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Friday, October 21, 2005

Other views on "UN peace"

Following the suggestion of Zen Tiger here is an article about the fabulous UN report that attributed falling violence to the great actions of said organisation. But since lots of others have already covered it I'll just give a round up of some...

Q and O can't help their sarcasm about the source of the study
Ah, of course. The former director of strategic planning in the UN validating his, er, planning. Somehow it doesn't at all suprise me that a former director of strategic planning for the Secretary General of the UN's office would somehow become the director of a study which finds that the UN was doing a bang up job. And, of course, it all leads to the inevitable sales pitch ... "if we only had more we could do a much better job".
Dean Esmay thinks that it has more to do with the fall of some of the worst totalitarian states and the accompanying spread of freedom
The report attempts to credit the United Nations' actions in fostering multilateral talks, but the real reason is much more obvious: free people do not make war on each other, and since the fall of the Soviet Union freedom has been on the march around the world. Indeed, today a majority of the world is now either free or at least partly-free. Such nations do not make war on each other. The more freedom there is, the less war there will be.
The Belmont Club wonders about what is missing
The Commission on Human Security notes that the media has been remarkably oblivious to this surprising trend towards peace. That's not surprising given that probably nowhere has the process lauded by the Commission on Human Security been more in evidence than in Afghanistan, and more studiously ignored. The UNHCR itself admits that "more than 3.5 million Afghans have returned to their homeland since the end of 2001", one of the most remarkable reversals of refugee flows in history -- and then gives the credit to the United Nations -- "when the Bonn Agreement set Afghanistan on the long and bumpy road to political stability and socio-economic development." But what else happened in that time frame? Inquiring minds want to know.
A commenter at Shrinkwrapped points out that it is part of a steady trend over centuries,
This isn't news to military analysts, its old history. This has been the direction of things for a thousand years. The UN has nothing to do with it, it has everything to do with development in ethics, tactics, and technology.

Here's a summary of casualty rates since 1600AD: Down, steadily, except for brief spikes when improvements in battlefield tactics lagged behind improvements in firepower. But the trend is down, down, down.

Wars are becoming less destructive to civilians, too. 20,000 French civilians died in the Normandy Campaign- but even this was lighter than historic civilian casualties. In "pre-enlightened" societies, pillage and rape is considered the right of the soldier. This hasn't been the case in the West in a long time. And Famine and Pestilence no longer follow along behind War- at least when that war is being conducted by a Western nation. They've gone their seperate ways.
Personally I wonder how you can write such a report and keep a straight face when saying things like
Notwithstanding the horrors of Rwanda, Srebrenica and elsewhere, the number of genocides and politicides plummeted by 80% between the 1988 high point and 2001
Which sounds a lot like "well apart from where we really and truly fucked up we've been doing a great job."
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Posted by Chefen | 10/21/2005 06:59:00 PM