Wars Update: Why The Decline In Wars


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 territory.


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 race.


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 nuclear weapons.


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 violence.


Various places where the local situation is warming up and might turn into a war.


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 dictatorship.


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 any other.




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