War Has Declined in the West Because War Isn’t “Worth It” for Rich Countries
The triumph of peace in contemporary societies is expressed as an obvious fact by mainstream intellectuals. Noting the relatively peaceful state of the world is part of a broader narrative to paint a positive picture of humanity. Yet there is a kernel truth to the assertion that quality of life indicators are improving, as explored by Marian Tupy and other optimists. But the game of warfare is more complicated.
Steven Pinker in his compelling tome The Better Angels of Our Nature posits that warfare is declining. Numerous graphs and statistics are adduced to marshal his case for the ascent of peace. But since its publication in 2011, Pinker’s thesis has spurred internecine debates. But before embarking upon an exploration of Pinker’s audacious claim, we must assess the right variables.
Pinker’s most crucial point is that interstate warfare is declining on a global scale. But for philosopher John Gray this observation warrants critical scrutiny. Gray in a scathing review offers a scorching critique: “If great powers have avoided direct armed conflict, they have fought one another in proxy wars.” Gray lists several examples covering Western interventions in Asia and Africa; however, critics employing this line of reasoning are mistaken in their analyses.
At the heart of the debate is the scalability of wars, so yes, Western countries engage in proxy wars, though the potential of such wars to induce global warfare is a separate issue. Moreover, the contention that insurgent groups are a threat to peace is a valid point, yet these entities lack the capabilities to conduct warfare on a grand scale and neither are they interested in doing so. Essentially, insurgent groups pursue parochial or regional political and economic goals.
Although, Gray’s consideration
Article from Mises Wire