Quick & Dirty Guide to Wars In The World
September 23, 2005: Ever since the end of the Cold War, the number of wars
has been declining. Perhaps more importantly, the number of wars between
countries has declined even more. There have only been four since 1991; Ethiopia
versus Eritrea (1998-2000), India versus Pakistan (low level, in Kashmir, since
1990), Iraq versus Kuwait (1991), and Iraq versus Coalition (2003). There are
15-20 wars going on right now. The uncertain count comes from the fact that
there is a fuzzy line separating wars from civil disorder. The good news is
that's about 40 percent fewer conflicts than were going on in 1991, when the
Cold War ended. All the conflicts going on now are civil wars of one kind or
another. The worst of the lot are in Africa (Sudan, Congo), with the number
three position being filled by Iraq. Afghanistan has been in a state of civil
war for over two decades. Some Afghan historians would insist that there's never
been a time when some group or another was not fighting inside what we call
Afghanistan. Even the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 was not an "invasion" by
the United States, but rather U.S. forces joining in an ongoing civil war
between the Taliban (and their al Qaeda allies), against the Northern Alliance.
A few hundred American commandoes and other specialists, a few dozen bombers,
were all that was sent to the Northern Alliance, and that was all that was
needed to overthrow the increasingly unpopular Taliban.
Why the decline
in wars? Part of it has to do with the fact that so many of the wars of the past
few decades were the rough edges of decolonialization, and the after-effects of
World War II (and World War I, which led to the breakup of the Ottoman empire.)
When empires fall apart, they rarely do so quietly. The demise of the Russian
empire in 1991 has led to fighting in Chechnya, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and a
few other places you hardly ever hear about. And then there was the competition
between the two superpowers. The Soviet Union was, after all, technically
dedicated to world wide revolution and the triumph of communism. The United
States was opposed to that. Both superpowers ended up supporting numerous rebel
organizations, or the governments that fought them. With the end of the Cold
War, all that stopped.
The end of the Cold War, and several decades of
economic and political experimentation by many countries, made it clear that
democracy, and market economies, were the road to prosperity. That meant the
rule of the people, and the law, began to replace tyrants and centrally
controlled economies. Rebels now had a more difficult time getting any traction.
Most of the wars going on now are based on long time ethnic or religious
disputes. The Islamic terrorists get a lot of attention, but they are very small
change compared to the threats encountered in the past century. Islamic
terrorists don't even have a country to base their operations in, and are
constantly on the run. But the Islamic terrorists are part of many of the ethnic
and religious conflicts that form the basis for so many existing wars.
Current wars are listed in alphabetical orders. Text underneath briefly
describes current status. Click on country name for more details.
Taliban losing ground as new government slowly extends control. But
independent minded tribes, warlords and drug gangs still stand in the way of
peace, prosperity and true national unity.
Islamic rebels on the run, but a general uprising looms because of
dissatisfaction with the old revolutionaries that refuse to honor election
results or share power.
Main rebel group (UNITA) defeated, but smaller ones have appeared to fight
over oil wealth.
The Greater Albania Movement is driven by part time Albanian nationalists,
full time gangsters and a growing number of Islamic radicals.
Dictators brew rebellion by suppressing democrats and Islamic radicals.
Peace has broken out, for the moment.
The confrontation with Taiwan continues, as do hostilities with neighbors,
separatists, dissenters and ancient enemies. China speeds up modernization of
its armed forces.
After over three decades, leftist rebels losing support, recruits and
Multiple tribal and political militias, plus an increasing number of bandits,
continue to roam the countryside.
Kashmir is but one of many rebellions that beset the region. But India and
Pakistan have nukes, making escalation a potential catastrophe. Recent peace
talks have lowered the possibility of war, but both sides continue an arms
Separatism, pirates, Islamic terrorists and government corruption create an
increasingly volatile situation.
Minority of Islamic conservatives have veto power over the majority of
reformers. The supply of peaceful solutions is drying up. After that comes
another revolution. Meanwhile, the Islamic conservatives are determined to build
Sunni Arab minority makes peace with the majority Kurds and Shia Arabs. But
Sunni Arab Islamic radicals still back terrorism attacks against government and
Shia Arabs (who are considered heretics).
Jewish and Palestinian radicals continue to confront peacemakers. The
Palestinian people got tired of terrorism and are trying to work out a peace
deal with Israel.
The north and the south fight over money, religion and power.
After half a century, North Korea continues to destroy its economy to
maintain armed forces capable of invading South Korea.
Kurds continue 5,000 year struggle to form their own country.
Chaos, collapse and tired of fighting.
Several "failed states" (countries with populations that cannot govern
themselves) are found here.
Radical communist rebels battle to overthrow a popular monarchy.
Too many tribes, too much oil money and too much corruption creates too much
Various places where the local situation is warming up and might turn into a
Islamic minority in the south wants it's own country, and expulsion of
non-Moslems. Communist rebels in the north fight for social justice and a
Rebuilding and reforming the Soviet era armed forces and fighting gangsters
and Islamic radicals in Chechnya.
War between better organized and more aggressive Tutsis and more numerous
Hutu tribes. It's been going on for centuries.
A failed state. It was never a country, but a collection of clans and tribes
that fight each other constantly over land and other economic issues. Attempting
to establish a new government.
Tamil minority (19th century economic migrants from southern India) battle to
partition the island.
Moslems in the north try to suppress separatist tendencies among Christians
in the south. Complicated by oil fields in the south, and Moslem government
attempts to drive Christians from oil region. Battles over land in the west pit
Arab herders against black Sudanese farmers. Both sides are Moslem, but the
government is backing the Arabs.
Moslems in the south have a different religion than most Thais, and are
different ethnically as well (they are Malays). Islamic radicalism has arrived,
along with an armed effort to create a separate Islamic state among the few
million people in the area.
Religion and tribalism combine to create a persistent rebellion in the north,
which is aided by Sudan.
International terrorism has created a international backlash and a war unlike