The Future of War

War has certainly evolved, not only in the sophistication of the weapons used, but also in the combatants in the conflict. From about the 1600’s to the late twentieth century, war was pretty much country (or groups of countries) against country. Prior to that, the wars were ideological, ethnic and religious. In my humble opinion, I think the wheel has turned, and we are right back there again.

The Cold War, pitting the USSR against the USA (with their numerous Allies on either side of the Iron Curtain), although on the face of it, inter-country, was probably more about ideology, ie. Communism against Democracy. The recent events in the Gulf, Israel/Palestine, and the War on Terror is purely religious. Jews and Christians in a loose alliance against Islam.

These are far more difficult wars to fight and win. There are no fixed battle lines, and territory. The “enemy” is often in your midst. Not since the Spanish Inquisition has religious conflict been as bloody. Suicide bombers are re-defining the the rules of conflict, and riding roughshod over the terms of the Geneva convention.

Ethnic wars are simmering and then boiling over in a host of countries at any one time. Tribe against tribe, religion against religion, caste against caste. National loyalties are forgotten in the headlong pursuit of secular and tribal dominance. Even in relatively peaceful and stable countries such as Kenya, tribal rivalries just bubble beneath the surface, only to flare up and engulf entire regions.

South Africa is no different, and even if we are all South Africans, and within the country the majority all vote ANC, within that party, exist distinct factions, and tribal loyalties, all co-existing in a difficult tightrope walk. The demise of Apartheid robbed the ANC of it’s cohesion and reason for unity. With no enemy to fight, they now appear to be turning on each other. The uncomfortable truce that existed between Xhosa and Zulu appears to be crumbling in the absence of a common enemy.

We live in interesting times“, as the old Chinese curse goes.


I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Albert Einstein


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