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Peace is generally considered to always be a direct result of warfare. However, this will not always be the case. By evaluating two case studies, namely the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Persian Gulf War, through the analysis of sources, it can be seen that sometimes, war does not end with tranquility.
Let us look at the Bangladesh Liberation War. To summarize this event simply, it was, as the name suggests, a fight between for the freedom of Bangladesh from Pakistan, which was known at the time as East and West Pakistan respectively, which began in March 1971 and ended with the surrender of Pakistan in December 1971. Since the subject of this war was Bangladesh, in order to evaluate whether peace was achieved after the Bangladesh Liberation War, we must analyze sources that address the state in Bangladesh in the months and years following the war.
The first source that will be analyzed is an article from the website of the Encyclopedia Britannica entitled “Bangladesh since Independence”. It presents a third-person perspective on the major events in Bangladesh from 1972 till 2010. It states that “[in] January 1972”, a month after the surrender of Pakistan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was “installed as the first prime minister of the new parliamentary government of Bangladesh”. However, on 15th August 1975, he “was assassinated along with most of his family.” The source states that “right-wing pro-Pakistan army officers were behind the killing” and “some politicians were involved in the conspiracy”. The source also states that there were “paramilitary forces, known as Razakars, which supported the Pakistani cause”. These troops killed many Urdu speakers, who were the minority. Hence, from this source, it can be seen that in the aftermath of the Bangladesh Liberation War, chaos and bloodshed was prominent, not peace.
The Encyclopedia Britannica is a fact-checked general knowledge encyclopedia, and its articles are written by a team of editors and experts, and all edits made to its online site, from which I found this article, are reviewed and checked multiple times before they are approved by the Encyclopedia Britannica professional staff. This source was also written after the conflicts were over by a third party for the sole purpose of education, so based of it context, it should a trustable source. Hence, this article is reliable.
The second source is an article posted on a website on Bangladesh Development Studies on the 5th of September, 2011. It also presents a third-person perspective and discusses that state Bangladesh was in after the war, from 1972 to 1975. This source also states that after gaining sovereignty, Bangladesh was ruled by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In addition, it brings up additional information that “higher authorities depended on the anti-liberation elite class”, so “they intentionally misguided [Mujibur and his government] and made them unpopular within very short” time. This source also reinforces the fact that “[in] August 1975, Mujibur, and most of his family members, were assassinated by… pro-Pakistani army officers”. Hence, from this source, it can also be seen that peace was not achieved in Bangladesh in the years following the Liberation War.
However, this article, unlike the previous source, was not written by a group of experts. It was written by a man by the name of Shuza Uddin, who I cannot find much about apart from the fact that he graduated from the Dhaka University of International Relations in Bangladesh. He also seemed to have only cited Wikipedia as his source. Hence, the reliability of an article written by him is questionable. Furthermore, as Shuza Uddin is from Bangladesh, he might have exaggerated the information on the source. Thus, this source is not fully reliable.
Next, let us study the Gulf War, or as it is sometimes referred to as, the Persian Gulf War. On August 1990, Iraq, under the rule of Saddam Hussein, invaded neighboring country Kuwait. On 29 November 1990, the U.N. Security Council authorized the use of military force against Iraq if it did not withdraw from Kuwait by the January 15. When Saddam Hussein did not comply, U.N. forces, known as Operation Desert Storm, went in and war broke out. The war lasted till 28 February that year, when US President George H.W. Bush declared a ceasefire. Since the subject of this war was the Gulf region, in order to evaluate whether peace was achieved after the Gulf War, we must analyze sources that address the state in the region in the months and years following the war, especially in Iraq.
The first source that will be analyzed is an article entitled “Persian Gulf War” on the History Channel website. It discusses about the issues before, during and after the war, but only be the situation after the war will be studied. The source states that “in the immediate aftermath of the war, Hussein’s forces brutally suppressed uprisings by Kurds in the north of Iraq and Shi’ites in the south.” It also states that Iraqi forces also regularly “exchanged fire with U.S. and British aircraft” “patrolling and mandating a no-fly zone” over Iraq. In addition, the source brings up the fact that the “US issued an ultimatum on 17 March 2003 demanding that Saddam Hussein step down from power and leave Iraq within 48 hours” without the prior consultation with the U.N, which Hussein refused. This led to the Iraq War beginning three days later. Hence, as there was an evident presence of conflict in Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War, it can be seen that peace was not achieved.
Articles on the History Channel website, just like the episodes broadcasted worldwide on the channel itself, are written and checked by a team of experts and professional historians, and the History Channel been recognized by the public globally to be one of the most reliable sources of historical information in the media. Furthermore, the information in the source was written long after the war was over and for the sole purpose of education, although the History Channel is an American television network and America was one of the key players in the Gulf War and its aftermath. Hence, this is a reliable source.
The second source that will be studied is the front page of an issue of Bangor Daily News, an American newspaper. It was published on Tuesday, 20 March 2003, the day the Iraq War started. The headline reads “It’s War” and the subheading reads “US launches surgical strike on Iraq”. This shows that war has broken out. One of the headlines of the articles in the issue also reads “US seeks to knock out Saddam’s protectors”. It can be seen from these lines that in the fallout of the Gulf War and the detestation the United States had for Saddam Hussein leadership, the United States of America had declared war on Iraq. The headline of the cover story also reads “Bush: ‘No outcome but victory’”, displaying the sheer amount of resentment the US had for Saddam while, at the same time, foreshadowing the amount of bloodshed this war will cause. Hence, since the Gulf War led to another war, it is evident that peace was not achieved.
All in all, it would appear from the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Gulf War that peace cannot be achieved from war. However, in my opinion, it is not possible to draw a conclusive argument, as whether or not peace can be achieved after war depends heavily on the context behind the war and the parties involved. For instance, if the war is a civil war and it is a fight solely over the possession or control over a certain entity, once the ownership of that entity is claimed by one of the parties, all conflicts are resolved and the war should end there in peace. On the other hand, if there are external ulterior motives behind the parties going into war, the chances of there being peace after the war ends is very unlikely, as there will still be tension between the parties, which could drive them to continue going at each other’s neck. Furthermore, war and peace are on opposite ends of the spectrum, so the process from war to peace is rarely immediate and takes time, which opens up room for more bloodshed to take place. Therefore, a definitive resolution to the guiding question above is unattainable.
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