War is a loose phrase to many, used metaphorically by journalists and policymakers, but it actually needed a definition when people began to research war with the idea of possibly preventing it rather than simply researching ways to make it more lethal and victorious.
That is a bit squiffy. But von Clausewitz wrote before Gandhi was born, so he wasn't familiar with too many examples of using nonviolence to wage struggle and to compel the adversary to do something. And von Clausewitz should have made distinctions between, say, armed robbery and war. An individual sticking a gun in my ribs and taking my life savings of $11.32 is not actually waging a real war, but it is an act of force. How many attackers, defenders and mortalities do we need before we call it a war? We need something more exact.
"War is any conflict in which over 1,000 people are killed" (Shifferd, 2011, p. 15).
Yikes. What about 999 deaths from a violent conflict? What is that? "Low intensity conflict," according to the various being counters who track such things. Since Americans seem to count war dead as Americans only, most of the institutes that study war are in fact not American (with the notable exception of the Correlates to War project), though activists here try to help us think about it.
What is war right now on Earth? Again, from Wikipedia:
|Start of conflict||War/conflict||Location||Cumulative fatalities||Fatalities in 2010/11|
|1964||Colombian Armed Conflict||Colombia||150,000–200,000||1,000+|
|1978||Afghan Civil war||Afghanistan||600,000–2,000,000||10,461+ |
|1991||Somali Civil War||Somalia||300,000–400,000||2,318+|
|2004||War in North-West Pakistan||Pakistan||30,452||7,435|
|2004||Shia Insurgency in Yemen||Yemen and Saudi Arabia||25,000||8,000|
|2006||Mexican Drug War||Mexico||39,392+||24,374|
|2009||Sudanese nomadic conflicts||Sudan||2,000–2,500||708|
|2011||Sudan–SPLM-N conflict||Sudan||1,500+||1,500+|
|2011||2011 Syrian uprising||Syria||3,000+||3,000+"|
So, says one of the best sources, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, we have 10 wars raging right now, which have resulted in the deaths of more than one million human beings.
Disease and accidents are terrible and need our attention. War (and "low intensity conflict"!) need to be transformed to nonviolent struggle if we are to evolve as humans. This is not only possible, it's underway. In 2003 there were 21 such wars raging and during the 1990s there were often more than 30 wars underway.
Are we making progress? Yes, but it's mixed. One trend is that a much higher percent of mortalities are civilian, but another is decrease in interstate war. Clearly, peace research and human ingenuity are beginning to win the ultimate war: War on war. Let's keep pushing. Let's compel that adversary to do our will, which is to learn to wage conflict with nonviolent force. It's like solar power and electric cars--ideas whose time is overdue and arriving.
Shifferd, Kent D. (2011). From war to peace: A guide to the next hundred years. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.