Millennials see catastrophic war as a real likelihood in their lifetime
The majority of millennials see catastrophic war as a real possibility, a survey by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) showed.
Most millennials surveyed by the ICRC believe it is more likely that a nuclear attack will occur in the next decade.
The survey of more than 16,000 millennials in 16 countries in 2019 – roughly half in peace and half experiencing conflict – explored millennials’ views on conflict, the future of warfare and the values underpinning international humanitarian law, such as the use of torture against enemy combatants.
The survey, released on Jan. 16, indicates that millennials are nervous about the future, and heightened tensions globally are likely to deepen these fears.
Forty-seven percent of respondents think it’s more likely than not that there will be a third world war in their lifetime. And although 84 percent believe the use of nuclear weapons is never acceptable, 54 percent believe it is more likely than not that a nuclear attack will occur in the next decade.
Some 74 percent of millennials also believe that wars are avoidable, and nearly the same number (75 percent) think that limits must be imposed on how wars are fought.
“This millennial foreboding may reflect an increase in polarization and dehumanizing rhetoric,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer.
The survey showed that the experience of war makes people hate war. In Syria, 98 percent said it’s never acceptable to use nuclear weapons; 96 percent said it’s never acceptable to use chemical weapons; 96 percent said the same of biological weapons; and 85 percent believe captured enemy fighters should be allowed to contact their relatives. Those four responses were the highest of the survey’s 16 countries.
“When you see your friends and family suffer the horrors of warfare, you want absolutely nothing to do with the weapons of war. The survey responses from millennials in Syria, Ukraine and Afghanistan confirm for us an obvious fact: the experience of war makes you hate war,” Maurer said.
The survey indicates that people in war-affected countries are more likely to believe that there will be fewer or no wars in the future, compared to respondents from countries at peace (46 percent vs 30 percent). The responses from countries at war also held a high degree of hope: 69 percent of respondents in Ukraine believe the war in their country is likely to end in the next five years.
The “Millennials on War” survey was commissioned by the ICRC and carried out by Ipsos, which conducted the survey between June 1 and Oct. 7 using a mixed method design; 16,288 interviews were completed amongst adults aged 20 to 35 living in the following 16 locations: Afghanistan, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Russia, South Africa, Syria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States.