Author Topic: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years  (Read 8274 times)

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World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« on: October 18, 2005, 12:37:57 »
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20051018.wxunside18/BNStory/International/



By SHAWN MCCARTHY

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 Posted at 4:24 AM EDT

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

New York â ” Despite the daily horrors in Iraq and seemingly regular spasms of terrorist-sponsored violence, the world is a much more peaceful place than it was a little more than a decade ago, a new study says.

Since the end of the Cold War, the number of armed conflicts has declined by more than 40 per cent, while the number of the deadliest conflicts -- those involving more than 1,000 battle-related deaths -- has dropped by 80 per cent, said the Human Security Report, which was released here yesterday.

"Over the past dozen years, the global security climate has changed in dramatic, positive and largely unheralded ways," the report states.

"Civil wars, genocides and international crises have all declined sharply. International wars, now only a small minority of all conflicts, have been in steady decline for a much longer period, as have military coups and the average number of people killed per conflict per year."

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The one dark spot, not surprisingly, is international terrorism, which has been on the rise since the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, though the death toll from such attacks is only a tiny fraction of war casualties.

The report was produced by the University of British Columbia's Liu Institute on Global Affairs, and was funded by several Western governments, including Canada.

It represents the first comprehensive effort to track the number of wars, both interstate and civil, raging around the globe, as well as the human toll from armed conflicts, terrorism and genocide.

Andrew Mack, a UBC professor who led the study, said yesterday it is time to put to rest some common myths, including the overarching view that the world is spiralling downward into violence.

"As is often the case with criminal violence, there is a huge disjuncture between what people believe is the case and what is actually the case," Prof. Mack said.

"What is actually the case is that we've seen this extraordinary improvement across the board in nearly all forms of political violence, except international terrorism, which doesn't kill a lot of people. And yet most people believe things are getting worse."

The report lays out what it calls "myths and misunderstandings," including: The number of genocides is increasing; wars are becoming more deadly and claimed the lives of five million people in the 1990s, and 90 per cent of those killed in today's wars are civilians, mainly women and children.

"None of these claims are based on reliable data. All are suspect; some are demonstrably false," the report said.

The report's authors calculated that civil and external wars killed about 700,000 combatants and civilians in 1950 but that figure dropped to about 100,000 in 1992 and 20,000 in 2002.

Prof. Mack acknowledged that his data end in 2003, but insisted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have been raging for the past two years have not dramatically increased the death toll or reversed the long-term trend.

In 2004, there were just 25 armed secessionist conflicts under way in the world, the lowest number since 1976.

In addition to the Middle East, Africa remained mired in armed conflict. At the turn of the 21st century, more people were killed in wars in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world combined.

Prof. Mack, a former adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, cited a number of reasons for the decline in armed conflicts around the world: the end of the post-colonial era and wars of independence; the end of the Cold War and ideologically driven engagements by superpowers and their proxies; the expansion of democratic government through much of the developing world; and the success of UN peacemaking and conflict resolution.

"There is absolutely no doubt that the UN has been a critical actor, albeit an imperfect one, in bringing the numbers down," he said.

Despite its failures in places such as Bosnia and Rwanda, the UN has frequently succeeded in preventing armed conflict or in maintaining peace once a conflict has ended.

Prof. Mack insisted the report is not offering a rose-coloured view of the world.

He noted there are about 60 wars being fought and a continuing threat of international terrorism, perhaps even of a terrorist group gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.

"We're not Pollyannaish on this. We don't necessarily think there is going to be an upsurge in new violence but we think it is quite possible," he said.

"But we also think that if the international community gets its act together, it could actually make a real reduction in the risk."

War waning across the planet

Wars between countries are more rare than in previous eras. The number of armed conflicts has declined by more that 40% since 1992. The deadliest conflicts, those with 1,000 or more battle deaths dropped by 80 per cent, and the number of international crises, often harbingers of war, fell by more than 70 per cent between 1981 and 2001.

Countries at war most between 1946 and 2003

Countries involved in the highest number of international armed conflicts

U.K. 21

France 19

U.S. 16

Russia 9

Australia 7

Holland 7

Israel 6

Egypt 6

China 6

Thailand 6

N. Vietnam 5

Turkey 5

Jordan 5

Portugal 5

Canada 5

Chad 4

Libya 4

Spain 4

Syria 4

Italy 4

Iran 4

Ethiopia 4

Iraq 4

N. Zealand 4

S. Vietnam 4

Offline Infanteer

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2005, 12:57:34 »
I'd like to find the report.

The report's authors calculated that civil and external wars killed about 700,000 combatants and civilians in 1950 but that figure dropped to about 100,000 in 1992 and 20,000 in 2002.

Considering the Korean War was going on in 1950, a little odd to use it as a comparison to 1992 or 2002.  How about 93-95, when Rwanda, the Balkans, and Somalia were kicking it into high gear?

Quote
Prof. Mack insisted the report is not offering a rose-coloured view of the world.

He noted there are about 60 wars being fought and a continuing threat of international terrorism, perhaps even of a terrorist group gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.

We're just catching our breath - like 1959 or something.
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Old Ranger

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2005, 13:19:09 »
Countries involved in the highest number of international armed conflicts

Canada 5


 ??? Only 5?  What is the Criteria for "Involved"
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Offline NSmedicman

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2005, 13:34:42 »
Only 5? Off the top of my head I can think of Korea, Suez, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Desert Shield/Storm and Somalia. I am sure there are others that aren't considered "armed conflicts" that the Canadian military was "involved".
"The greatest supporters of peace are those who are sworn to risk their lives when war occurs".

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2005, 14:42:03 »
Only 5? Off the top of my head I can think of Korea, Suez, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Desert Shield/Storm and Somalia. I am sure there are others that aren't considered "armed conflicts" that the Canadian military was "involved".

It says "Countries at War" which I assume implies certain things.  Getting shot at and shelled in a UN mission is just as intense, but probably doens't count for being at war (in a war is different).  I guess the 5 would be Korea, The Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and ?.

"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2005, 14:50:52 »
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2005, 20:12:42 »
A sharp drop in genocides, eh?  I wonder how many there were between VJ Day and the Fall of the Wall, and how many lives they claimed compared with post-1989 events?
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Offline Enfield

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2005, 23:16:16 »
It appears peace is breaking out....   Time to find a new line of work troops!

This trend has ben identified before, although not quantified as thoroughly - Gwyne Dyer had a large chapter on it in his new edition of War, for example. This is definitely the most peaceful time in history.

The paper makes a very good point that what we've seen in the past 20 yrs isn't increased wars, but increased reporting of fewer wars. Peace never makes the news.

The writers are very shady about genocide and reluctant to give numbers on how many people actually died in genocide, although they make a valid point that defining and measuring genocide is very difficult. But given this, I'm not sure how they've drawn their conclusion that genocides are decreasing when they can't produce any data or define their parameters. This conclusion may be just an extrapolation based on what their data on wars has shown: Less war = less Genocide.

Their standard for "war" is 1000 or more battle deaths per year - the paper points out that Northern Ireland doesn't even count under this standard. A "conflict" is 25 deaths or more, and one party has to be a state.

5 wars for Canada - Korea, Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan. Is Bosnia the fifth?

The French sure have been busy....
« Last Edit: October 20, 2005, 23:20:14 by Enfield »
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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2005, 00:20:16 »
It appears peace is breaking out....   Time to find a new line of work troops!

Nahh not quite yet, im still holding out for China to pull a fast one on taiwan or north korea to rattle sabres or something  ;D

Seriously though, how large scale wars (anything equivalent to desert storm and up) are even in the forseeable future?
Time to find a new line of work indeed.... how much does being a florist pay?

Offline Glorified Ape

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2005, 13:00:44 »
Ah ha! See, Infanteer? What'd I tell ya. You ought to listen to old Ape more often, he could teach you a few things. ;D

















That last bit was a joke, but my point is illustrated nonetheless.
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2005, 15:30:51 »
Ah ha! See, Infanteer? What'd I tell ya. You ought to listen to old Ape more often, he could teach you a few things. ;D

That last bit was a joke, but my point is illustrated nonetheless.

Don't get too optimistic, you'll put yourself out of the job. :tsktsk:
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Gunnar

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2005, 15:46:31 »
PEACE, n.
In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

--Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary


And, just in case anyone had any optimism left, remember how deadly quiet it gets just before a hurricane destroys everything in its path.  Maybe the reduction in "war" has to do with the fact that nobody can identify who the good guys are, and who the bad guys are...most of the "good guys" are afraid to offend the "bad guys", and since the "bad guys" are still getting their way, there isn't a need for war.  War will come when the "good guys" finally say "no", or when the "bad guys" decide that they aren't getting their way often enough, or fast enough...
If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism --Thomas Sowell

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Offline Glorified Ape

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2005, 17:09:36 »
Don't get too optimistic, you'll put yourself out of the job. :tsktsk:

lol... We should be so lucky. *Cue John Lennon's "Imagine"*  :crybaby:

PEACE, n.
In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

--Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary


And, just in case anyone had any optimism left, remember how deadly quiet it gets just before a hurricane destroys everything in its path.   Maybe the reduction in "war" has to do with the fact that nobody can identify who the good guys are, and who the bad guys are...most of the "good guys" are afraid to offend the "bad guys", and since the "bad guys" are still getting their way, there isn't a need for war.   War will come when the "good guys" finally say "no", or when the "bad guys" decide that they aren't getting their way often enough, or fast enough...

I think you're partially right insofar as the actors often aren't as obvious as states. I'd wager it's more complex than "good guy/bad guy" but it all depends on your point of view. I see it more as an issue of interests conflicting and the interests usually aren't singular and sub-interests on the same "side" often seem to conflict with each other or differ in degree. A home-grown Iraqi insurgent may only want the US out of Iraq, while an AQ member wants the West out of the ME, for example. Then there are the hardcore pan-Islamists that want a caliphate (or some variation thereof) that dominates everyone. Meanwhile, you have people who only wanted Saddam out of power and an Iraqi democracy, people who don't want any Western military involvement in the ME, people who want an end to all Islamic theocracy, people that want an end to Islam, people who want de facto Western control over just about everywhere, etc.

I think there are "good guys" and "bad guys" on each side, though my interpretation of good and bad is a function of my own outcome preference.
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Offline MoOx

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2005, 21:38:07 »
5 wars for Canada - Korea, Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan. Is Bosnia the fifth?

could the fifth war be the somalia mission? i thought i read in Significant Incident by Bercuson that it was sent under the exact same type of UN mandate that was used for korea.

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2005, 05:44:39 »
could the fifth war be the somalia mission? i thought i read in Significant Incident by Bercuson that it was sent under the exact same type of UN mandate that was used for korea.

Could be right on that one squeeliox.
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Offline Gunnar

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2005, 10:12:17 »
Quote
I think there are "good guys" and "bad guys" on each side, though my interpretation of good and bad is a function of my own outcome preference.

That is specifically why I chose to write it that way.  Are the bad guys the terrorists who blow up women and children, or the defenders of freedom who make it possible for mindless thugs to strip search grannies in airports because they had sewing scissors?  Part of the problem is that there doesn't seem to be a sharp dividing line between the good and bad guys in many cases, or at least, our governments are not making such a line terribly easy to discern.  Sure, we're the brightest light in the world, but how much of that is because our society actively changes the bulb from time to time, and how much because some bulbs burn a long, long time even if you fill the room with gorillas?
If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism --Thomas Sowell

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2005, 16:44:34 »
That is specifically why I chose to write it that way.   Are the bad guys the terrorists who blow up women and children, or the defenders of freedom who make it possible for mindless thugs to strip search grannies in airports because they had sewing scissors?   Part of the problem is that there doesn't seem to be a sharp dividing line between the good and bad guys in many cases, or at least, our governments are not making such a line terribly easy to discern.   Sure, we're the brightest light in the world, but how much of that is because our society actively changes the bulb from time to time, and how much because some bulbs burn a long, long time even if you fill the room with gorillas?

Well, I guess if my goal was a Caliphate according to the Will of Allah and a spot in heaven, than I know which one to pick.   We just have to establish that the reason we fight for something is not necessarily because it is good or bad, but because it is ours.  Nothing wrong with admitting that we're tribal at heart and we'll compete with others.
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Pieman

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2005, 18:25:16 »
Quote
World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years 
Hmmm...The calm before the storm?
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2005, 18:32:23 »
Now you're getting it.  :)
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline geo

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2005, 19:01:37 »
To say that the world is safer now than it has been for the last 12 years just boggles the mind.... wow!!!
12-15 yrs ago, we had NATO VS Warsaw Pact. we each had plenty of bombs but there were enough checks and balances to keep em in their silos. All those beligerent countries were under the control of either the USSR or the US... all these little bush wars were limited and always under control.

You can't say that any more.

There are more nuts out there that have Nukes in their back pocket and just looking for an occasion to toss one or two. All those little countries that used to hide behind the skirt of either the USSR or the US are on their own and don't answer to anyone... even to the country that arms them.

Now.... who'se saying that the world is safer now?

Ya gotta be kidding....... really!
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Offline Glorified Ape

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2005, 19:55:56 »
Well, there is the argument that nuclear proliferation actually makes the world safer.
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Offline ArmyRick

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2005, 20:13:03 »
I wonder if Mr Shawn McCarthy thinks that the eye of a hurricane is equally peacefull?
M'eh

Offline Glorified Ape

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2005, 20:35:17 »
I wonder if Mr Shawn McCarthy thinks that the eye of a hurricane is equally peacefull?

I'd say hurricane analogies are probably pretty inaccurate in addressing this situation and sensationalistic given the current preponderance of hurricanes in the media.

Bureaucracy is hell.

Offline Gunnar

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2005, 11:07:38 »
I don't believe that good and bad are subjective terms, but people tend to be subjective about interpreting them because "good" and "bad" imply value-judgements.  The problem as I see it, is that right now, nobody knows the difference between good and bad, it's all one massive spate of grey.  People don't fight and die for moral relativism...they fight for what they believe is right.  The problem right now is that neither "side" is in the right...or even convincing...nobody gives a damn.

Anyway, I'm not going to argue the point of good and bad with someone who is being congratulated by a self-described moral relativist....suffice to say, you and I disagree...So here's to me. :cheers:

That was the point I was trying to make...that there are no wars (or limited conflicts) at present because nobody thinks they have anything in particular to gain.  A Wahabist can whine to the UN, and Canada will be supportive.  A US combat team can kill terrorists on the ground, and Iraqis will be supportive.  From each viewpoint of the here and now, they're winning the war, whatever war they choose to believe in.  You get REAL war when one side decides they're losing....and that takes a while for politicians to realize, as, being losers themselves, they're not good at recognizing it ('cuz if they did, they'd have to quit their jobs or kill themselves).
If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism --Thomas Sowell

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2005, 16:08:07 »
Anyway, I'm not going to argue the point of good and bad with someone who is being congratulated by a self-described moral relativist....suffice to say, you and I disagree...So here's to me. :cheers:

 ;D

I see my evil hand is in this one, sir gunnar.....
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2005, 19:47:31 »
>Now.... who'se saying that the world is safer now?

Me - because even if you can demonstrate actuarially that the world is more unstable and subject to many smaller messy conflicts, "the world" as an entity is safer because we aren't one mistake away from permitting the nuclear fleets of the US and USSR to achieve full realization of their respective purposes.
That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.

"It is a damned heavy blow; but whining don't help."

Despair is a sin.

Offline geo

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2005, 21:37:52 »
good point
.... but we are "messier" though
all these little wars littering the planet.
Chimo!

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2005, 03:51:53 »
Wars have always "littered" the planet - we just seem to pay more attention to them now that we don't worry about the Soviets and that we all have access to Cable News (if it bleeds, it leads).

Brad raises an interesting point:  Although the probability of thermonuclear war was low, the consequences were extremely high.  Now we have the obverse - there seems to be a relatively decent chance of seeing a terrorist attack, but the consequences (in absolute terms) are minimal.  Either way, we will be gainfully employed, but it does offer relief to have the Sword of Damocles removed from the dining room....
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Gunnar

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2005, 09:24:47 »
Quote
I see my evil hand is in this one, sir gunnar.....

Yeah well...while you're obviously intelligent and urbane, I don't always agree with you.  Bad guys are in black hats, and good guys are in white hats as far as I'm concerned...not really wanting to open that can of worms at present, dontchaknow...

If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism --Thomas Sowell

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

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Re: World most peaceful now than at anytime in 12 years
« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2005, 11:07:55 »
Bad guys are in black hats

Damn armoured corps.... ;)
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr