A Word

Column: A conflict of interest by Jacqueline Alexander
First published in the Henley Standard newspaper

Between the years 2000 and 2010, there have been 106 conflicts across the world and that's not including the rows you have had with your other half.

With only 195 countries in the world, it would seem that nations just do not know how to get along together. We hear much about peace, progress, evolution and development but when you look through pockets of history, it seems our ability to live an harmonious existence is slowly disappearing.

From 1850 to 1855, there were 29 conflicts. By 1865-70, this number had grown to 53. Move along to 1950-55 and the figure drops to just 15, although this downturn could be attributed to the fact that the world had just emerged from the Second World War - with more than 60 million fatalities, this was the bloodiest war in history so it could be safe to assume that parts of the world were on best behaviour - at least for a short time.

In the five years to 1975, the number of conflicts rose to 30 and when you bring the five-year span right up to date, we see that the years 2005 to 2010 have witnessed a total of 89 conflicts.

Working out these figures would normally be a daunting task but Conflicthistory.com has not only done all the work for you, it has presented the information in a format that makes the statistics visually enticing and accessible.

A world map, with the conflict hot spots clearly defined, is supported by a timeline stretching from what seems to be the beginning of time. I reached 3900BC before I gave up finding the starting line but as there were no conflicts highlighted I went in search of the first.

The Kurukshetra War, where the sibling clans of Kauravas and the Pandavas fought for the throne of Hastinapura, appears to mark the onset of unrest in the world.

The timeline stretches to beyond the current date to 2015 - this is to support the plan to keep the site up to date as news of war and conflict emerges somewhere in the world.

It is not easy to identify the accuracy of the information but this doesn't detract from the fact that the site was a huge undertaking and remains an achievement for the developers.

If you are in any doubt abut the facts and figures, you are invited to click through to the relevant article within Wikipaedia. As we all know, Wiki has suffered a bit of a battering in terms of accuracy of content in recent years but most articles are supported by links to other sites without the burden of a questionable reputation. It is up to you to decide how sure you want to be of the facts.

In the years, 2005 to 2010, the conflicts listed include Operation Atlanta, a military operation to prevent, deter and repress any act of piracy and armed robbery off the shores of Somalia. This period also highlights the Mexican drug wars, the Eritrean civil war and the war on terror in Afghanistan.

Of course, the increasing number of conflicts in the world may be misleading - it may not be that more conflicts equal more fatalities. The last century bore witness to the highest loss of life in any war in history although it is argued that other, longer wars have seen even higher numbers of fatalities.

The word "conflict" covers a multitude of sins including a family barney but, in the main, this site focuses on situations involving military intervention.

While the focus is clearly defined, the design and subsequent access to a treasure chest of fascinating information makes this site difficult to resist. Once you have had a taste, you will want more - it is the Hob-Nob of websites. Enjoy!

Next: Think inside the box

Audio: Jacqueline Alexander presents Web Watch with Phil Kennedy on BBC Berkshire and BBC Oxford:

Copyright: Jacqueline Alexander 2012

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