With Remembrance Day just in the past, the media is inundating
us with stories, tributes, and memorials regarding the war veterans.
While leafing through the Montreal Gazette this weekend, I came
across two interesting articles which caused me to stop and think
about the history of these bloody battles, the roles of soldiers
and the reasons countries declare war.
The thing that astounded me the most was the overwhelming
statistics on countries at war. At this moment, 16.1% of the
world's nations are at war; that works out to 31 countries currently
in a state of conflict. Over the past 100 years, a whopping 91.7
% of this planet's 192 countries have been involved in feuds,
both internal (civil war) and external. This leads me to the
inevitable conclusion that diplomacy in today's world is in dire
need of improvement.
Before considering the solution to this most disconcerting problem,
it is first necessary to determine the reasons. This is where
the second article mentioned above fits in. This one was about
a new breed of mercenaries fighting today's wars in troubled
Africa. Mercenaries, or paid foreign soldiers, have always been
involved in wars, but up until now they have usually been independent
men willing to risk their lives to make a few bucks. Recently,
they have evolved into high-tech, legitimate businesses, offering
services ranging from security and training to supplying regiments
of men prepared to fight in the savage African Bush wars.
As long as warring countries have access to soldiers who will
fight for cash and diamonds, the leaders of these countries will
see no pressing reason to even attempt peaceful negotiations.
After all, their people are not protesting vehemently, either
because it is not their kin that is dying on the battlefields,
or simply out of fear of the often autocratic African regimes.
Another cause of the high preponderance of countries at war is,
and this may seem painfully obvious, is politics. What I mean
by this is that often the ordinary citizens of a particular country
have absolutely nothing against their counterparts in the nations
with which they are engaged in bitter, bloody battles.
A perfect example of this, somewhat subdued, is my native
Quebec. In our province, the political leader has waged a vendetta
against the English language, imposing often ridiculous language
laws, to ensure the "survival" of the French culture.
While I do understand that this desire is motivated by a warranted
thirst for revenge due to atrocities committed against his people
by the English in the past, the steps he is now taking are unnecessary.
The vast majority of French Canadians do not care if the lettering
on English signs is less than half the size of that of their
mother tongue. In addition to this, they get along beautifully
with the English and do not fear veiled plans of assimilation.
Although this example does not involve outright war, there are
countless other situations that do. For example, the situation
in South Africa up until 1990, when a black man was democratically
elected president. In the first 90 years of this century, the
Afrikaners and the British were conditioned by the government
to hate, and discriminate against, the blacks. During World War
II, they were also pitted against each other. This led to innumerable
wasted lives and an ingrained sense of inferiority among the
blacks. This in turn led to hopelessness and apathy.
In South Africa and all other troubled countries, if the people
were left to fraternize among themselves peacefully without the
influence of a corrupt government, surely this would bring the
world one step closer to the ultimate goal of global harmony.