chapter  10
14 Pages

Global rivalries and the causes of war

Introduction Possibly as many as twenty million people have been killed as a result of military action since the end of the Second World War. One estimate of the number of war-related deaths during the whole of the twentieth century puts the total at 110 million.1 During the 1990s Europe, which for over forty years had been frozen in a largely stable, terror-inspired peace, once more has been witness to a series of bitter and bloody conflicts at its heart in the Balkans. In Africa, in the early part of the decade, Somalia was ripped apart by an armed internal power struggle that caused starvation on a scale that is beyond the power of the pen to describe adequately, while afterwards, in Rwanda the ‘ethnic cleansing’ that accompanied the civil war there resulted in an almost unimaginable six-figure death toll. These are but a few of the brutal conflicts to which the 1990s have been host. War and the mayhem it unleashes clearly is a part of the human tragedy that is as resilient and dominant now as it was during the time of the ancients. Equally, it is one of the greatest of all threats to the health, well-being and survival of humankind.