The Follies and Distortions of the Global Peace Index
A new global peace index was recently released, but does it really offer an accurate picture of a nation's relative peacefulness?
The Institute for Economics and Peace is a global think tank, staffed by typical establishment globalist elites, with an advisory board packed with business leaders, diplomats, heads of state, cultural apparatchiks, and, of course, a Kennedy. It publishes the Global Peace Index, which ranks the world’s countries based on three criteria: “the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization.”
The 2018 index was recently released, and a casual perusal contains a few eyeopeners. For observers of Latin America, a glance at the most “dangerous” countries in the world presents a stunning finding right off the bat: Colombia is ranked as more dangerous than Venezuela.
Yes. That is right. That is not a misprint.
According to the prestigious and dignified experts at the institute, Colombia is the world’s 19th most dangerous country, while Venezuela is only the world’s 21st most dangerous country.
It seems most strange, then, that Venezuelans are fleeing their own native land by the hundreds of thousands, to resettle in Colombia, a country that according to the study, is more dangerous than their own. Perhaps they did not consult the index when they made their decision?
But a study put together by brilliant academics, globalist do-gooders, and cultural elites can not be dismissed out of hand.
What other wondrous findings does the study present to a grateful public?
The United States, it turns out, is the world’s 43rd most dangerous country, coming in at #121 out of 163 countries! Oh, the horror!
Try telling that to the millions of immigrants who want to live in the United States, many of whom hail from countries deemed far safer by the fine academics overseeing the index.
The Institute for Economics and Peace is hardly a group of radical leftists. Their ideological profile might best be encapsulated by “globalist center-left.” Such luminaries as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter are affiliated with the organization. Nonetheless, how could a think tank produce such questionable results?…deeming Colombia to be more dangerous than Venezuela, and the United States to be in the bottom quartile of countries with regard to safety?
Problems with the Study
Of course, ideological factors are at play when selecting and weighting the variables for such a study.
The study has a clear bias towards gun control, and against the Second Amendment. It rewards countries who restrict their citizens’ access to firearms. Of course, no consideration is given to the argument that a well-armed citizenry can actually be a deterrent to crime, violence, and lawlessness.
It has a clear bias against the incarceration of criminals, rewarding countries for having lower prisoners per capita. Shouldn’t a country be rewarded for apprehending, sentencing, and incarcerating violent criminals? Doesn’t that, in and of itself, bear the fruits of peace?
It penalizes countries who maintain standing armies, ranking nations on a criterion called “Number of armed-services personnel per 100,000.” Again, militarism and excessive military spending is a concern; but there are legitimate reasons to maintain a standing army. The presence of such an army can actually be a major deterrent to future war and violence.
Russia is deemed to be the 10th most dangerous country in the world. That is beyond preposterous.
Yes, the study correctly takes into account Russian militarism in Ukraine: both with regard to annexation of the Crimea, and its support (despite government denial) for Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions. But to place Russia, a relatively peaceful, stable, and prosperous nation, alongside failed Sub-saharan and Middle Eastern nations, is further evidence of the study’s questionable metrics.
However, the most glaring omission of this study is its complete failure to assess the geopolitical and military power dynamic involving military superpowers such as the United States.
Simply put, many of these countries (particularly in Europe and East Asia) score phenomenally well on the peace index precisely because the US taxpayers are footing the bill for an expensive and ubiquitous military presence as a major deterrent to such rival global powers as Russia and China.
Russia, of course, harbors territorial designs in the Ukraine, while China has been playing a dangerous game with Southeast Asian rivals, such as Vietnam and the Philippines over access to islands in the South China Sea.
I am certainly no unwavering, blind cheerleader for US foreign policy and the military-industrial complex that feeds it. I regularly write about our excessive military spending.
Why should the United States be paying for the national defense of wealthy European and East Asian countries? That is insanity. Sheer and utter insanity.
Iceland: Why is it so peaceful?
Iceland, a tiny Scandinavian nation of 300,000 people, once again ranked first on the peace index; but something here seems suspect.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that Iceland, that shining volcano in the North Atlantic, that impressive bastion of peacefulness and tranquility, which we all should look to emulate, came under attack from Russia or China. Their ranking on the peace index sure wouldn’t do them much good, now would it?
They do not have the means to defend themselves on their own. Who would they turn to?
Iceland is a curious country when it comes to military defense: although it was a founding member of NATO in 1949, it maintains no standing army. Thus, the peace for which they are so praised in the index, is a peace which is almost entirely predicated upon the military endeavors of other nations (chiefly the United States, the principal financial backer of NATO).
A study such as this does a fundamental disservice because it only views the existence of military forces, infrastructure, and technology, as a negative. That is utterly preposterous. A military presence also provides a great degree of deterrence to future military engagement.
Pacifism is a complete and utter failure as an ideology; and has been widely discredited even among leftists. If you do not have the means to defend yourself against aggression from totalitarian governments, then all of your pacifist ideology is about as worthless as the paper it’s printed on.
.The bottom line is that the United States government is paying for the peace and stability of half the world; for this we are penalized by the supposed “experts” who put together the so-called Peace Index.
Libertarians, and indeed thinkers across the political spectrum, can and should have a discussion about the burden of our military commitments. Would it be a good idea to scale them back? Probably.
Until that happens, let us recognize the inherent hypocrisy of the “Peace Index” when it comes to ranking the United States.