It is commonly assumed, at least in the West, that the glorification of war is a thing of the past. Even more prevalent is the assumption that such war-related phenomena as expulsions and deportations, ethnic cleansing and mass rape, massacre and genocide would be universally condemned in any civilized country. Indeed, such condemnation is viewed as a mark of civilization, and groups or nations that still conduct policies of this nature are considered to be, by definition, beyond the pale. And yet, only a few decades ago, war was seen by most Europeans as a glorious undertaking, and many of the actions we would describe today as war crimes were celebrated as an inherent part of the conduct of war and the consolidation of victory or, at the very least, were perceived as regrettable but unavoidable features of modern warfare.
That non-Western nations, countries that straddle the ill-defined line between Europe and Asia, and a variety of despicable regimes, have engaged in the recent past or are still engaged today in widespread crimes and abuses of human rights is, of course, readily conceded. Yet such crimes have rarely led to their expulsion from the international community. Since the end of World War II, the collapse or disintegration of such regimes was more often the result of their own incompetence or self-destructive dynamics, and at best of indirect international pressure. Hence the main difference between the first and the second parts of this century is not so much that war has lost its potential to inspire self-glorification, and certainly not that war has been any less murderous. Indeed, the ratio of innocent civilians killed in war has grown progressively since 1914. The difference is that following the devastation of World War II, Western nations have had both less inclination and less need to fight each other; when they did go to war, it was against non-Western lands, and it was the latter that took the main brunt of human and material destruction.