The 20th century is one of the periods in human history that has experienced a lot of wars. There was war between and among nations and war within nations. The century began with the First World War then the Second World War and after this came scenarios of war in Vietnam, Afghanistan, in the Middle East, etc. Many nations devoted their time to fighting for what they believed was rightfully theirs while others fought to defend those that were thought to be weak against the stronger nations that had attacked them. Nearly every nation on the face of the earth was involved or affected in one way or the other. However, there is no nation that has come close to the United States in terms of the number of wars that it has involved itself in the past and also in the present.
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One of the wars that the United States will remember in history is the Vietnam War in 1960s. In this war, the United States was trying to defend capitalism by fighting against the Communist North through supporting the anti-communist South to prevent its capture by the Communist North. The United States therefore deployed a lot of its forces to provide the necessary support to the southern territory of Vietnam, hoping that the Northern part of Vietnam would not be able to conquer the South despite the heavy support that it received from the Communist states in Asia and other parts of the world. The twentieth century was driven more by politics and the needs that arose because of political ambitions that were held by different countries. However, as these wars were fought, it was expected that nations that were involved would learn lessons that would help them not to engage in war again in future. Yet, to the surprise of many, there is a fascination of in the war that drives many to keep on fighting time and again until they have had their way.
As was observed by Page, it is very hard to take the satisfaction, adventure and the joy that accompanies the war. There is a satisfaction that is obtained out of the war when soldiers are sent to the battlefront to defend the rhetorical words of their politicians. However, in his words, Page believed that the glamorous victory and the need to show the world that one was powerful propelled the need to continue fighting and it was very difficult to paint war as evil and get people out of it. It is important to understand that it is the experiences that soldier go through while on the battlefront that has earned them the tag; war heroes or veterans. To many, this is a sense of honour that can only be accorded to a person who has served his country far away from home and from his family (Herr, 1977).
One of the issues that has been noted by many war analysts is that war has a way of pulling humanity with such a strong force that even those that does not wish to participate in it will not resist when it comes knocking. According to Ringnalda (1994), there are many ways that have been used in the past to discourage war adventures and young people from joining the military to so that they can be able to serve their country in a particular war (p.177). However, most of the mediums that have been used have only succeeded in motivating such people to call even for more wars. For example, the media have used documentaries that cover brutality of war to discourage the hearts of many young people with a call for them to seek peace rather than face the smoking guns. However, after viewing such documentaries, the young people will immediately enlist in the armed forces with a hope that war would break out somewhere so that they can experience the glamour that comes with it. This is so ironical because one of the issues that human beings fear is death. Yet they cannot fear engaging in activities that more than often results to death.
According to Herr (1977), there are many experiences that are so captivating when one is on the battlefield both to the fighting soldier and the combat journalist (p.248). However, most of the soldiers that this author came into contact with in Vietnam admitted that they had a certain satisfaction that was obtained in the war and that they had a sense of affection towards the war they were fighting. In quoting the words of a combat photographer, Page, Herr (1977) notes that one cannot just dismiss war by exposing the real dangers that are revealed in any particular war. On the other hand, it was also difficult to discourage people, especially the young people from supporting war such as the Vietnam War, until they had really experienced how it felt like to be on the war front personally. The psychology behind this is so sophisticated, yet can be an important aspect of study among the psychologists and literal writers in the modern world.
Therefore, the question that one is left asking is how war can be demystified. According to Ringnalda (1994), the media and other social groups in the community have used various tactics to demystify war and the injustices that occur to humanity every moment there is a war (p.177). Yet all these groups in the society have failed to realize their goals of painting war as something that is evil in the society, instead they have ended up obtaining an slap on the face when even more people have joined the battlefronts to fight and take an experience with them to their homes and families on how they showed their courage and determination to win. Therefore, demystifying war is one of the challenging issues in the modern society, especially when there are advanced war tactics that employs the use of technology in a fascinating way.
However, there are various ways that are being employed to demystify war in the modern world, though with little success. One of these methods is the use of international law that has sought to bring under control if not ending the cases of war throughout the world. These laws provide guidelines on the terms and conditions that must be satisfied for a nation to declare war on another nation. Therefore, these laws have acted as a forceful way of ensuring that there is prosperity of peace among the nations of the world. On the other hand, it is important to understand that these laws have been mandated with the task of sanctioning those nations that violates them. While they have succeeded in slowing down the effects of war, they have been loopholes that have been used by the big nations such as the United States of America by influencing them to using their democratic politics and lame excuses thus allowing these nations to carry on with war activities against the weaker nations (Ringnalda, 1994).
As a result of this, such bodies need to be empowered so that they can be able to deal without discrimination with every nation that seeks to alienate itself from these laws. For example, one of the issues that have been cited as the reason for war is terrorism. Countries that have been victim to terrorism activities have embraced the fact that they can be able to fight terrorism by punishing the whole nations that comprises of old people, women and children. For example, after the September 11 incidence, the United States of America pounced on Afghanistan as a way of retaliating to discourage terrorists from committing their crimes again in future. However, this cannot be able to solve these problems and stop terrorism. Islamic fundamentalists have embraced the fact that there are benefits that one gains by when he/she dies as a terrorist. Therefore, attacking them does not solve this issue. Instead this is a way of helping them to accomplish their missions. Therefore, there is need for powerful nations such as the United States, Britain, Russia, etc to put humanitarian concerns first in their agenda before anything else. Instead of wasting resources and the energy of their armed forces, countries such as the US should use their skills, knowledge and technology to infiltrate terrorists camps with messages that discourage terrorists activities rather than fighting the whole nation because of crimes committed by a small group of people in that nation (Byers, 2005).
There is need for war to be demystified in the eyes of every nation because of various reasons. First, if the nations do not understand what war means and when should war be used to solve conflicts, then they would attack each other without any cause, or with a small cause that could have been solved in a peaceful way. There are nations that have taken pride in their military power and would do anything to trigger war with their neighbours in order to test their military strengths. Such nations include Russia that is easily provoked into war. However, it is important to clarify what is stated in the Humanitarian International Law that clearly states the situations that warrants for war. These are, in defence of oneself and when a nation has been given a go ahead by the United Nations after scrutinizing the reasons that have been given for the need of such a war. Such are the only situations that nations are supposed to call for war against each other (Byers, 2005).
On the other hand, it is important to evaluate the effects of the war, both to those that are guilty and those that are innocent. Demystifying war is important to bring the nations to an understanding that war has a lot of negative effects, both to those that win and those that loose. Economies of the nation have been brought down on a single day just because of war. On the other hand, war jeopardise human rights, especially those of the old people, the women and children. With such an understanding of the mystery behind war, nations will be reluctant to gather resources and empower their military manpower for the sake of fighting (Herr, 1977).
In conclusion, it can be said that there are mutual benefits that are derived from the insistence by the nations not to participate in wars. Yet, in most cases, these benefits have been ignored by these nations. In its place, they have chosen to fight one another, thus killing and maiming people for no cause at all. However, when war is demystified to the whole society, and embraced as one of the moral needs that require to be addressed, nations will be able to hold back their guns and in its place put forward a handshake of peace that will seek to enhance their relationships for mutual benefits of each other.
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