Thursday, October 20, 2005

Reconsidering the Conventional Wisdom

It's always a good idea to challenge the conventional wisdom. And with all of the US military action in recent years, there has been a growing sense that the world is once again at war. And certainly, the US is on a quasi-war footing (largely in name-only, in my opinion). But is "American militarism" truly fueling global conflict? Well according to researchers, apparently not.

The first Human Security Report, written by academics led by Andrew Mack, of the University of British Columbia, cites popular notions that war is becoming more common and deadlier, that genocide is rising and that terrorism poses the greatest threat to humanity. "Not one of these claims is based on reliable data," it says. "All are suspect; some are demonstrably false. Yet they are widely believed because they reinforce popular assumptions." The authors say there are 40 per cent fewer armed conflicts than in the early 1990s. Between 1991 and last year 28 wars for self-determination began but 43 were ended or contained. In 1992, when the Yugoslav wars of secession began, there were 51 state-based conflicts around the world. The figure dropped to 32 in 2002 and 29 in 2003. The arms trade declined by a third from 1990 to 2003 and the number of refugees fell by 45 per cent between 1992 and 2003. In 1950 each conflict killed 38,000 people on average. By 2002 that had dropped to 600.

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