In the United States, during the first half of the 1860s, one of the bloodiest wars was fought in American History. This war, The American Civil War was fought to prevent the separation of the United States. Above all the reasons listed including slavery, the South was fighting to maintain their way of life and their freedom to be independent.
Civil War is “The Struggle for Identity”. One faction wants their country to run this way and another faction wants their country to be run another way. Often, the conflict is of a racial or ethnic nature. Around the world, there are 10-20 major conflicts going on at any given time. According to the United Nations, if 1,000 deaths in a year occur due to a conflict, the action would be determined to be a major war. At the time that the United States was stepping up its activities with the Vietnam Conflict in 1965, there were at least 10 major conflicts somewhere in the world.
Many of these conflicts (and maybe a dozen or 2 lesser conflicts), keeps so much of the world involved with war. The majority of these wars are Civil Wars. In today’s world, are the countries’ borders divided in a reasonable manner? So many of these Civil Wars are conflicts over religious, ethnic or racial views, or are they?
Back to my original question: Are the countries’ borders divided in a reasonable manner? Did we create the situation by setting up what the boundary of a particular country would be? An example of this is the State of Assam in India. Assam came under British rule by a Treaty in 1826. Subsequently, the British turned over Assam to be a State in India. Assam has been resisting ever since with armed insurgencies.
These conflicts aren’t “Wars” like we think of wars. When we think of war, don’t we think that the Army of one country would prepare to fight the Army of the other country? From pictures we have seen or being actually involved in a war, we can visualize a battlefield the next morning after a night of fighting. Soldiers were lying dead, or barely alive, from both sides of the conflict in their uniforms.
A statistic that I read about World War I stated that less than 5 percent of the fatalities of the war were civilians. Contrast that we up to 75 percent of the fatalities being civilians. These are the statistics we are seeing today in these internal struggles.
This is typical of the struggle now with Assam. Many of the fatalities in this struggle are civilians and they are not indirect casualties either. They are being targeted for many reasons such as differences in religious beliefs or laborers immigrating and being targeted for taking jobs.
What are the future problems associated with these conflicts? A lot of these conflicts have a 7-year duration. During the conflict, crop growth is nearly impossible therefore famine, is almost assured along with poverty and disease.
With new studies regarding the possibility of Civil War, there is evidence that economic conditions play a significant role in these possibilities. Depressed economic conditions with a high dependence of exporting natural resources put many countries at risk of civil unrest. This takes us away from the ethnic diversity issues but why is this issue so pronounced as a main ingredient?
Actually it is easy for the combatants to put a finger on this as explained with the Assam conflict. In that conflict, others that are migrating across the border to take jobs are being targeted because of the economic depression regarding the struggle for jobs. They happen to be of a different ethnic background, which in some minds makes targeting them a reasonable act. Again, the insurgents are targeting “easy prey” (unarmed laborers) and not targeting the officials (the police and military).
What needs to change to decrease the incidence of Civil Wars? Increasing the economic development of countries that are prone to a civil conflict is one of the first priorities. This takes into account the need for other developed nations to do more in support for other nations. Some feel as though developed nations do more than is necessary now. Would you rather draw up economic agreements to work hand in hand with a developing nation or would you rather try to help after they have suffered civil unrest, famine, extreme poverty and starvation?