the friend online
09 May 2008

The Decline of War - preview

Loren Cobb examines the reduction in war over the millennia

Looking back on the escalating horrors of twentieth-century warfare and the advances in nuclear and biological weapons, one can hardly avoid wondering whether the practice of modern warfare is heading for some unimaginable apocalypse of terror, death and destruction
  • It still might, if our existing methods of conflict resolution fail in any critical moment

  • Yet current anthropological thought has recently come to a startlingly different conclusion: the frequency and lethality of warfare has been in continuous decline for many centuries, with no end in sight
  • If this trend holds for just another few score of years, warfare will become a thing of the past
  • Which of these diametrically opposed visions of the future is right?

    Loren Cobb

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    Jez Smith, 15 May
    Where to begin? With the victims of war whose lives have been destroyed? With the increasing use of handheld weapons in warfare? By avoiding defining mass murders or internal conflicts as war? By walking into any Internally Diplaced People camp in the world and telling the people there that war is in decline? By considering that governments fear body counts more than time, so that the loss of 2,405 peacekeepers to October 2007 means nothing and means everything? With the US government's desire to be a leader on the world stage while holding the UN to ransom? That the UN still doesn't have an independent rapid reaction force?

    The real reasons to be cheerful are in the everyday tales of peacemaking, peacebuilding and nonviolence, in real humanity and where Quakers might call it living out their testimonies and others might find some moral dimension, from beyond or within that keeps them going.


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    News round-up
    Reasons to be cheerful
    Judy Kirby
    The Seville Declaration
    Brian W Walker
    Is human aggression irredeemable?
    Scilla Elworthy
    Wearying out contention
    Sue Johnson
    The Decline of War
    Loren Cobb
    From the rugby pitch to the coal mines...
    Dave Feickert
    ‘Caring matters most’
    Rowena Loverance

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