Magazine article USA TODAY

War! What Is It Good For?

Magazine article USA TODAY

War! What Is It Good For?

Article excerpt

While some researchers have claimed that war among nations is in decline, a new analysis suggests we should not be too quick to celebrate a more peaceful world. The study finds that there is no clear trend indicating that nations are less eager to wage war, asserts Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science at Ohio State University, Columbus.

Conflict does appear to be less common than it had been in the past, but that is due more to an inability to fight than to an unwillingness to do so. "As empires fragment, the world has split up into countries that are smaller, weaker, and farther apart, so they are less able to fight each other. Once you control for their ability to fight each other, the proclivity to go to war hasn't really changed over the last two centuries."

Several researchers have claimed in recent years that war is in decline, most notably Steven Pinker in his 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. As evidence, Pinker points to a decline in war deaths per capita, but Braumoeller believes that is a flawed measure.

"That accurately reflects the average citizen's risk from death in war, but countries' calculations in war are more complicated than that," Moreover, since population grows exponentially, it would be hard for war deaths to keep up with the booming number of people in the world. …

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