America has ranked outside the top 100 most peaceful nations in a study released on Wednesday.
America, bottom half of peace index
The Star Spangled Banner proudly proclaims America to be the ‘land of the brave and home of the free.’ While that may be true, it is not apparently a particularly peaceful nation according to the 2016 Global Peace Index compiled by an Australian think tank called the Institute for Economics and Peace. America came in at 103 out of the 162 countries that made up the index.
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Global Peace Index
This is the tenth iteration of the study, that takes an in-depth analytical look at 22 different statistical variables. The categories inspected included; the number of internal and external conflicts the country was engaged in, internal crime figures (including number of homicides), terrorism, political forces (did Trump bring us down?), refugee activity, population trends, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, and economic conditions.
The reports findings
So, if Donald Trump is elected in November and you are looking for an escape route from America, where should you head to find yourself a peaceful haven. The study would suggest that you pack your bags and head to Iceland. This was the most peaceful nation on earth for the 2016 study. If Helsinki doesn’t take your fancy, the rest of the top ten is dominated by smaller European countries, comprising of Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Portugal, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Japan and Slovenia.
The worst nations include some of the usual suspects you would expect, and there will be few surprises for anyone who has watched even the smallest amount of news over the last twelve months. Bottom of the list is Syria where internal strife and political instability caused by Assad has left the country in ruins. The rest of the bottom of the index, working upwards is, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Central Africa Republic, Ukraine, Sudan, Libya and Pakistan. Russia only very narrowly avoids the bottom 10, coming in at 151. China is also ranked below America at 120.
The report concluded that we are living in age of “historic decline in world peace”, largely fueled by conflict, civil war, terrorist activity and lack of political stability in the North Africa and the Middle East.
Terrorism on the rise
September 11th changed the world forever and could be said to have issued a new dawn of terrorism. It was no longer just a problem ‘over there’ but arrived on our doorstep. Recent events in Europe (London, Paris and Madrid have all suffered deadly attacks) have seen this continue and the report noted, based on the analysis, “the breadth of terrorism is spreading, with only 23 percent of countries in the index not experiencing a a terrorist incident.” Put another way, that means that three out of every four countries on earth have suffered some form of terrorist event, truly depressing.
“Terrorism is at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict are at a 25-year high, and the number of refugees and displaced people are at a level not seen in 60 years,” the study concluded. This has led to the global refugee crisis, (especially Syrians,) with an estimated 60 million people, (almost 1 percent of the global population) are now removed from their home.
Cost of the Decline of Peace
The effects of this decrease in peace are not just humanitarian. Confrontations are expensive and the global economy has been adversely affected (there is a reason why the words, peace and prosperity are often used together). Large standing armies, munitions, border controls, military exercises, internal check points, these all cost money and it adds up very quickly. The study found that “the economic impact of violence on the global economy amounted to $13.6 trillion or 13.3 percent of the gross world product.” That’s a lot of money which could have been spent on funding for schools, hospitals, or science and technology (to think they are considering not renewing the funding for New Horizons…).
On the bright side
It was not all bad news. UN Peacekeeping funding was on the rise, showing that countries commitment to operations that help to keep harmony is growing. The study also notes that the “number of countries that have high levels of police and internal security officers [is] decreasing” which is is a promising development. Less security is a sign of greater peace.
America and the 21st Century
America’s undoubted world hegemony in the later half of the twentieth century is under severe threat. China’s industrialisation and growth is putting economic supremacy at risk. The world is full of risks, varying from ISIS in the Middle East, Russia, under Putin is causing more problems (note Ukraine in the bottom 10 of the list), and Kim Jong-Un looks like he is continuing the megalomaniac traits from his father and grandfather. Worrying times, and perhaps why America has ranked so low.