What makes people fight?
Have you ever asked what makes people fight? What are the causes of their terrible actions that are causing the deaths of millions of innocent people? What are the motivations behind their movements to join with violent extremist groups and the role of emotions in mobilizing their structure?
Perceptions of injustice, frustrations for different reasons, experienced violence, persecution from or repression by the state, a need for physical protection are some of the motivations when individuals join voluntarily into these violent groups.
The world has changed from decades ago. Now we are facing other challenges and many conflicts have evolved into a complex system world wide.
The violence between states is still low since the end of Cold War, but now there is an increase of violence within states. Studies say that (,,…high-intensity warfare in certain countries has increased the number of fatalities caused by these conﬂicts, with the number of reported battle-related deaths rising sharply and in 2014 reaching the highest numbers recorded in 20 years’’- Pathways for peace, 2018).
Any violent conflict should be measured not only by its intensity or duration, but also by its human, social and economic impact.
In general, people may share feelings, history, narratives of pain, frustrations, or identities that motivate them to collective action in different ways, at different times, and in the face of different situations. Unfortunally, sometimes with tragic consequences. The World is changing from the right to the left, from up to down, there are groups that are fighting against each other or with the state, this tends to lead to an endless instability over the region (for example in Syria’s war are involved the government of Syria, the Syrian opposition groups and also violent extremist groups as foreign fighters or Islamic State).
The spread of violent extremism can be down to many factors. For example global identity that posits youth as heroes in a movement for global justice, they form strategic alliances with different groups, using a transnational network to facilitate financing (ex. oil contributes a great deal of finnancing of Islamic State or the drug trafficking that has been an important resource for insurgents and extremists groups in Afghanistan and northern Mali). The tactics that they are using such as remote violence witch is caused by the unexpected bomb attacks, improvised explosives devices or missiles, the tactic of terror are some of their weapons. The result is the unnacceptable cost of human lives and the lifetime impacts for humanity.
The public cannot know who is really behind these actions. Media cannot reveal the insights of their ideologies. It is very hard to infiltrate their groups because is an act of life or death. We know that Islam is the second largest religion worlwide, after Christianity. The Muslims practice fundamental Islamic beliefs and articles of faith. The violent conflicts appear mostly in low and middle income countries or continents as Iraq, Syria or Sub- Saharan Africa. All of them are Islamic states. In this fragile context, the opportunities of the violent groups are high. The costs are the human lives or stopping the opportunities for children and youth to grow and prosper in life.
Fig. 1 Number of conflict- related deaths Worlwide, by country, 2016
Source: Uppsala Conﬂ ict Data Program (UCDP) (Sundberg and Melander 2013; Croicu and Sundberg 2017). Note: This ﬁgure is based on the UCDP deﬁnition of conﬂict (Sundberg and Melander 2013; Croicu and Sundberg 2017).
For example, some of the most dangerous groups, such as Boko Haram, al Shabaab or Islamic State are trying to establish their presence in large areas of territory and they are trying to make connections with the commmunities that can support them economically and make them believe in their ideologies. The dangerous thing is that some of them are making use of twenty-first centure technology to form strategic alliances with different groups in the areas in which they operate, or they are creating a wider international network.
After the Arab Spring movement in 2011, that led to the breaking of the social contract between governments and citizens witch started in Libya, Syria and Republic of Yemen, the violent conflicts emerged in the next years.
Michael Kimmel is one of the world’s leading experts on men and masculinity. He is a Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University and one of his books is Healing from Hate How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism. He says:
,,There’s not a word about masculinity, not a word about feeling as though they are finally doing something great, for a cause greater than themselves. Not a word about the visceral, quasi-erotic appeal of extremist politics to young men, offering that chance to prove their masculinity, to be a man among men and reap the sexual payoff of women’s admiration, either in this or in the next life. Nor even about the terrifying ways that their terrorist beheadings increasingly res
emble the video games they are playing constantly in the training camps.’’.
In his book, Kimmel combines individual stories with an interesting analysis of the structural, political, and economic forces that marginalize these men and how they want to express their feelings, without any excuse for their actions.
In general, the impacts of violent conflict on civilians are gendered. Women and men experience conflict and violence differently, and there are both direct and indirect effects on each group. Mortality rates on the battlefield are higher in men, especially in young adult males, but women tend to experience violence and its effects in significantly greater proportions.
What can we do? Might integrating diversity into society and empowering women bring peace to the world today?
Equality, education, youth inclusion, justice between genders are powerful forces that can stop violence.