Wednesday, 27 June 2007

ATTRIBUTES OF SO-CALLED SMALL ARMS

By Fatmir Terziu
This paper aims to examine increasing of intrastate conflicts after the end of the cold war, and wide range factors and conditions, which contributed to their growth into this analysis of the distinctive characteristics of civil war, such as availability of cheap weapons adds to the carnage, rape, famine and disease, brutality on children and new language adopted in use, because attend to underlines it from an different angle.

War has always been brutal. It has always ruined the lives of soldiers and has always brought suffering to civilians. But in recent years, war has changed its face. Today’s wars are mainly wars between opposing groups of citizens of the same country. “Civil wars often last longer, leave the population more traumatised, and destroy countries more thoroughly than wars fought between nations.” (Casanova, J., 2004) Indeed, when neighbour commits atrocities, the wounds may take centuries to heal. This paper aims to examine increasing of intrastate conflicts after the end of the cold war, and wide range factors and conditions, which contributed to their growth into this analysis of the distinctive characteristics of civil war, such as availability of cheap weapons adds to the carnage, rape, famine and disease, brutality on children and new language adopted in use, because attend to underlines it from an different angle.
Since the end of the cold war, intrastate conflicts have come to dominate the international landscape. Some examples of recent intrastate conflicts are Angola, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Rwanda. “These conflicts have caused massive death and destruction, and uprooting of the populations,” said “Women and Civil War” (2001). In fact during the last two decades, according to this book, more than five million people lost their lives in just four warn-torn areas: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Balkan. Fact is that people are forced to flee their homes. “The militias have driven the refugees from their homes…” (Metro, Friday, July23, 2004, page 2)
Although many of these conflicts have been resolved, others continue perpetuating human misery. “A wide range of factors and conditions has contributed to their growth. They include poverty and the struggle for scarce sources in a period of rising expectations, rapid economic modernisation, ethnic rivalries and divisions, political repression by authoritarian governments, arbitrary national boundaries imposed by colonial powers, support to certain political-military groups by outside powers, and the erosion of the international architecture created during the cold war.” (W& C.W., 2001). These are the reasons that combatants give for their resort to arms, not the reasons that actually lead them to take up arms. While these problems are not easily fixable, they are fixable.
The ready availability of cheap but lethal weapons adds to the carnage. “About 500,000 people deaths a year-mainly women and children – are attributed to so-called small arms,” reports the United Nations Development Programme. (UNDP, 20003) According to this report, in some conflict countries, a small arm can be bought for the price of a chicken. In some places rifles are becoming almost as plentiful as these domestic birds. On an average, every 22 minutes someone lose a limb or his life by using these arms or by stepping on a land mine. There are an estimated 60 million to 70 million land mines scattered about in over 60 countries. While not the root cause, these weapons make conflict more lethal and more violent.
Rape has become a military tactic. “Rape is a source of “silent suffering”, which soldiers used as a specific weapon war…” (W. &C.W., 2001) According to this book the goal of such rapists is to spread panic or to destroy family ties. But its appearance as a weapon of war used to humiliate the enemy in a wide variety of contexts is only now being recognised.
Famine and disease follow in the wake of civil war. One study of civil wars, “Ultimate Security” revealed: “20 percent of the casualties died from disease and 78 percent from hunger and as a result of the fighting. Fear is a reasonable response to the threat. But people tend to fear unusual diseases more than well-known.”(2003) “In the African country intrastate conflicts have left 1 million refugees at risk from famine and diseases.” (Metro, Friday, July23, 2004, page 2)A civil war means that few crops will get planted and harvested, few if any medical services will function, and little international aid will get to the needy.
Nowhere is the brutality of civil war more evident than in its effect on children. “Wars today increasingly are fought by fighters, many of them children, who are soldiers in any conventional sense of the word, “said Roy Gutman. (1999) A growing number of children have been turned into soldiers. So many children in countries where civil war has become a way of life are growing up without ever having known peace. They live in a world where schools have been destroyed and where dialogue takes place through the mouths of guns. . “During the last decade, over two million children lost their lives in civil conflicts. Another six million were wounded,” said Gutman. “Children and Ethnic Conflicts, 1999)
At last, never have so many synonyms for “to kill” or to “destroy” been assembled outside the pages of a thesaurus in terms of civil war.” (1991) To “degrade”, to “interdict”, to “stealth”, to “take out”, to “impact, to “suppress”, to “eliminate”, to “decapitate”, to “de-air”, to “down” or to “neutralise” all have been used. “Rarely has it been so obvious that language is volatile stuff that it succumbs easily to manipulation, to the sedulous distortions of propagandists and censors,” said D’Ancona. (1991) However, intrastate conflicts may seem less threatening, “by using the synonyms” and may be largely ignored by the media, but the pain and destruction caused by such hostilities are devastating all the same.
To sum up, there was a rise of intrastate conflicts in this period. I have pointed out that these conflicts have caused thousands of deaths, sexual assaults, and forced exile and, in the most extreme cases, genocide. Further, I have tried to analyse the distinctive characteristics of intrastate conflicts and to examine the reasons for these differences. It can be said that to uproot all these destructive feelings, people need to change the way they think. They need to be educated in the ways of peace. At present we live in a world that in some countries teaches adults and children, not the value of peace, but the glory of war. Sadly, even the children are being trained to kill.

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