“Uncivil Wars”

Jun 25 2012 @ 1:55pm

Susie Linfield reflects on how wars have changed:

Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm … has estimated that in World War I, soldiers constituted 95 percent of casualties; in contemporary conflicts, most of which are intra-national, unarmed civilians account for 80 to 90 percent of casualties.

In many of today’s wars, civilians are the deliberate—indeed, the primary—targets: think, for instance, of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Ugandan group that enslaves children; of the militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are systemic practitioners of mass rape and vaginal mutilation; of the Taliban’s bombings of schools and marketplaces; of Al Qaeda’s attacks on Iraqi mosques; of Al Shabaab’s assaults on medical students, teachers, and soccer fans; of the recent wars in Darfur, Colombia, Chechnya, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Political theorist John Keane has dubbed these conflicts “uncivil wars” whose perpetrators practice “violence according to no rules except those of destructiveness itself …"