Is war really disappearing? A new analysis suggests not

Aug 29, 2013

While some researchers have claimed that war between nations is in decline, a new analysis suggests we shouldn't be too quick to celebrate a more peaceful world.

The study finds that there is no clear trend indicating that nations are less eager to wage , said Bear Braumoeller, author of the study and associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

Conflict does appear to be less common than it had been in the past, he said. But that's due more to an inability to fight than to an unwillingness to do so.

"As empires fragment, the world has split up into countries that are smaller, weaker and farther apart, so they are less able to fight each other," Braumoeller said.

"Once you control for their ability to fight each other, the proclivity to go to war hasn't really changed over the last two centuries."

Braumoeller presented his research Aug. 29 in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

Several researchers have claimed in recent years that war is in decline, most notably Steven Pinker in his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

As evidence, Pinker points to a decline in war deaths per capita. But Braumoeller said he believes that is a flawed measure.

"That accurately reflects the average citizen's risk from death in war, but countries' calculations in war are more complicated than that," he said.

Moreover, since population grows exponentially, it would be hard for war deaths to keep up with the booming number of people in the world.

Because we cannot predict whether wars will be quick and easy or long and drawn-out ("Remember 'Mission Accomplished?'" Braumoeller says) a better measure of how warlike we as humans are is to start with how often countries use force—such as missile strikes or armed border skirmishes—against other countries, he said.

"Any one of these uses of force could conceivably start a war, so their frequency is a good indication of how war prone we are at any particular time," he said.

Braumoeller used the Correlates of War Militarized Interstate Dispute database, which scholars from around the world study to measure uses of force up to and including war.

The data shows that the uses of force held more or less constant through World War I, but then increased steadily thereafter.

This trend is consistent with the growth in the number of countries over the course of the last two centuries.

But just looking at the number of conflicts per pair of countries is misleading, he said, because countries won't go to war if they aren't "politically relevant" to each other.

Military power and geography play a big role in relevance; it is unlikely that a small, weak country in South America would start a war with a small, weak country in Africa.

Once Braumoeller took into account both the number of countries and their political relevance to one another, the results showed essentially no change to the trend of the use of force over the last 200 years.

While researchers such as Pinker have suggested that countries are actually less inclined to fight than they once were, Braumoeller said these results suggest a different reason for the recent decline in war.

"With being smaller, weaker and more distant from each other, they certainly have less ability to fight. But we as humans shouldn't get credit for being more peaceful just because we're not as able fight as we once were," he said.

"There is no indication that we actually have less proclivity to wage war."

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kochevnik
1.4 / 5 (11) Aug 29, 2013
Only way to make war disappear is to disappear money-addict banksters

https://www.youtu...EBupAeo4

"The data shows that the uses of force held more or less constant through World War I, but then increased steadily thereafter." - WW1 and subsequent bankster wars and the zionist Russian Revolution began quickly after the inception of the Federal reserve in 1913
Bob_Wallace
2.5 / 5 (4) Aug 29, 2013
This sounds to me that the data didn't confirm his belief and he's spinning it.

""As empires fragment, the world has split up into countries that are smaller, weaker and farther apart, so they are less able to fight each other," Braumoeller said."

The big countries are still big. And still strong. If he's right wouldn't we expect France and the UK to go at it again?

Couldn't Spain and Italy work up a beef between themselves just to satisfy their internal needs to be non-peaceful? Heck, there's HSR across France to get troops moved for a few euros per ticket.

It's the little, weak guys who are warring. Both with their neighbors and internally.

Look to the global market, Bear. We've organized trade to the point at which we can't allow silly wars to get in the way of corporate profits.

TheGhostofOtto1923
2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 29, 2013
Only way to make war disappear is to disappear the virulent religions designed to outgrow and overrun their counterparts. Which is all of them.

"HuffPo Blog: Religion to Blame for Overpopulation, Environmental Ruin

"Where the studies he cited found "correlations" and "associations" between religion and birth rates, Speckhardt discovered causation: "religious emphasis on copious reproduction and common teachings against the use of contraception are having a direct impact on population growth" and "religious belief increases the number of children an average woman will have."
tribalypredisposed
1 / 5 (7) Aug 30, 2013
I think he is correct that our willingness to go to war is unchanged. His statistics are extremely suspect because Pinker shows a trend not just going back 200 years but going back well before then as well. Pinker is also, sadly, deeply confused. The drop in percentage of total population killed is primarily due to technology and cost dictating that fewer people engage in combat as a percentage of the population. A fighter jet or tank or nuclear submarine costs a lot and requires very few people for actual combat. Stone tipped arrows and axes were readily available to everyone. Once we reach the bronze age, it becomes increasingly expensive to become equipped for combat, and anyone who is not might as well stay home.
kochevnik
1.4 / 5 (10) Aug 30, 2013
Look to the global market, Bear. We've organized trade to the point at which we can't allow silly wars to get in the way of corporate profits.
You completely miss the point. Wars are the CAUSE of many corporate profits. There is no better return on investment for bankers than war. And usually not bad for the victor, either

Right now your government is colluding with Israel and the Saudis to smash Syria in exchange for control of the Middle East

Otto is correct that religion is used as a tool to further war. But there can't be large-scale war without money or something worth looting
Sinister1811
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 30, 2013
Is war disappearing? No, of course not. Just look at what's happening in Syria.
DruidDrudge
2 / 5 (12) Aug 30, 2013
If you look back thru history, violent confrontation was the norm.
there are periods in European history when every state was warring with its neighbour.
this authors opinion is certainly a lonely voice
Moebius
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 30, 2013
It's probably more like a geyser that hasn't erupted in a while. Pressure just builds up.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Aug 30, 2013
"As empires fragment, the world has split up into countries that are smaller, weaker and farther apart, so they are less able to fight each other," Braumoeller said.

While I get the smaller and weaker arguments I really can't follow the 'farther apart' argument. Nations (at least in the past - with the exception of colonial wars) usually fight with their neighbors. And the distance to your neighbors never changes.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 30, 2013
increasingly expensive to become equipped for combat
Look at the wars being waged righ now throughout the middle east. How much does an AKM or an RPG cost? 100k dead already in Syria, millions more as refugees. Even chemical weapons are cheap to make and deliver. Today's wars are cheap compared to past engagements.
No better return on investment than war
Your banksters only found another way of turning a profit on a natural phenomenon. Can you blame them? Without investment wars would happen anyway because the human propensity for exceeding the carrying capacity of the regions in which they live is endemic.

Joseph and pharoah exploited the the natural effects of economic cycles. They stored grain during the growth phase and sold it during the collapse phase. As a result they ended up owning all of Egypt.

The god of the Hebrews told them how this was going to work. Pretty obvious eh?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (9) Aug 30, 2013
But there can't be large-scale war without money or something worth looting
And without money there is still the looting which is often the whole point. Genghis khan had little startup capital but instead gathered men and material and expertise as he progressed westward, and this was sufficient to conquer the entire continent.

Alexander led a relatively small and ill-equipped force across the dardanelles and couldnt even pay his men until they had taken tarsus where all the satraps had conveniently stored their money.

Living off the land is a common strategy and also a very effective way of depopulating entire regions full of problematic inhabitants. Alexander stripped the entire euphrates valley on his way to babylon. And he reached gaugemela without sufficient provisions for his forces. But darius had conveniently left large stores in the nearby town which were of no use to his own forces because they were all conveniently killed in the battle.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (9) Aug 30, 2013
smash Syria in exchange for control of the Middle East
Syria has been busy smashing itself, as have all the participants in the arab spring. The enemy of the west is not any one country or regime but the emerging islamist empire.

The region was strategically divided by the brits and the french after the fall of the ottoman empire, to construct artificial countries composed of bits and pieces of all the regions' many nationalist entities. Kurdistan for instance exists as part of 3 or 4 different countries.

And they installed artificial regimes such as the shah and the baathists, themselves composed of tribal minorities, who would be tasked with playing these nationalist entities against one another in controlled and constructive fashion and safely confined within these artificial borders.

We are watching the culmination of this Grand Plan play itself out. The profits from a century of petrol use are funding one last spurt of creative destruction. To Prepare for what comes next.
DruidDrudge
1.6 / 5 (13) Aug 30, 2013
"The enemy of the west is not any one country or regime but the emerging islamist empire."
emerging?? really!!
3 billion follow islam
2 billion christians.
which is emerging? who is the enemy of the west? thought it was that fringe crack pot group.
you know, the tea party
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 30, 2013
who is the enemy of the west?
"In the group's belief, the Quran and Sunnah constitute a perfect way of life and social and political organization that God has set out for man. Islamic governments must be based on this system and eventually unified in a Caliphate. The Muslim Brotherhood's goal, as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam's manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia"

"The leader of the jihadist Syrian rebel group Jabhat Al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) has declared that his group is in favor of establishing an Islamic caliphate in civil war torn Syria."

"Al Qaeda's ultimate goal is the re-establishment of the caliphate, with calamitous consequences for the United States. As Mr. Cheney put it in Lake Elmo, referring to Osama bin Laden and his followers: "They talk about wanting to re-establish what you could refer to as the seventh-century caliphate" to be "governed by Sharia law."

-A clear and present danger.
DruidDrudge
1.7 / 5 (12) Aug 30, 2013
I think anyone who would cozy up to Dick Cheney would be the enemy of all mankind.
Rehab might be an option for you.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (7) Aug 31, 2013
I think anyone who would cozy up to Dick Cheney would be the enemy of all mankind.
Rehab might be an option for you.
Uh huh. So you're saying that because you don't like dick then you're willing to discount anything he has to say?

Perhaps if you took the time to familiarize yourself with all the many good things that dick has done for the world you would have a different opinion.

Sure, dick has been the direct cause of many wars in recent memory, but he has also brought many disparate parties together with the intent of resolving mutual problems and easing tensions. These are good things yes?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (8) Aug 31, 2013
Dick has proven to be as much an instrument of peace as of war. I think that if dick was the principal mediator in the israeli/Palestinian situation then both parties would find grounds for peace and cohabitation much more quickly. Because that's what dick has done, and that is... Aw I can't go on.
Q-Star
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 31, 2013
Good grief. I'm sorry, I'll accept the down votes proudly.

Is war really disappearing?


I'm sure they put a lot work into their study. But it would have been more intriguing if the person who suggested war WAS disappearing presented their study.

This is why I know Feynman was right. "The only thing scientific about the social sciences is the borrowed jargon. It's founded on the principle all answers to a particular question can be viewed as equally correct if you ask the question in the right way. That's not science, that is no more than trying to determine what is best way to approach each new day."
PoppaJ
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 31, 2013
UHHHH war on the decline? GO stick your head back in the sand. You can't peddle those ice-scrappers in this desert.
Moebius
1.6 / 5 (7) Sep 02, 2013
We need a new analysis to tell us the planet is in a constant state of war?