1. At the beginning of the 21st century, you’re less likely to die a violent death than at any other point in human history. Yet the world is hardly a pacifist utopia, and remains riven by enduring, violent hostilities.
2. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows no signs of ending, and over the past year has got even worse.
3. Ethnic groups wage bloody war within Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
4. Libya, Syria and Iraq may be descending into decades-long civil wars, as the so-called Islamic State tries to carve out a bloody Caliphate from these divided countries. Meanwhile, the smouldering embers of the Cold War are being stoked in Ukraine, as Europe and Russia face off.
5. Political scientists call such long-term rivalries from which there seems no way out intractable conflicts. They are among the world’s most destructive social ills, and the most difficult to solve.
6. Ending civil wars is hard. Hatreds within countries often run far deeper than between them. The fighting rarely sticks to battlefields, as it can do between states. Civilians are rarely spared. And there are no borders to fall back behind.
7. A war between two states can end much where it began without the adversaries feeling in mortal danger. With nowhere safe to go home to, both sides in a civil war often feel they must carry on fighting if they are to escape slaughter. As those fighting in Syria know, defeat often looks like death, rather than retreat (see article).
8. The motives vary. Some act out of humanitarian concern. Others seek influence, or a higher international profile. But above all, outsiders have learned that small wars can wreak preventable havoc. Fractious Afghanistan bred al-Qaeda; the genocide in tiny Rwanda spread murder across a swathe of neighbours. In coastal west Africa, violence is passed back and forth between Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast like a winter cold round an office. “The best predictor of a civil war is having one next door,” .
9. America’s Endless Wars – Official Washington likes to think of its wars as “humanitarian,” supposedly bringing “democracy” to faraway lands, but the wars really bring death, destruction and despair.
10. Proxy Wars – most modern wars have been proxy wars whereby foreign powers instigate wars for various purposes.
11. Rita Corbin’s celebrated woodcut listing “The Works of Mercy” and “The Works of War.”“The Works of Mercy” – Feed the hungry; Give drink to the thirsty; Clothe the naked; Visit the imprisoned; Care for the sick; Bury the dead.” “The Works of War: ” – Destroy crops and land; Seize food supplies; Destroy homes; Scatter families; Contaminate water; Imprison dissenters; Inflict wounds, burns; Kill the living.”