A Less Violent World
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
Created on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 14:21
The number of violent conflicts in the world has fallen dramatically in recent decades. Between 1990 and 2014 the total number of violent events fell by 40%. Although there are always cases of extreme violence, such as Syria, current conflicts have lower levels of violence, perhaps because modern wars tend to be small and regional, in addition to the fact that wars between the great powers have not occurred for more than 70 years . Meanwhile, terrorism is only a concern for those living within the area of violence. For an American the possibility of dying in a terrorist attack in their country is 1 in 45 million.
Even though right now there are brutal conflicts in the Middle East, Latin America and in many regions like Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and other Asian and African countries, political science researchers suggest that most of them are difficult to resolve. But their studies show that the average duration of these wars is 10 years and they can be moderated by the involvement of external states. However, these present-day conflicts cannot be compared with the cruelty of the World Wars or with the deaths caused during the Cold War. According to the Center for Systemic Peace, one should not forget that even though wars between nation states have disappeared, dropping from 40 wars in the eighties to zero today, civil wars and terrorist attacks are more common than two decades ago.
According to the Center for Systemic Peace, civil wars are the worst experience that a country could have. In developed countries they are particularly devastating because they destroy institutions and different ways of life, leading entire nations into total chaos. And it’s even worse when they are accompanied by rapid population growth fueled by the migration phenomenon. A clear example of this situation is the war in Syria, where there are 65 million people who have been displaced from their homes within the borders of their country and more than 21 million international refugees, which is the highest number in decades.
Terrorist attacks are also increasing and 2016 will set the all-time record for deaths from terrorism because right now they are approaching 2001 and 2007 levels. At the same time Western European countries have become the site of the fight against terrorism originating in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, India and Nigeria.
Moreover, many people believe that the world has become more unsafe, and actually it is, not because of the wars, but due to the ecological imbalance caused by the weather and earthquakes, in addition to the fact that the development of the world is getting more and more complex every day. Most economists suspect that the potential of artificial intelligence to grow to perform tasks that were previously exclusive to humans, will modify labor, commercial and industrial markets, giving rise to a world that is very different from the one that emerged after the war. According to a book written by Patrick Stewart of the Council on Foreign Relations, this situation is a rough mosaic of the reality created by the new formal and informal institutions in the world today.
Many political analysts argue that the confluence of these new phenomena has completely changed geopolitics, to the extent that some think a new anarchic global ideology could emerge. But one should not confuse the reality of a new complexity in geopolitics with the existence of an increased risk of violence in today’s society.
Because of the great slaughter that continues in the Middle East, the death rate worldwide rose from 0.3 per 100,000 persons in 2011 to 1.4 in 2014. However, it is much lower than the average that prevailed during the Cold War. According to a book by Rachel Klenfeld of the Carnegie Foundation, it is estimated that in some countries extreme violence has already been overcome in recent years and the world is heading towards a period of more lasting peace.
Unfortunately, communication media today are more powerful than ever and one hears about many isolated cases of barbarism, while there is little publicizing of actual events that are leading to a lasting peace. This situation causes us to exaggerate the real and present dangers and to forget the horrors of the past that were not documented by the media.
According to renowned psychologist Steven Pinker and the current president of Colombia, the world is experiencing a reality in which 5 out of 6 people live under regimes that are totally free from armed conflict. However much it may seem that the human individual is a prisoner of forces that are out of control, it can be stated with certainty that the current global society will bring about a much more decent and peaceful world than in the immediate past.
Addendum: As seen at the last meeting of the G-20 in China, all the countries in attendance, without exception, tried to hide their individual policies on military matters under issues relating to international terrorism, climate change and other issues having to do with the big earthquakes on the Eastern Pacific coast. It was also obvious that they were hiding the serious global monetary and financial crisis now gripping the world.
Perhaps this was due to the fact that they realized that for 70 years all problems were resolved without resorting to big wars or because current political leaders feel frightened by the apocalyptic events that ISIS has predicted for 2017.