Wars Update: A Year of Trends

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December31, 2005: In 2005, the post-Cold War trend of more peace, and less war, continued. Overall deaths are down, although there are still a lot of places that are not safe for tourists. These places are not safe for journalists or historians either, so getting really accurate current information on some of these conflicts is difficult.

The War on Terror has become the War Against Islamic Radicalism. This movement has always been around, for Islam was born as an aggressive movement, that used violence and terror to expand. Past periods of conquest are regarded fondly, and still called upon to inspire the faithful. The current enthusiasm for violence in the name of God has been building for over half a century. Historically, periods of Islamic radicalism flared up periodically in response to corrupt governments, as a vain attempt to impose a religious solution. The current violence is international because of the availability of planet wide mass media, and the fact that the Islamic world is awash in tyranny and economic backwardness. Islamic radicalism itself is incapable of mustering much military power, and the movement largely relies on terrorism to strike a blow for the cause. Most of the victims are fellow Moslems, which is why the radicals eventually become so unpopular among their own people that they run out of new recruits and fade away. This is what is happening now. The American invasion of Iraq was a clever exploitation of this, forcing the Islamic radicals to fight in Iraq, where they killed many Moslems, especially women and children, thus causing the Islamic radicals to lose their popularity among Moslems.

Normally, the West does not get involved in these Islamic religious wars, unless attacked in a major way. Fighting back is considered, by Moslems, as culturally insensitive, and some of the Western media have picked up on this bizarre interpretation of reality. For example, the Crusades were a series of wars fought in response to Islamic campaigns against Christians, not the opening act of aggression that started everything. Thus, the current war on terror is, indeed, in the tradition of the Crusades. And there are many other "Crusades" brewing around the world, in the many places where aggressive Islamic militants are making unprovoked war on their Christian neighbors. Political Correctness among academics and journalists causes them to try and turn this reality inside out. But a close look at the violence in Africa, Asia and the Middle East shows a definite pattern of Islamic radicals persecuting those who do not agree with them.

While Islamic terrorism grabs most of the headlines, it is not the cause of many casualties, at least not compared to more traditional wars. The vast majority of the military related violence and deaths in the world comes from dozens of little wars. Actually some of them are not so little. While causalities from terrorism are relatively few (usually 5,000-10,000 dead a year worldwide) , the dead and wounded from all the other wars are much more numerous (more than twenty times as much as terrorism).

Military operations continue in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Sudan, Thailand, Colombia,Pakistan and Nepal. In all these countries, civil war is the main cause of conflict. The usual trigger is a dispute over scarce resources, or territory that has changed hands in the past. There are no traditional "invasion" type wars going on at the moment. However, some of the conflicts involve the use of irregular troops to "invade" a neighbor and try to conquer disputed territory. This is the case in Kashmir, where Pakistani irregulars have been invading this disputed territory, trying to take it from India. Another example is Darfur, where Arabic Sudanese tribes chase black African tribes out of disputed territory. A major threat of war these days comes from China, which threatens to take Taiwan by force, and uses nationalism and military threats to try and control neighbors..

Many current conflicts arise from the ease with which one can establish a private army. Calling the leaders of these forces warlords is pretty accurate, as these guys live off war. Stealing, or extorting, what they need, these groups have flourished on the availability of cheap Cold War surplus weapons from Eastern European and Russian arsenals. Africa is awash in warlords, with armed groups controlling turf in Ivory Coast, Sudan, Congo, and Somalia. Warlords also hold sway in places like Sri Lanka, Philippines, Nepal, Iraq, Chechnya,Palestine,Colombia, Burundi Afghanistan and several other places where there is no fighting (the Warlords have imposed peace via intimidation).

The warlords have become a worldwide problem, with gunmen openly organizing and operating as private governments. The real governments prove helpless in dealing with the warlords, who openly play to the mass media and local political movements. While warlords have not exactly become respectable, they have become accepted as a "cannot ignore" part of the political landscape in much of the world. Western nations, with their superior armed forces, are reluctant to take on the warlords. Doing so generates complaints at home that, "it's not worth the cost, " "it's not our business" and is generally viewed with hostility by the international community as an unwanted resurgence of "colonial imperialism". Part of this has to do with the clever way the warlords play the media game. It's a new generation of warlords, and eventually the world is going to have to deal with them. The warlords are often hospitable to Islamic terrorists, and this directly threatens Western nations.

In 2006, the Islamic radicals will continue to fade, and more warlords will attract media attention, followed by military (peacekeepers) and economic pressure (cutting off humanitarian aid the warlords plunder) to go straight. Even warlords who have kept a low profile (like those in Burma and Central Asia) will come under pressure.

Current wars are listed in alphabetical orders. Text underneath briefly describes current status. Click on country name for more details.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban fighting back, but continues 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.

ALGERIA

Islamic rebels fading away, but a general uprising looms because of dissatisfaction with the old revolutionaries that refuse to honor election results or share power.

ANGOLA

Main rebel group (UNITA) defeated, but some smaller ones have appeared to fight over oil wealth.

BALKANS

The Greater Albania Movement is driven by part time Albanian nationalists, full time gangsters and a growing number of Islamic radicals.Bosnia continues to attract Islamic terrorists.

CENTRAL ASIA

Dictators brew rebellion by suppressing democrats and Islamic radicals.

CHAD

Peace has broken out, for the moment, but there is unrest because of the tribal battles in Sudan.

CHINA

The confrontation with Taiwan continues, as do hostilities with neighbors, separatists, dissenters and ancient enemies. China speeds up modernization of its armed forces.

COLOMBIA

After over three decades, leftist rebels losing support, recruits and territory.

CONGO

Multiple tribal and political militias, plus an increasing number of bandits, continue to roam the countryside.

INDIA-PAKISTAN

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.

INDONESIA

Separatism, pirates, Islamic terrorists and government corruption create a volatile situation that is slowly calming down.

IRAN

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.

IRAQ

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).

ISRAEL

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.

IVORY COAST

The north and the south fight over money, religion and power.

KOREA

After half a century, North Korea continues to destroy its economy to maintain armed forces capable of invading South Korea.

KURDISH WAR

Kurds continue 5,000 year struggle to form their own country.

LIBERIA

Chaos, collapse and tired of fighting. There is peace, but no prosperity.

MICRONESIA

Several "failed states" (countries with populations that cannot govern themselves) are found here.

NEPAL

Radical communist rebels battle to overthrow a popular monarchy.

NIGERIA

Too many tribes, too much oil money and too much corruption creates too much violence.

POTENTIAL HOT SPOTS

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

PHILIPPINES

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.

RUSSIA

Rebuilding and reforming the Soviet era armed forces and fighting gangsters and Islamic radicals in Chechnya.

RWANDA & BURUNDI

War between better organized and more aggressive Tutsis and more numerous Hutu tribes. It's been going on for centuries.

SOMALIA

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.

SRI LANKA

Tamil minority (19th century economic migrants from southern India) battle to partition the island.

SUDAN

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.

THAILAND

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.

UGANDA

Religion and tribalism combine to create a persistent rebellion in the north, which is aided by Sudan.

WAR ON TERROR

International terrorism has created a international backlash and a war unlike any other.


 

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