Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Is the World a safer place?

A bit of international relations and foreign policy this time (a slight digression from economics).

Consider the following recent events:

A passenger flight gets shot down by a surface-to-air missile in the middle of Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists amid growing concern and discontent over the country's future. The global superpowers have been flexing their muscles over Ukraine far too long without any positive solution near the horizon. The EU and US are blaming and sanctioning Putin, with further frictions bound to happen.

Israel is issuing a full-blown attack on Gaza aimed at destroying the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, with again hundreds of civilians being killed in rampant bombings. Israel seeks to destroy underground Gaza tunnels, frequently used by Hamas for terrorist attacks. Almost 90% of Israelis support the attacks.

The situation in Syria is still far from being resolved, Iraq and Afghanistan are in shambles for the past 10 years, Iran's nuclear program is a new boiling point of international diplomacy, Egypt is still in post-revolution mode, while the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa is, as always, in either economic or political chaos.

The Western nations aren't immune to violence either; reports have been on increased crime due to the negative consequences of the crisis, in addition to a multitude of protests and anger among the population fed up by a woeful response of their political elites to the crisis. 

However, despite these stories the broader evidence on wars, crime and violence seems to suggest otherwise. The data comes from the Human Progress website (HT: Cato)




The death rates from wars have gone down significantly, as have those from genocides. The rape and homicide rate in the US have dropped significantly since the early 90-ies (the data is similar to some European countries as well). However on the final graph, even though terrorist attacks seemed to have dropped, there is a slight spike by the end of the series (this includes only terrorist attacks in non-war areas). Overall by exploring additional data on e.g. child abuse, conflicts, assault and even gay rights, violence does seem to be declining. 

So to answer the question from the title: "is the World a safer place?" - as always: that depends. Compared to 30-40 years ago, I would say definitely. This is however highly related to increasing personal wealth of the population and the benefits of globalization. The culture of consumerism creating the perception of abundance is a powerful weapon against violence. On a wider level, international trade is arguably a very useful mechanism to prevent inter-country conflicts. Whenever the economic motive prevails, wars are the worst preferred outcome. 

However is the World actually safe, I would say not really. It's certainly safer than before (at least in the West), but this doesn't imply we're at our best behavior quite yet. As the opening paragraphs of this post remind us there are always frictions, wars, violence and killings. Using economic motives such as trade helps curb these conflicts, but there's still a long way of using such incentives effectively. Actually, the sanctions imposed on Russia will be an interesting case study of this mechanism (unless they can hold it out until the winter, that is). 

1 comment:

  1. CONCLUSION :- " Downward trend in world economy is likely to be in mild form during
    November, 2014 to April, 2015, to grow somewhat intense during May, 2015
    to October, 2015, becomes harsh during November, 2015 to July, 2016.
    Such areas of life as minerals and metals, foodcrops, energy resources , defence and security of nations are likely to bear the brunt of these trends.
    Collective wisdom in decision making, communication systems, aviation industry, and the cinema , music and TV industries are also , in addition, likely to be touched by these trends.
    Countries or regions whose names begin with the letters B , E , EU, N, O, P, U or V may need to implement multilevel approach to challenges during this period".

    This is the substance or salient feature of my article - " Stressful times ahead for world economy in 2015 and 2016"- published online on June 2, this year at Astrologyweekly.com

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