Thursday, June 02, 2005

The End of War?

Is war on the decline? You wouldn't think so by reading the daily papers. But in all actuality war in general has been on the decline since 1991. Gregg Easterbrook writes a facinating essay on the statistical analysis of the volume of war on this planet and reasons for the decline.

But why isn't this big news? Why isn't this being reported and hailed as progress? The answer to that has to do with atiwar people needing something to hate about our President. But also something that I have hit on before in this blog, consider this from the essay:
"By 2000, in spite of war in the Balkans and genocide in Rwanda, the number had fallen to 97; by 2002 to 81; and, at the end of 2004, it stood at 65. This suggests the extent and intensity of global combat is now less than half what it was 15 years ago.

How can war be in such decline when evening newscasts are filled with images of carnage? One reason fighting seems to be everywhere is that, with the ubiquity of 24-hour cable news and the Internet, we see many more images of conflict than before. As recently as two decades ago, the rebellion in Eritrea occurred with almost no world notice; the tirelessly globe-trotting Robert Kaplan wrote of meeting with Eritrean rebels who told him they hoped that at least spy satellites were trained on their region so that someone, somewhere, would know of their struggle. Today, fighting in Iraq, Sudan, and other places is elaborately reported on, with a wealth of visual details supplied by minicams and even camera-enabled cell phones. News organizations must prominently report fighting, of course. But the fact that we now see so many visuals of combat and conflict creates the impression that these problems are increasing: Actually, it is the reporting of the problems that is increasing, while the problems themselves are in decline. Television, especially, likes to emphasize war because pictures of fighting, soldiers, and military hardware are inherently more compelling to viewers than images of, say, water-purification projects. Reports of violence and destruction are rarely balanced with reports about the overwhelming majority of the Earth's population not being harmed. "
With the internet and the supersonic development of digital media we have more access to information than any time before on this planet.

And as the essay states you won't see a news reporter sent out to Iowa to report on how they haven't been attacked.
Anchorman: We go now to Jody in Iceland. Jody what have you got for us here.
Jody:It's surprisingly green out here and there has not been any siign of war. Back to you.

The Easterbook essay reminds us that despite all the images, stories, and video coming at us all the time, we need to keep everything in perspective when it comes to global conflict.