The goals of wars

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – July 28 Scenes

MoeMaKa, July 29, 2023

The goals of wars


If you look at historical events, you can see that the goals of the wars fought by armed forces are different. You will see that there are wars of defense to resist the troops of one country invading another country, and wars to defend the country’s sovereignty, freedom, or territory. The closest example is the Ukraine-Russia war. It is a war that Ukraine has to fight back to defend because of the invasion of its territory by Russian troops. On the Russian side, the invasion has been excused in propaganda terms as an operation to suppress Nazism and protect the rights of the Russian-speaking people in those regions.


In the late 1970s, Russia invaded Afghanistan, and has been involving in civil wars in other regions. Similarly, the United States, the world’s most powerful country, invaded Vietnam, the ugliest war lasting for decades in history, under the pretext of communist danger.


After the invasion wars, where one country invades another, another type of war is a civil war. There is a civil war in which armed forces of equal strength fight against each other, as well as a civil war in which armed forces of unequal strength fight against each other. Myanmar has been fighting a civil war for more than 7 decades, and according to modern history, it is considered to be the longest civil war in the world. There is more than one reason for the civil war, and these include leftist and rightist ideologies, the equal rights of ethnic groups, etc. In other words, when the political problem cannot be solved by political means, armed means to fight back are said to be chosen. When fighting with armed, there may be a goal of complete defeat of the enemy or a goal of fighting till the enemy accepts their political goals and engages in dialogue.


When armed attacks continue for decades, it can be seen that the original political goals set by the armed groups may have changed, been supplemented, or have been removed. In Myanmar’s decade-long armed conflicts, some groups may have changed their goals after the leaders changed, some may have adjusted based on the background situation according to time, or some may have changed due to the changes in the stance of the enemy.


After the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) went into forest on March 28, 1948, a few months after independence, they fought with the Fasapala government (Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League – AFPFL regime), which the CPB defined as representing the national capitalists, for decades in Myanmar. Then, the military coup d’état, in other words, the seizure of political power by the military, took place in 1958 and again in 1962.

Since the time of the Fasapala government, ethnic armed groups have emerged in addition to the CPB, and they also went through a period of civil war from 1949 to 1951 (a period that the AFPFL called the colored rebels).


During that time, there were many armed forces fighting against the Fasapala government, and the Fasapala government was only able to form 3–4 battalions after independence. While fighting against the Fasapala government, there was a situation where the opposition forces had the upper hand by means of strength. But there was no military and political cooperation among them, and later, the Fasapala government gradually regained control over the country. This is one of the historical lessons to remember.


Since the civil war in the early 1950s, the civil war has been going on locally. Some ethnic armed groups have joined each other, and new groups have also emerged.


A year after the 1988 coup d’état, a ceasefire was offered to ethnic armed groups, and it can be seen that the ceasefire with some small, medium and large groups has lasted for more than a decade or two. Although it was not solving the political problem on the table, it was a period where these groups had a few compromises of some economic opportunities, and political rights without legal contracts of publicly known.


Now again, after the military coup in 2021, armed resistance attacks have emerged in regions such as Sagaing and Magway, where most Bamar people live, where there was no armed movement in the previous decades.


These armed forces, like the armed groups that have emerged in other ethnic states and regions, aim to eliminate the military dictatorship. To resist and attack the coup military, they are using weapons such as hand-made guns, improvised mines, grenades and launchers. Because they have emerged after the military coup, and the political goal is the common political goal of eliminating the military dictatorship, it can be said that the current war is a war based on politics. However, in the long run, it should be noted that armed organizations might modify their original goals, which are political goals, whether for the survival of the armed groups or for the permanence of their leaders.


It is important to remember that wars and armed conflicts are not the root cause; political goals are. It is necessary to not lose sight of the fact that the political goal is for the safe survival of the majority of people, the right to earn a livelihood safely and well, and the right to freedom and justice, rather than the sustainability of an individual or an organization.