Report documents progress in attaining peace on Earth
Terrorism and military deaths in Iraq keep war prominent in Americans' minds these days. But the fact is that the world is becoming more peaceful, according to the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
The center gives the credit to the end of colonialism and the Cold War, as well as the increase in peacekeeping and preventive diplomacy by organizations such as the United Nations.
Wars are less deadly, says the center's report, as described by Scripps Howard News Service. In 1972 war deaths worldwide totaled more than 340,000; in 2002 (before the U.S. invaded Iraq), the number was less than 20,000. More than 50 armed conflicts were under way in 1992; in 2003, about 30.
And dramatically more nations are under the control of their own people. In 1984 about 90 countries were run by strongmen or authoritarian regimes, and about 42 were considered democracies. In 2002, there were at least 85 democracies and only 30 autocracies.
As you would expect, terrorism is growing. Worldwide, 2004 had 651 significant terrorist attacks, up from only 17 in 1987. But deaths from these attacks averaged fewer than 1,000 per year across 30 years. Regular wars would have killed tens of thousands.
The numbers suggest that our leaders would be wise to rely even more on talking to enemies and cajoling them rather than attacking them. Diplomacy is less dramatic than war and takes more time and patience, but it works. And it saves lives.