World War Two is the largest conflict that the world has ever seen. Most of the countries in the world were involved in it and different areas saw fighting. A lot of people were optimistic that after the carnage wherein millions or people died, the world would be so sick of fighting that they would forget about waging war. Sadly, that was not the case. Just as the Second World War was winding down, there were already other conflicts that were shaking other parts of the world. The world has never been completely free from war. Even unto this day there are conflicts that are happening right now.
Biggest Conflicts Since World War Two
There have been numerous armed conflicts around the world since World War Two. Some of these wars were waged between states while others were civil wars that were fought within a country. Some conflicts have been very bloody. Here are some of the biggest and most bloody conflicts in recent history:
Korean War June, 1950- July 1953
Technically this war is still on-going since only an armistice was signed in 1953. Even today shooting can still happen between the two opposing forces in the border. The border between the two countries is considered to be the most highly militarized border in the world. The war was between South Korea which was backed by the United Nations and North Korea which was supported by China and the Soviet Union.
The war was the direct result of the partition of the Korean peninsula after World War Two. Korea was governed Japan from 1910 until the end of the World War Two. The United States and the U.S.S.R. agreed to divide the peninsula after the war and they used the 38th parallel as the dividing line. The Northern half was patterned as a communist state while the southern half was envisioned as a democracy.
There were talks for reunification but skirmishes between the two sides became often until the fighting became open warfare when the North invaded the southern half of the peninsula. The United States and other members of the United Nations decided to back the Southern government and the Soviet Union and China backed the communist North. The war was a seesaw conflict which saw both sides losing and gaining ground in the fighting.
In the end, the armistice was signed and the same old border was agreed upon. The United States suffered 33,686 deaths due to combat, while both Korean sides suffered hundreds of thousands of death. The other countries that were involved in the fighting also suffered heavily in the conflict.
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
India and Pakistan became independent states after Great Britain left the Indian subcontinent. Instead of leaving a unified country, the British decided on partition which would create two countries, one primarily a Hindu state, while the other was Muslim. This created bad blood between the two states right from the start and ignited ethnic violence on levels that has rarely been seen before or since. Another effect of the partition was a scramble between the two states for the princely states that were in their borders. One of those areas was known as Jammu and Kashmir.
Start of the Conflict
Aiming to take Kashmir away from India, Pakistan entered Kashmir using tribal forces. Mixed with the tribal warriors were regular Pakistani soldiers. Hari Singh the ruler of Kashmir pleaded for assistance from India and after he signed the Instrument of Accession, Indian forces started to enter Kashmir to drive away the Pakistanis.
End of Conflict and Results
The fighting lasted until December 1948 and a cease-fire was arranged with the help of the United Nations. In the end Pakistan was able to get two-fifths of Kashmir while India retained control of three-fifths of the area, including the most prosperous. The 1947 war was just the first between the two countries and the Kashmir area is still being contested.
1948 Palestine War
This war is divided by historians into two phases:
- 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine
- 1948 Arab–Israeli War
The 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine is the first phase of the conflict. This is technically fighting between the Jewish and the Arab communities within Palestine. At that time, the area was still under Britain. The British however, did very little to intervene in the fighting. It was a bitter fighting that saw the use of terrorist tactics by both sides. The second phase of the conflict, the 1948 Arab–Israeli War was the fighting after the British pulled out of Palestine and the State of Israel was proclaimed.
Iraq, Transjordan, Egypt and Syria all intervened when the State officially came into being Israel. These countries sent forces in order to invade and destroy the new nation. By the end of the fighting, Israel was able to control more than half of the land that was supposed to become the Palestinian State. The attacking countries took possession of the rest of the land meant for Palestine and an Arab state was never created there.
This war was just the beginning of the animosity between Israel and its neighbours. Several more wars would be fought and even today, the fighting still continues. The problem of the Palestinians is still a major issue of world security.
Many Americans would be familiar with the Vietnam War. It has been the subject of countless documentaries, films, TV shows and books. The fighting happened in what are now the countries Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This conflict lasted from 1955 to 1975 and would be a thorn the side of many American presidents even after the fighting has stopped.
This war was primarily a conflict between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The North was backed by communist governments while the South was supported mainly by the United States. It was one of the major conflicts during the Cold War era when the U.S. and the Soviet Union fought each other indirectly.
Vietnam was originally a French colony and it attempted to retake it retake it after World War Two. The Viet Minh was already in power by then so the First Indochina War began. In 1956 the French was defeated and so they had to give up their ambitions in Indochina. Like Korea Vietnam was also partitioned. Years later, insurgents within South Vietnam started to cause trouble. It is unclear at what point the North became involved with these insurgents but soon it was evident that they were communist backed.
The U.S. Involvement
In a bid to prevent the spread of communism in the world, the United States started to support the South Vietnamese government. But as the years passed by American involvement increased. The number of personnel kept jumping up. Soon Americans were conducting combat operations in Vietnam.
The End of the War and its Effects
The U.S. started a withdrawal of its troops from Vietnam in 1973. The end of the war was finally marked with the capture of Saigon by North Vietnamese forces. American personnel were evacuated from Vietnam in a last ditch desperate effort. The American government refused to intervene by then, thus leaving its former ally to its fate. Part of the reason why the Americans refused to intervene was that the American public was very much against the war by then.
Because of the use of modern weapons, it is expected that modern wars would be very short or that these conflicts would be over after short and intense fighting. That is not the case with the Iran-Iraq War which is the longest conflict of the 20th Century. This war which was between the Islamic republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq started in September 1980 until August 1988.
Before the war, there has been a long history of border disagreements between the two countries. There was also some concern that the Iranian revolution might inspire the suppressed portion of the Iraqi population could also rise up in arms. Iraq was also jealous of Iran’s position as the most powerful state in the Persian Gulf.
In September 1980, Iraqi started the fighting by invading Iranian territory. Iraq was hoping to take advantage of the fact that Iran was still in chaos right after the revolution. Iraq did not make too much progress even though it was able to launch a surprise invasion. Iran was able to regain the lost territories at the initial stages of the war and from then on it was the side that was on the offensive.
Soon the war became a static war that was reminiscent of World War One. Both sides agreed to a peace deal brokered by the United Nations. It was a brutal war where chemical weapons were used in order to gain the upper hand.
These are just some of the conflicts after the Second World War. There are so many more wars that have been fought since then, that this list could go on forever.