Sunday, July 20, 2008

Globalization=Less War?

Concentration of Wealth Year-1-2015
Roman Battles

Drawn and Quartered

Nazi Holocaust


USS Mercy on Mission of Hope

School children in Africa

Thomas Barnett's column this week, Globalizations means fewer wars, less death refers to a study by The "Human Security Brief 2007," compiled by Canada's Simon Fraser University. Barnett sees a direct link between this decline and global interdependence that comes with a growing worldwide middle class and the connectivity of trade and culture. Read it at, Scripps Howard.

This theme is something that Tom Barnett has written about for some time,Violence is decreasing per capita and is reinforced by the observations by Harvard psychologist, Steven Pinker. His TED presentation History of Violence TED Video examines the changes in human behavior that are supported by emperical historical evidence. Pinker begins by looking at history.

In sixteenth-century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted in a sling on a stage and slowly lowered into a fire. According to historian Norman Davies, "The spectators, including kings and queens, shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized." Today, such sadism would be unthinkable in most of the world. This change in sensibilities is just one example of perhaps the most important and most underappreciated trend in the human saga: Violence has been in decline over long stretches of history, and today we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species' time on earth.

A bi-product of globalization is the instant media that brings conflict into everyone's private world, almost as soon as it happens. This reality serves two purposes, first it makes conflict personal, so that the perpetrators are exposed, and in the case of a nation-state, held to a much higher standard, much like we hold our local police. And non-state purps, are able to feign innocence and manipulate the media to gain sympathy for their cause. The global community reacts to authority figures the same everywhere, and is drawn to error on the side of the underdog, until the underdog is exposed for their treachery.

The second purpose is to make us all feel the need to control violence and become involved in solving the problems that confront the world. The positive effect of this is world wide pressure brought against China after Tibet, and the United States for the debacle in the aftermath of Gulf War II. Unfortunatly, it also has its counterproductive side as exampled by recent events off the coast of Africa like the piracy issues off the Horn of Africa detailed by Information Dissemination, and noted in these comments.
With all of the piracy that targets ships from the Middle East to Europe, one would think this would be something the European Navies would take upon themselves and do, at a minimum to use it as an opportunity to develop better intelligence on pirate activity. Not so, did you look at our latest Order of Battle?

Each cycle of history has drawn us all closer together as a global community. Intermittent cycles of war have led to a stronger global network of connectivity and interdependence. Much is speculated about the decline of the West and the rise of the East. Will China's Economy Overtake That of The U.S. By 2035? But, Tom Barnett admonishes us to look beyond the present and understand:
Two essential take-aways: 1) we do not live in a more dangerous world and globalization's stunning spread both reflects and feeds that happy reality; and 2) the wars we'll need to manage to protect globalization's advance are getting smaller with time.
So be unafraid -- be very unafraid!
There is little evidence to fall back on when determining whether this latest surge in coming together as a global community will last. Historian Niall Ferguson takes a pessimistic view by looking back at the twentieth century and seeing that the last great surge in globalization led to the War Of The World and the bloodiest half century in recorded history. His book an excellent read, stimulates thought on the origins of this bloody past century and poses the question that it could happen again.

We can also look back to two other times when like it or not, epochs of continuity led to introducing frameworks that improved the living conditions for an ever larger portion of humanity.

The British Empire came and went, leaving the legacy of western democracy in former colonies.

The Roman Empire for all it's excesses, left a legacy of a framework that was followed two millenniums later in the crafting of representative governments.

Two less that stellar examples, but examples none the less of keeping the best ideas, while discarding the chaff. This medium is not designed to introduce vast arguments on the merits of global hegemony. It serves as a tableau to encourage critical thinking and self research in the greatest library since the Library of Alexandria, the Internet.

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