The Geography of War and Peace: From Death Camps to Diplomats

The Geography of War and Peace: From Death Camps to Diplomats

The Geography of War and Peace: From Death Camps to Diplomats

The Geography of War and Peace: From Death Camps to Diplomats


Our world of increasing and varied conflicts is confusing and threatening to citizens of all countries, as they try to understand its causes and consequences. However, how and why war occurs, and peace is sustained, cannot be understood without realizing that those who make war and peace must negotiate a complex world political map of sovereign spaces, borders, networks of communication, access to nested geographic scales, and patterns of resource distribution. This book takes advantage of a diversity of geographic perspectives as it analyzes the political processes of war and their spatial expression. Contributors to the volume examine particular manifestations of war in light of nationalism, religion, gender identities, state ideology, border formation, genocide, spatial rhetoric, terrorism, and a variety of resource conflicts. The final section on the geography of peace covers peace movements, diplomacy, the expansion of NATO, and the geography of post-war reconstruction. Case studies of numerous conflicts include Israel and Palestine, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzogovina, West Africa, and the attacks of September 11, 2001.


Colin Flint

According to many, we live in a time of war that was ushered in by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Paradoxically, in the prior three years, between 3.1 and 4.7 million people had been killed in conflict in the Congo alone. Numerous other wars raged across the globe. Clearly, to say that a time of war has emerged only since 9/11 is, on the one hand, ethnocentric and plain wrong. On the other hand, awareness of war among the general population of the Western world emerged after 9/11; perception rather than reality drives commentators to define the current period as one of conflict and not peace.

It seems almost certain that the current generation of young adults will grow politically mature in a time when the whole world is aware of war. War has been a prevalent occurrence; in the last few decades one can cite Vietnam, the Falklands, Chechnya, Iran and Iraq, Sierra Leone, Nicaragua, and Kashmir, to name only a few. the attacks of 9/11 were, from a global perspective, just one more horrific instance of human carnage. However, geopolitically, targeting the United States on its own homeland has created significant changes. War, the "hot war" on terrorism rather than the Cold War, is dominating global geopolitical imperatives and the national debates of many countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Iran, North and South Korea, and others). As the sole superpower, the United States has set the agenda. the citizens of the West can no longer ignore and avoid war. Despite its associated horrors, this is also an opportunity: we can become knowledgeable about wars beyond our immediate experiences. Geography is a powerful tool to gain and organize such knowledge.

What is war? War takes many forms, from terrorist attacks to interstate conflict. Its form, its scale, its victims, its motives, and its weaponry are varied. But one aspect of war is universal across space and time: war is tyranny. the power of this statement refers to the processes by which people who did not initiate war become cogs in a fighting machine mobilized to defend territory, values, and collective identities from aggression. With no desire to fight, the attacked must adopt the behavior of the attacker to survive. Mobilization takes many forms, including con-

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