War (Encyclopedia of Public Health)
War is perhaps the most serious of all public health problems. Public health has been defined by the Institute of Medicine as "what we, as a society, do collectively to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy." Using this definition, war is clearly antithetical to public health. It not only causes death and disability among military personnel and civilians, but it also destroys the social, economic, and political infrastructure necessary for well-being and health. War violates basic human rights. As a violent method of settling conflicts, it promotes other forms of violence in the community and the home. War causes immediate and long-term damage to the environment. And war and preparation for war sap human and economic resources that might be used for social good.
DIRECT IMPACT ON HUMANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Worldwide, there were over 45 million deaths among military personnel during the twentieth century mean annual military death rate of 183 deaths per 1 million population. This rate was more than sixteen times greater than the reported rate for the nineteenth century, despite enormous progress in surgical treatment of war injuries and in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. In addition, since an increasing percentage of wars are civil wars or are indiscriminate in the use of weapons, civilians are increasingly caught in the crossfire. Civilian deaths as a percentage of all war-related deaths rose from 14 percent during World War I to 90 percent during some wars of the 1990s. Moreover, during civil wars civilians may find it difficult to receive medical care and may be unable to obtain adequate and safe food and water, shelter, medicinal care, and public health services. The physical, mental, and social impacts of war on civilians are especially severe for vulnerable populations, including women, children, the elderly, the ill, and the disabled. Further, war is responsible for many million refugees and internally displaced persons.
INDIRECT IMPACTS ON HUMANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
War also has a severe, indirect impact on humans and the environment through the diversion of human and economic resources. The governments of many developing countries spend five to twenty-five times more on military than on health expenditures. From this culture of violence people learn at an early age that violence is the way to try to resolve conflicts. War and preparation for war use huge amounts of nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels, as well as toxic and radioactive substances that cause pollution of the air, water, and land.
INDISCRIMINATE HARM TO NONCOMBATANTS
Of particular concern to public health is the indiscriminate harm done to noncombatants. This includes not only the use of so-called weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, but also some uses of conventional weapons. Examples of the latter include the carpet bombing of Warsaw, Rotterdam, Coventry, Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, and other cities during World War II; and collateral damage caused by bombs and missiles in recent conflicts in Iraq, Serbia, and Kosovo. Anti-personnel land mines also cause indiscriminate injury and death and, like biological and chemical weapons, have been banned by international convention.
Chemical and biological weapons have been used since antiquity. Chemical weapons, which are used to produce toxic effects rather than explosions or fire, include vesicant agents such as mustard gas; agents producing pulmonary edema such as chlorine and phosgene; agents affecting oxidizing enzymes such as cyanide; and anticholinesterase inhibitors known as nerve agents. Chemical weapons were used extensively in World War I, leading to the negotiation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which banned the use of chemical and bacteriologic weapons. During World War II, chemical weapons were stockpiled by several nations, but were little used. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which was opened for signature in 1993 and entered into force in 1997, bans the development, production, transfer, and use of chemical weapons. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), headquartered in The Hague, has broad enforcement powers under the CWC. The United States and Russia are proceeding with destruction of stockpiles of chemical weapons, but there remains controversy about the health consequences of the methods being used. In 1995, the Aum Shinrikyo sect in Japan released nerve agent gas in the Tokyo subway, resulting in a number of deaths and many injuries. This incident heightened the concern about future use of chemical weapons.
Biological weapons, which are used to cause disease in living organisms, were developed and stockpiled by the United States, Great Britain, and other nations during World War II, but saw only very limited use by Japan in China. In 1969 the United States unilaterally renounced the use of biological weapons and announced the destruction of its stockpiles. The Biologic Weapons Convention (BWC), which was opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975, is much weaker than the CWC. It permits "defensive" research, which has led to suspicion that offensive research and development is being done. Efforts are currently being made to strengthen the BWC. Concern has recently been raised about the possible use of biological agents by groups or individuals to attack civilian populations.
The Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention (ALC) was opened for signature in 1997 and entered into force in 1999, setting precedents both for the speed of its ratification and for the work of nongovernmental organizations in bringing it about. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and its leader, Jody Williams, were awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. By February 2000 the ALC had been signed by 137 governments, but not by the United States, Russia and the other states of the former USSR, and most countries of the Middle East. The ALC, in addition to banning any further production or placement of mines, calls for destroying stockpiles, removing mines from the ground, and helping landmine survivors.
Nuclear weapons were used by the United States in 1945 to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In each city, a bomb of explosive power equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT caused approximately 100,000 deaths within the first few days. Nuclear weapons have not been used in war since, but enormous quantities of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons have been stockpiled by the United States and the Soviet Union. Explosive tests of these weapons have been conducted by these two nations and by the United Kingdom, France, China, South Africa, and, in 1998, India and Pakistan. There have been 518 tests documented in the atmosphere, under water, or in space and, after the signing of the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, approximately 1,500 tests underground. The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimated in 1997 that the release of Iodine-131 in fallout from U.S. atmospheric nuclear test explosions was responsible for 49,000 excess cases of thyroid cancer among U.S. residents. Another study estimated that radioactive fallout from nuclear test explosions would be responsible for 430,000 cancer deaths by the year 2000. A Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was negotiated in 1997, but a number of nations, including the United States, have refused to ratify it.
There are now approximately 35,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled in the seven nations that have declared possessionhe U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, and Pakistan. Israel is also widely believed to possess nuclear weapons. The declared nuclear-weapons nations agreed in the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to work toward elimination of these weapons, but progress has been slow. The International Court of Justice in a unanimous advisory opinion in 1996 ruled that the nuclear weapons states were obligated under the NPT "to pursue in good faith negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament." The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War was awarded the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use by the United States and the Soviet Union. With the dissolution of the USSR, there has also been concern about leakage of nuclear weapons to other nations, to groups, and even to individuals.
THE ROLE OF HEALTH WORKERS AND ORGANIZATIONS
Physicians, nurses, and other health care personnel clearly have an ethical duty to care for the victims of war. But medical and public health workers, many believe, also have an ethical duty to prevent war and its consequences. Since membership in the armed forces of a nation seems to imply participation in a war effort, the question arises whether medical and public health personnel can ethically play such a military role.
Alternate ways for medical and public health workers to care for the casualties of war are available through organizations such as the International Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders (which received the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize), and Doctors of the World, as well as various associations that seek to alleviate the causes of war and to promote nonviolent conflict resolution. Such associations include the American Public Health Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Human Rights, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and Amnesty International.
Public health professionals can help to reduce and eliminate the causes of war, such as discrimination, poverty, and disease. They can educate and raise awareness about the health and social consequences of war and preparation for war; establish surveillance systems to detect wars, or the circumstances that lead to war, at an early stage; advocate for policies and treaties to ban weapons of indiscriminate destruction; encourage and support mediation and other forms of nonviolent conflict resolution; and work with all groups in society to promote a "culture of peace."
VICTOR W. SIDEL
BARRY S. LEVY
(SEE ALSO: Ethnocentrism; Famine; Genocide; Gulf War Syndrome; Nuclear Power; Refugee Communities; Terrorism; Violence)
Amnesty International (1991). Health Personnel: Victims of Human Rights Violations. London: Author.
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Arms Project of Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights (1993). Landmines: A Deadly Legacy. New York: Human Rights Watch.
British Medical Association (1992). Medicine Betrayed: The Participation of Doctors in Human Rights Abuses. London: Zed Books.
Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict (1997). Preventing Deadly Conflict: Final Report. Washington, DC: Author.
Forrow, L. F.; Blair, B. G.; Helfand, I.; Lewis, G.; Postol, T.; Sidel, V. W.; Levy, B. S.; Abrams, H.; and Cassel, C. (1998). "Accidental Nuclear War: A Post-Cold War Assessment." New England Journal of Medicine 338:1326331.
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Institute of Medicine (1988). The Future of Public Health. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
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Levy, B. S., and Sidel, V. W., eds. (1997). War and Public Health. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sidel, V. W. (1989). "Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Greatest Threat to Public Health." Journal of the American Medical Association 262:68082.
(1995) "The International Arms Trade and Its Impact on Health." British Medical Journal 311:1677680.
(1996). "The Role of Physicians in the Prevention of Nuclear War." In Genocide, War, and Human Survival, eds. B. C. Strozier and M. Flynn. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.
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Wright S., ed. (1990). Preventing a Biological Arms Race. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
War (Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity)
For many centuries, western European attitudes toward the legality of war were dominated by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. War was regarded as a means of obtaining reparation for a prior illegal act, and was sometimes regarded as being commanded by God. In this way much of the debate centered on the distinction between just and unjust wars, a distinction that began to break down in the late sixteenth century. In time, leaders justified wars if they were undertaken for the defense of certain vital interests, although there were no accepted objective criteria for determining what those vital interests were. In the twenty-first century, international lawyers and states rarely use the term war. This is because "war" has a technical and somewhat imprecise meaning under international law, and states engaged in hostilities often deny there is a state of war. The difference between war and hostilities falling short of war may appear very fine, but it can have important consequences especially in regard to the relations between states. Since the adoption of the United Nations Charter in 1945, there is a general prohibition on the use of force by states except in accordance with the provisions of the Charter itself. In this way the question is more about the use of force than the right to declare war. This is reflected in the difficulty government representatives have had in finding an acceptable definition for the crime of aggression under the 1998 Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.
Laws of War/International Humanitarian Law
Among the equivalent and interchangeable expressions, the "laws of war," the "law of armed conflict," and "international humanitarian law," the first is the oldest. War crimes come under the general umbrella of international humanitarian law, and may be defined as the branch of international law limiting the use of violence in armed conflicts. The expression "laws of war" dates back to when it was customary to make a formal declaration of war before initiating an armed attack on another state.
In the twenty-first century, the term armed conflict is used in place of war, and while the military tend to prefer the term law of armed conflict, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other commentators use the expression "international humanitarian law" to cover the broad range of international treaties and principles applicable to situations of armed conflict. The fundamental aim of international humanitarian law is to establish limits to the means and methods of armed conflict, and to protect noncombatants, whether they are the wounded, sick or captured soldiers, or civilians.
International humanitarian law is comprised of two main branches; the law of the Hague and the law of Geneva. The law of the Hague regulates the means
After the piecemeal development of international humanitarian law at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, the experience of World War II exposed the shortcomings in the legal regulation of this field dramatically. This realization led to the adoption of the four Geneva Conventions for the Protection of War Victims in 1949. The adoption of the Conventions, coupled with the earlier well developed body of Hague law governing the conduct of hostilities by armed forces, meant that traditional interstate wars, or "armed conflicts" to use the language of the Conventions, were now well-regulated, in theory at least. The phrase "armed conflict" was employed to make it clear that the Conventions applied once a conflict between states employing the use of arms had begun, whether or not there had been a formal declaration of war.
As the majority of armed conflicts in the cold war period were not interstate wars of the kind envisaged by traditional international humanitarian law, obvious gaps in the legal regulation governing armed conflicts remained. The adoption of the Geneva Conventions marked a break with the past in that Article 3, which was common to all four Conventions, sought to establish certain minimum standards of behavior "in the case of armed conflict not of an international character." In an attempt to address deficiencies in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocols I and II were adopted in 1977.
Protocol I applies to international armed conflict and brought what was often referred to as "wars of national liberation" within the definition of international conflicts. Protocol II, on the other hand, did not apply to all noninternational armed conflicts, but only to those that met a new and relatively high threshold test. Despite the time and effort that was involved in drafting and agreeing the Protocols, the result was less than satisfactory, especially from the point of view of classifying armed conflicts to determine which Protocol, if any, applies in a given case. The applicability of Protocol II is quite narrow, and this helps explain in part why so many states are party to it.
Codification of War Crimes
The United Nations Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes was established in the aftermath of World War II in order to prepare the groundwork for the prosecution of war criminals arising from atrocities committed during the war. One of the features of the 1945 Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg is that the crime of genocide did not appear in its substantive provisions. Consequently, the Tribunal convicted the Nazi war criminals of "crimes against humanity" for the crimes committed against the Jewish people in Europe.
The relationship between war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity is somewhat complex due to the historical development of each category of international crime. The most significant practical legal issue to be considered is the necessity for some form of armed conflict before there can be a war crime. In the case of genocide, there is no requirement for such crimes to take place in the context of a war or armed conflict. However, such crimes can often be committed as part of a wider conflict to achieve some of the broader aims of participants. The chaos and breakdown in law and order characteristic of armed conflict provides potential perpetrators with an opportunity to pursue illegitimate objectives and methods.
Historically, it was also probably easier to evade responsibility for such crimes when they were committed in the course of an armed conflict. With the advent of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Special Courts and the International Criminal Court, this situation no longer prevails.
The concept of a war crime is broad and encompasses many different acts committed during an armed conflict. It is synonymous in many people's minds with ethnic cleansing, mass killings, sexual violence, bombardment of cities and towns, concentration camps, and similar atrocities. War crimes may be defined as a grave or serious violation of the rules or principles of international humanitarian lawor which persons may be held individually responsible. The Geneva Conventions oblige states to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed grave violations of the Conventions. In fact, in such cases all states are required to assume power to prosecute and punish the perpetrators. Such provisions only apply if the violations were committed in the course of an international armed conflict. In reality, it is often difficult to determine if a particular situation amounts to an "international" or a "noninternational armed conflict." However, although legally of some significance, it does not alter the serious nature of the crimes in the first instance.
Furthermore, decisions of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda have ruled that many principles and rules previously considered applicable only in international armed conflict are now applicable in internal armed conflicts, and serious violations of humanitarian law committed within the context of such internal conflicts constitute war crimes. Such decisions, and the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, have tended to blur the legal significance of the distinction between international and noninternational armed conflicts.
Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
The judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg was controversial in some respects. One of the main reasons why it was considered necessary to draft a convention that dealt specifically with the crime of genocide was the limited scope given to "crimes against humanity" at the time.
A crime against humanity referred to a wide range of atrocities, but it also had a narrow aspect, and the prevailing view in the aftermath of World War II was that crimes against humanity could only be committed in association with an international armed conflict or war. The Allies had insisted at Nuremberg that crimes against humanity could only be committed if they were associated with one of the other crimes within the Nuremberg Tribunal's jurisdiction, that is, war crimes and crimes against peace. In effect they had imposed a requirement or nexus, as it became known, between crimes against humanity and international armed conflict. For this reason many considered that a gap existed in international law that needed to be addressed. The General Assembly of the United Nations wanted to go a step further recognizing that one atrocity, namely genocide, would constitute an international crime even if it were committed in time of peace. The distinction between genocide and crimes against humanity is less significant today, because the recognized definition of crimes against humanity has evolved and now refers to atrocities committed against civilians in peacetime and in wartime. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides that crimes against humanity must have been committed as part of a "widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population."
Some states were concerned that international law did not seem to govern atrocities committed in peacetime (as opposed to during a time of armed conflict or war) and called for the preparation of a draft convention on the crime of genocide. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted in 1948, and entered into force on January 11, 1951.
Under the Convention, the crime of genocide has both a physical elementertain listed acts such as killing, or causing serious mental or bodily harm to members of a racial groupnd a mental element, which upholds the acts must be committed with intent to destroy, in whole of in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group "as such." Although earlier drafts had included political groups, this was later dropped during final drafting stages. In this way, the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge is not generally considered to have been genocide as defined under the Genocide Convention (both the perpetrators and the majority of the victims were Khmer). However, its widespread and systematic nature qualifies it as one of the twentieth century's most notorious crimes against humanity. The definition in the Convention is essentially repeated in Article 6 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and in the relevant statues of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
SEE ALSO International Criminal Court; International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; Nuremberg Trials; United Nations War Crimes Commission; War Crimes
Chesterman, Simon, ed. (2001). Civilians in War. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner.
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Gutman, Roy, and David Rieff (1999). Crimes of War. New York: Norton.
Holzgrefe, J. L., and Robert O. Keohane, eds. (2003). Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas. Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press.
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Schabas, William A. (2000). Genocide in International Law. Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press.
Schabas, William A. (2004). An Introduction to the International Criminal Court, 2nd Edition. Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press.
United Nations (1999). Report of the Secretary General Pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 53/35: The Fall of Srebrenica. UN Doc. A/54/549.
White, Nigel D. (1997). Keeping the Peace, 2nd edition. New York: Manchester University Press.
War (Contemporary Musicians)
War, a nine-member, Los Angeles-based group noted throughout the 1970s for their fusion of rock, Latin jazz, funk, and rhythm and blues, released their first major label album, Peace Sign, in June of 1994 after a 13-year recording hiatus. Hip-hop music and rap samples of War's material from the 1970s revived an interest in the group in the 1990s, as did brief snippets of War's music heard briefly on film soundtracks and on television commercials. War's most sampled hit songs are "Why Can't We Be Friends?," "The World Is a Ghetto," "Low Rider," and "Cisco Kid."
Although War occasionally toured clubs and festivals during the 1980s and early 1990s, recording an album proved difficult because the band struggled with the loss of many of its original members. War is comprised of Kerry Campbell (saxophone), Sal Rodriguez (percussion), Tetsuya "Tex" Nakamura(harmonica), Charles Green(saxophone), Rae Valentine (keyboards), Lonnie Jordan (keyboards, bass, vocals), Howard Scott (guitar, vocals), Ron Hammon (drums, vocals), and Harold Brown (drums, vocals). Founding member Lee Oskar left the band in December of 1993fter 24 years with the groupnd was replaced by harmonica player Tetsuya "Tex" Nakamura, a blues harpist from Japan. Original band member Papa Dee Allen collapsed on stage while playing "Gypsy Man" during a concert in 1989 and died shortly thereafter of a brain aneurysm; founding band member Charles Miller left the band in 1979.
Remaining original War bandmembers include guitarist Howard Scott, drummer Harold Brown, drummer Ron Hammon (who joined in 1978), and keyboard player Lonnie Jordan. Percussionist Sal Rodriguez played in the bands Tierra and El Chicano before joining. War keyboardist Rae Valentine is Harold Brown's son, a legacy Brown passed on to the next generation of War enthusiasts. Brown left the band from 1983 to 1993.
Began With Eric Burdon
In 1962 original War members Scott and Brown formed a rhythm and blues cover band called the Creators and eventually added Jordan, Dickerson, and Miller. The Creators often opened for Ike and Tina Turner when they played in Los Angeles. The Creators were forced to dissolve when guitarist Scott was drafted; he was called for military duty in the mid-1960s for two years. When Scott returned to Los Angeles after his tour of duty, the Creators reunited briefly.
In 1968 Scott, Brown, Miller, and Jordan formed a new band called the Night Shift. Producer and songwriter Jerry Goldstein heard the band play during one of their rehearsals and decided the band would complement the vocal style of Eric Burdon, formerly of the Animals. The Night Shift became War in early 1969. The name "War" was chosen for the band to offset the fact that the word "peace" was bandied about constantly in pop culture.
Burdon liked the band and decided to tour with them in 1969. Their first concert was at the Devonshire Pop Festival, a three-day event in the Los Angeles area that attracted 100,000 people. Eric Burdon and War followed Credence Clearwater at the festival. Burdon and War released an album in 1970 titled Eric Burdon Declares "War. "The gold-selling album reached Number 18 on the music charts and its single "Spill the Wine" reached Number Three. War played Ronnie Scott's London jazz club in 1970 with Jimi Hendrixendrix's last concert before his death. Hendrix and War played the Memphis Slim song "Mother Earth" together. War recorded three albums with Eric Burdon in 1970 and 1971, one of which was not released for five years. Love Is All Around was recorded in 1971 and released in 1976.
Multiple Top 40 Hits
In 1971 War and Eric Burdon divided to become solo acts. The move was prompted by an experience War band members had with Burdon. In 1970 Burdon vanished in the middle of a European tour, and War was forced to appear without him, hoping audience members at concerts wouldn't demand refunds. War's solo shows sold out, much to their delight, and the band knew they would be well received on their own.
War's breakthrough album, All Day Music, which sold almost two million copies and reached Number 16 on the Billboard pop music chart, was released in 1971. Two of the album's singles became Top 40 hits: "All Day Music" and "Slippin' Into Darkness." In 1972 War released The World Is a Ghetto. This album became the best-selling album of 1973. The singles "Cisco Kid" and "The World Is a Ghetto" both went gold, and War was established as a major musical force. The double album War Live was released in 1974, featuring the Top 40 single "Ballerò." From 1975 to 1981 War released seven more albums, including Why Can't We Be Friends?, each meeting with acclaim and enthusiastic response.
War and Peace
Avenue Records CEO Jerry Goldstein is credited with having urged War back into the recording realm. War's co writer since the band's inception, Goldstein produced all of the band's major hits in the 1970s and then gained possession of the band's copyrights and masters in the mid-1980s. Avenue Records reissued much of War's back catalog on CD in the 1990s, which fueled a renewed interest in the band. The fact that War was sampled so liberally by the rap and hip-hop community in the 1990s create mixed feelings for War's bandmembers, who alternately felt flattered and robbed. War bandmember Howard Scott told Billboard's Jon Cummings, "Instead of suing, we decided to do that record and make peace with the rap community."
Avenue Records released a compilation record in 1992 titled Rap Declares War, which featured War bandmembers with the rap musicians who had sampled their music. Some of the War-struck rappers on the album included De La Soul, Poor Righteous Teachers, Brand Nubian, Nice 'N Smooth, Beastie Boys, Ice-T, Wrecking-Effect, Kid Frost, and 2Pac. This album cemented War's tie-in with the hip-hop and rap community and highlighted how much the band had in common with the musicians who had sampled War's music.
South Central Environs
In its early days, War drew its flavor from South Central Los Angeles. South Central also inspired a lion's share of later rappers, such as N.W.A. and Ice-T. War's message, however, is decidedly different than that of the "gangsta" rappers from the same environment. Anger, urban violence, and despair are replaced with optimism, understanding, peace, and hope in War's music. The band provides positive messages, as evidenced in the singles "Peace Sign," "What If," and "Let Me Tell Ya." "Instead of throwing up gang signs, we're throwing up peace signs," Scott told Cummings.
War aims to be multifaceted and to provide varying formats for its music. The band is equal parts Latino, black, and white, so War hopes to be able to appeal to a wide range of listeners. Vibe magazine's Richard Torres described War and its music as "user-friendly funk for the'90s...light on the feet and easy on the hips," and "a laid-back groove factory with a conscience." Jazz, rhythm and blues, rock, and Latin melodies are frequently combined in War's songs to create a distinctive multiplayer sound, slightly reminiscent of each style.
After a 13-year absense from the recording studio, War released Peace Sign in 1994he band's eighteenth major label albumroduced by Jerry Goldstein and War band member Lonnie Jordan. The single "East L.A." is a West Coast version of Ben E. King's "Spanish Harlem" with Jose Feliciano contributing vocals. Some of the album's singles are beautiful ballads, others are reminiscent of War's previous hits in the 1970s, and others reveal experimentation and an unbridled, fresh approach to their music.
War released Peace Sign in 1994 because the band still has much to say about American society. In "Homeless Hero" on Peace Sign, War sings about a Vietnam War veteran who grapples with drugs, alcohol, and a society that no longer finds him useful. War's Harold Brown told Goldmine's Steve Roeser "We're more 'street.'... We're more ground-zero, more ground level. We're the kind of guys who can go into south Los Angeles or go to the projects or the barrio... and every day that we live... it's because of music."
As the Creators
Little Johnny Hamilton and the Creators, Dore Records, 1965.
With Eric Burdon
Eric Burdon Declares War(includes "Spill The Wine"), MGM, 1970.
The Black Man's Burdon, MGM, 1970.
Love Is All Around, ABC, 1976.
Without Eric Burdon
War, United Artists, 1971.
All Day Music, Far Out/UA, 1971.
The World Is a Ghetto, Far Out/UA, 1972.
Deliver the Word, UA, 1973.
Radio Free War, UA, 1973.
War Live, Far Out/UA, 1974.
Why Can't We Be Friends?, Far Out/UA, 1975.
War's Greatest Hits, Far Out/UA, 1977.
Platinum Jazz, Blue Note, 1977.
Galaxy, MCA, 1977.
Youngblood (soundtrack), UA, 1978.
The Music Band, MCA, 1978.
The Music Band, Part 2, MCA, 1979.
Best of the Music Band, MCA, 1981.
Outlaw, RCA, 1982.
Life Is So Strange, RCA, 1983.
The Best of War... And More, Avenue, 1987.
Rap Declares War, Avenue, 1992.
War, Avenue, 1992.
Peace Sign, Avenue/Rhino, 1994.
Anthology 1970-1994, Avenue, 1994.
Billboard, June 14, 1994.
Goldmine, September 2, 1994.
Vibe, August 1994.
Additional information for this profile was provided by Avenue Records publicity materials.
B. Kimberly Taylor