Friday, 15 July 2016

The War on Terror is Failing - Spectacularly

"Our nation, this generation, will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause, by our efforts and by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter and we we will not fail." - US President George W. Bush, War on Terror Speech, 20/9/2001.

Nearly 15 years on from that address to the American people, following the days of 9/11, and nearly 15 years on since Bush's pledge to defeat terror, has the US' most ambitious war been a success or a failure?

The answer, unsurprisingly, is unmitigated failure. There is no doubt, as the recent findings of the Institute for Economics and Peace in its annual Global Peace Index indicate, the world is a more violent place since 2001 - and it's getting increasingly worse.

The last decade has seen a historic decline in world peace. 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 sixty years. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons increased dramatically over the decade, doubling from 2007 to 2015, to approximately 60 million people. The refugees entering other countries then causes politically instability in those countries, further exacerbating the problem.

The Global Peace Index not only records a historically less peaceful world, but an unequal one too, with the most peaceful countries continuing to improve while the least peaceful are falling into greater violence and conflict. Who would have thought that proclaiming a whole region, namely the Middle-East, as terrorists, proceeding to invade many of them and ultimately leaving a trail of death and destruction in your wake, would actually bring more instability and less peace?

It's not just the threat of terrorism and more wars that we have to contend with, and all the horrific human, spiritual and environmental costs involved. There is an economic cost to bear, also. The world continues to spend enormous amounts on creating and containing violence and little on building peace. The economic impact of violence on the global economy in  2015 was $13.6 trillion. This figure represents 13.3 per cent of the world’s economic activity. It cost every single person in the world $1,876 last year in this war on terror. Do you still think it is worth it?

You might well ask where the peacekeeping costs in the previous chart is. Surely, to build a more peaceful world, the priority spending would have be on this. Well, it appears only 2% of all expenditure is for creating peace. The economic losses from conflict dwarf the expenditures and investments in peace-building and peacekeeping. Why are our investments in peace so small when there is an enormous payoff to investing in peace and preventing conflict and violence?

According to the report, the more peaceful a country is the more likely it is to remain peaceful, due to the attitudes, institutions and structures which sustain peace”. 

It is clear that the war has failed, as all wars inevitably fail.

Maybe it's time to finally give peace a chance.

"Peace is its own reward" - Mahatma Gandhi.

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