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Difference Between War and Genocide

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The main difference between a war and a genocide is its intention. Wars usually break out between two or more countries, while genocide is carried out prominently by a group or a community.

The level of destruction invited by both acts may be beyond imagination. Similarly, both the actions are insanely unhuman, where the winner may achieve the desired output, but the cost for the same is totally unbearable.

Those who suffer the most in both wars and genocides are the civilians or the ordinary people with nil combat experience. The ones with the political power or armed strength dominate the weaker sections. 

What is a War?

France's War in Mali

War is an act carried out with the help of military and/or weapon strength. A war is generally carried out between at least two or more countries or communities within a country, such as states of a nation. Both the parties in a war always believe themselves to be correct. The prominent reasons for a war breakout are usually political tension, misunderstanding, failure of dialogue, an attempt to occupy territory illegally, an attempt to recapture illegally occupied territory, etc.

The results of war include massive destruction and trigger a rise in the prices of food, general facilities, medicines, etc., due to the scarcity of resources and difficulties in procuring them from external sources.

What is a Genocide?

Genocide of the Jewish population during the Holocaust: selection at Auschwitz-Birkenau in May or June 1944

Genocide is an act of wiping out the entire race, community, or religious group due to hatred towards them. Genocides are primarily within a country and are barely carried out between countries. Genocides are also considered war crimes since the act is against innocent people. There may not be any political benefit in a genocide. The hatred toward a specific group of people is the only reason why genocides exist in the world.

Those carrying out a genocide are usually civilians who are trained to conduct it. Generally, no military strength is used in a genocide. The leader or the mastermind of genocide may also resemble a dictator, who carries out the entire operation just by their beliefs and orders.

Differences Between a War and a Genocide

Objective/Intention

The objective of war is to cool down the tension through actions. Where dialogues fail, the battle begins. A war is only on until the tensions are resolved.

There’s no place for dialogues in a genocide. If a particular group or a community is no longer bearable by the other group/community, a genocide may occur.

Duration

The length of war may be of some days. Since the resources such as military, armed forces, weapons, food, etc., are consumed rapidly, even the most powerful nations may witness a massive drop in their economy. This is why wars usually last a few days or perhaps weeks.

Genocides may be carried out at least for months, or perhaps years. Genocides in Kashmir (India) and German-occupied Europe are a few examples that continued for years.

Reason For Conflict

The reason why nations fight is to gain territory or reclaim the lost territory. Sometimes, a particular government's catastrophic political decisions or acts may trigger a war (whether short-term or long-term) between the nations.

The reason for genocide is when a particular group of people or religious community wants the other group not to exist anymore. If the other group does not evacuate the region or comply with the influential group’s rules, they only believe genocide to be the ultimate solution.

Weapons’ Usage

Wars involve the use of guns, bombs, heavy artillery, fighter jets, nuclear weapons, atomic bombs, and other weapons capable of mass destruction. Since the battleground of war is extensively large, the fighters require weapons that can cause massive destruction in a short time and with fewer efforts.

Since the purpose of genocide is just to eradicate certain communities, the weapons include guns, hand grenades, bombs with minor destruction (to blow up a small house or a building), knives, pistols, and Molotov cocktails, etc.

Level Of Execution

The collateral damage in war is severe and mainly involves civilians along with real estate. War is executed on a mass level that can destroy or change the appearance of an entire nation overnight. Bunkers, fire in the hole, anti-tank hedgehog (otherwise called Czech hedgehog), etc., are common in a war field.

The collateral damage is usually real estate on a small scale. Empty and damaged houses, deserted roads, victory slogans chanted by those carrying out genocide, and evacuated regions are expected in a genocide-hit area.

Comparison Chart: War Vs Genocide

AreasWarGenocide
First Occurrence58 BC1755
TacticsMilitary, heavy artillery, tanks, etc.Hand grenades, overnight exodus, machine guns, massacres, etc.
BattlespaceA country or a large regionA large area full of the targeted community only
Are War Crimes?Not always considered war crimesIs brutal, inhuman, and are war crimes for sure
VariationsCold war, invasion, colonial, political, economic war, etc.Massacres, exodus, mass killing, etc.

Similitudes Between War and Genocide

Both war and genocide trigger the mass killing of innocent people and civilians who had done nothing wrong and/or have never harmed the attacker in any manner. Both can further invite deep criticism against the attacking group and/or leader.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are wars and genocides for political gains?

Wars are usually backed by political background and are intended for political gain. A victor may secure his position in the next election in their country. Genocide may result in a political gain over the occupied area from where the attacker wiped out the targeted community.

Who carries out wars and genocides?

Wars are led by political leaders on a national or state level. Genocides are carried out by the masterminds who want to eradicate the unbearable or the hated community.

Can wars and genocides be avoided? If yes, how?

Nations always make an attempt to avoid wars through political dialogue. The aftermaths are disastrous, which is why war is the ultimate solution to any problem. Shall war occur, the ruling parties of the involved nations have to bear all the financial losses, keeping gains after the war aside.

Genocides, on the other hand, are almost impossible to avoid since it’s pretty challenging to eradicate the hatred towards someone in a person’s mind. However, shall the leader of a potential genocide be eliminated, it can be avoided at least for an uncertain time period.

Conclusion

By now it is safe to conclude that both war and genocide are an attempt to gain victory over a certain group, nation, community, etc. by the means of power. Even if there’s a minimum possibility of avoiding war or genocide, dialogues must take place, or else it will bring destruction and nothing else. Committing war crimes and murders for some gains is still inhuman at the end of the day.

References

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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