The twentieth century has seen the largest and bloodiest wars in history. In the media, war is mostly portrayed as being full of glory, bravery and bravado. The realities of war, however, are very different. At the beginning of this century, nine out of ten victims of war were soldiers. Today, due to technology, the arms trade, and the nature of war itself, the situation is reversed. Nine out of ten victims now are civilians, and the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly.
World War I caused the death of nearly 9 million and the serious wounding of over 21 million men. World War II was responsible for the death of 15,600,000 soldiers and 39,200,000 civilians. Since 1945 there have been hundreds of wars all over the world, and it is estimated that nearly 30 million people have been killed using conventional (nonâ€‘nuclear) arms. The average death toll from armed conflict is put at between 33,000 and 41,000 a month since 1945. The economic cost of this is staggering. The developed countries spend about 20 times more on their military programmes than on economic aid to the poor countries of the world where millions face starvation.
The cost of war in human terms is tragic. Millions of people are maimed and tortured. As well as shattered bodies there are shattered minds. Between 200,000 and 400,000 women were raped in Bangladesh during a nine month conflict there in 1971. It is estimated that there are over fifteen million refugees in the world, many of them victims of war.
In recent times, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are continuing and tally of the victims' are daily increasing. The estimated cost of the war in Iraq was around US$13billion monthly. The money actually funded by the taxpayers through their taxes. The government system is so cunning that citizens funded the war to have themselves or their family members killed. War is fought ideologies of power, sovereignty, politics and economics that peace, humanity, and love.
Some wars are justifiable. Many Christians believe that there is such a thing as a 'just war'. This is a war which it is morally right to fight. For a war to be just, three conditions were laid down in the thirteenth century by St Thomas Aquinas. They were:
Â· The war must only be started and controlled by the authority of the state or the ruler
Â· There must be a just cause; those attacked are attacked because they deserve it
Â· The war must be fought to promote good or avoid evil. Peace and justice must be restored afterwards
Later, two other conditions were added:
Â· The war must be the last resort; all other possible ways of solving the problem must have been tried out
There must be 'proportionality' in the way the war is fought, e.g. innocent civilians should not be killed. You must use only enough force to achieve your goals, not more. (It would not be 'proportionate', for example, to bomb a whole village because the enemy was hiding in one house
However, when is a just war a just war? Histories of war have taught us that many wars are fought with a good moral reason to fight normally at the end turned out to be disastrous.
The eye for an eye in war is not an ethical or moral logic because it will be never achieved. The effects of avenging for a loss of an eye will take more than an eye, a head with it.
The proportionality is something that never will be achieved in war, but in peace negotiation and arbitration.