Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Du want to argue that

a) there was no war between 1815-1914 in the middle east)near east  or

b) that there was no war in the balkans?

And in the 19th century we are talking about genuine pan-balkan conflicts, not just a jugoslavian civil war.

You seem to be fighting a straw-man; as far as I understand the theory is less war in  the post 1945 world, not no war.

by IM on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 03:05:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly.  Only a few, and with only one of them -- Korea, involving two or more great powers on the field against each other.  Compare that to the Westphalia record pre-WWII.  That is what argues that Pax Americana isn't just the lull, but that America is an actual governing agent that is preventing major wars from occurring simply because it is so much more powerful than anyone else that it is never forced to go to war or stay in a war it doesn't desire.

Which is to say, that people fighting and dying when "great powers face each other in battle" count, and people do not count if they were fighting and dying in wars of colonization and occupation, wars of independence, civil wars, wars between regional powers and wars with only one great power involved.

In the theory in question, they all count. The Iran-Iraq War, the Arab-Israeli War, the Yom Kippur War, the Second Indochina War between North Vietnam and its allies and South Vietnam and its allies and occupiers, the Third Indochina War between Vietnam and Cambodia, the Iraq-Kuwait War, the US Invasion of Iraq ... they all count.

Its not as if the Franco-Prussian war was bigger in scale than several of the wars under Pax Americana ~ its that it happened in Europe between Europeans and therefore looms larger from a European perspective, while Pax Americana prefers to have its millions dying in wars in the periphery.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:00:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, they all count, but to find evidence in support of or against the theory, you have to adjust the data set to similar scale comparisons.  The focus on Europe is not because we're Euro-centric here, it's because Europe provides a good laboratory for the theory that empires produce more peace within their realms even if there are other negative things about them.  Europe before WWII was a balkanized region with multiple powers of comparable strength.  After WWII, it was dominated by either the US or Russia and wars have been much less where such dominance has been strongest than during the balkanized, pre-WWII period.  The one part of the pre-WWII period where European wars were least happens also to be the time when Britain temporarily enjoyed a supreme naval advantage, which argues also for the benefits of a dominant power in reducing state violence.

US dominance is stronger in Europe than elsewhere, especially at the end of WWII when Korea occurred, so we should expect less war in Europe than where America is less dominant, but being less dominant in other parts of the world in no way means that America is not, as I am arguing here, the de facto world government.  It just means we live in a probabilistic world, not a deterministic one.

However, research does show that even taking into account the wars outside of Europe, violence is simply less today than before.  So it seems like it may be true that even taking into account the millions killed in the US-promoted wars, post-WWII, still amounts to less than what had happened in the world before global governance was attempted or even possible.  Governance matters is what I'm arguing here.

by santiago on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 01:40:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However, research does show that even taking into account the wars outside of Europe, violence is simply less today than before.

I don't find it in the source.

Edge: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE By Steven Pinker

The criminologist Manuel Eisner has assembled hundreds of homicide estimates from Western European localities that kept records at some point between 1200 and the mid-1990s. In every country he analyzed, murder rates declined steeply--for example, from 24 homicides per 100,000 Englishmen in the fourteenth century to 0.6 per 100,000 by the early 1960s.

Edge: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE By Steven Pinker

According to the Human Security Brief 2006, the number of battle deaths in interstate wars has declined from more than 65,000 per year in the 1950s to less than 2,000 per year in this decade.

I says nothing of violence outside of homicides in Western states and causulties in interstate wars.

Then there is this:

Edge: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE By Steven Pinker

Meanwhile, according to political scientist Barbara Harff, between 1989 and 2005 the number of campaigns of mass killing of civilians decreased by 90 percent.

Which says nothing about the numbers killed, only the numbers of campaigns.

Or to put it another way, he says that general violence has decreased but his quoting is very limited and appears selective. The discussion that spawned this diary featured Pinkers ideas, so I had some reason to look into the An Lushan rebellion.

An Lushan Rebellion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Death toll

There is no doubt that the rebellion resulted in a major death toll. The devastation of the population was not only a direct result of the combat casualties and civilian deaths as a direct result of warfare, but due to the widespread dislocations of the social and economic system, especially in the north and middle areas of China, mass starvation and disease also resulted in death by the millions. Another factor may have been the decreased territory of the subsequent Tang empire.

However, the number of casualties is difficult to estimate. The 754 census recorded a population of 52,880,488, while the 764 census found only about 16.9 million, a reduction of about two-thirds.[13] The numbers recorded on the post-war registers reflect not only population loss, but also a breakdown of the census system, as well as the removal from the census figures of various classes of untaxed persons, such of those in religious orders, foreigners, and merchants.[14] Another consideration is that due to the fact that territory controlled by Tang central authority was diminished by the equivalent of several of the northern provinces, something like a quarter of the remaining population no longer remained within the imperial revenue system.[15] Historians such as Charles Patrick Fitzgerald further argue that a claim of 36 million deaths is incompatible with contemporary accounts of the war.[16] However this figure has been popularised by Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature, where it is presented as proportionally the largest atrocity in history, though with a caution that "These figures, of course, can not all be taken at face value."

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 04:42:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a better source: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/08/15/think_again_war?page=full.

The book by Joshua Goldstein makes the case specifically about war, noting, for example, that there are no interstate wars today anywhere in the world.  This seems like clear evidence to me that governance matters and global governance, at the present time being exercised, however flawed, by the United States or imperialists within the United States, is actually working to reduce conflict and reduce the risks of establishing transnational relationships, all of which allows globalization to occur. The fact that civil wars still continue is evidence if favor of my theory here because we would expect and world government to have most of its influence on interstate relations, not nominally sovereign affairs within a given country.

by santiago on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 11:24:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that the claim of a decrease in war deaths is still being vigorously debated, I wouldn't want to draw any firm conclusions from that particular source.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 11:51:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it being vigorously debated?

Regardless, however, the fact remains that there is only one interstate war going on right now (am I missing any?), anywhere in the world -- NATO's occupation of Afghanistan. This is a pretty remarkable fact in world of nearly 200 countries and closing in on 7 billion people, and I suggest that better global governance is a key factor.

by santiago on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 11:58:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The former Sudan civil war just flared up again as an interstate conflict, following the independence of the South.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 12:11:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you're right.
by santiago on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 12:18:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia: List of ongoing military conflicts.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 12:41:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought the number for todays homicides was a bit low, in my recollection it should be in low single digits. (Btw, that homicides has decreased with about a factor ten I think should be a problem for Richardsons assertion that individual murders are on a continuos scale with wars.)

So I checked what Eisner actually has written (pdf):

In a sense, therefore, homicide rates around 1950 may serve as a benchmark for the lowest level of interpersonal lethal violence as yet attained in any known Western society. It stands at about 0.4-0.6 deaths per year per 100,000 inhabitants. Second, the data demonstrate a rapid convergence of homicide rates between the late nineteenth century and the 1960s. By then, cross-national differences within western Europe had become inconsequential and have remained small since. Third, the data from 1950 until the early 1990s point to an upsurge of homicide rates throughout most of Europe accompanied by a much sharper rise in recorded levels of assault and robbery.

These increases occurred despite advances in medical technology throughout the twentieth century, which are likely significantly to have dampened this latest increase. The main trend over the past 150 years, therefore, corresponds to the U-shaped pattern identified earlier by Gurr and his collaborators (Gurr, Grabosky, and Hula 1977).

On one hand it looks like Pinker is picking his examples to fit the theory, on the other, this paper is really interesting. So I'll continue reading that instead of caring about Pinker.

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by A swedish kind of death on Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 01:59:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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