Thanks to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the wars they spawned, many people around the world think they're living through the most dangerous, violent and strategically uncertain period in human history. Well, that simply isn't true, as the most recent Human Security Report from Canada's Simon Fraser University makes clear. Entitled, "The Causes of Peace and the Shrinking Costs of War," the 2009-2010 edition of the annual report marshals a ton of solid data that proves our world is less violent than ever and that it has "become far less insecure over the past 20 years."
The major failing of this otherwise brilliant report is its refusal to give America any credit for this historic shift, which the authors credit to NATO and the United Nations as the "international community" of note. But before addressing that lapse, let me focus on the unabashedly good news.
First, classic interstate warfare continues to decline. If in the 1950s we suffered an average of 6 to 7 interstate or international wars per year, now we're down to less than one -- despite the number of states in the world having roughly doubled across those six decades. Though the report notes the complete absence of great-power war since 1945, it repeatedly refuses to adequately credit nuclear weapons on that score. War, the "eternal scourge," apparently went the way of the dinosaur once America achieved nuclear superpower status and exerted itself globally, but the report pretends it was all the U.N.'s doing -- kind of like crediting the referee with winning the game.