deadliest wars
As with most wars, the majority of people killed in the deadliest wars of all time are innocent civilians. Wars have been a part of human history since the dawn of time. The earliest recorded evidence of human warfare suggests that the first conflict took place around 13,000 years ago along the Egypt-Sudan border. It is believed that this conflicted erupted as a resulted of competition over resources — in this case, water. However, there are many reasons a war can develop: poverty, poor governmental leadership, civil unrest, religion, territory disputes, resources and a plethora of other factors are all responsible for most of the wars throughout human history. With that said, here is a look at the deadliest wars in history.

Top 12 Most Deadliest Wars in History

  1. The Second Congo War
    The Second Congo War (1998-2003) was one of the deadliest wars in history and the deadliest in modern African history. This war spanned over a period of 5 years and caused the death of around 5.4 million people. Although the genocides accounted for a large number of casualties, diseases and famine caused by the war were also partially responsible.
  2. Napoleonic Wars
    The Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) pitted the French Empire and its allies against a coalition of European powers. The Napoleonic Wars refers to a series of conflicts between the French Empire and the coalitions that fought it: the War of the Third Coalition, the Fourth, the Fifth, the Sixth and the Seventh and final coalition. During this period, it is estimated that around 3.5-6 million people were killed as a direct or indirect result of the war.
  3. The Thirty Years’ War
    As the name implies, the Thirty Years’ War was fought between Catholic and Protestant states in Central Europe from 1618 to 1648. The conflicts eventually drew in the great powers of Europe, resulting in one of the longest, most destructive and deadliest conflicts in European history. It is estimated that the war was responsible for the deaths of 8 million civilians and military personnel alike.
  4. The Chinese Civil War
    The Chinese Civil War started in August of 1927 between the government-backed Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China. The massacres and mass atrocities carried out by both parties resulted in more than 8 million casualties by 1950.
  5. The Russian Civil War
    The Russian Civil War claimed the lives of more than 9 million people — 8 million of whom were civilians. The war spanned from 1917-1922 — immediately after the Russian Revolutions of 1917 — and it was fought between opposing political factions, namely the Red Army and the White Army.
  6. The Dungan Revolt
    The Dungan Revolt was a war fought between the Hans (Chinese ethnic group native to East Asia) and the Huis (Chinese Muslims) in 19th-century China during the Qing Dynasty. There were approximately 20 million war-related deaths, mostly caused by famine and migration brought about by the war.
  7. An Lushan Rebellion
    The An Lushan Rebellion was a rebellion against the Tang Dynasty of China between 755 A.D. and 763 A.D. Although it is difficult to accurately report the death toll, census reports taken the years following the war imply that around 36 million people were killed, or about two-thirds of population of the empire.
  8. World War I
    The First World War was fought between the Allies and the Central Powers. The war lasted 4 years — from 1914 to 1918 —but it was responsible for around 18 million deaths. Of the 18 million deaths, about 11 million were military personnel and about 7 million were civilians.
  9. Taiping Rebellion
    Yet another war in China, the Taiping Rebellion was another large-scale rebellion that was fought between 1850 and 1864. The war was fought between the Qing Dynasty and the Christian millenarian movement of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Although there isn’t an exact number, most estimations have the Taiping Rebellion responsible for 20-30 million deaths.
  10. The Qing Dynasty Conquest of the Ming Dynasty
    The transition from the Qing Dynasty to the Ming dynasty was anything but peaceful. The rebellion waged for over 60 years— from 1618 to 1683 — and resulted in the deaths of 25 million people. What started as a relatively small rebellion in northeastern China ultimately resulted in one of the country’s deadliest conflicts as well as one of the deadliest wars in history.
  11. The Second Sino-Japanese War
    The Second Sino-Japanese War was waged between 1937 and 1945 between the Republic of China’s National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. It is widely believed that the war began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and it later escalated to an all-out war that resulted in 25 million civilian deaths and over 4 million Chinese and Japanese military deaths.
  12. World War II
    World War II was a global war that spanned from 1939 to 1945. The war pitted the Allies and the Axis power in the deadliest war in history, and was responsible for the deaths of over 70 million people. Known for its genocidal campaign against the Jewish people, the war was also responsible for the deaths of more than 50 million civilians.

An End to War

As John F. Kennedy famously said, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” The deadliest wars in history are all a testament to that sentiment — it is a repeating pattern with very costly end results. The last large-scale war, World War II, was responsible for the deaths of nearly 70 million people.

With the ever-advancing technology in the modern world and a booming population, the next war will undoubtedly bring about an unprecedented amount of deaths. Let history be a teacher so that we can avoid committing the same mistakes, and put an end to conflict once and for all.

– Brandon Cerda

Photo: Flickr

Effects of Cluster Bombs in Poor CountriesCluster bombs contain hundreds of submunitions that can saturate an area up to the size of several football fields. Groups utilize cluster bombs to maximize destruction impact and exert the least effort possible. These particular weapons are indiscriminate, meaning anyone within range of the bomb’s detonation —whether civilian, military or terrorist— can be injured or killed as one of the effects of cluster bombs. 

More than 98 percent of known cluster bomb victims are innocent civilians, and 40 percent of these are children. Cluster bombs are most prevalent in poor countries because these areas tend to be high in crime, corruption and war. These weapons undergo the following process that may result in detonation:


The Drop

A cluster munition is dropped from a plane and can fly around nine miles before releasing its submunitions. This ability makes for highly inaccurate targeting, meaning the bombs are a disproportionate hazard to civilians.

The container begins to spin a short time before releasing its submunitions. It opens at an altitude between 330 and 3,300 feet. The cluster munition’s height, rotation speed and velocity determine how large of an area will be impacted.


Parachutes Open

Submunitions deploy parachutes as they descend. The parachute ensures that each submunition is stable and descends with its nose down. Each submunition is about the size of a soda can and made of a copper cone containing over 300 steel fragments and incendiary material. The cone can pierce through seven inches of armor and its contents are designed to burn the targeted area and destroy its inhabitants.


Effects of Cluster Bombs

Depending on altitude and wind speed, a cluster bomb’s submunition strikes can cover an area up to 861,120 square feet. The detonation of a single submunition can cause fatalities in a 65-foot radius and injure anyone within a 328-foot radius.

Cluster bombs lack consistency; they are prone to external factors such as weather and deployment tactics. Their volatility renders it near impossible to predict the exact size of an area affected. The effects of cluster bombs usually include numerous civilian and child deaths because of the bomb’s unpredictability.

Many submunitions fail to detonate on impact, resulting in the scattering of explosive “duds” throughout the targeted area. Duds contaminate the area even after conflict ends, essentially becoming landmines that injure and kill civilians. The percentage of unexploded submunitions from older canisters can be as high as 30 percent, but modern canisters typically range from two to 20 percent.

Currently, 63 countries are stockpiling submunitions and this number continues to grow. Cheaper variations of the bombs are likely to be used by countries that brutalize their own civilians or by violent no-state agents that disregard civilian safety.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs. The international agreement was created in August 2010 and has been signed by 111 countries and ratified by 70. The U.S. has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

It is possible to combat the effects of cluster bombs by supporting the clearance of unexploded bombs and encouraging countries to sign the treaty banning cluster munitions. With continued effort, civilians’ and children’s lives can be spared.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr