Broadly speaking and end to nation building means the U.S. will no longer be invading foreign countries and keeping troops and advisers stationed in those countries for the long term with the intention of establishing ‘liberal democratic’ (sceptics might say pro-American )governments.
This is what the U.S. tried to do with Iraq and Afghanistan following the September 11th 2021 bombings, but now it seems that the case of Afghanistan has firmly put paid to the idea that America can successfully intervene and help to engineer ‘regime change’. If can’t do so after 20 years, it seems unlikely staying around any longer would have made any difference, especially when the Taliban took power so swiftly following news of the U.S. withdrawal.
So what does this mean in terms of globalisation?
This is certainly evidence against so called ‘optimist’ views of globalisation – America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan suggests its power globally is in decline, and it has less capacity now than ever to ‘export Western models of democracy abroad’.
However global pessimists might remind us that this won’t necessarily mean an end to U.S. military involvement in the region, or elsewhere in the world – it could just mean a shift to more covert forms of drone strikes on militants, and more chaos abroad, meted out from a distance by the United States.
Just about the only thing that is certain is this makes the world an even more uncertain an unpredictable place than ever!
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.
Naomi Klein is one of the leading thinkers in the anti-capitalist movement and this book is one of the most important historical narratives of this century.
Taken from the web site –
‘At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts…. New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters — to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy.’
My summary –
The Shock Doctrine is the story of how “free market” policies have come to dominate the world. Klein systematically explores how neo-liberal economic policies have been pushed through following ‘shocks’ – typically either natural disasters or wars ore oppressive state apparatuses.
Klein argues that these policies work against the interests of the majority because they transfer wealth and power from the people to the global corporate elite, thus why elites need to implement these policies of in times of shock following disaster.
The book traces the origins of the ‘shock doctrine’ back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and follows the application of these ideas through contemporary history, showing in detail how the neo-liberal agenda has been pushed through in several countries following shocks
Some of the events Klein covers include –
Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973,
The Falklands War in 1982,
The Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989,
the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991,
the Asian Financial crisis in 1997
The war in Iraq 2003
Hurricane Katrina 2006
All of the above are cases where the Corporate Elite, often in conjunction with the US government and oppressive regimes in some of the countries above have sought to profit out of times of disaster. Most of feel sympathy for people at such times – neo-liberalists see opportunity.
Once again, for me, the most important argument Klein makes is that Neo-Liberalists require situations of Shock to push through their policies of privatisation, deregulation and cut backs to public spending because the majority of people would not accept such policies because they mean a transfer of wealth and power to corporate elites.
Towards the end of the book, Klein talks about an extremely worrying trend in the USA – which is the privatisation of war and security – both of which are used in times of disaster – and we now have a situation where Capitalism benefits from disaster.
All in all this is an excellent book highlighting the links between advanced capitalism and growing human misery – as Klein says, you should read it and make yourself shock resistant.
NB – SOME MIGHT ARGUE THIS IS NOW GOING ON IN THE UNITED KINGDOM – WE ARE GOING THROUGH AN ‘ECONOMIC CRSIS’ (IN SHOCK) AND SO MILLIONNAIRE TORIES ARE NOW CUTTING PUBLIC SPENDING AND OUTSOURCING MORE AND MORE OF OUR PUBLIC SERVICES TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR!
Neo- liberalism is an economic and political ideology that believes state control over the economy is undesirable and seeks to transfer control of the economy from the state to the private sector. It gained popularity amongst politicians and influential economists following the economic crisis of the late 1970s. It involves three main policies –
Deregulation – Nation States placing less restraint on private industry. In practise this means fewer laws that restrict companies making a profit – making it easier for companies to fire workers, pay them less, and allowing them to pollute.
Privatisation – where possible public services such as transport and education should be handed over to private interests for them to run for a profit.
Cut backs in public spending – taxes should be low and so investment in public services would be cut back.
The workers were living as live-in carers, and were technically paid the minimum wage for 10 hours work a day, but were still required to live-in with the people being cared for for 24 hours a day, during which time they had to do caring duties.
Quite a useful example to illustrate the continued relevance of Marxist theory – demonstrating how employers bend the rules (‘innovating’) with their contracts to effectively pay below the minimum wage. It also demonstrates the relative powerlessness of these workers, and the importance of collective action – they put up with this for years because they needed the jobs, but eventually plucked up the courage to fight the company. If Marxist Theory is correct, the courts should side with Servacare.
David Cameron – Responsible for Fuelling War and Terror Around the World
This is relevant to the war and conflict topic within Global Development (the topic every A level sociology teacher should be teaching IMHO) – This example is a useful illustration of how conflict and terror don’t just arise because of internal issues in foreign countries – military interventions sometimes have a role to play as well!
Britain’s intervention in Libya and the chaos and bloodshed that ensued sparked a “violent reaction” fuelling conflicts across Africa and the Middle East, as well as strengthening Isis and Al-Qaeda, according to a scathing report released by the Foreign Affairs Committee this week, which held David Cameron “ultimately responsible” for failing to stabilise Libya after the death of Muammar Gaddafi.
Following the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, opposition rebels and Islamists refused to lay down their arms and competition for territory spawned a second civil war that continues today , measing there is now a vast, mostly ungoverned space in the south of the country where jihadist groups are able to rest and resource themselves largely untroubled by external interference, allowing the smuggling of militants, weapons and refugees to neighbouring countries.
Libyan weapons have been found in more than 20 countries, while its conflict has fuelled war, insurgencies and terrorism in at least 10 other nations, and LIbya has also now become a major source of regugees which impacts on southern European countries.
Perhaps the most direct outcome was the conflict in northern Mali, where the United Nations is currently operating the deadliest peacekeeping operation in the world.
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