We are rapidly approaching the end of the year. What a year it has been! Many of us are in the market for new outrage-gauges, the old one worn out by the constant stream of scandal coming from the crime syndicate that passes itself off as the administration of this country. We worry about an illegal war, the disregard for our fellow residents in NOLA, the attack on the environment and the cutting of social programs for the weakest while the super-rich get another round of tax cuts.
Are you worn out yet?
I just came across this article in WaPo. A little glimmer of light in between so many dark pieces of unsavory news.
Seen through the eyes of the media, the world appears an evermore dangerous place. Iraq is sliding toward civil war, the slaughter in Darfur appears unending, violent insurgencies are brewing in Thailand and a dozen other countries, and terrorism strikes again in Bali. It is not surprising that most people believe global violence is increasing.
Does it sound familiar? It did to me.
However, the Human Security Report (HSR) has come to a very different conclusion.
The Human Security Report, an independent study funded by five countries [the five countries are Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.]
and published by Oxford University Press, draws on a wide range of little publicized scholarly data, plus specially commissioned research to present a portrait of global security that is sharply at odds with conventional wisdom. The report reveals that after five decades of inexorable increase, the number of armed conflicts started to fall worldwide in the early 1990s. The decline has continued.
By 2003, there were 40 percent fewer conflicts than in 1992. The deadliest conflicts — those with 1,000 or more battle-deaths — fell by some 80 percent. The number of genocides and other mass slaughters of civilians also dropped by 80 percent, while core human rights abuses have declined in five out of six regions of the developing world since the mid-1990s. International terrorism is the only type of political violence that has increased. Although the death toll has jumped sharply over the past three years, terrorists kill only a fraction of the number who die in wars.
What accounts for the extraordinary and counterintuitive improvement in global security over the past dozen years? The end of the Cold War, which had driven at least a third of all conflicts since World War II, appears to have been the single most critical factor.
There have been some horrific and much publicized failures, of course — the failures to stop genocide in Rwanda, Srebrenica and Darfur being the most egregious. But the quiet successes — in Namibia, El Salvador, Mozambique, Eastern Slovenia, East Timor and elsewhere went largely unheralded, as did the fact that the United Nations’ expertise in handling difficult missions has grown dramatically.
So, to borrow from Carnacki, that’s my happy story for today. What makes it even happier is this conclusion from the editors of the HSR:
..the Report argues that the single most compelling explanation for these changes is found in the unprecedented upsurge of international activism, spearheaded by the UN, which took place in the wake of the Cold War.
Imagine that. ..upsurge of international activism, spearheaded by the UN, which took place in the wake of the Cold War. Not cowboy-mentality. It was international cooperation that did it!
On that happy note, a big FY to Bush and Bolton.
To all the rest of you my wishes for a peaceful and liberal New Year.