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February 28, 2013 at 12:30 am #3453
I was looking through the Wikipedia page on death toll by war, and here are the top twenty:
- 60,000,000–78,000,000 – World War II (1939–1945)
- 30,000,000–60,000,000 – Mongol Conquests (13th century)
- 25,000,000 – Qing dynasty conquest of Ming dynasty (1616–1662)
- 20,000,000 – World War I (1914–1918)
- 20,000,000-100,000,000 – Taiping Rebellion (China, 1850–1864)
- 16,000,000 – White Lotus Rebellion (China, 1794-1804)
- 13,000,000 – An Shi Rebellion (China, 755–763)
- 10,000,000 – Warring States Era (China, 475 BCE–221 BCE)
- 8,000,000–12,000,000 – Dungan revolt (China, 1862 –1877
- )7,000,000–20,000,000 – Conquests of Tamerlane (1370–1405)
- 5,000,000–9,000,000 – Russian Civil War and Foreign Intervention (1917–1922)
- 5,000,000 – Conquests of Menelik II of Ethiopia (1882–1898)
- 2,500,000–5,400,000 – Second Congo War (1998–2003)
- 3,500,000–6,000,000 – Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815)
- 3,000,000–11,500,000 – Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648)
- 3,000,000–7,000,000 – Yellow Turban Rebellion (China, 184–205)
- 3,000,000 – Afghan Civil War (Afghanistan, 1979–Present)1,200,000 – Korean War (1950–1953)
- 2,500,000–4,000,000 – Hunnic Invasion (408–469)
- 791,000-1,141,000 – Vietnam War
It occurred to me that if we set aside WWI and WWII, only four or five of these most disastrous wars primarily involved nations in the West (there may have been some lesser involvement that I am overlooking). The majority of these involved Asian nations. Why is this? Was there some inherent understanding within Asia which valued life less than it was in the West, was there some technological reason for the mass of casualties in the East compared to West, or some other reason?February 28, 2013 at 6:42 am #28204
I find many of these figures to be dubious. I've never seen these figures before and if they are in fact true, they are shocking to say the least. How accurate are they?February 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm #28205
That's a good question. It is, after all, Wikipedia that listed these. For the Mongol conquests (#2), here were the sources:Ping-ti Ho, "An Estimate of the Total Population of Sung-Chin China", in Études Song, Series 1, No 1, (1970) pp. 33–53."Mongol Conquests". Users.erols.com. Retrieved 2011-01-24."The world's worst massacres Whole Earth Review". Findarticles.com. 1987. Retrieved 2011-01-24.Battuta's Travels: Part Three – Persia and Iraq[dead link]In that list, I see one source which could (potentially) be reliable (in bold), though I have no idea what "Etudes Song" is about. I presume some type of Chinese journal of....history? The second source leads to a page which gives death tolls by different sources on Gengis Khan, from 3 million killed to 60 million killed.http://necrometrics.com/pre1700a.htm#MongolFebruary 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm #28206
Those sources are very thin. I remain unconvinced they are accurate.February 28, 2013 at 7:29 pm #28207
Those figures seem to be roughly accurate. I have a read a more compact 25-35 million estimate for the Taiping Rebellion. And yes, Easterners do in general value human life less than do Westerners. I have some guesses as to why that is. The main reason is they have always had a far denser population than the west. I am surprised there are no African wars on the list. I think the wars in central Africa post-colonialism have had a pretty high death toll, the problem there is nobody really knows what the African population was to begin with. I believe the Algerian War of Independence cost over a million lives as well. The Rwandan Civil War of '94 should be on the list at a minimum. The media and bleeding hearts like to call it a genocide but it was in reality a short, extremely violent Civil War.February 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm #28208
What amazes me is that there seems to be an awful lot of wars in that list that pre-date the use of reliable firearms.February 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm #28209
What amazes me is that there seems to be an awful lot of wars in that list that pre-date the use of reliable firearms.
Why? Because it takes firearms to kill lots of people? Don't fall victim to the myth that mass wars and mass casualties only happened after the advent of firearms.March 1, 2013 at 2:16 am #28210
I did not even realize there was a myth about that. However, it seems rather intuitive that the way to kill people has become far more efficient and effective over the centuries, and the means of defending oneself has not gotten better at the same rate.March 1, 2013 at 6:02 am #28211
More people died at Cannae than on the first day of the Somme and there were fewer combatants.March 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm #28212
I am surprised there are no African wars on the list. I think the wars in central Africa post-colonialism have had a pretty high death toll, the problem there is nobody really knows what the African population was to begin with. I believe the Algerian War of Independence cost over a million lives as well. The Rwandan Civil War of '94 should be on the list at a minimum. The media and bleeding hearts like to call it a genocide but it was in reality a short, extremely violent Civil War.
In your list : Second Congo War (1998-2003) Congo is in Africahttp://www.ducksters.com/geography/country.php?country=congo,%20democratic%20republic%20of%20theAbout Rwanda, the estimated death toll is around 800,000 killed (within 100 days)http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14093322March 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm #28213
The Rwandan Civil War of '94 should be on the list at a minimum. The media and bleeding hearts like to call it a genocide but it was in reality a short, extremely violent Civil War.
Are you sure about your statement ?March 1, 2013 at 3:31 pm #28214
Are you sure about your statement ?
Yes. Genocide is an artificial term coined in the wake of WWII to justify prosecuting Nazis. I don't think what the Nazis did was right but I also don't think we needed to make up crimes out of whole cloth to put those same Nazis up against a wall. It has traditionally been the victors right to do with his enemy as he sees fit. That should be plenty good enough. The Nazis were in our power and we detested what they did, therefor we executed them.March 1, 2013 at 3:54 pm #28215
If so there is no genocide except the one perpetrated by the nazis ?March 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm #28216skiguyModerator
Genocide is an artificial term coined in the wake of WWII to justify prosecuting Nazis.
Then what else would you call a government sanctioned mass killing of another ethnic group?March 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm #28217
I still don't believe these numbers. There is no way to accurately know the death tolls of ancient wars. And casualty figures spanning over twenty and fifty year periods of time frankly would be unknowable. Anyone who puts out hard figures is guessing, and their estimates would be based on unscientific source material tainted by embellishments and propaganda. Furthermore, there were only approximately 60,000,000 living in the Roman Empire at its height. The infrastructure was just not there for such massive campaigns even as late as the 13th century with the Mongolian conquests.