Magazine article U.S. Catholic

War to the World: Decking the Halls of Power with Weapons of Little-Noticed Destruction

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

War to the World: Decking the Halls of Power with Weapons of Little-Noticed Destruction

Article excerpt

YAHOO LAUNCHED ITS LATEST FORAY INTO MULTIMEDIA news gathering in September by hiring war correspondent Kevin Sites to "star" in an around-the-world-in-a-gunsmoked-haze tour of the planet's war zones. Some might be tempted to dismiss Sites' efforts as conflict porn, but he does revisit some of the rotten, forgotten places of the world whose misery calls out for more international attention. One recent trip brought him to the sorry state of Congo, a nation engulfed by a stupefyingly senseless civil war that starts and sputters but shows no signs of truly ending. After recording some of its dreadful stories, Sites was off to the next hot-spot on his list.

If his aim is to document them all, he may never run out of e-material. It is painful to note in this season of peace that the world has been at war--someplace--pretty much constantly. Eight "major wars" and 24 "lesser conflicts" currently snarl across the globe in places like Chechnya, Darfur, Iraq, Colombia, Nepal, Uganda, and Burma, and any number of "cold conflicts" teeter on the brink of violence. Many of Earth's most vulnerable inhabitants awaken each morning to a nightmare world of war, brutality, and unspeakable cruelty.

Although they are often depicted as ethnic or sectarian clashes, most of the world's strife reflects the lingering trauma of colonialism, according to Frida Berrigan, an analyst for the World Policy Institute. Other conflicts, particularly in Africa where some of the arcane minerals that drive our digital lifestyles have been located, result from the more contemporary aberration of "resource wars."

The U.S. could do a lot more to bring a little more joy and a little less war to the world, beginning with a thorough reevaluation of its own criteria for determining when armed conflict is ever justified. Next, it could simply spend less on arms and more on economic development and human empowerment in the less affluent corners of the world.

A recent United Nations Human Development Report chastised the U.S. specifically and the West in general for a bizarre allocation of resources, such that, globally, for every $1 invested in development, another $10 is spent on military budgets. Such imbalances mean that the United States may have the most technologically advanced military systems in the world, but an infant mortality rate in its inner cities that rivals any forlorn deprivation zone in the Third World. …

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