"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. ... For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." (Matthew 24:6-8, NKJV).

 Everyone knows that the world has experienced wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes for millenniums. However, you may be surprised to learn how the scale, severity and frequency of all of these things have increased radically in recent years. Take the first part of this passage, for example:

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. ... For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom."

The world has never been completely free from the scourge of war, but no period in history has witnessed the escalation of wars as has the twentieth century. The International Red Cross estimates that over 100 million people have been killed in wars since this century began.

Prior to 1914, war had never been universal, but in both World War I and II, global war was waged. In the latter, only 12 small nations of the earth were not militarily or technically involved, and 93 million people served in the armed forces of both sides. Of these, 25 million died. Civilian casualties were unprecedented: In the Soviet Union alone, over 20 million civilians died as a result of the war. The Washington Post noted:

Our twentieth-century wars have been 'total wars' against combatants and civilians alike. ... The barbarian wars of centuries past were alley fights in comparison. [1]

Since World War II, which was supposed to be "the war to end all wars," and make the world safe for democracy, there have been over 150 major wars (defined as conflicts resulting in over 1,000 deaths a year), as well as hundreds of smaller conflicts, armed rebellions and revolutions. The death toll in armed conflicts since the end of World War II is more than 23,142,000 people. The number of war deaths annually has been more than double the annual deaths in nineteenth-century wars and seven times greater than those of the eighteenth century. [2]

The world hoped the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 would not only signify the end of the Cold War between the superpowers, but usher in a new era of global peace. Unfortunately, this was not the case. But instead of the expected peace, more "wars & rumors of wars" raged around our planet. In 1993 a record 29 major wars were fought. The UN High Commission for Refugees reported in November 1995 that war, atrocities and persecution had currently forced a record 50 million people from their homes around the world. The report grimly added,

"The end of the Cold War generated a strong sense of optimism about the international refugee situation. With the rivalry of the superpowers over, it was thought, many conflicts would be resolved. ... Almost precisely the opposite has happened." [3]

In its annual report, the National Defense Council Foundation, a U.S. research and lobbying organization, counted 71 wars in 1995, which was double the number in the organization's first tally in 1989. Its director, retired Special Forces officer Andrew Messing, said the major dangers emerging in the post-Cold War era are nuclear and biological weapons proliferation, the rising militarization of China and spreading violence related to drug trafficking. [4]

The Greek word for nation used originally in this prophecy, "nation shall rise against nation," is ethnos, which is more accurately translated "a race" or "a tribe." In other words, Jesus was saying that ethnic groups would rise against each other. Pulitzer prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger warns,

"If the twentieth century has been the century of the warfare of ideologies, the twenty-first century begins as the century of the warfare of ethnicities." [5]

The Associated Press (AP) reports that during this century the murders perpetrated by nations against their own people exceed the deaths caused by wars with rivals outside their borders. Citing Stalin's purges, China's Cultural Revolution, Cambodia's "killing fields," the so-called ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the horrors of Rwanda, etc., the grim verdict is reached:

War aside, the twentieth century is awash in blood. On every continent but North America and Australia, governments have murdered those they governed by the thousands and millions, often by turning neighbor against neighbor. In this most civilized century, by one estimate the killing rage has extinguished 170 million lives. ... Ours is the century that coined the term "genocide." [6]

Not only are "wars & rumors of wars" on the increase, but also the horrors that wars unleash. We have become numb to news of atrocities & tortures, mass rape & murder, which show what horrible savagery modern man is still capable of when he is unrestrained by God. {CTA}


WARS IN 1999

Source: AP, The Independent, State Department, Center for Defense Information, CIA, World Almanac

The conflagration in former Yugoslavia and the tide of refugees it has created has become the focus of international media attention. But, away from the cameras, there are dozens of wars going on around the world today, and 30 million displaced people living on aid handouts as a result.

Following is a list of death tolls or estimates in a sampling of conflicts fought in the 1990s:

Afghanistan: 2 million, 1979-1992. Soviet-backed coup put pro-Moscow regime in power, backed by more than 100,000 Soviet soldiers. Rebel groups drove the Soviets out and seized power, turning against each other. Civil war continues between Taliban militia and alliance of opposition forces.

Algeria: 75,000, 1992-98: An insurgency touched off when the army canceled elections the Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win. Algeria is getting its first civilian chief of state since 1965, but the election brought charges of fraud.

Argentina: 9,000-30,000, 1976-83: Death squads tortured and killed political opponents, many of whom disappeared, in the "dirty war" sparked by a military coup.

Bosnia: 250,000, 1991-95: Military conflict and civilian massacres following the breakup of Yugoslavia, settled with a U.S.-brokered peace deal.

Burundi: 150,000-250,000: 1993-99: Tutsis and Hutus have been fighting since the 1993 assassination by Tutsis of the first democratically elected president--a Hutu--and a coup in 1996 that brought a Tutsi government to power.

Chechnya: 18,000-100,000, 1994-96: Fighting between Russian soldiers and Chechen rebels, ending with Chechnya running its own affairs but no country recognizing its independence claim.

Colombia: 1,200 civilians, 1998: Thousands die yearly in violence perpetrated by drug traffickers, leftist rebels, right-wing paramilitary squads and wayward army soldiers in a decades-long struggle. The country's ombudsman says civilian massacres rose 16 percent last year, to 1,200, and more than 300,000 people were displaced by violence.

Ethiopia-Eritrea: Unknown, 1998-99: A continuing border war, one of Africa's worst conflicts, with each country claiming to have killed tens of thousands of soldiers on the other side, but no reliable estimates.

Guatemala: 200,000, 1960-96: Civil war ended with peace agreement between leftist rebels and the government.

Israel-Palestinians: 125,000, 1948-1997: The Center for Defense Information's count since the establishment of Israel as a modern state.

Kosovo: 2,000, 1998: A death toll that has risen this year to unknown heights since Serbs intensified their ethnic purge of Kosovars and NATO started bombing to stop the repression. Mass graves have been reported in Kosovo. NATO has acknowledged bombing a passenger train and possibly a refugee convoy; Serbs said about 75 died as a result.

Liberia: 150,000, 1989-97: Civil war sparked by rebellion to oust ethnic dictatorship. Democratic government installed, but sporadic armed clashes have followed.

Northern Ireland: 3,250, 1968-1998: Street clashes between Catholic protesters and Protestant police, leading in 1970 to the start of bombings and shootings by the IRA and then random killings by Protestant groups.

Persian Gulf War: 4,500-350,000, 1991: The estimated civilian death toll from allied bombing has been put as low as 2,500 by U.S. officials and as high as 250,000 by Iraq. Estimates of Iraqi military deaths also vary widely, starting at about 1,500 and going up to 100,000. U.S. officials say 147 Americans died in action during Desert Storm bombing and ground campaign; 289 more died in accidents before and during the war and related Gulf operations since.

Rwanda: 500,000-1,000,000, 1994: A 90-day slaughter of Tutsis or moderate Hutus by soldiers, militia and others under the influence of the Hutu government, finally put down by Tutsi-led rebels.

Sierra Leone: 14,000, 1992-99: Continuing war between the Revolutionary United Front and the government, with the rebels backed by an ousted military junta and the government by a Nigerian-led intervention force.

Spain: 800, 1961-99: Basque separatists declared a truce six months ago in their armed campaign for independence, although it has come under strain following a police crackdown.

Sri Lanka: 57,000, 1983-99: Tamil rebels have been fighting the government for an independent homeland in the small island nation.

Sudan: 1.5 million, 1983-99. Rebels from the Christian and animist south have been fighting for autonomy from the Arab and Muslim north in a conflict marked by famine.

Turkey: 37,000, 1984-99: Kurdish rebels have been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey, using guerrilla bases in northern Iraq.


By David Cohen, Source: Nando Times

The 20th century saw wars of a magnitude unimaginable in the 19th century. Many millions of people died in conflicts large and small. Just about every nation on Earth was involved in some way or other; indeed, many nations owe their origins to warfare.

Here is an overview of the more significant conflicts. They are listed, roughly, in chronological order. For the most part, the list excludes civil wars, and is by no means comprehensive:

Boer War: From 1899 to 1902, British troops fought the Boers (those of Dutch ancestry) in what is now South Africa. The Boer forces were roundly defeated; in 1910, the British established the Union of South Africa.

Russo-Japanese War: Russia and Japan fought over Manchuria and Japan in 1904-1905. Japan was victorious; the defeat destabilized Russia's czarist regime.

Balkan Wars: Amid the decline of the Ottoman Empire, a great scramble ensued for Turkish territories from 1911 to 1913. Albania was born, Serbia grew and Bulgaria shrank. The wars rearranged the map of the Balkans for World War I.

World War I: The most futile of all wars, this conflict saw millions slaughtered in trench warfare from 1914 to 1918. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by a Serbian nationalist set events in motion in the summer of 1914. Germany and the Ottoman Empire sided with Austria-Hungary; France, Russia and Britain sided with Serbia. Other nations joined the fray on both sides. In 1917, the United States would join the Allies in their fight against Germany. The war saw some of the most bloody campaigns ever fought. New technology such as poison gas, tanks, flame throwers and machine guns brought to warfare the industrial efficiency perfected in decades of economic growth before 1914. When it was over, up to 10 million were dead--a hitherto unimaginable toll for a continent that had lost only about 150,000 in its last major conflict, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. Though the Allies never conquered Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm's forces were battered and his nation surrendered in 1918. The resulting peace treaty led to a redrawing of the map of Europe and the creation of an array of new grudges, all of which would play a part in World War II. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire were divided up, while Yugoslavia and other nations were born.

Russia: After Lenin's Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, a civil war broke out. Foreign forces fought with Russian anti-communists of all stripes against the forces of Lenin and Trotsky but failed to oust them, and the Soviet Union was born.

Spain: Communists fought fascists with the backing of various major powers from 1936 to 1939. With the support of Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco's fascist forces prevailed, and Spain went on to become one of the few European nations to sit out World War II.

World War II: The most horrific of all wars, this conflict began in the early 1930s but was at its zenith from September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, to 1945, when Japan and Germany surrendered. Germany, Japan and Italy (the Axis) were allied against Britain, France, China, the Soviet Union (starting in 1941) and the United States (starting in 1941), with dozens of other nations also involved in some way. This conflict saw the death not only of many millions of combatants, but also millions of civilians. Hitler's strategy of total war involved reducing enemy cities to rubble, and the Allies responded in kind. At the end of the war, Europe was divided, with Josef Stalin's Soviet forces occupying much of the Eastern half and Allied forces in control of much of the West. The stage was thus set for a Cold War that would divide Europe for almost 50 years and expand around the globe.

The Vietnam War: This war erupted at the conclusion of World War II as the forces of Ho Chi Minh resisted the efforts of the French to reassert control over Vietnam. It continued after the surrender of France in 1954, with the United States siding with the non-communist forces of South Vietnam vs. North Vietnam in a war that cost more than 1 million lives. The United States withdrew in 1973, and communist forces succeeded in conquering South Vietnam, neighboring Cambodia and Laos. Relentless massacres and warfare followed in Cambodia.

India vs. Pakistan: Starting shortly after they became independent in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three full-fledged wars, two over the region of Kashmir and one over East Pakistan (which is now the nation of Bangladesh). Conflict over Kashmir continued in 1999.

Israel vs. its neighbors: From the moment it became independent in 1948, Israel fought its Arab neighbors, including Syria, Egypt and Jordan. Other wars followed in 1956, 1967 and 1973. The 1956 war also involved British and French forces seeking to keep the Suez Canal open. Israel also invaded Lebanon in 1982 in an effort to eliminate Palestinian guerrillas there.

The Korean War: North Korea tried to reunify the divided Korean peninsula by invading South Korea in 1950. Ultimately, the war ended in 1953 just about where it began. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed. No peace treaty has ever been signed; the North Korean-South Korean border remains one of the world's most volatile.

The Bay of Pigs: U.S.-backed forces invaded Cuba in 1961 in a failed attempt to oust Fidel Castro. U.S. forces have been involved in small wars in many Latin American nations during this century, including Nicaragua, Panama and Grenada.

Biafra: After the Biafra region of Nigeria declared independence in 1967, a vicious four-year war ensued. Casualties were estimated at more than 1 million. Biafra ultimately surrendered.

Angola: After Portugal granted Angola its independence in 1975, a war between three rival groups broke out. The combatants were supported by various world powers, and Cuban troops ultimately were involved in helping the victorious MPLA forces. Still, the nation has yet to see peace--conflict periodically breaks out and the nation is crisscrossed with land mines.

Afghanistan: The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 in an attempt to prop up a communist regime beset by civil war. Afghan rebels fought the Soviets to a standstill, wearing them out much in the same way that Vietnamese forces wore out U.S. forces in Vietnam. More than 2 million Afghans were left dead in a war that ultimately saw the ouster from power of the communists, though war continues in Afghanistan to this day.

Iran vs. Iraq: Iran and Iraq fought for most of the 1980s in a vicious border war that accomplished very little.

The Falkland Islands: Argentina seized the Falkland Islands in 1982, setting off a war with Britain, which had ruled the territory for more than a century. The conflict lasted about 10 weeks and saw the Argentine forces defeated.

The Gulf War: Iraq's conquest of neighboring Kuwait in the summer of 1990 spurred an international coalition to act against Iraq in January 1991. In a war that lasted about six weeks, the United States and dozens of other nations ousted Iraqi forces from Kuwait and inflicted heavy casualties. Iraq remained an international hot spot throughout the 1990s.

The Former Yugoslavia: Secessionist hopes that emerged after the death of Marshal Josip Broz Tito in 1980 led to a series of wars in the 1990s, with the worst conflicts involving Bosnia (now a nation) and Kosovo (which remains part of Yugoslavia). The conflict was sparked by nationalism and massacres have occurred frequently.

Burundi and Rwanda: Ethnic conflicts between the Hutus and Tutsis in these African nations in the mid-1990s left hundreds of thousands of people dead. The 1990s were a rough decade for Africa, with civil wars breaking out in such places as Uganda, Sierra Leone and the Congo.


* 110 million active land mines are scattered in 68 countries, with an equal number stockpiled around the world. Every month more than 2,000 people are killed or maimed by mine explosions.