Insurgency: Intentional Targeting of Civilians - Essay Example

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The world witnessed several cases of insurgencies over the past few decades. Very often the difference between terrorism and insurgency blurs although both share certain common features like violent struggle that intends to overthrow the existing authority…
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Insurgency: Intentional Targeting of Civilians The world witnessed several cases of insurgencies over the past few decades. Very often the difference between terrorism and insurgency blurs although both share certain common features like violent struggle that intends to overthrow the existing authority. Terrorism maintains cross border linkage and often has multiple targets including foreign nations or regions. In contrast, insurgency which intends to bring down the existing government is confined to national boundary; and this will have the support of a portion of local people. Hence, insurgency could be termed as a localized form of terrorism. The powerful mobilization during the past decade in Iraq, Darfur, and New York City was remarkable in this regard. However, an intentional targeting of civilians has been evident in many conflicts over the last six years. Many of the recent events were notable for extreme violence that involved mutilation, rape, and murder. A detailed analysis is necessary to identify why insurgent groups choose to target civilians so intensely as what happened in Peru, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. How has the targeting of civilians affected the wars also requires extensive research. To illustrate, the Liberian Peace Movement was historic in every aspect as compared to many other insurgencies reported so far. As Nordlinger describes, the 14 year civil war came to an end as the women insurgents succeeded to overthrow the Liberian President Charles Taylor and initiated their own government in 2005 (402). The unique aspect of the movement was that thousands of women, who started their protest by praying together in a fish market, finally became a powerful political force and made their strike a phenomenal success. The historic event is well illustrated in the award winning documentary film ‘Pray the Devil back to Hell’ directed by Gini Reticker and produced by Abigail Disney. It is good enough for one to understand the extensive history of the movement that led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first female president in Africa. The event points to the fact that all insurgencies do not essentially involve warfare, and hence are not unscrupulous. It depends on how government perceives insurgency. It is relevant to quote from Jones in this context. “Insurgency is the natural result of powerful human dynamics that shape the relationships between those who govern, and those who are governed. Notably, many of the strategic challenges dominating the news and foreign policy discussions today are shaped by, or interact with, a wide range of suppressed and active insurgencies around the world” (Jones). Evidently, it is difficult to define insurgency in terms of ethical norms. For example, as Jones points out, insurgency is often defined ‘in convenient terms’ by governments when they are challenged by such movements. Analyzing the ethical side, the civilians do not support all insurgencies but surely those which they feel as ‘the need of the time.’ Though normally their exposure to armed force insurgent groups is negative in most of the regions as they always witness and face the deadly attacks of the armed insurgents, in some cases they have helped the armed insurgents. Civilians’ support to the Syrian Army in Lebanon’s attack on Hezbollah centers is an example in this context. The support of Hezbollah remained vital for the Syrian Army to suppress the Alawite sect that controlled the state since the early 1960s. Sierra Leone Civil War is another civil insurgency to be discussed as it has left remarkable impact on the civilians. Though these kinds of civil wars and insurgencies are against the government, the civilians are the worst affected. Many of them lose their lives while many others lose their possessions. Additionally, the civilians, despite the fact that they are not actively participating in the insurgencies are sorely affected. Sierra Leone Civil War is an example for this. This civil war was, like other civil wars, meant to overturn the state authority but the people had to suffer more. Creating a world history, almost 95 percent of the military men joined this civil war. ‘A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier’ is a book written by Ishmael Beah in which the ongoing plight of child soldiers is illustrated on the grounds of civil war in Sierra Leone. Though this civil war, taking away around 50,000 lives, took place in the early 1990s, the civilians have not yet forgotten its impact. Even after a decade, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) that had terrorized the people with armed rebellions for over a decade has no popular support and it miserably failed to gain even a single seat in the 2002 poll, the second general election after the rebellion in 1992. On the other end, Sierra Leone Peoples' Party (SLPP) romped home with absolute majority. This alone is sufficient enough to tell how the civilians are affected and what the impacts of civil wars are on them. Works Cited Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print. Jones, Robert C. “Understanding Insurgency: The Condition behind the Conflict”. Small Wars Journal. (Oct 1, 2001). web 9 June 2013 Nordlinger, Jay. Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World. Encounter Books, 2012. Print. “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”. Women war & peace, 2008. web 9 June 2013 Read More
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