Gene Healy is optimistic when it comes to war and peace:
"Today we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species' time on earth," cognitive scientist Steven Pinker notes.
Over the last half-century, in particular, the data on global violence "paint a shockingly happy picture" of dramatic declines in mass killing.
The latest Human Security Report, tracking trends in political violence, provides more good news: "High-intensity wars, those that kill at least 1,000 people a year, have declined by 78 percent since 1988."
But hasn't the decline in mass killing by nation-states been matched by a rise in privatized violence by terrorist groups? Hardly.
In his 2008 book "The Science of Fear," Daniel Gardner points out that "in the last century, fewer than twenty terrorist attacks killed more than a hundred people." Sept. 11 was a horrific anomaly, and there's very little evidence to justify hysteria over weapons of mass destruction….To kill loads of people, it usually takes a state. And states in recent decades have been markedly more reluctant to do it.
Why is that?…"Greatly increased levels of international trade and foreign direct investment have raised the costs of conquest and shrunk its benefits," the [Human Security Report suggests]. "In today's open global trading system, it is almost always cheaper to acquire goods and raw materials by trade than to invade a country in order to steal them."
You can read the Human Security Report here. I made a complementary argument about the rise of nonviolence here. If you're worried about the health of that open global trading system, you can keep tabs on its condition here. If you'd like to point out all the exceptions to the trend, go here.