EPIIC Archives

1990 The Militarization of the Third World

* Some 22 wars have been fought in the 1980s, more than in any previous decade in modern military history.

* Some 127 conflicts since 1945 have killed approximately 20 million people, and injured approximately 48 million more. By the 1980s, civilians constituted 85% of all war deaths.

* The Third World produces almost all the world's refugees. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees only recognizes some 11 million, less than one half of the global refugee population that may total as many as 25 million.

* In the developing world, there is one soldier per 240 inhabitants, one physician per 1,950.

* How credible are charges that Israel and South Africa are collaborating on ballistic and nuclear development programs?

* Will arms cuts in Europe produce a dumping of surplus conventional weaponry in the Third World? Will arms producers need to seek profits in the Third World, stoking overt and covert arms races?

Staggering casualties, displaced peoples, refugees, devastating famine, unrelieved debt, and distorted social structures are the drastic political, human and societal consequences of militarization. We scrutinized the role of U.S. foreign policy in regional conflicts -- e.g. Angola, Cambodia, El Salvador, the Horn of Africa, India/Pakistan, Israel/Palestine and the Persian Gulf -- as well as the nuclear and conventional arms races threatening fragile ceasefires and exacerbating seemingly intractable wars.

Will the world be more or less secure as the Cold War abates? In the context of shifting East-West/North-South relations, the symposium probed the causes and costs of the world's "hidden wars." These foreign interventions, civil wars, "national liberation" struggles, and nation vs. state insurgencies are conflicts that are hard to reach, expensive to report, difficult to explain, and are dismissed as "irrational" ethnic, religious conflicts or are recast in the mold of democracy vs. communism. The Third World War is hidden from view because the fighting is against peoples and countries that are often not even on the map. In this war, only half of the geography is shown and only one side of the fighting has a nam

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