Interstates||United States |
|Conflict of India & Pakistan||Interstates||India |
|North Korea Crisis||Interstates||United States |
|Violence in the DRC||Political Instability||DRC|
|Instability in Egypt||Political Instability||Egypt|
|Political Instability in Lebanon||Political Instability||Lebanon|
|Instability in Venezuela||Political Instability||Venezuela|
|Tigray War in Ethiopia||Political Instability||Ethiopia|
|Boko Haram in Nigeria||Sectarian||Nigeria|
|Violence in Central African Republic||Sectarian||Central African Republic|
|Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar||Sectarian||Myanmar|
|Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict||Territorial Disputes||Armenia |
|Conflict in Ukraine||Territorial Disputes||Ukraine |
|Israeli-Palestine Conflict||Territorial Disputes||Israel |
|Turkey & Armed Kurdish Groups||Territorial Disputes||Turkey|
|South China Sea Disputes||Territorial Disputes||China|
|Tensions in East China Sea||Territorial Disputes||China |
|Destabilization in Mali||Terrorism||Mali|
|Al-Shabab in Somalia||Terrorism||Somalia|
|Islamist Militancy in Pakistan||Terrorism||Pakistan|
Many people alive today have never lived through a war on their country’s soil, especially those in the West. But conflict, wars, and violence are by no means things of the past.
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED):
-Violence against civilians resulted in over 5,000 deaths worldwide
-Battle related deaths numbered over 18,000
-Explosion/remote violence led to more than 4,000 deaths
-Riots resulted in over 600 fatalities
Most of the world’s conflicts are concentrated in Asia and Africa and the most common forms are territorial disputes and civil wars. While terrorism often strikes fear in people, only three of the world’s ongoing conflicts are linked to terrorism, according to the CFR.
As an example of a more typical conflict, Myanmar’s civil unrest began in February 2020 when the military overthrew the democratically elected government and arrested the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The civilian population has been protesting heavily but to no avail. According to a BBC report, more than 860 people have been killed and around 5,000 have been detained.
This is just one of the many examples of persistent violence today including recent events like Mexico’s midterm election violence, Ethiopia’s fighting in the country’s Tigray region, and the fighting between Israel and Palestine over the Sheikh Jarrah evictions.
Finally, though the United States military has now withdrawn from Afghanistan, and the Taliban has taken control of the country, the outlook for the country remains uncertain.
On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation began a military attack of Ukraine, escalating a conflict that had been simmering since Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. After officially recognizing the separatist Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk on February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on what he termed a "peacekeeping" mission, which escalated to a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "war" as: (1) A state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country; (2) a state of competition or hostility between different people or groups, or (3) a sustained campaign against an undesirable situation or activity. There are many possible reasons for war to begin between—or more often, within—nations. Among these are economic gain, territorial gain, religion, nationalism, civil war, and political revolution. Often, countries' leaders become primary motivators of conflict by instigating a territorial dispute, trying to control another country's natural resources, or exercising authoritarian power over people.
Not all wars are formalized with official declarations of war between combatants. Conversely, not every ongoing armed conflict is classified as a war. This article will use the Uppsala Conflict Data Program definition, which described war as "a state-based conflict or dyad which reaches at least 1000 battle-related deaths in a specific calendar year." Fatality figures include any combatants killed in action as well as any civilians who were deliberately killed (for example, by bombings or other attacks).
Type: Civil War/Terrorist Insurgency
The war in Afghanistan has been on and off since 1978. The most recent phase began in 2001 and has primarily revolved around U.S. and U.N. forces and allied Afghan troops fighting Taliban insurgents. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), there were 30,936 confirmed fatalities in 2020 alone. The U.S./U.N. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 should signal the end of this particular conflict, but war between the Taliban and other factions, including ISIL-K, which bombed the airport in Kabul during U.S. evacuations, is expected to continue.
The new government can’t pay civil servants. The economy has tanked. The financial sector is paralyzed. All this comes on top of a punishing drought. Although overall violence levels are significantly down from a year ago, the Taliban face a vicious fight against the Islamic State’s local branch.
Type: Civil War
Tension between clashing political parties in Ethiopia escalated into a violent civil war in November 2020. Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia to the north, has also sent troops into the conflict. The violence has spilled over into neighboring countries, with isolated skirmishes taking place in Sudan and Somalia. Named the "Tigray War", after the region in which it began, the war had resulted in more than 9,000 documented casualties (though some sources estimate more than 50,000) by September 2021. Reports indicate war crimes are common.
In late December, federal authorities announced they would not advance further to try and vanquish Tigrayan forces. Diplomats should now push for a truce to get humanitarian aid into Tigray and explore whether compromise might be feasible. Without that, bloodshed and hunger will continue, with terrible consequences for Ethiopians and, potentially, the region.
Type: Drug War
The Mexican Drug War is an ongoing conflict between the Mexican government and multiple powerful and violent drug trafficking cartels. It is estimated that the war on drugs has led to at least 350,000 deaths—with more than 72,000 people still missing—from January 2006 to May 2021.
Type: Civil War
The Yemeni Civil War began in September 2014 when the the Houthi armed movement took control of Sanaa, the capital city and seat of the existing government, led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Both factions claim to be the official Yemeni government. Saudi Arabia intervened in support of Hadi in early 2015, leading a coalition of Asian and African countries, with intelligence and logistical support from the United States. ACLED has counted more than 140,000 fatalities since the start of the war, including nearly 20,000 in 2020 alone.
Category: 1,000 to 10,000 casualties in 2020/2021
There are several countries at war due to a terrorist insurgency: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq (also political unrest), Libya (also civil war), Mali (also civil war), Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Tunisia. Colombia, Myanmar, and Syria are in the midst of civil wars, as well as Libya and Mali. Colombia's war is also a drug war. South Sudan is at war due to ethnic violence.
This past year saw the fourth Gaza-Israel war in just over a decade, illustrating again that the peace process is dead and a two-state solution looks less likely than ever.
The trigger for this latest outbreak was occupied East Jerusalem. The threatened eviction of Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood coincided in April 2021 with clashes during Ramadan between stone-throwing youth and Israeli police using lethal force on the compound that comprises the Haram al-Sharif, holy to Muslims, and the Temple Mount, holy to Jews.
Diplomats’ lip service to a two-state solution that is all but out of reach gives cover for Israel to advance de facto annexation of the West Bank. Better now would be to try to end Israeli impunity for violations of Palestinian rights. It’s time, in other words, to address the situation on the ground as it is.
The Caribbean nation has long been tormented by political crises, gang warfare, and natural disasters. Nevertheless, this past year stands out for many Haitians as particularly bleak. Few expect a brighter 2022.
In July, hit men assassinated President Jovenel Moïse in his home; his security detail apparently did nothing about it. Shellshocked elites squabbled over who would run the country. (Succession lines were muddled as Moïse had appointed Ariel Henry as his new prime minister but Henry had not yet been sworn in.) Henry eventually became the country’s interim leader but has struggled to assert authority.
|Country||Type||Casualty Range 2020-2021|
|Afghanistan||Civil War/Terrorist Insurgency||10,000+|
|Algeria||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Burkina Faso||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Cameroon||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Chad||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Colombia||Civil War/Drug War||1,000 - 10,000|
|DR Congo||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Iraq||Terrorist Insurgency/Political Unrest||1,000 - 10,000|
|Libya||Civil War||1,000 - 10,000|
|Mali||Civil War/Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Mozambique||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Myanmar||Civil War||1,000 - 10,000|
|Niger||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Nigeria||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|South Sudan||Ethnic Violence||1,000 - 10,000|
|Syria||Civil War||1,000 - 10,000|
|Tanzania||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
|Tunisia||Terrorist Insurgency||1,000 - 10,000|
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