The Progressive Policy Institute... an arm of the DLC .... is source of a number of factoids that I’ve presented here from time to time. Research that - while generally a bit “liberal” in its underlying goal sets - tends to be very pro- vigorous markets, trade and all sorts of other good things that conservatives ought to like. (see: http://www.ppionline.org/cobrand/newsletter_subscribe.cfm)
Here’s the PPI talking about something that I have long maintained, that the world has been getting safer... or it was. WHich simply puts the lie to doom-crying cynics of both right and left.
==The World Has Become More Peaceful==
Average annual deaths in wars, 1946-1990: 160,000
Average annual deaths in wars, 1991-2002: 90,000
What They Mean:
Despite the headlines and video, a visitor from earlier decades might find the 21st-century world surprisingly peaceful in this holiday season. The "Human Security Center" at the University of British Columbia, uses grants from five high-minded governments (Britain, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland) to survey the world at war. Its report, one of the first systematic attempts to compare the frequency and violence of warfare over the past two centuries, finds surprisingly good news.
* Wars are less frequent; the decade since 1990 has had the fewest international and civil wars since the 1830s.
* Great-power wars are especially rare. No European war has pitted great powers against one another since 1945; none seem conceivable today. While some East Asian flash-points are still live, the Pacific's great powers too have refrained from direct clashes since the Soviet-Chinese border battle in 1969.
Brin note: My generation was "scheduled" to die by the multi-millions in a conventional WWIII. Instead, "all" we had was Vietnam. Traumatic... and it makes one suspicious why someone would want to revisit that experience on America. But small potatoes by comparison. Do we owe it all to the MAD policy of Saint Bomb? Who woulda thunk that such an insane notion would have actually worked?
* Wars are less bloody. Precision weapons make infantry charges and tank battles outdated and reduce civilian casualties. In the 1950s and 1960s, 200,000 people a year were being killed in wars; since 1990 the total has averaged 90,000.
Count backward to illustrate how unusual this is. Between 1000 A.D. and 1945, the longest period of uninterrupted peace among great powers was the 51-year stretch between the battle of Waterloo in 1815 and the Austro-Prussian war of 1866. Europe's present peaceful stretch hit 60 last spring and shows no signs of strain. I would add that the Clintonian Balkans Intervention went a long way toward completing the job, ending war and blatant tyranny in Europe - even at the “mini” level of the Balkans - for the first time in 4,000 years.
East Asia's calm seems a bit shakier, but is still longer than any comparable period since the second half of the 18th century.
The report suggests several possible (and not mutually exclusive) reasons for this. Some are political; decolonization and the end of the Cold War mean there are fewer nationalistic or ideological reasons to fight, and the spread of democracy may produce less belligerent governments. Another is military -- today's great powers are not only less bellicose but much stronger than they were in the past, with armies, air forces, and navies strong enough to deter any potential aggressor. A third reason is a possible greater respect for international law. Economic issues too may be in play, with trade and cross-border investment strengthening mutual interests and reducing reasons for conflict. According to the report: "The most effective path to prosperity in modern economies is through increasing productivity and international trade, not through seizing land and raw materials. In addition, the existence of an open global trading regime means it is nearly always cheaper to buy res ources from overseas than to use force to acquire them."
The Human Security Report:
PPI's National Security Project:
An exhaustive list of international and civil wars between 1816 and 2002. (Examples: Brazil vs. Naval Royalists, 1894; the Two Sicilies vs. Liberals, 1820-21; Yemen Arab Republic vs. Yahya Family, 1948; Bulgaria vs. Agrarian League, 1923; Nomonhan, 193):
Finally, there’s this hopeful item. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/18/opinion/18sun2.html
Hopeful in part because Diebold seems to be unraveling before our eyes... but also because the source is the utter-sellout New York Times... maybe finding some guts at last.