“This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sort of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war.” – William S. Burroughs
Good day readers!
History is made up of almost everything that happened in the past, and that is the easiest way to describe it. But it still affects the people of today because of the nature of the things that happened. When we talk about all the positive effects, we talk about the various discoveries (like the discovery of fire), development of influential ideas and the scientific advancement that man has been able to make over the years. But when we concentrate on the negative effects, the main issue to talk about is wars!
A source claims that 14,500 wars have taken place between 3500 BC and the late 20th century. This would mean that every decade, every century and every millennium has witnessed a war in the Earth’s history. The Wikipedia describes war as “a state of armed conflict between societies. It is generally characterized by extreme collective aggression, destruction, and usually high mortality”. But from where did the idea of wars between two groups come into being? What is the aggression that is stated here?
To start off, the earliest evidence of any kind of war-like activity is the Site 117, a cemetery in Sudan. It dates back to the Mesolithic period, approximately 14,000 years ago. About 45% off the skeletons show signs of violent deaths. Evidence of a war fought so long ago tells us that humans, or even animals, have a natural tendency to get aggressive when it comes to territoriality, or any such competition for that matter.
A theory states that wars are the result of complex social organization and a rising population that led to the formation of state, which is defined as an organized political community living under a single system of government. As groups are formed, people in the society are divided, forming societies of their own. This led to the concept of ‘conquest’, which is the act of taking control over an area not occupied or belonging to oneself. Conquests created competition and turned into wars between two different groups, often ending with a lot of casualties. Thus, a lot of social, cultural and political circumstances have led to wars.
The result of these wars often was a group triumphing over another. The winners get resources and political power to develop themselves. But the real effect of all of this is on the whole human society. A battle may just be a very small act of violence in the vast human history, but it still adds up to the total mental and physical suffering faced by humans.
There are various types of wars. Chemical wars, nuclear wars, conventional wars, unconventional wars, globalizing wars, total wars and civil wars are some of the main types. With the nature of all these wars being so different and often controversial, debates about a just war arose over the years. This established certain ‘War Ethics’ or ‘Laws of Warfare’. There are six main criteria for the declaration of a just war: first, any just war must be declared by a lawful authority; second, it must be for a just and righteous cause, with sufficient gravity to merit large-scale violence; third, the just belligerent must have rightful intentions – namely, that they seek to advance good and curtail evil; fourth, a just belligerent must have a reasonable chance of success; fifth, the war must be a last resort; and sixth, the ends being sought must be proportional to means being used. Apart from this, the laws also include prohibitions on attacking doctors, ambulances or hospital wings displaying the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, the Red Crystal or any other symbol or emblem related to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. Attacking persons parachuting from an aircraft in distress is also prohibited. Well, not everything is fair in love and war after all.
The worst wars fought in the entire human history are the 'World War II’ and the 'Mongol Invasions’. Both these set of wars are 6 centuries apart, but give us a similar outcome, death and suffering. About 60 million people died in the Mongol Invasions of the 13th century whereas about 75 to 85 million died in the World War 2 fought between 1939 to 1945. World War 1 was fought two decades before the second one, which also resulted in about 40 million casualties. This tells us that in the past century, two wars have resulted in the death of about a 100 million people, which can’t be a coincidence. What led to these prolific deaths?
Advancement in the field of war technology has increased their destructiveness considerably. Use of nuclear weapons has caused a feeling of concern and fear among the people, and the prospect of a nuclear World War III threatens the entire human race.
All of this tells us that if man continues being reckless, he will soon face the danger of extinction. Albert Einstein famously quoted- “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” The number of wars that we’ve have fought in the recent years has reduced comparatively. But with the kind of animals humans are, it is definitely not a wise thing to trust them with sustaining that. On the other hand, we can trust them with not being foolish enough to scrape themselves off the Earth due to their own recklessness. We humans always work out something or the other.