Casualties of war

We’ve launched a war against Islamic State, and it seems like we’re always at battle, but this chart is surprising (Click to enlarge, via Vox):

lesswargraph.0Fewer people are dying in war than ever before.

It’s amazing, but given all of the horrors we read about every day, current world conflicts are nowhere near as deadly as those of the past on a per capita basis. According to Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, writing in The Wall Street Journal:

Since 1946, several organizations have tracked the number of armed conflicts and their human toll world-wide. The bad news is that for several decades, the decline of interstate wars was accompanied by a bulge of civil wars, as newly independent countries were led by inept governments, challenged by insurgencies and armed by the cold war superpowers.

The less bad news is that civil wars tend to kill far fewer people than wars between states. And the best news is that, since the peak of the cold war in the 1970s and ’80s, organized conflicts of all kinds—civil wars, genocides, repression by autocratic governments, terrorist attacks—have declined throughout the world, and their death tolls have declined even more precipitously.

The rate of documented direct deaths from political violence (war, terrorism, genocide and warlord militias) in the past decade is an unprecedented few hundredths of a percentage point. Even if we multiplied that rate to account for unrecorded deaths and the victims of war-caused disease and famine, it would not exceed 1%.

Pinker’s explanation for the transition to piece is worth reading, but contrary to what we perceive, the world is a lot more peaceful.

That’s not to say there aren’t dangerous people out there who think the way to achieve their goals is to kill everyone in sight. But institutionally and on a global scale, we’re not the blood thirsty savages we think we are.

Hopefully, we can do better.

Republican outreach: Offensive as usual

This is happening in Wisconsin:

A never ending war

This happened 13 years ago today:

poem-response-to-september-11-2001-phoenixtools11And we’re still fighting the same war (from the Washington Post):

President Obama began outlining a sweeping and long-term strategy Wednesday night for combatting the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, launching what could be the biggest counterterrorism campaign of his presidency. …

According to prepared remarks, Obama said the offensive against the militant group will not involve combat troops but a “steady, relentless effort” through airstrikes in both countries and support for military partners on the ground.

Al-Qaeda was made up of a bunch of psychopaths. And ISIL is made up of guys who al-Qaeda says are too extreme (from the New York Times).

While Al Qaeda remains committed to using terrorist tactics against the West and Arab governments, it has criticized ISIS for killing civilians and for waging war on other Muslims. This rivalry has disrupted the jihadist landscape across the Middle East and spurred new debates about how to fight jihad and what, exactly, an Islamic state is supposed to look like.

This is what happens when you let a bunch of religious nuts loose with high tech weaponry. I hope this Obama announcement has some effect, but sadly, all I think is going to happen is a lot of innocent people are going to die.

The first of the Manson murders: Aug. 9, 1969

Another bizarre anniversary today. Forty years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon resigned as president of the United States.

But 45 years ago, the first of a series of crazed murders occurred in California:

Charlie Manson is a psychopath. His followers were insane sheep. Patricia Krenwinkel was a member of the flock. She’s still in jail and as poignant as this interview is, she should stay there for the rest of her life..

If you don’t know what happened that day 45 years ago, the best book about it was “Helter Skelter” by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor of the Manson family,

Here’s how crazy the Manson clan was. They believed a song that Paul McCartney wrote because he wanted to make a really loud song, was, in their reality, and I have to quote Wikipedia on this:

A part of the Beatles’ coded prophecy of an apocalyptic war in which racist and non-racist whites would be manoeuvered into virtually exterminating each other over the treatment of blacks. Upon the war’s conclusion, after black militants would kill off the few whites they would know to have survived, Manson and his companions would emerge from an underground city in which they would have escaped the conflict. As the only remaining whites, they would rule blacks, who, as the vision went, would be incapable of running America. Manson employed “helter skelter” as the term for this sequence of events.

I try to refrain from profanity in my postings, I can’t come up with any other way to describe this: That was some fucked up shit!