Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having profound negative implications for not only Ukrainians but also the populations of every European country, and Russia itself.
This post explores some of the sociological concepts we might use to better understand the war and its consequences….
Students need to be able to apply contemporary events to their answers in their exams where ever possible, and this event is the most recent and ‘highest consequence’ event since the Pandemic, so it’s worth thinking about how you can make it relevant.
This conflict is immediately relevant to the War and Conflict topic. It reminds us that conflicts do not only happen in the developing world and it’s also a grim reminder of the extreme social and economic consequences of war.
The war has disrupted the majority of Ukraine’s businesses meaning it’s economic output is well down, including its wheat production – which has implications for the cost of basic food stuffs in other countries as wheat is one of Ukraine’s major exports.
Also the damage done to infrastructure in Ukraine is going to mean billions of pounds of rebuilding after the war is over, hopefully sooner rather than later!
Crime and Deviance
Under United Nations conventions Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is illegal – one country isn’t supposed to invade another member country of the UN without the agreement of all the other nations, and Russia doesn’t have this consent in this case.
From a ‘human rights perspective’ this invasion is also a disaster – Russia is shelling civilian areas and killing children, and allegedly forcibly deporting prisoners of war back to Russia.
However the international community has been powerless to prevent this invasion, showing us that those Nation States with huge military power still have the capacity to do what they want.
European nations are generally in consensus about the immorality and illegality of the war, but that’s nominal (in name only) – but they aren’t prepared to go to war with Russia preferring ‘softer’ sanctions such as stopping buying Russian oil, but so far that is having limited affect.
The issue migration is relevant here. Consider the contrast between how the UK welcomed wealthy Russian Oligarchs since the collapse of the Soviet Union, without really asking any questions about how they accumulated their wealth or what links they may have had to an increasingly repressive regime under Putin. In sociological terms these are the ‘global elite’ – countries tend to try to attract these types of immigrant by offering favourable tax policies and turning a blind eye to any shady business and political connections they may have.
Contrast this to the difficulties so many Ukrainian refugees have faced trying to get into Britain despite the fact that there are people who have signed up to let them live in their houses. The Home Office seems to be deliberately delaying the issuing of visas – this is typical, countries tend not to welcome the poor and needy.
If you want an alternative point of view on the Taliban’s take over of Afghanistan, you should try following @janeygak on twitter.
She is pro-Taliban, anti-American, anti-liberal, and very active on twitter – constantly putting out tweets and re-tweets, such as this, stating that she doesn’t care about inclusivity or diversity in the Taliban government…..
And this is her take on capital punishment, she supports it…
NB – the account is semi-anonymous, I’m going with this article from CNN as confirmation that this is a woman rather than a man.
Either way, whatever the gender, it’s a great source to see the perspective of the other – most definitely NOT the mainstream American liberal view of what’s happening in Afghanistan at the moment.
NB – I don’t endorse any of her views, or those she retweets, this is strictly in the interests of giving some exposure to, a voice to someone actually inside Afghanistan, and it should help bust a few myths about how the ‘oppression of women’ works in Afghanistan.
This particular woman certainly isn’t oppressed.
NB – she’s also a bit fan of Bitcoin, in fact she provides a link to her Bitcoin wallet in her profile, and the reason she supports this cryptocurrency is because it’s a means whereby countries such as Afghanistan can break their dependence on US Aid and the US dollar more generally.
While immediate violent death or injury in battle are two of the more obvious direct consequences of war and conflict, there are many other direct immediate and indirect, longer term negative consequences that can drastically add to people’s misery and retard any kind of positive development happing in a country for several years after a conflict ends.
The direct effects of conflict include:
Indirect, longer term effects of conflict
Death and injury psychological traumadisplacement.
The destruction of physical infrastructure (unsafe living conditions) The destruction to work/ economic infrastructure/ employment opportunities The disruption of schooling and health care servicesThe disruption to family lifeLonger term physical health and mental health problems Environmental decline
NB – the distinction between direct/ indirect or immediate/ long term isn’t a hard and fast one, they can easily merge together, especially when a conflict drags on for several years – and the breakdown of social infrastructure (usually categorised as a long term, indirect consequence of war) kind of becomes more immediate and direct!)
The distinction is really just an analytical tool, the important thing it highlights is that immediate violent death and injury are usually just the start of the negative consequences of warfare – the consequences are much longer term!
The Immediate effects of War and Conflict
There have been over 10 Million Conflict Deaths in the last 30 years
There have been 15 conflicts since the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 with death tolls of more than 25 000 people, of which 9 are currently ongoing (in March 2021). The total number of deaths in these conflicts stands at just over 10 million people (upper estimate), but this doesn’t include the people dying in the many smaller conflicts which have taken place in the last 30 years in which fewer than 25 000 people died.
I picked the Rwandan Genocide as a starting point because it is very well-known and relevant to Crime and Deviance as an example of a state crime. It also stands out as one of the few examples of a country that has gone on to see a reasonable level of development since the conflict. (Also, going back 30 years is a pretty standard period for analysis in A-level Sociology!)
The conflicts with highest death tolls in the last 30 years were:
The Rwandan Genocide needs a mention – there were an estimated 800 000 deaths, but within a very rapid time frame, and much of this done with hand-weapons like machetes, and it was ethnic cleansing, all in all making it particularly horrific.
The Second Congo War – in central Africa with an upper estimate of 5 million deaths (NB given the relatively small geographical area this was kind of like World War Two in the middle of Africa)
The War on Terror – 2001 to the present day – with over 1 million deaths
The War on Iraq – 2003-2007, but which spilled over into a civil war, 2014-2017 – and a total of around 500 000 deaths between the two
The Syrian Civil War – ongoing and an upper estimate of almost 600 000 deaths.
Thankfully the numbers seem to be coming down. According to one estimate, the total death toll for the 17 most deadly conflicts in the world stood at around 300 000 in 2016, but this had reduced to 100 000 deaths by 2020.
Physical Trauma and Injury
While it is possible to get death tolls statistics for conflicts, these are usually estimated, and estimates can range widely – the Syrian Civil War has a death toll range of between around 400 000 to 600 000 for example.
Given the problems with estimating death tolls in war, it should be unsurprising that it’s very difficult to find estimates for the number of people injured in war and conflict – either through serving on the front line, or civilians being brutalised by ‘soldiers.
In situations of war, when law and order are determined by violence, there must be several cases of violent assault which simply go unreported and unnoticed.
One particularly horrific aspect of physical injury and trauma in conflict zones is through the use of rape as a weapon of war – it’s estimated that 48 women are raped every hour in the DRC for example, a legacy of conflict in that country.
Rape can also be used against boys and men as a way of asserting authority over them.
A rational response to conflict in a region is to flee to another region or country, and many people do. The United Nations reports that there are currently 80 million refugees, or displaced people.
Most refugees come from Syria (5 million) and Turkey hosts the most (3 million). 80% of refugees are hosted in developing countries.
While Displacement is an immediate problem caused by conflict, and results in immediate problems related to living in temporary accommodation (tents), with possible poor sanitation and food shortages, there are also longer-term problems related to lack of status, children being out of education and so on.
Longer Term effects of War and Conflict
Conflicts can drag on for several years, even decades in some countries, with devastating longer-term consequences….
The destruction of physical infrastructure – such as buildings and roads mean that civilians who remain may be living in unsafe buildings with no running water, sewage or electricity – basically a war zone can turn a previously developed neighbourhood into a slum. Power stations and roads may also be damaged in conflicts, and these can be expensive to repair post-conflict, taking up a lot of money that might otherwise be spent on social development.
War also results in the destruction to the economic infrastructure – in a war-torn country business slows down or stops because it is unsafe – with a corresponding downturn in employment and income. Foreign companies may also leave the country, and imports may dry up as it is too risky to do business there. All of this means the cost of goods and the cost-of-living increases.
Disruption to education – schools may be forced to shut down, and refugee children may not be able to get an education. If children spend a year, or two, or more, out of formal education, they will struggle to catch up.
The disruption to health care services – health services have to focus on dealing with battle related injuries – dealing with immediate problems, which means there are fewer resources to go towards other health issues – such as dealing with vaccinations and maternity related health issues.
Longer term health issues – the trauma of war can be felt for decades – as witnessed in the high suicide rates of war Veterans, something which is probably mirrored in people who suffered rape and/ or torture as part of war.
Longer term economic problems – the Global Peace Index notes that the Economic impact of Global Violence in 2019 was over $40 trillion – an almost incomprehensibly high number, and certainly enough money to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
Basically, every social development indicator is negatively affected by war and conflict in a country!
A summary of Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and David Harvey’s views on mainly American militarism
Developed countries spend a lot more on their armed forces than developing countries, and the USA spends more than the next nine biggest spenders combined.
Many developed countries have full time standing armies, navies and air forces and some have nuclear arsenals, all of which need paying and equipping, which in turn means research and development budgets into the latest military technologies.
This high level of military expenditure is typically justified on the basis that it is necessary to ensure ‘Peace and Security’ both at home and abroad, and since the end of World War II developed countries have frequently intervened in poorer countries abroad by arguing that force is sometimes necessary to bring about a more orderly or stable society.
The recent full-scale wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were justified as necessary to root out the terrorist forces responsible for the 11 September 2001 ‘terrorist’ attacks on the United States, and today the ‘War On Terror’ continues, having largely shifted to now take the form of a ‘Drone War’ against suspected terrorists, which is occurring in numerous developing countries, but most notably Pakistan.
The USA and its allies continue to justify a high level of military expenditure and the continued use of force on the basis that it is necessary to ensure peace and security both at home and abroad.
There are, however, a number of radical theorists that argue this is a lie. Below we look at three academics associated with Dependency Theory tradition who argue that the West actually uses military force abroad in order to get rid of peaceful put anti-American governments, to secure oil resources (Americans do like their cars!) and to make money: there’s nothing like a war to generate a profit!
Noam Chomsky: The USA as Rogue State
According to Noam Chomsky (2004) the USA has used military force or funded the use of military force in over 50 countries since the end of World War Two. The USA has over 1000 military bases worldwide, and is far the biggest aggressor of the last half a century.
Sometimes it has even used its military power to overthrow democratically elected governments that do not support American Interests. Chomsky points out that if America really wanted to support freedom and democracy around the globe, then it would, by now, have tackled the oppressive communist regime in North Korea, and it probably wouldn’t do business with countries such as Saudi Arabia and China which have dubious records where human rights are concerned.
Noam Chomsky’s view is backed up by John Pilger’s documentary ‘The War Against Democracy’ in which he points out that the use of military force against foreign governments that do not support American interests has formed the backbone of America’s foreign policy since the end of world war two. Afghanistan and Iraq are just the last two in a very long list of countries that the United States has used organised state violence against.
List of Countries Bombed by the USA since WW II
Belgian Congo 1964
Dominican Republic 1965
El Salvador 1981-92
Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999
Video – Noam Chomsky : The United States is the World’s Biggest Terrorist
David Harvey: The War on Iraq was ‘All about Oil’
The contemporary Marxist Geographer David Harvey (2005) has taken the above even further. Harvey argues that the Iraq War was really ‘all about oil’. He points out that the continued global economic and military superiority of the USA is dependent on securing for the future a reliable supply of oil, most of which lies in the Middle East. According to Harvey, there is documented evidence that members of George Bushes’ cabinet expressed a desire to increase US influence in the Middle East for precisely this reason. In this context, 9/11 and the linking of Iraq with the threat of terrorism provided a legitimate reason for the USA to secure its interests in that region.
Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine
Naomi Klein goes even further arguing in‘The Shock Doctrine’ (2008) that the American government uses war to destroy infrastructure in developing nations so that American companies can make a profit out of rebuilding that infrastructure. To support this Klein points out that Dick Cheney, vice president of the United States when the US went to war with Iraq, was also CEO of a Corporation called Halliburton, a company which won $2 billion in contracts to rebuild Iraq after the war.
Sources/ Find out more…
Just so you’ve got the proper academic links to the books:
The worst ongoing wars in 2021 are in Afghanistan, Yemen and Mexico….
It is sad to say, but there are currently ongoing wars or minor conflicts in around three dozen countries, most of them in the Middle East, North West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Wikipedia lists around 40 ongoing wars and conflicts with over 100 combat deaths in 2021 or 2022. NB Wikipedia is a useful starting point for this topic as it provides us with a statistical and historical overview which is relatively easy to understand, but keep in mind that you’ll need to verify sources and check up on how valid the data is!.
Map of Conflicts in the world today
Categorising Wars and Conflicts…
Wikipedia categorises ongoing conflicts as follows:
Major wars (dark red) with over 10 000 direct conflict deaths in the current or previous year – there are currently SIX of these (double the amount from a year ago) which are: the Afghanistan conflict, the Yemeni civil war, the Mexican drug war, the Myanmar internal struggle, the Ethiopian civil war and the Ukraine-Russian war.
Minor wars (red) with 1000 to 9999 deaths in the current or past year – there are around 12 of these.
Minor Conflicts (orange) with 100 to 999 deaths in the current or past year – around a further two dozen fall into this category.
They also list ‘minor skirmishes’ (yellow) which have resulted in 1 to 99 deaths.
A point of note is that the Mexican Drug War actually had the highest death toll in 2020 – with over 50 000 deaths, but it’s not classified as a ‘major war’ because most of those deaths are murders rather than as a result of direct armed conflict between the drugs gangs and the Mexican armed forces.
Examples of recent and ongoing conflicts (list taken from Wiki)
It would be worth spending some time exploring some of these conflicts to get a feel for their differences and similarities.
But even if you don’t do any ‘deeper digging’ just a quick skim through Wiki’s list of ongoing conflicts can be informative – it shows you that MOST contemporary high death toll conflicts occur in developing countries, mostly in the middle east and Sub-Saharan Africa, and it also shows you just you that some countries have suffered ongoing or successive conflicts for several years – we see this in the Congo, and in Iraq and Syria.
Wikipedia also looks at conflict deaths by country from 2016 to 2020 – Mexico tops the list in 2020, and this along with Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Nigeria have had particularly high levels of conflict deaths over the past 5 years.
The Russian-Ukraine Conflict in Perspective
So far in 2022 the Russia-Ukraine conflict has the most cumulative fatalities, just for 2022, but in the grand scheme of things the total death toll is relatively small compared to some of the other ongoing conflicts (sad to say).
Of course we hear a lot about this particular conflict because it is closer to home and because, geopolitically it involves Russia invading Europe, so the rest of us in Europe will feel the impact of it more (the effect on increasing energy prices for example, although IMO that’s got more to do with the failures of neoliberalism rather than the war).
There are many other global conflicts with higher death tolls overall, but we just don’t hear about these because they are further away and they have less impact.
Signposting and related posts
This post has been written mainly for students studying A-level sociology (AQA focus).
How war and conflict prevent development – war is almost certainly the main factor which retards social and economic development – it has some pretty dire short and long term consequences for positive development.
Despite being a third world country, as judged many and varied social indicators of development, America is set to spend $8 billion on a new ‘space force‘ over the next 5 years.
China and Russia are currently competitors for military advantage in space, and it seems this has got America worried. In 2007 China successfully shot down one of its old weather satellites, orbiting 500 miles above the planet. In 2015, Russia launched a successful test of an anti-satellite missile.
Approximately 1800 active satellites currently orbit earth, half of them sent up by America, are vital to many of our day to day activities. We rely on satellites for the following:
Anything using GPS positioning for navigation – which includes various civil and military organisations
Financial markets depend on them for super-sensitive time-synchronisation
Various mobile phone applications.
Some television and video conferencing.
It would seem that satellites have somehow become the ‘foundation’ of our daily postmodern, globally networked lives.
What might space war look like…
Besides firing missiles into space, there are other options: lasers could be used to blind or dazzle satellites in order to disrupt their functionality, or cyber attacks could be ‘launched’ to hack into them.
As with most things warfare, it seems that the USA is already years ahead of its competitors. The USA first launched a successful strike against an obsolete satellite in the mid 1980s, and they are already ‘hardening’ existing satellites against attack – by positioning redundant satellites to act as back ups, for example, and they are looking into giving them their own defensive capabilities.
What are the possible consequences of Space War?
If there was an all-out space war, it could create a debris-cloud which would render space unusable for future generations, however, if global relations deteriorated to this point, we’d probably be more worried about the radiation sickness from the previously deployed nukes!
Relevance of this to A-level sociology…
Quite a useful example of the continued power of the Nation State in a global age…. seriously, how many nations have the power to shoot down satellites…. really just a handful, and no other body besides them!
This post outlines an interesting comparative research study of secondary documents (‘private’ letters and a more public blog) which could be used to get students thinking about the usefulness of such sources in social research.
I’ve taken the summary below straight from Bryman (2016) Social Research Methods:
It is tempting to think that the century and a half that separates a solider writing a military blogs and the letters and diary of a solider in the American civil war will be far apart in tone and content.
Shapiro and Humphreys (2013) compare the military blog of ‘Dadmanly’, who was in the US army for just over four years beginning in August 2004 and who served in Iraq for 18 months, with the letters and diaries of ‘Charlie Mac’, who joined the Union army in 1862, whose writings continued until 1865.
Dadmanly’s blog is looking like a bit of a historical artefact already. with its last update in 2012, but he did make some contributions to the more recent ‘blog of war’ book, which brings together different bloggers from the front-line of war.
There are clear differences between them:
Dadmanly wrote for a general audience the vast majority of whom he would never know
Charlie Mac wrote primarily for his large family, although he seems to have anticipated that that they would passed around to others, as they have a tone which implies they will have a more general readership than just his close family.
However, there are also various common elements:
Both writers show a desire to reassure family and friends about their safety and well-being.
Both expressed opinions about the progress of the war, and offered political commentary on them;
both wrote in large part to maintain contact with their families during the wars,
and the writing was therapeutic for both of them.
Shapiro and Humphries conclude that this comparison is significant because it shows that changes in communications technologies do not necessarily result in changes in the nature of the content of communication.
one question you might like to consider is whether Dadmanly’s blog is any less valid as a source of information about war than Charlie Mac’s letters?
Given the correlation between Peacefulness and economic and social development, I’d say there’s a strong argument that the level of peacefulness in a country is one of the most valid indicators of that country’s level of development; it’s also important for the potential of other countries to develop further, given that violence in one country can so often retard development in other countries.
Unfortunately for America, it doesn’t do well on measures of peacefulness. According to the 2017 Global Peace Index (GPI), it ranks a dismal 114th out of 163 countries, down 8 places from the previous year, and bucking the general trend which is for more wealthier countries to be more peaceful (Scandinavia + Canada are towards the top!)
The Global Peace Index includes several indicators to establish its rankings, and so there are many reasons for America’s low peacefulness (and high violence) ranking – the high homicide rate being linked to the national addiction to guns, and neither does its high military and nuclear expenditure, or its involvement in drone-killings abroad.
One recent event, which won’t have been included in the 2017 GPI data, is America’s enhanced role in Saudi Arabia’s current war in Yemen – Following Donald Trump’s recent state visit to Saudi Arabia, The United States is set to become more complicit in this war. Saudi Arabia ranks 132nd on the GPI, Yemen 4th from bottom at 159th.
Amnesty International calls the conflict in Yemen the ‘forgotten war’ – it’s basically a conflict involving one group of Yemenis known as the Huthis who support the former Yemeni president, and a second group who, along with the Saudis, support the existing president. The conflict has been going on since 2015, with civilians caught in the middle.
Amnesty cites the following human toll of the conflict so far:
4 600 Civilians have been killed, 8000 injured
3 Million people have been displaced
18.8 million people currently rely on humanitarian assistance
According to Time, Donald Trump recently agreed $110 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia:
‘The weapons sale was one of the largest in history, totalling close to $110 billion worth of tanks, artillery, radar systems, armoured personnel carriers, Blackhawk helicopters, ships, …Patriot missiles”
The $110 billion figure is almost certainly exaggerated, as it includes the renewal of some existing deals with are ongoing (so no new money changing hands), and some potential, yet to be agreed, future arms-deals, but whatever the exact figure there is sufficient evidence of closer war-links between America and Saudi Arabia:
According to Al-Jazeera, what we do know is that Trump is ramping up arms-sales to the Saudis:
‘Trump is green-lighting sales of precision-guided, air-to-ground missiles that Obama had withheld because of concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and civilian casualties. In addition, Trump is moving forward to replenish and expand the Saudi supply of battle tanks and armoured vehicles, replacing equipment damaged in the Yemen conflict. Separately, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon both announced major sales in connection with Trump’s trip but this seems more in the nature of a promise than a finished deal.”
Somewhat worryingly, is the rather blase attitude displayed to all this by the American politicians involved:
According to Time:
Policy advisor Jared Kushner high-fived National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster as he entered the room where they held talks with Saudi officials. Aide Gary Cohn told pool reporters the deals represented “a lot of money. Big dollars. Big dollars.”
According to Al Jazeera:
“The Saudis are in a war in Yemen and they need weapons. You want to win, you need weapons,” Senator John McCain, a Republican, told Al Jazeera. “We are in a war.”
More worringly still, according to the Ron Paul Liberty Report, the U.S. military is also directly involved in the Saudi – Yemen conflict through advising the Saudi’s on identifying and picking targets to bomb in Yemen and through fuelling Saudi war planes, (first few minutes in the clip below…)
Of course not everyone in America believes that the United States should be involved in the Saudi’s war against Yemen, so I’d hate to tar all Americans with the same violence-brush, but unfortunately for the rational peace lovers, the neoliberals in power are using the machinery of the America state (ironically for neoliberals) to escalate violence in the Middle East.
SO if we are to include peacefulness in our assessment of how developed a country is, then on the most recent evidence of the Saudi arms deal, we’d have to conclude that the United States has regressed even further than the Global Peace Index suggests.
The Global Peace Index uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure the state of peace using three thematic domains:
the level of Societal Safety and Security;
the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict;
the degree of Militarisation.
The data is collated by the Institute for Economics and Peace – a think tank which develops metrics to analyse peace and to quantify its economic value. It does this by developing global and national indices of ‘peacefulness’, analysing country level risk, and calculating the economic cost of violence, and the positive benefits of peace.
Some of they key findings from the latest 2020 report include:
The average level of global peacefulness fell 0.34 per cent on the 2020 GPI. This is the ninth time in the last 12 years that global peacefulness has fallen.
Trends are polarising – around 80 countries got less peaceful, but 80 countries got more peaceful.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remained the world’s least peaceful region.
Europe remains the most peaceful region in the world, although it recorded a slight deterioration in peacefulness. registering any change over the past year.
The Institute for Economics and Peace says its aim is to ‘create a paradigm shift in the way the world thinks about peace. We use data driven research to show that peace is a positive, tangible and achievable measure of human well-being and development.’
You can explore the Global Peace Index and download the full 2017 report for free on the Institute for Economics and Peace’s dedicated website – Vision of Humanity
Selected Key Findings of the 2017 Global Peace Index
Trends in peacefulness in 2020
There has been a divergence in peacefulness in the last decade – with the least peaceful countries getting less peaceful and the most peaceful countries getting more peaceful.
If you look at the breakdown by indicator, it is mainly refugees and internal conflicts driving the drift towards less peacefulness.
The economic costs of violence
The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2020 was around $14 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP),
This is equivalent to 12 per cent of the world’s economic activity (gross world product), or $2000 for every person.
NB – What’s above is just an overview – I strongly recommend you explore the data further at Vision of Humanity!
How Useful is the Global Peace Index in helping us to understand development?
On the plus side, the data seems to be non-partisan, in the sense that there doesn’t seem to be undue influence in the data selection process from developed countries – there is a heavy peace-score penalty which some of the most developed countries pay for high levels of military expenditure – most notably the United States.
Also, if we can trust the data and the number-crunching, then there is a clear correlation between sustained peacefulness in a country and that country’s level of development, and so monitoring levels of peacefulness and violence seems to be one of the most important goals in global development.
The Global Peace Index covers a lot of indicators – and the reports break them down to look at individual indicators, so you get a certain level of insight into the levels of peacefulness and violence.
I do like the focus on ‘positive peace’ and the fact that the report recognizes high levels of military expenditure as retarding investment in more positive aspects of development.
On the downside, I’m not convinced that all of the data is 100% valid – there has to be a lot of differences in the way data is recorded from country to country, especially in war-zones, so lots of missing conflict-deaths no doubt. This means making comparisons is difficult.
Also, I’m not sure they’ve included a broad enough range of indicators – the fact that Qatar creeps in at number 30 makes me suspicious, also – is violence against women included?
Also, I’m not clear about how the data is weighted – there’s lots of talk in the report about ‘multiplying factors’, and I don’t know enough about the maths behind the indices to evaluate how valid these calculations are.
America’s two latest attacks on Syria and Afghanisatan have been headline news in the last fortnight – in case you missed either of them…
In Syria – the US launched 59 Tomahawk missiles to damage and air base in response to the claimed use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces against civilians.
In Afghanistan they deployed the biggest ever non-nuclear bomb, at a cost of $16 million, to take out an ISIS stronghold.
The US claims the Syrian attack was because Assad crossed a line in using chemical weapons, and much of the news has focused on the declining relations with Russia (who support Assad), and they claimed the scale of second attack was to get into the underground bunkers used by ISIS, and here the news has focused on the message this sends to North Korea.
But why is the Trump administration playing ‘global policeman’ when just 6 months ago they campaigned on a ticket of focusing on domestic policy and making life better for ordinary America?
Noam Chomsky offers an interesting perspective and answer…
One good example of a recent neo-liberal policy which will make life worse for especially poorer working class Americans is the abolition of Obama’s anti wage-theft legislation this required a company to publish details of any violations of minimum wage or health and safety law that they’d made. The regulation forced businesses to disclose each time they broke a law in the past three years, including violations relating to civil rights, health and safety, and minimum wage and overtime violations.
There was also Trump’s recent attempt to repeal ‘Obamacare’ – which would have left 20 million more (poor) Americans without health insurance, but that was defeated, however, the defeat is an embarrassment which fuels the need for a distraction according to Chomsky.
So maybe there is some truth in this? Maybe now the real Trump is showing his colours and enacting policies which support big business and make life worse for the working man, what’s needed is a distraction – and what better than to bomb a few people, which will obviously just generate more problems abroad and more terrorist attacks on US citizens, possibly all ending up in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you like this sort of Chomskian analysis, you might also want to check out Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’, what’s going on here seems to be an evolution of what she argues too.