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The World Getting Safer?

by ask Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 09:12:01 AM EST

From the front page ~ whataboutbob

Cross-posted at Booman Tribune.

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. Follow below:

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.

in order to make America safe, and let it become a Beacon of Freedom and Democracy by example, not by war of choice which fuels anger for generations to come!

  ««  click on pic for story

ACT in 2006!

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."


'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 04:53:34 PM EST
Hi Oui,
Thanks for the 'Nixon Novices' link.
No doubt, the 'cabal' has been instrumental in creating an atmosphere of fear (atmosfear?) which is the fuel that has driven us on this crazy ride.  However, I actually believe the tank is about to run out..

As I commented over at BT:
"At times, I tend to read to fast.  While quoted above in the entry, this sentence did not quite register with me at the first read:

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.

Yet, the War On Terror is the centrepiece of US foreign policy (hell, even domestic policy).  It's incredible how Bushco has been able to scare a majority of the population into submission.
Now, go read Booman's masterpiece from yesterday On Courage."

by ask on Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 06:12:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lawrence J. Korb: It's Time to Bench 'Team B' (American Progress, August 18, 2004)
On May 6, 1976, then Director of Central Intelligence George H.W. Bush created a Team B to assess a 1975 National Intelligence Estimate by his agency on Soviet Strategic Objectives. Because the NIE did not endorse a worst-case scenario of Soviet capabilities, outsiders demanded access to the same classified intelligence used by the CIA in preparing the report so they could come to their own conclusions. The concept of a Team B competitive analysis had been opposed by William Colby, a career professional and Bush's predecessor as CIA director. But Bush, under pressure from President Ford, who was facing a strong challenge from right-wing Republicans in that year's primary, and Rumsfeld's Pentagon, which was trying to undermine support for Kissinger's détente with the Soviet Union, caved in.

The outside experts on Team B were led by Harvard Professor Richard Pipes and included such well-known hawks as Paul Nitze, William Van Cleave, and Paul Wolfowitz. Not surprisingly, Team B concluded that the intelligence specialists had badly underestimated the threat because they relied too heavily on hard data, instead of extrapolating the Soviets' intentions from ideology. According to some Team B members, "the principal threat to our nation, to world peace, and to the cause of human freedom was the Soviet drive for dominance based upon an unparalleled military buildup."

The failure of Team B in 1976 did not deter the hardliners from challenging the CIA's judgments for the next three decades. During the period from 1982 through 1992, many of the Team B members were in government as members of the Reagan and the first Bush administrations. In 1981, after the publication of Clare Sterling's The Terror Network, which had argued that global terrorists were actually pawns of the Soviets, leading hardliners asked the CIA to draft an NIE on the relationship between Soviets and terrorist organizations. The NIE concluded that although there was evidence that the Soviets had assisted groups such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization with weapons and training, all of the evidence indicated that the Soviets did not encourage or approve of these groups' terrorist acts. However, hardliners like Secretary of State Alexander Haig, CIA Chief William Casey and Policy Planning Director Paul Wolfowitz rejected the draft as a naïve exculpatory brief and had the draft retooled to assert that the Soviets were heavily involved in supporting "revolutionary violence worldwide."
In the first Bush administration, the CIA claimed that Soviet spending on weapons started declining in 1988 and that the number of Soviet strategic launchers was staying the same or declining. Then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney argued publicly that the Soviet Union's efforts to modernize its strategic nuclear weapons were "robust and continuous." Moreover, Cheney asserted that there was "absolutely no evidence" that Gorbachev's ascension had altered Soviet strategic planning.

During the Clinton years, the Team B hardliners found themselves out of power. But when the Republicans took control of the Congress in 1995, the legislative branch became the favored vehicle for second-guessing the CIA. When an NIE in the mid-1990s concluded that it would be at least 15 years before a rogue nation could threaten the U.S. with an intercontinental ballistic missile, it undercut the hardliners' case for deploying a national missile defense system. House Speaker Newt Gingrich did not like this assessment, so the Republicans demanded Congress set up a commission headed by Donald Rumsfeld to assess the threat. As Washington Times reporter Rowan Scarborough noted, the "nine-member commission was tilted in Rumsfeld's favor." Not surprisingly, it concluded that once again the intelligence community was wrong. In its view, "the threat to the U.S. posed by these emerging capabilities is broader, more mature, and evolving more rapidly than has been reported in estimates and reports by the intelligence community."

The other concern of the hardliners was China. Here again they did not like what the agency was telling them, so they established a commission headed by Congressman Chris Cox (R-CA) to look at China's military spending. Not surprisingly, in 1999 the Cox Commission, in a largely speculative report, declared that Chinese military spending was in fact twice what the CIA estimated.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 06:47:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Correction: "Terrorists have only killed a fraction of those who die in wars." One atomic bomb in a populated city could easily reverse this.
by asdf on Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 11:29:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the more reason to take non-proliferation seriously;
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - After a month of bickering, the 188 signatories to the global pact against atomic weapons failed on Friday to agree on new steps to combat the danger of a nuclear holocaust and many blamed the United States and Iran.
In a clear swipe at Washington, which angered developing countries by refusing to reaffirm previous pledges to scrap its own nuclear arsenal, Canada's chief delegate blasted countries that tossed aside earlier commitments.

(Note: Above link from May.)
But it looks like the peddlers of fear are pleased with the heightened potential for proliferation.  Keeps the sheeple in the fold.  Why is it us in the big metro areas (such as NYC) that have the least fear?  As suggested above - see Booman's story from yesterday; On Courage.
by ask on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 12:14:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering the Bush administration's public pronouncements on "all options being on the table" regarding Iran (and their refusal to rule out nuclear strikes when specifically asked about it), their advocacy of "usable nukes", and the historical record of the use of nukes on civilian populations, I'd say the US is likely to beat the terrorists in this race.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 04:40:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How ironic that they even use the term centrepiece of American Foreign Policy. I thought their Policy was to rule the world and antagonise all other countrys on the planet. (snark)

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within." Cicero
by Grandma M on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 09:45:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The world is slowly getting safer for brown people, but what about white people? And even more to the point, what about the perception of their security by these white people?

That's where the "war" is today - for the fear gland of the white person.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 06:55:42 PM EST
The Toronto Star has picked up on this story today.  Here's a sweet quote:
The impact in the U.S. has been considerably greater.

"We will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory," said President George W. Bush in a speech last month, and he will doubtless continue to tough it out, because admitting that invading Iraq was a ghastly mistake would have huge political consequences for him and his party.

However, American public opinion, long insulated from the reality of failure in Iraq by uncritical media coverage of the war, began to lose faith in the administration when confronted with its arrogant and incompetent response to the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in September.

by ask on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 02:37:47 PM EST

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