As human being, we could not reject war and conflict as part of human civilization. Plato said that war will end when all human die. Referring to Ibn Khaldun’s book, Muqaddimah, God creates war or fighting ever since the life begun in the world. So, Khaldun wrote that war have different sides, he called those were unjust and holy war. Khaldun explained war as follows: first, kind of war, usually happens between tribes or caused by family problem. Second, war occurred by hostility, for example Muslim community against Israel and Jewish community in the Middle East. Third, the holy war, like Christian and Muslim wars in the middle age fighting for the holy place, Jerusalem. Fourth, dynastic war against the rebellion, such as Nepalese Kingdom against Maoist Liberation Movement.
Following Ibn Khaldun thesis, Cicero distinct his view about war, he said war was not a contest between country, but a condition of country. It means war did not happen because countries prepared of their military to go to war, but also happen because of the condition of countries supported the potential of war. Beside that, Cicero argued same thing with modern sociologist, Quincy Wright, whom also agreed with the Cicero argument. Wright tried to complete those arguments with separated definitions about war, his views about war as followed the legal and sociologist such as : states of war and states of peace. These argued means that are in war, even the point of states of peace mean war will end. In states of peace process, we shall the diplomacy and bargaining position each, but in deep process, we found the conflict, intervention, armed neutralities, reprisal, and etc. in short words, Wrights said that war is only one of many abnormal legal situations. It is but one of numerous conflict procedures.
Meanwhile Rosseau stated that war is not just between humans but also the system beyond human. Meaning, war is not just about ambitious leader and spirit of killing among human, but also created by the system of a country. It creates an atmosphere that indirectly emerges potential of war. For example is Hitler who declares war against countries who defeated Germany in World War I. He was supported by the system of his country which encourages the spirit of war in the German Society at the time. It is also a clear underlined statement that war is not just about ambitious leader but also the system and the community who create the atmosphere of war.
The statement of war as the reality of a civilization should be viewed in reality context. It is possible that war is the final stage of diplomacy that keeps a superiority of a country onward of others. Referring to the situation of German after being defeated in World War I, the country lost many territories including its vassal. German decided to start another war to take over what has lost under the Versailles Agreement. Perhaps, Japan could also be an interesting example. The country played significant role in World War I, but gained no benefits at all after winning the war as stipulated in Versailles Agreement.
However, all reasons mentioned above are less significant in the post cold war world. It is almost impossible to imagine those reasons are the main reason for a country to start a World War just like the last two. The most interesting part about cold war is on the progress of civilization in the midst of threat of a great war that may cause bigger casualties in human life and sovereignty of many states. Wars in a post cold war world happen at small territory, not an open war, and only involving small numbers of countries. The most important record is, within forty years of cold war, war in term of conventional meaning never happened between the Liberalism-Capitalism group supported by United States of America including its allies in western countries and Socialism-Marxism group supported by Soviet Union. Both groups only get into intelligence war and providing weapon supports in hot spots of a region. Korean War and Vietnam War for example, although both countries are involved, war only happened in Korea and Vietnam including borders close to both countries. The real war in cold war world is on the spread of ideology of both groups, triggering internal conflict of a country. Afghanistan war and African war are good examples on the presence of countries with two different ideologies. Intervention and sovereignty in form of the formulation of a puppet state just like the way United States did in Vietnam and Haiti, and also made by Soviet Union in country members of Warsaw Pact.
The reformulation of the meaning of war in one side as the political development of a state or a region will rise local conflict on the other side, localized in order to turn the issue of war as an eternal issue. Conflict happens in all countries of the world. Even conflict has replaced the real meaning of war. It is not a surprise then if a war between Israel and Hizbullah, is preferably called as armed conflict rather than war, just like the conflict between Ethiopia and Eretria known as the conflict at the horn of the continent.
Based on explanation above, author believes that the real meaning of war is reduced in form of non-massive and localized conflict with no intention to increase the territorial reign of a country and has no colonialism motivation. In a simple language, war is entering the new phase, where conflict is actually the representation of war. The article will explain on how to understand the escalating contemporary conflict as the replacement of war.
Before discussing any deeper on contemporary conflict, there should be a clear view that the terminology of conflict is varied in meaning, some named it as intern conflict, small war, new battles, ethnical conflict, and others. Non-Government organizations named the conflict as complex human emergency situation or complex emergency situation. The different terminology and meaning actually shows how conflict is actually the continuation of war in real situation. Based on the terminology, the mainstream is always close to war. Author considers the situation is the starting point of conflict as the replacement of war. Conflict may become the big term replacing the conventional war, where war is considered as the solution of unavoidable conflict.
Generally, conflict is also translated as a natural process inside a society and it is unavoidable. The definition is short and represents many points of view about conflict. Referring to many terms of conflict, author divides contemporary conflict into four main concepts , as follows:
Intern conflict is a conflict that happens in a territory of a state. The conflict is also divided into more terms of internal conflicts: first, conflict of state versus society. The conflict of state versus society is started from people’s disappointment over political policy that affects the society. For example is the Junta in Myanmar. Versus the society after the Junta decided to raise the oil price five times higher. It ends with large protests of Buddha monks and society who reject the ruling Junta . The conflict of government versus society has cost nine lives, including a Japanese photographer. Intern conflict usually ends with the use of weapons to silence the society who overrule the policy. Sometimes, the people did not fight back, just like the Maoist rebel in Nepal who encourage the use of firearms as tools for resistance after no positive impacts resulted from mass rally in order to articulate the suffer of people in Nepal. This is truly different with the characteristic of relation between the government and society, since they are preferably using weapons as the symbol of resistance rather than holding a strike which is too difficult to be applied in African people.
Second, conflict between the government and political groups and also armed group. It is quite different to the first one. It is the continuation of conflict of state versus society resulted from disappointment in political policy. Based on Columbia case, there are so many communist and leftist movement group, since the government issued a pro-US policy. Perhaps, the conflict between the government and political group was also represented by the coup against Prime Minister Thaksin, due to unfinished conflict between Thaksin and opposition group.
Third, conflict between government and political elites. It actually has no significance to the next escalation of conflict. It is very rare to find a political group resist the ruling government with armed forces, unless in some countries of Africa, especially in Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and others. It means the conflict between the ruling government and political elites affect the society in great, for example in Somalia and Sudan, hundreds of thousands of people become refugees as the result of the conflict.
Fourth, conflict of people against people. It is known as communal conflict, where the actor is the people. The latest case of communal conflict is Poso, central Sulawesi, or even Maluku, where actors of the conflict are people from conflicting groups. They attacked and killed each other. It is considered as the conflict among elite local politicians using religion to cover the real problem.
Small war is the name for contemporary conflict. It is an interesting subject since the war happens in a small area, just like border conflict of Vietnam-China, Pakistan-India, China-India, which have great potential in becoming an open war at unpredicted moment. Border disputes between India and Pakistan for example, it is a vulnerable issue for war on both countries. Another example is the US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war only exists in countries invaded by the US. Kenneth N waltz consider the situation as source and small stimulant of small wars in mentioned areas.
These small wars are even widely spread in almost all continents, unless Australia. Starting from intervention of super power countries like United States up to conflicts on countries over border disputes, sovereignty, and effect of intelligence activities. However, the war is just part of conflict that will be part of a localized war on certain territory in the end. The fact is, these small wars are implementation of the intervention eagerness of super power countries, especially using the issue on war against terrorism after the 9/11 tragedy, and the result is clearly seen in Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps Pakistan as the example for countries who is considered becoming safe haven for terrorist. This is the real picture of small wars where ambition and antagonism of super power countries dominated their presence in battlefield against terrorism.
New war is a terminology introduced by Michael T. Klare as the new formulation of conflict in controlling sources of energy. The most interesting part is, Klare said that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are not war against terrorism, but war for control over sources of energy and oil. It means, the war is actually based on the eagerness to control asset of energy. China is also a good example for its expansion over African countries to do negotiations with African countries that actually run non-democratic regime for energy control. Beside that, there is a prelude to war incident between Indonesia and Malaysia over oil and gas rich atoll of Ambalat. Mary Kaldor said that new war is the opposition of old and conventional war. Mary said that the new war is the response over globalization, which has given the evidence in form of the breaking up of Yugoslavia. Kaldor also underlines that war is no longer a battle against actors or State’s network and non-state actors, but beliefs, ideology, and different groups within the same country. Kaldor use the term new war as the ray ban eye wear, where everything looks the same without any differences, only different with conventional war that still considers war as opposition part of new war. Kaldor gives example on the brutality of wars in Yugoslavia, starting from different religions and ethnical background.
Ethnical conflict in general is translated as war between ethnics with the desire of building pride and domination over other ethnical groups. It usually develops ethnical spirit based nationalism. Ethnical conflict has three modes of conflicts, in describing how conflict relation is finally made. These conflict models are: first, ethnical conflict is based on primordial concept on superiority over other ethnical groups. It is a strong primordial mode to build relation in the same ethnic group. Ethnic conflict is clearly observed in many African countries, especially between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi. The conflict has cost a million lives from both ethnical groups, and more millions of people lose their home and become refugees. Since it has different characteristic, the primordial model is considered as the highest problem that caused ethnical conflict in many countries. It is no wonder then if primordial spirit is the roots of conflict, since it would only trigger dispersal of a country, based on ethnic vulnerability. Belgium is a country entrapped by ethnical division based on primordial group. There is a Flemish speaking community, who sounds similar with Dutch. There is also Wallon speaking community, who sounds similar with France. While there are only 1 % area where the people speak Deutsch.
Second, ethnical conflict happens since there are people or group who moves them, or leads the process in academic term. It was arranged by the same instrument, or also known as instrumentalist approach. The ethnical conflict model is almost always moved by political elite based on narrowed nationalism spirit, and the demand is usually independence country, free from the main state. The separation of Eritria from Ethiopia is a good example, or the disintegration spirit among Tamil Ethnical group with their Aelam Tamil Tiger Rebel Forces. The ethnic conflict is existed in order to encourage the spirit of different society from the main country. The leader of the ethnic will continuously campaign the freedom of a new country based on ethnical similarity, different from other ethnical groups.
Third, ethnical conflict was established by political elite or ruling government. the model is known as the constructivism. There are many ruling governments create all kind of things to keep them in power. Belgium in example, created a conflict between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda, which lasts until now. Indonesia also had many examples of ethnical conflict, especially during the occupation of Dutch, between Java and non Java, native and non-native, until these idioms become contemporary political taboos. Beside that, the policy to support the Malay ethnical group by Malaysian government is also based on ethnical sentiment between Malay, China, and India, and it is vulnerable against ethnical conflict.
Conflicts as Substitution of War
The fact is conflict is the reason behind disorganization of this post-cold war world, replacing war. Escalation of conflict on various terms has become an influential determinant for the dynamic of politic in global world. Based on the last four parts to determine conflict as mentioned earlier, they brought conflict into generalization of war into a lighter definition. The presence of conflict, as part of human civilization has become undisputed fact. Although the replacement of war is part of an effort of bringing the portion of conflict into the global dynamic society, war is the keyword in describing conflict in human civilization.
The raising conflicts after world war II and the cold war have become part of a long journey of civilization. Based on data from International Peace Institute Oslo, Norway, on varied form and types of conflicts, the reality of contemporary conflict is escalating from year to year. There are 225 conflicts worldwide since 1946 up to 2002, and 34 out of 225 conflicts are still on going and some small incidents after World War II and Cold war are still excluded. The data also mentioned the intense of armed conflicts between 1989 and 2001 reached 115 incidents, where most victim of the conflict are distributed equal in all continents, especially in Eastern Europe after the fallacy of Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. The conflict was spread in Europe, and there are also separatism in Europe such as Basque in Spain, or Ireland Republic Army (IRA) in North Ireland. In Africa, Eritrea against Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Central African Countries, Democratic Republic of Congo. In Asia, there are conflicts in Uzbekistan, Manipur in India, Kashmir borders between Pakistan and India, Nepal, Myanmar, South Philippines, South Thailand, extension of conflict in Middle East, Colombia, Mexico, and others.
225 conflicts, as mentioned in the data, are described based on three major divisions (see Figure 1), as follows: internal conflict, extra state conflict, and intra state conflict. These three divisions are including four parts of conflict terminology. The division is designed as follows: First, based on 225 conflicts, 163 cases are internal conflict of a country, where 32 of them are indicating the presence of third parties from another country. Most cases happened in Africa. The rests are pure internal conflicts.
Second, based on 225 conflicts, there are only 21 extra state conflicts, which concerning on border dispute, territorial claims, diplomatic issue, intelligence, up to the problem of energy resource. The conflict of Kashmir between India and Pakistan for example, or the claim of several ASEAN countries and China over Spratly islands on the South China Sea, and many others.
Third, based on 225 conflicts, there are 42 cases of intra state conflict. The conflict is like conflict of state versus politician group or armed group. The example is what happened in Nepal between the Royal Family and Maoist rebellion, or conflict between Indonesia government and Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM) or Free Papua Movement, and also between the Philippine and Moro rebel group in south Philippines.
Based on the research made by Department of Peace and Conflict Research of Uppsala University between 1989 and 2002, conflict is increasing in term of intensity. There were 116 conflicts in 79 locations, and especially in 2002, there were 31 conflicts on 24 locations. If Nils Peter Gleditsch and his friends focused the conflict based on the location, Michael Eriksson and his friends of Department of Peace and Conflict Research of Uppsala University used three categories of conflicts based on the number of victim of the conflict. First, Minor Armed Conflict, armed conflict that killed between 25 and 1000 people, but still below 1000 casualties. Second, Intermediate Armed Conflict, armed conflict that killed 1000 people, and around 1000 casualties only annually. Third is war, conflict that killed more than 1000 people, whether in military unit or civilian (lihat table I and II).
For the last category, in 2002, there were a slight decrease on the number of conflicts, from 11 cases of wars in 2001, down to 5 cases in 2002. However, between 2002 and 2007, there were fluctuating numbers of armed conflicts. The decreasing is possibly caused by the desire to develop the country rather than a battle. There are also records of peace treaty between 2006 and 2007, in Indonesia, between Indonesia government and Aceh Free Movement to end the 30 years of armed rebels in Indonesia. There is another peace treaty between Nepal Kingdom and Maoist rebel group, to end 20 years of armed rebels.
However, the record of peace and ending conflicts do not indicate the reduction of conflict intensity, since on the other side of the world, there are many emerging conflicts, where some of them are the continuation of the on going process, especially in Africa. It is the continent full of conflict, that lead to armed conflict, just like in South Thailand, conflict among Junta in Myanmar, fragile peace treaty between communist rebels and local government in Columbia, or between Hugo Chavez and middle class society of Venezuela who do not like his administration style after the failed coup.
As comparison, KOSIMO describes data about political conflict, which is one of them become source of contemporary conflict. Based on the chart and table above, there are so many armed conflict mentioned and political conflict is only a complimentary issue as the determination of conflict as the replacement of war. KOSIMO also describes that between 1945 and 1995, or fifty years, there were more than 150 conflicts in all over the world. These political conflicts are divided into several approaches, starting from violent conflict or non-violent conflict, border dispute, ethnical conflict, religion, autonomy issues, and internal power. Kosimo wants to determine conflict as political problems, so the resolution should also based on political approaches (see Figure 2).
Based on the description above, author believes that conflict has replaced the real meaning of war. Author’s statement is based on five main indicators, why contemporary conflict is the replacement of war. First, the spread of conflict is unlimited to armed conflict, but also to all level of human life. The idiom of war has no relevancies in the context of conflict of state versus society. Author agrees on the statement that World War II and cold It has reduced war into limited armed conflict with reducing qualities.
Second, extra state problems in the world before World War II, brought solidarity of the neighboring countries. However, in the age of cold war, it did not happen unless in Korean war and Vietnam war. Each ideological group provide assistance or politically interfere the war. The battle between Argentina and England, showed no disclose support on both countries although US intelligence secretly backed British troops in the battle.
Third, the role of the United Nation as an international organization which has almost all nations in the world as members of the organization works in effective condition, although the spirit of peace is damaged by the US intervention over conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, there is no war in large scale emerged, only small level of war involving some countries in limited territory. It is actually the task of the UN to reduce conflict and prevent it to spread to bigger area after World War II and cold war.
Fourth, the change of polarize in the world, from multipolar, bipolar in cold war, and unipolar in post cold war world. The world has no negative dynamic so far that may lead to war. There were many powerful countries such as German, Japan, Italy, or France, England, and United States in the past, then the ambition of becoming a powerful country is no longer exist nowadays. It is because of the unipolar situation that leaves no common dominator to build solidarity or fighting against another group. After the 9/11 tragedy, the common dominator is named as terrorism, and invading Afghanistan and Iraq is the right way to combat the enemy.
Fifth, referred from above, that war can appraised by four categories: the victims of war, the number of participation of countries, war’s aims, and also the areas of war. If we tried to explain with those categories, we didn’t find that war as conventional definition. Erriksson said, war should have more than 1000 of battle dead, if the victims of war less than 1000/day, Erriksson call these are minor or major conflict. Beside that, the number of participation of countries, as we knew that conflicts after World War II and also Cold War, the country whom joint with the war less than the past of war. Meanwhile, the war’s aim has been different than the past. During the Cold War, the aim of war was a race of weapons and also political ideology, in the after Cold War, the war or conflict aim only small problem, each countries or the borderline problem. We could be compared with the World War II or before, that the past wars aim were fought being a great power or colonialism spirit. And areas of war also seems like that, too small, only in one or two countries, so that we could see that war decreased to be a small wars.
Contemporary conflict, based on the examples and reality mentioned above, is actually a fact that war is no longer a relevant subject in contemporary issue, or at let in the post World War II and Cold war world. Therefore, author analyzes and describes contemporary conflict in a broader space, since war is decreasing and reducing. It means, author agrees that war has been replaced by conflict in the real meaning. That is why, author determines conflict as the main subject of disputes and war of human civilization.