Back in 2006 I made mention of the Human Security Report (along with its 2007 update) whose study suggests that armed conflicts around the world, along with genocide and other related fatalities, have been on the decline.
And in spite of current conflicts, including that which involves Islamic militancy and jihad-terrorism, the trend continues. Frankly put, we live on a more civilized, more peaceful globe:
the last decade has seen fewer war deaths than any decade in the past 100 years, based on data compiled by researchers Bethany Lacina and Nils Petter Gleditsch of the Peace Research Institute Oslo. Worldwide, deaths caused directly by war-related violence in the new century have averaged about 55,000 per year, just over half of what they were in the 1990s (100,000 a year), a third of what they were during the Cold War (180,000 a year from 1950 to 1989), and a hundredth of what they were in World War II. If you factor in the growing global population, which has nearly quadrupled in the last century, the decrease is even sharper. Far from being an age of killer anarchy, the 20 years since the Cold War ended have been an era of rapid progress toward peace.
Armed conflict has declined in large part because armed conflict has fundamentally changed. Wars between big national armies all but disappeared along with the Cold War, taking with them the most horrific kinds of mass destruction. Today’s asymmetrical guerrilla wars may be intractable and nasty, but they will never produce anything like the siege of Leningrad. The last conflict between two great powers, the Korean War, effectively ended nearly 60 years ago. The last sustained territorial war between two regular armies, Ethiopia and Eritrea, ended a decade ago. Even civil wars, though a persistent evil, are less common than in the past; there were about a quarter fewer in 2007 than in 1990.
If our perception of this hasn’t changed, or we think things have gotten worse, according to Goldstein, it’s because we live in the information age, inundated by the “if it bleeds, it leads” abundance of news reporting:
If the world feels like a more violent place than it actually is, that’s because there’s more information about wars — not more wars themselves. Once-remote battles and war crimes now regularly make it onto our TV and computer screens, and in more or less real time. Cell-phone cameras have turned citizens into reporters in many war zones.
There’s a lot more and it’s a pretty interesting piece to read, even if you disagree with some (or all) of the author’s conclusions.
Exit question: Is U.S. benevolent global hegemony the key to “keeping the peace” with its exercise of a muscular foreign policy- peace through strength- or is it part of the problem of prevailing violence in the world? Have our engagement with the global jihad movement strengthened or weakened its influence on the Muslim world; and have our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan increased or decreased anti-Americanism around the world?
Is America more or less safe today?