December 24, 2009


The End of the Age of War World May be Entering a New Age of Peace (John Horgan, 12/07/09, NEWSWEEK)

Recent studies reveal a clear downward trend. In 2008, 25,600 combatants and civilians were killed as a direct result of armed conflicts, according to the University of Uppsala Conflict Data Program in Sweden. Two thirds of these deaths took place in just three trouble spots: Sri Lanka (8,400), Afghanistan (4,600), and Iraq (4,000).

Uppsala's figures exclude deaths from "one-sided conflict," in which combatants deliberately kill unarmed civilians, and "indirect" deaths from war-related disease and famine, but even when these casualties are included, annual war-related deaths from 2004 to 2007 are still low by historical standards. Acts of terrorism, like the 9/11 attacks or the 2004 bombing of Spanish trains, account for less than 1 percent of fatalities. In contrast, car accidents kill more than 1 million people a year.

The contrast between our century and the previous one is striking. In the second half of the 20th century, war killed as many as 40 million people, both directly and indirectly, or 800,000 people a year, according to Milton Leitenberg of the University of Maryland. He estimates that 190 million people, or 3.8 million a year, died as a result of wars and state--sponsored genocides during the cataclysmic first half of the century. Considered as a percentage of population, the body count of the 20th century is comparable to that of blood-soaked earlier cultures, such as the Aztecs, the Romans, and the Greeks.

By far the most warlike societies are those that preceded civilization. War killed as many as 25 percent of all pre-state people, a rate 10 times higher than that of the 20th century, estimates anthropologist Lawrence Keeley of the University of Illinois.

New? This all began when Ronald Reagan ended History in the 80s. The war against the last ism (Islamicism) is a pretty minor coda.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 24, 2009 1:34 PM
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