Wars Update: Peace And Prosperity?

Wars Update: Peace And Prosperity? By Jim Dunnigan.

Islamic terrorism no longer dominates the news now that ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has been crushed (but not destroyed).

Global Islamic terrorism related deaths have fallen by over 50 percent since 2014, when there were 35,000. Global deaths hit 19,000 in 2017 and under 14,000 for 2018. Since 2014 five nations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan) have accounted for most of these deaths.

The largest source of Islamic terror deaths during that period was ISIL, a more radical faction of al Qaeda that currently is where the most radical practitioners of Islamic terrorism are found. Islamic terrorists continues to be, as they have been since the 1990s, the main source of terrorism related deaths, accounting for about 90 percent of the fatalities. The remainder of the terrorist related deaths are ethnic (often tribal) conflicts in Africa and Asia. …

In another unexpected development, Turks got interested in religion and empire building again. In the 1990s the Turks, who had gone secular after their centuries old Ottoman Empire collapsed in the 1920s, decided to give Islam another chance as an elected ruler (Recep Erdogan) tries, with some success, to revive the Ottoman empire using a combination of Islam, technology and creative diplomacy to make Turkey great again. This comes into conflict (as it has in the past) with Iranian efforts to restore their imperial past. The new Turkish empire builder (called “Sultan Erdogan I” behind his back) is not that much interested in taking back lost real estate but is eager to regain the Turkish leadership of the Islamic world. …

Nuclear weapons ushered in peace:

Despite the growing military power of China, and the saber-rattling from Russia, the major military powers continue the Great Nuclear Truce (GNT) that began in the 1950s, when Russia got nuclear weapons, and suddenly realized they could not afford to use them without risking more destruction than past foes like the Nazis, French or Mongols inflicted. As more countries got nukes, the “we can’t afford to use them, but they’re nice to have” attitude, and the unprecedented truce, persisted. There have been wars, but not between the big players (who have the largest and most destructive conventional forces).

Because of the GNT a historical record was broken in 1986, as there had never before (since the modern state system developed in the 16th century) been so long a period without a war between major powers (the kind that could afford, these days, to get nukes). Since the Cold War ended in 1991 there have been fewer wars, at least in the traditional sense, and the GNT holds.

Not only have there been fewer wars since the 1950s but there has been a lot less poverty, especially since the Cold War, and so many communist governments, ended in 1990. At the end of the Cold War (late 1980s) 40 percent of the world population lived in destitution (extreme poverty) but three decades later that poverty rate is down to ten percent. Most of the remaining extreme poverty occur in badly governed areas of the Middle East (Syria, Yemen) and Africa (Libya, Congo, the Sudans) that are also the scene of wars or general disorder. …

Current and new wars?

Most current wars are basically uprisings against inefficient, corrupt and oppressive police states or feudal societies which are seen as out-of-step with the modern world. The Internet and widespread adoption of smartphones made most people on the planet aware that a better life was not only a possibility but that many people (especially in the West) had lived the good life for generations.

Yet many revolutions are led by radicals preaching failed dogmas (Islamic conservatism, Maoism and other forms of radical socialism) that still resonate among people who don’t know about the dismal track records of these creeds.