According to data by "The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) Project", more than 20 major wars and armed conflicts are going on around the world in the first quarter of 2022 with significant loss of lives. If we go by the number of human lives lost in these ongoing wars, the top names will be the following countries/areas: Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Mexico, DR Congo, Mali etc.
If we rank lives lost in 2021 by countries, the list will be the following, the numbers in the bracket are people killed in 2021 in those countries in war and conflict:
Afghanistan (42,223 reported lost their lives)
Even though 80% of all war and conflict currently going on are concentrated in Asia and African, if you switch on mainstream media, any media that is, which war news do you hear and watch? It's only the Ukraine Russian conflict at the moment, correct? And before Ukraine Russia conflict the other wars were almost non existent in the radar of world media. As if nothing was going on. How come we turn such a blind eye to lives lost in another part of the world in many other wars?
A disconcerting racist tone was detected earlier in the reporting of the Ukraine Russia Crisis. In the early days of the invasion, racially-biased comments and video clips circulated widely of western journalists espousing that the world should care about what was happening in Ukraine because the people who were dying were white.
To cite a few examples: 'Ukraine's Deputy Chief Prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze, in his BBC interview, said, "It's very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed." Reporting from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Massachusetts-born CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent Charlie D'Agata declared that Ukraine "isn't a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European—I have to choose those words carefully, too—city, where you wouldn't expect that or hope it will happen."
There's the clip of ITV correspondent Lucy Watson broadcasting from a train station in neighbouring Poland, where she was having a hard time wrapping her head around the shock of an invasion taking place in a predominately white country and the horror of seeing the non-poor struggle and suffer. "Now the unthinkable has happened to them. And this is not a developing, Third World nation. This is Europe!"
A statement by the US- Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) correctly notes that the media coverage "dehumanizes and renders [the experience] with war as somehow normal and expected" in certain parts of the world. It "condemns and categorically rejects orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is 'uncivilized' or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict…This type of commentary reflects the pervasive mentality in western journalism of normalizing tragedy in parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America."
War and peace now affect everyone globally since we live in a more connected and global world. If we are serious about peace, global peace, we should also look at the racist lens through which we observe, watch, witness, and interpret war and conflict.
Racism is one of the significant vices that clouds our minds from seeing others as equal; it dehumanizes human lives and forces us to become blind. If we do not value each human's life, whether they are from South America or Africa or the Middle East or Asia or anywhere in the world - the achievement of peace will be impossible. In one of her pieces, Lorraine Ali, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, ended by saying: "Unfortunately, in Europe's newest conflict, at least one age-old problem persists: The limits of empathy in wartime are still too often measured by race."
If we are serious about understanding the sources of conflict and those who contribute to global conflicts, we cannot help but ask the question, who are the top arms exporters in the world that directly impact worldwide war and conflicts?
Behind the profit from war agenda, there is also subtle racism that persists. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2020, the United States, Russia, France, Germany & Spain are the top five Arms exporting countries. Now since global media coverage is also controlled by these countries, we tend to get an interpretation of conflicts through their agenda based lens.
It's one thing to shed crocodile tears for a selective population and claim oneself to support peace, but the sad reality is that the same group of people fund weapons of mass destruction to various conflict areas and perpetuate wars and suffering.
African wars are funded mainly by Western countries (to be precise, European countries except for China) with only one agenda: to take control of the resources of poor African nations. With insignificant ongoing wars and conflicts, the few richest countries in northern Europe manufacture and sell arms. If anyone needs to be held accountable, these countries are top arms suppliers who also play a significant role in fueling the wars through their foreign policy and unjust demand for regime change when it doesn't sit with their colonial agenda.
Achieving peace demands looking at things in a just and balanced way. If we continue to measure the value of human lives in one part of the world more than others regarding who deserves how much air time, that is a barrier to achieving global peace. As conscious citizens of the world, we must recognize this invisible and very subtle racist agenda if we want to give a chance to sustainable peace for the world.
To really achieve peace we must implement a number of practical measure to stop and perpetuate wars around the world:
It sounds like a bad fairytale that one had never thought to read before. In our fairytale-hood magical sprinkle flows around. In real-time, some long-range missiles target our peaceful today and strike. You see, our roads are now not going anywhere but war-shattered. You hear the deep silence through the bombardment. Homes… or actually dreams falling apart. The city is haunted.
Raisa, a good cook, loved googling new recipes on weekends. She was grating some extra cheese to spread on pizza a week before. With the same cheese graters, Raisa today grating polystyrene. She is making the Molotov cocktails… to protect her home, land and life. Yes, it is a constant war! And it is tiring. We don’t want war. To free ourselves from war, we are into war. The boy standing on the playground turns to the graveyard, feels a group of zombies, comes out from his phone, and attacks the Building where he lives. That Building is now a skeleton made of charcoals. But the boy saved the pages of Love Story in his pocket, smiles seeing the abandoned piano mid of the ground; starts playing softly, gently and prayerfully- ‘Heal the world … make it a better place.
Hey, first world! Hello, developed countries! Hi, West diplomacy! What more to express that you realize in your head and headlines the only one message for the sake of humanity and rights – Stop any war anywhere … now and forever!
Photo via Pexels by Artem Podrez
Maybe the concept of peace is as old as human history. However, the idea of peace; none the less entangled with another phenomenon that is war. I once heard a story from a Japanese-born American professor whose primary focus is studying peace, Anthropology of peace, to be precise. He told us a story that he heard from the curator of the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Museum. The story is “once former president of the united states Donald Trump was visiting the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Museum, and the curator was showing him around. The museum is full of visuals, artifacts, and personal accounts of the atomic bomb victims. The architect of Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims is Akira Kuryu. The design is breathtakingly simple and engaging. The premises of the Peace park is designed in such a way that after finishing the tour, the visitor may feel like they sit in the open, catching a breath and having their own space to reflect on the ‘experience’ they just had. To go to the open space, visitors had to take spiral stairs. While the curator diligently showed the president around, the president allegedly said, ‘why so many stairs? I need to go the toilet’. The curator was shocked, though politely handling the need of the president. The story ends.”
History tells us that the fate of the many has often been subject to the will of the few. Though cross-cultural examples often showcase that in many ‘indigenous’ communities, the idea and practice of conflict resolutions are inherent to the culture. I am not referring to any romantic past but rather trying to show that people are different in this world, and their co-existence has been negotiated culturally. The twentieth century was one of the war-torn centuries which marked the explosion of the invention of the weapon of mass destruction and the birth of new nation-states. Interestingly this century also gave us a standard form of globalization and a global body of collaboration.
Nonetheless, globalization also showcased the inherent disparity based on economy, access to resources, race, ethnicity, gender, and so on. Paradoxically it seems global communication is at its peak in human history. Every local conflict, event, incident, or crisis can become global in seconds. I like to think that even 1000 years ago, was it possible for the Covid-19 pandemic to be international? I guess not.
In the twenty-first century, the vision of a united humankind as professed after WW2 also seems paradoxical. On the one hand, some are stepping towards the colonization of Mars, and most are suffering from proper daily intake of nutrition. The old WAR seemed to transform into economic, information, and technological warfare, and we may start to think that there would be no physical warfare anymore, suggesting that no life will be lost, no life will be in despair. Though the recent crisis in Ukraine, Global Warming, and the Covid-19 pandemic remind us we are connected, the cost is life, the planet. In this century, it is even frighteningly possible that for the benefit of the few, the entire human race, life on this planet may be eradicated. Yes, human beings are different, and that is the beauty of it. And let me remind us that we are not the only habitat of this planet. To take the universe to be human-centric is utter foolishness. And to find another planet for all of us is quite difficult, and to move there will not be pleasant for us, I can guarantee that. If you look at the history of human migration, you can see that. Thus, most of us have only this planet to live a lifetime. To prosper, coexist to die peacefully, we have nothing but peace. No matter how vague a word it is across cultures, we need peace as a form of collective survival.
A friend of mine often said that the world should be destroyed. I know she has anger and resentment towards inequality, injustice and ridicule of those in power. People are suffering because of this and dying. Women are being suppressed. The majority of the people in every country of the world are the victims of this injustice. Where there is a need to improve the situation, war has started in the world. Maybe that's why she's so pessimistic.
In fact, we are not the victims of despair. Earth's climate is changing rapidly. Rising temperatures have made many parts of the world uninhabitable. Biodiversity is declining fast - so people are not getting enough to adapt to the environment. This is increasing the helplessness of the people. That's when Covid came. We stopped. Jobs are declining, production is dropping, people are fleeing their homes, searching for new habitats. The world economy suffered a significant setback. Commodity prices are rising in almost all countries. The production and use of harmful products like plastics have multiplied. Recent studies have found plastic particles in human blood.
In such a frightening global situation, displaced people are increasing. Just as prehistoric people have wandered from one end of the earth to the other in search of a place to live, people will also have to leave their homes and countries because of climate change. This human race has to bear the burden of man-made disasters in such a situation. Several wars have claimed millions of lives since the turn of the century. Millions of people left the war-prone countries and took shelter in refugee camps. In this century, we cannot accept a situation where one country will be aggressive against another.
All the people of the world want peace. Their position is the opposite of war. We think that those who are for war are against humanity. A country that kills people of another country cannot love its own country. No country alone can be safe in this global situation. The security of all of us can only be destroyed by war.
We want an end to all wars on earth. For saving the world, we want the protection of life and nature on the planet.
Photo credit: Jibon Ahmed
Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves and disrupted the prevailing peace in the world. There were no major wars in the past decade, and more than three decades have passed since the end of the Cold War. Many countries, mainly European ones, decreased their defence budget below 3% due to this calmness.
But this war changed many things. Many countries will ramp up their defence expenditure again. There will be more nukes, drones, missiles. There are more sanctions, divisions, disruptions in world trade, pushing price-hike, inflation in many countries. The repercussions will be felt also in distant countries.
Meanwhile, there is blood in the streets in several Ukrainian cities as thousands of people are being killed. Millions of refugees are taking buses on the M9, M10 or M11 highways or trains like the Kyiv express towards the Polish border; some went to Romania.
As the Ukrainian president called the nation to defend the country, thousands of people took arms and had joined the paramilitary. Thousands of others had volunteered to donate blood or are taking care of the refugees.
As the Russian tanks rolled to cities like Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Mariupol, and Sumy, military installations were bombed to the ground, civilians settlements were shattered by bombshells. Russia wants to annex Ukraine, absorb Ukrainians into their population. But many Ukrainians don’t want that. They want to remain free and independent. More and more Ukrainians are being killed each day and it is planting seeds of hatred among ordinary people, which may last for many generations.
If this war continues, not only Russia and Ukraine, every country, including Bangladesh, will suffer terribly. The world needs to keep calm to prevent World War III.
Photo credit: Ukraine War Image by Matti used under Pexels License