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War and Conflict Copyright 2006: Dr. Aran MacKinnon The ways and means of violence.

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Presentation on theme: "War and Conflict Copyright 2006: Dr. Aran MacKinnon The ways and means of violence."— Presentation transcript:

1 War and Conflict Copyright 2006: Dr. Aran MacKinnon The ways and means of violence

2 Dimensions of Conflict War and Violent Conflict have had profound proportions and implications. Far reaching effects, many of which we are unaware of. World Health Organization: ‘War is a leading public health problem’. It is not as pervasive, insidious or silent as poverty and disease, yet it has triggered significant problems associated with poverty and health

3 Overview of War and Conflict Modernity = progress/problems War and violent conflict, driven by economic and grievance factors reveal fault lines of inequality 1. As ‘Civilization’ developed, it became increasingly violent, and it enhanced its capacity to perpetrate violence.

4 Overview 2. Technological advances have been as much about destruction as about production, and these have had economic costs 3. Increased availability of weapons has led to increased use, not just deterrence

5 The Background to Conflict Historically: Conflict ensued over competition for resources. It has appeared to have many ‘root’ causes: Nationalism, Ethnicity, etc, but the imperatives of sustaining and expanding the political economy have been the main cause

6 History of War -Eg. Sargon of Akkad, Ancient Mesopotamia: War to gain resources Sargon

7 History of War and Conflict Technology: Bronze and Iron = democratization of war vs. Elite warriors, Knights -Greek Example: Athens and Sparta: War societies: All male soldiers/rowers = citizenship Costs: spread the tax burden of war

8 History of War The democratization of war: Spartan Phalanx

9 History of War War = State building and Empires: Persia and Rome Ethnic, Religious and National Identities have been significant rhetorical/ideological drivers of war: Islam, Christianity, China Long Distance Trade: Major stimulus for War Later, New World European Expansion/Conquest led to further wars

10 History of War Modern world: Increased imbalance in technological advantages between Europeans and conquered regions Imbalance: ‘Whatever happens we have got the Maxim gun and they have not’.

11 Global Dimensions of War Extreme dimensions of conflict: caused Genocide Global Dimensions of Destructive Force = Nuclear Weapons/Cold War

12 Modern War New Acronyms for a new destructive age: MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction WMD: Weapons of Mass Destruction End of the Cold War: LICs (Low Intensity Conflict) proliferate: Intrastate conflicts far outnumber inter-state conflicts. For deaths from wars see:

13 Current Conflicts Go to:, look at the current conflict barometer. What is happening with conflicts today?

14 Conflict Barometer


16 Greed or Grievance? Grievances? : -Self-determination -religious, political, ethnic identity -‘Ethnic Cleansing/Genocide But is this enough to explain tensions? -Why do some apparently opposed groups live harmoniously while others do not? Other Factors?: -Wealth disparities -economic insecurity -unemployment and lack of opportunity - Displacement/IDPs

17 Greed or Grievance Other Factors?: -Wealth disparities -economic insecurity -unemployment and lack of opportunity - Displacement/Internally Displaced Persons -Predominance of one ethnic or religious group (85%) -Weak states

18 Resource drivers GREED?: Conflict and resources; how are they linked? Go to the global policy forum or the UN web site on conflict diamonds and consider how resources and weak states play a role in conflict today

19 Terrorism Origins with the modern state vs. citizens/opposition Battle of Algiers Definition?: Asymmetrical violence against non-combatants -Fear as a weapon, disruption to lives -New Threats: chemical, biological, dirty- bombs -Terrorist or Freedom Fighter?

20 The Ways and Means Economic Causes and Links? -Revenue for rebel groups becomes the raison d’etre or driving force Instability = Profits for some TNCs Rising Resource Based conflicts: Oil, Coltan, Drugs, Diamonds Private Military Corporations = War for Profit: eg. Haliburton

21 The impact of war Not as much as health and poverty, yet still profound Combatants and Non-Combatants are equal Abject levels of inhumanity Dead, wounded or maimed, Refugees, women and children/orphans Youth soldiers -Land mines Arms Trade and profits. Small arms and landmines particularly devastating -Environmental impact?

22 Landmines and civilians

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