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World Wars I and II were by far the most devastating in history both in terms of battle deaths--military personnel killed in combat--and total deaths which include the soldiers who died from wounds accidents or disease as well as the civilians killed These numbers require some interpretation First the death tolls are only rough estimates Second they do not fully convey a wars effect on a nation or region which is better expressed in terms of deaths per capita or its impact on the friends and families of those who perish From the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648 to the French Revolution in 1789 Europes princes fought one another with relatively small armies Frances upheavals however gave birth to the concept of a nation in arms Starting at the same time the Industrial Revolution turned cities and factories into prime targets In most wars of the past century civilian deaths have outnumbered military deaths Some countries have lost more than 10 percent of their population in a single war for instance the Soviet Union during World War II Americans have been largely spared by geography Since World War II Asia Africa and the Middle East have become the worlds primary battlegrounds In the conflicts that raged in Angola and Mozambique from the 1960s to the 1990s more than 75 percent of the victims were civilians A large number were also children between 1985 and 1995 some two million children died from warfare and another 10 million to 15 million were maimed physically or psychologically One reason for the high civilian death rate is that many of the international conflicts since 1945 began as civil wars The Korean Vietnamese and Afghan wars among others started as internal conflicts but soon attracted outside intervention Amid the new world disorder of the 1990s war often became a private enterprise In the conflicts that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia for example much of the fighting was
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