Monday, May 30, 2005
Gregg Easterbook explores here (and here), in "The End of War?", the perhaps-surprising (and certainly under-reported) phenomenon that, during the last 15 years, "there have been steadily fewer armed conflicts worldwide" and that "it is possible that a person's chance of dying because of war has, in the last decade or more, become the lowest in human history." (It is a shame that, for many -- including me -- this news comes as such a surprise. As Easterbrook observes, "[T]he fact that we now see so many visuals of combat and conflict creates the impression that these problems are increasing.").
Easterbook spends some time considering the question, "what is causing war to decline?" The rise of more stable political institutions and democracies, the end of the cold war, the "rise of peacekeeping," etc., are all considered. I agree that "the spread of enlightenment" is the "riskiest" answer, given that "human nature has let us down many times before." Still, "swords really are being beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. The world ought to take notice."
It is interesting, though, that Easterbook does not seem to think that law has played much of a role. (Unless he means to include "law" in his discussion of the "global security system envisioned by the U.N. charter").