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A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published in mid 2024. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site and on social media in the coming months.

This site addresses what's changing, in our own lives, in our organisations, and in wider society. You'll learn about key changes across more than 150 areas, ranging from ageing and time, through nature and animals, to kindness and love...and very much else inbetween.

Halcyon's aim is to help you reflect on how you can better deal with related change in your own life.

What's Changing? - Conflict

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Please see below selected recent conflict-related change.


These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed 
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party - from Little Gidding, T.S. Eliot


See also:


February 2024

  • For the School of Life, conflict-aversion doesn’t just mean a distaste for a fight, it means a radical inability to get involved in a struggle of any sort because we are insufficiently on our own side; because we hate ourselves too much to dare to defend our own causes. We cannot take up arms, even when this is very necessary and correct to our survival and flourishing, because we are not inwardly convinced we should even be here.
  • Global defence spending jumped 9% in 2023 to a record high of IS$2.2 trillion, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The Ukraine war and NATO’s increased defence spending were a big part of the story, but with China growing more assertive and the Middle East embroiled in fresh conflict, the report warned that we're entering a global “era of insecurity”.


January 2024

  • The Economist warned that, around the world a storm is building on the oceans after decades of calm. In the Red Sea Houthi militias have launched dozens of attacks on ships with drones and missiles, cutting container activity in the Suez canal by 90%. The escalation in the Red Sea is mirrored by maritime mayhem elsewhere. The Black Sea is filling up with mines and crippled warships, the Baltic and North seas face a shadow-war of pipeline and cable sabotage and Asia is seeing the largest build-up of naval power since the second world war, as China tries to coerce Taiwan into unifying and America seeks to deter a Chinese invasion.


December 2023


November 2023

  • AI is revolutionising many things - from education, health care, and banking, to how we wage war. By simplifying military tasks, improving intelligence-gathering, and fine-tuning weapons accuracy - all of which could make wars less deadly - AI is redefining our concept of modern military might. At its most basic level, militaries around the world are harnessing AI to train algorithms that can make their work faster and more effective. Today, already, it is used for image recognition, cyber warfare, strategic planning, logistics, bomb disposal, command and control, and more. 


October 2023

  • Economists and global investors fear that rising strife (now in the Middle East in addition to Ukraine etc.) will undermine growth, not least by shattering global supply chains. “The splintering of countries into blocs that trade exclusively with one another . . . could reduce annual global GDP by up to 7%," noted the IMF, whose models of the costs of splintering alliances are based on the voting blocs that emerged in the UN after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine - a world in which China and Russia are allied against the West.
  • Anger can reportedly help people perform tough tasks. One explanation could be a link between the emotion and greater persistence.


September 2023

  • Ukraine’s military identified nine categories of physical or mental illness that will no longer exempt otherwise qualified people from doing their obligatory military service. The categories included asymptomatic HIV, minor disorders of the nervous or endocrine systems, and hepatitis.


May 2023


April 2023

  • Global military expenditure rose by 3.7% in 2022, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The rise was driven by increased spending in Europe in response to Russia's war in Ukraine and by some Asian countries, such as Japan, to counter China's growing military muscle. Ukraine made the biggest increase by far, spending seven times as much as it did the year before the Russian invasion. Russia's expenditure, meanwhile, rose nearly 10%.
  • People often approach arguments like lawyers trying to win a case. Rapoport’s rules ask people to affirm the other’s position before uttering a word of criticism. Doing so helps people build the trust necessary to make arguments productive, whether they ultimately reach an agreement or not. In certain cases, such conflicts can be sources of learning and clarity that leave us better off 
  • The number of terrorism victims increased by 2,000% in the Sahel region of Africa over the past 15 years, according to the 2023 Global Terrorism Index. More than 20,000 civilians were killed by terrorism in the region since 2007 - a concern for both local governments and European leaders faced with increased migration as a result of the violence.


January 2023


December 2022


June 2022


May 2022


April 2022

  • Global military spending topped $2 trillion for the first time in 2021. Nearly two-thirds of that came from the US, China, India, UK, and Russia. The US's $800 billion spending dipped slightly from 2020, but still outstripped the next nine countries combined.
  • For arms manufacturers, war is great for business. Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, global military spending was already on an upswing. Then the US and its allies started spending a lot more money still to send the Ukrainians weapons to defend themselves against the Russians - to the delight of anyone who owns shares of the companies that make those arms, noted GZERO. 


March 2022

  • Ukraine was given free access to Clearview's AI facial recognition technology in order to track Russian assailants, fight misinformation, and identify the dead. The US startup said it had a database of 2 billion photos culled from Russian social media.
  • War has been called a "man’s" game. Martin van Creveld, the Israeli military historian, once described combat as "the highest proof of manhood". When it comes to studying wars, many disciplines focus on predicting, measuring and strategising war and violence, but not on how to end it. These approaches have often equated security with the protection of national borders and ignored the expansive and long-term impacts of war and political violence. However, historically, those interested in peace and the possibility of ending war have been relegated to separate academic disciplines from war and security studies, including peace and development studies. 


January 2022

  • More than 33 percent of Americans said that violence against the government can at times be justified, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll. Many cited government overreach to contain the pandemic to explain their views, according to GZERO.


November 2021

  • Many people probably experience anger much more frequently than they might admit. But if anger can risk becoming something quite dangerous, how can we manage or harness it into something positive? In a Psyche guide, professor of psychology Ryan Martin explained how our feelings of anger can become an energising force in confronting problems and the tools we'd need to do so.
  • US officials became increasingly alarmed about a new type of killing machines called "hypersonic weapons". US General, Mark Milley, said that China's successful test of an advanced hypersonic weapon earlier this year was "very close" to a "Sputnik moment" – referring to the Soviet Union's surprise launch of the world's first artificial satellite in 1957, which raised fears that the US was lagging behind a formidable technological rival. Hypersonic weapons can easily evade missile defence systems, because they travel at five times the speed of sound, their flight patterns are unpredictable, and their low altitudes make them harder to detect.


August 2021

  • Water scarcity affects 40% of the world’s population, and BBC Future predicted the scale of conflicts will grow as demand does.
  • HBR noted that conflict at work comes in many formsGood conflict, the kind that is healthy, pushes us to be better as people and communities. Most organisations need more good conflict, not less. But sometimes, conflict can become malignant. It hijacks precious time, trust, and energy, turning allies against each other and distorting reality. This is what’s known as “high conflict,” the kind that takes on a life of its own, and eventually, leaves almost everyone worse off.


June 2021


April 2021

  • The School of Life warns that, in order to be able to defend oneself against an external foe, one has to be on one’s own side. And this is not - for some of us - as easy as it sounds. Without us necessarily even quite realising the fact, our entire personalities may be geared towards interpreting ourselves as bad, wrong, a mistake, and shameful. A first step towards dealing with an external enemy is realising that our personalities are built up in such a way that we’re going to have a big problem on our hands whenever we face opposition. We should expect to find this hard and we do. We therefore need to call for help, extend a lot of compassion to ourselves and devote all the critical care we’re going to need to get through the crisis. We then need to take on board that - unfortunately - the real enemy we’re harbouring is not so much currently outside of us (though they are there too) as inside of us.


March 2021


February 2021

  • As the coronavirus pandemic curbed job opportunities for young professionals, applications to join the military soared around the world, while US service members enlisted for longer, reported The Wall Street Journal. In 2020, the UK hit its annual recruitment target for the first time in seven years. The likely reason? The pandemic ravaged the job market for young workers, making the military look like a stable and attractive employer in which to ride out the crisis.


January 2021


December 2020

  • According to new research from Yale University, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, disagreeing with someone takes up a lot of brain real estate, while finding a compatriot is a much less cognitively taxing endeavour. For this study, researchers gathered 38 adults to ask their feelings on contentious topics like same-sex marriage and cannabis legalization. They then matched each volunteer with people who either agreed or disagreed. Every subject had their brain scanned with functional near-infrared spectroscopy during these face-to-face discussions, during which time they were given a total of 90 seconds to discuss a topic in 15-second increments. Harmonious synchronisation of brain states occurred when volunteers agreed, similar to group flow.


October 2020

  • Weeks into the Covid-19 lockdown, Elizabeth Barajas-Román, president and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, was alarmed to learn that incidents of intimate partner violence were increasing in countries around the globe. Approaches that support organisations had previously relied on to reach people in abusive relationships, like running a hotline or providing safety planning in the workplace, were proving difficult to implement while people were stuck at home, often in close quarters with the person perpetrating violence. Barajas-Román wondered: how could survivors reach out and get the help they need in a safe way? The solution she landed on was Signal for Help, a simple hand gesture that people experiencing abuse could silently use during video calls to tell friends or loved ones that they’re in trouble.


August 2020

  • Evidence emerged of a significant fall in the number of civilians harmed in conflicts around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic. Data collected by the research charity, Action on Armed Violence, showed a 58% decrease in the number of civilians killed and injured by explosives between April and July 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. There’s been a drop in reported violent events in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. In Syria, the number of civilians killed or injured fell by 78%. Libya is one of the few countries to have seen a rise in civilian harm in recent months, with 479 civilians being killed or injured over the four-month period in 2020, compared with 431 in 2019. The director of Action on Armed Violence said the global response to the pandemic appeared to “stay the hand” of militaries and extremist groups.


July 2020

  • July 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the world's first nuclear bomb test in the New Mexico desert. "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds," Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the US-led Manhattan Project, said soon after the successful detonation in Los Alamos. Less than a month later, the US dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing an end to World War II.
  • The editor of China’s state-controlled Global Times tweeted that China was “fully capable of destroying all Taiwan’s military installations within a few hours”. President Xi Jinping is set on what he calls reunification, “by all necessary means”, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile the Rand Corporation has produced a report for the Pentagon urging it to prepare for an “ascendant” China “able to contest all domains of conflict across the broad swathe of the [Indo-Pacific] region by the mid-2030s” and Foreign Affairs published a warning that China’s “civil-military fusion” (43 military-controlled universities, a dozen state-run think tanks, six quasi-private venture capital firms investing in dual-use tech, reported Tortoise Media.
  • Mexico recorded 11,000 disappearances in 2019-20, bringing the country's total number of disappeared people to 73,000 since the government declared "war" on criminal groups in 2006. Mexican president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in 2018 pledging to tackle a long-standing violence epidemic fueled by drug cartels and gangs, but killings and crime have surged under his watch.


May 2020

  • Countries around the world spent a total of $1.9 trillion on weapons in 2019, the highest mark on record for SIPRI, an arms watchdog. The US, which accounted for nearly 40% of that, spends more than the next nine countries combined.


March 2020


February 2020


January 2020


December 2019


November 2019

  • Deaths from terrorism fell globally for the fourth consecutive year in 2019, decreasing by 52% since 2014, according to the Global Terrorism Index.
  • A national effort in Colombia to remove improvised explosives resulted in 391 municipalities now being declared mine-free. More than 700 of Colombia's 1,122 municipalities once had landmines, the result of a decades-long armed conflict between leftist guerillas, criminal factions, paramilitary groups, and the government.


October 2019

  • For a time, deaths from armed conflict fell around the world, but now, driven by the complex interaction of global power politics and local ideologies, the world is seeing its bloodiest years since the 1980s, leading to evolving ideas abut the possible future of war.


September 2019


August 2019

  • The US tested a new medium-range cruise missile that flew more than 300 miles. This marked the first time the US has tested a weapon that would have violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Cold War era pact that was officially abandoned three weeks ago, sparking fears of a new global arms race.


July 2019


June 2019

  • Future Today Institute (FTI) believes that the future of our global security will depend on code, not combat. Using AI techniques, a military can “win” by destabilising an economy rather than demolishing countrysides and city centres. Countries, interest groups or independent actors could manipulate technology in order to inflict strategic pain points, to manufacture chaos and to cripple markets or companies. 
  • The School of Life believes there are many reasons to believe that one of the dominant problems in the world today is an excess of anger. We know about the shouty and their tantrums, their lack of reason, their unwillingness to compromise. Furthermore, it threatens to get a lot worse; we seem locked into a set of dynamics (political, technological, environmental) which promises an ever less patient, ever less serene and ever less forgiving future. But it may be rather more realistic, albeit odd sounding, to insist on the very opposite: that whatever the impression generated by a public and vocal angry cohort, the far more common yet (by nature) invisible problem is a contrary tendency, a widespread inability to get angry, a failure to know how rightly and effectively to mount a complaint, an inarticulate swallowing of frustration and the bitterness, subterranean ‘acting out’ and low-level depression that follow from not allowing any of our rightful sorrows to find expression.
  • Further reading:


May 2019


April 2019

  • Over the first two months of 2019, the murder rate in Brazil dropped by 25% compared with the same period last year.
  • However, since the turn of this century, more than 2.5 million people have been killed in the homicide crisis gripping Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Igarapé Institute, a research group that tracks violence worldwide. The region accounts for just 8 percent of the global population, yet 38 percent of the world’s murders. It has 17 of the 20 deadliest nations on earth.And in just seven Latin American countries — Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela - violence has killed more people than the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen combined, according to the New York Times.
  • Underpinning nearly every killing is a climate of impunity that, in some countries, leaves more than 95 percent of homicides unsolved. And the state is a guarantor of the phenomenon - governments hollowed out by corruption are either incapable or unwilling to apply the rule of law, enabling criminal networks to dictate the lives of millions.
  • China launched almost 400,000 metric tons of new warships, submarines, support ships, and other naval vessels between 2015 and 2017, according to data compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies – about twice the output of US shipyards over the same period. China has the world's fastest growing navy.


February 2019

  • In 2018, violence in Afghanistan killed 3,804 civilians, according to a new report from the United Nations, the highest annual total on record. Rebel groups like the Taliban and Islamic State were responsible for two-thirds of the total. Fighting has escalated even as peace talks gradually move forward.


January 2019


December 2018


November 2018

  • Since 2000, fewer than 100,000 people have died in conflicts worldwide per year. That is about one-sixth the rate observed between 1950 and 2000, and one-fiftieth the rate between 1900 and 1950, the period that included both world wars.
  • According to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, 254 armed conflicts have been fought since 1946 of which 114 are classed as wars (defined as more than one thousand battle-related deaths per annum). Since the end of the Cold War, the numbers of armed conflicts have dropped dramatically. Of the 33 armed conflicts listed in 2013, only seven were classed as wars – a 50 per cent reduction since 1989. However, in How to Prevent the Third World War, Chatham House reminded us that we are faced with stark reminders of the fragility of our international system when it comes to the prevention of conflict and war.
  • Researchers created an artificial society to investigate religious conflict. The model found that two xenophobic groups that are in regular contact create “periods of mutually escalating anxiety”. In practice, such a policy would create moral concerns about separating and confining groups based on identity, as well as whether dividing groups based on religion should be a goal in any society, noted Quartz.
  • Nearly 30 percent of anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter are being generated by automated bots, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Evidence suggest bots are increasingly responsible for driving divisive online conversation. The individuals behind the bots remain unknown.
  • Foreign contractors prolong wars, warned Quartz. Intended to save money and boost local economies, contractors make wars more expensive, less democratic, and more dangerous.
  • Turkish President Erdogan argued that the ongoing instability in the Middle East is a product of the flawed peace brokered after WWI, in which Western powers carved up the region in unsustainable ways. The lesson Erdogan draws from World War I: the West must stop interfering in Turkey and the Middle East, reported GZEROMedia.
  • Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi commemorated the sacrifice of his countrymen in a “conflict in which India was not directly involved.” His statement and participation in the celebrations in Paris were for GZEROMedia a reminder of the many non-Europeans – including soldiers from 70 nations that had not yet gained independence – who gave their lives in a conflict from which they had little to gain.
  • A study reported by The Economist found that US Thanksgiving dinners in 2016 that were more likely to include a mix of Trump and Clinton voters were between 20 and 50 minutes shorter than dinners that were more likely to have been purely partisan gatherings. Since then, the discomfort of cross-party dialogue has only grown.
  • Further reading:


October 2018

  • NATO was set to launch the combat phase of its biggest military war game in decades, an exercise that will involve 50,000 personnel, 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft, and 65 ships. Thirty-one countries, the 29 NATO members, plus Finland and Sweden, would take part.
  • The physical effects of conflict can last for generations: the demilitarised zone that stretches for 155 miles along the 38th parallel between North and South Korea is estimated to hold up to 2 million landmines. Teams from the two countries began their first joint-clearance operation in more than a decade, 
  • Mental effect, such as the stress of conflict, can also last for generations, warned Quartz. Data from the US civil war suggests trauma can be can be inherited by the offspring of prisoners of war.


September 2018


August 2018


July 2018

  • The United States signed foreign arms deals worth $46.9 billion during the first half of the fiscal year. That already exceeds the $41.9 billion in weapons deals agreed to during all of fiscal 2017.
  • US special operations forces have carried out missions in 133 countries so far this year. America’s shadow wars continue to expand with little transparency or oversight from elected officials, warned GZEROMedia.
  • The Future of Information Warfare report from CB Insights covers malware, from fake media, to computational propaganda, weaponised memes and more. 


June 2018


May 2018

  • In almost every one of 27 countries recently polled by IPSOS for the BBC, people said that their countries have grown more divided over the past decade and it looked at what people said was the most polarising issue in their country.


April 2018

  • Our World in Data analysed conflicts in which at least one party was the government of a state and which generated more than 25 battle-related deaths are included. The data refer to direct violent deaths. Deaths due to disease or famine caused by conflict are excluded. Extra-judicial killings in custody are also excluded.
  • Latin America suffered 38 percent of the world’s criminal homicides last year, despite accounting for just 8 percent of the world’s population. Rapid urbanisation, corruption, drug trafficking, and a huge influx of US guns all contribute.