International conflict isn't declining, new analysis finds

phys.org | 8/29/2013 | Staff
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Contrary to popular belief, war is not declining, according to a new analysis of the last 200 years of international conflict.

In fact, the belief that war is disappearing has lulled us into a false sense of security, said Bear Braumoeller, professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

Threat - War - Is—not - Longshot - Braumoeller

"We really don't get how big a threat war is—not by a longshot," Braumoeller said.

"The process of escalation that led to two world wars in the last century are still there. Nothing has changed. And that scares the **** out of me."

Declines - War - Initiation - Severity - Luck

Any apparent declines in war initiation or severity can be attributed to random luck—and our luck could run out at any time, Braumoeller said.

Braumoeller is the author of the new book Only the Dead: The Persistence of War in the Modern Age. In the book, Braumoeller challenges the argument of recent scholars who claim war is in decline, most notably Steven Pinker in his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

Look - Ways - War - Decline - Evidence

"I take a comprehensive look at all the different ways you can think about what it means for war to be in decline. And I find no evidence for a long-term decline in any of them," he said.

Maybe most alarmingly, though, Braumoeller finds that the probability that a small war will become a very big one hasn't changed, either.

Example - Humans - Wars - Century - Probability

One grim example: If humans continue to fight 50 wars per century, the probability of seeing a war with battle deaths that exceed 1 percent of the world's population in the next 100 years is about 13 percent, Braumoeller found. That would amount to at least 70 million people killed.

"That's nothing short of horrifying. The escalatory propensity of war is the scariest thing I found in this research," he said.

Claims - War

So what's wrong with the claims that war is...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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