Report: Today’s Wars Less Bloody


Categorie: David Axe, Health, Relief |
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Injured Somali man. Photo by David Axe.


Lawyers, Guns and Money points out a recent report from Simon Fraser University claiming that today’s wars are less bloody than at any point in the 20th century. “The average war today is fought by smaller armies and impacts less territory than conflicts of the Cold War era,” the Human Security Report 2009 posits. “Smaller wars mean fewer war deaths and less impact on nationwide mortality rates.”

“Dramatic long-term improvements in public health in the developing world have steadily reduced mortality rates in peacetime — and saved countless lives in wartime,” the report continues. “Major increases in the level, scope, and effectiveness of humanitarian assistance to war-affected populations in countries in conflict since the end of the Cold War have reduced wartime death tolls still further.”

The bottom line is that “today’s armed conflicts rarely generate enough fatalities to reverse the long-term downward trend in peacetime mortality that has become the norm for most of the developing world.”

True, but the grizzled old war correspondent deep inside me demands to know, “So what?” The global trend, while interesting as an isolated statistic, does nothing to diminish the suffering of those populations still caught in seemingly endless and awful conflicts. Tell a Somali, a refugee in eastern Chad or the average resident of Baghdad or Kandahar that wars are getting nicer, and they’re liable to laugh, then rage, then cry.


3 Responses to “Report: Today’s Wars Less Bloody”

  1. Total says:

    You might think to mention to them that in previous wars, they would be dead. That might change the reaction. It might change your reaction if you contemplated that for a moment.

  2. funtapa says:

    Its just strange, a man with a leg blown off will survive and still suffer the effects along with his family, the human cost is still the same.

  3. SM says:

    If wars are getting smaller and less bloody, then lots of people aren’t caught in endless and awful conflicts who would be otherwise. So perhaps it would be better to talk to an imaginary person in northern Afghanistan or Ethiopia. Of course this is no comfort to the victims, but improving public health in the developing world is a good thing.

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