Imagine If We Were Number One


No, not number one in military spending (which we are). Not number one in incarceration rates (which we are as well). What if, instead of these things, the U.S. became hyper-focused on becoming the most peaceful nation on earth?

The recently released 2013 Global Peace Index (GPI) placed the U.S.100th out of 162 countries. That’s not so spectacular. The GPI, which is endorsed by a number of Nobel Peace laureates, eminent individuals, and renowned academics, considers factors related to both negative peace, that is, the absence of violent conflict, and positive peace, or characteristics of just and humane societies, like ample housing, access to education, lack of poverty, healthcare, and gender equality.  The GPI’s Positive Peace Index measures attitudes, institutions and structures that either promote or prohibit a peaceful environment.

The 2013 GPI noted that, since the 2008, 110 countries have become less peaceful. The U.S is one of these. The U.S scores particularly poorly in regards to its high prison and jail population, its large and active military, the number of conflicts it is engaged in overseas and the number of combat deaths, its heavy weapons capacity and ease of access to small arms. The U.S. rates moderately on measures related to gender equality, education, and infant mortality.

This failure to commit to peace is a global catastrophe, and a costly one at that. The GPI report, available at www.visionofhumanity.org, calculates the total economic impact of containing violence to have been $9.46 trillion in 2012.  According to the report, cutting the cost of violence in half would be enough to repay all the debts of the developing world, provide for European financial stability, and fully fund the Millennium Development Goals.

So, what does it take to get to the top, to be a “peace” country? The top ten of the GPI is dominated by small Nordic countries, although New Zealand, Canada and Japan are included as well. Despite being far different geographically and in its population, the U.S can perhaps draw a thing or two from these countries. Difficult economic times notwithstanding, Iceland is number one for its low crime rates, its minimal military, and its resistance to getting involved in global violent conflict. In general, the high peace countries tend to have, among other qualities, more equitable distribution of resources, greater trust between citizens, and more social cohesion. They invest in health and education and seek alternatives to retributive justice.  In essence, nations that score high on positive peace tend also to be high on the overall GPI.

Perhaps the most important goal for the U.S. is to reduce the size, expenditure, and use of its military.  It is this militarism that is the underlying cause of the country’s poor ranking.  Yet 57% of President Obama’s proposed 2014 budget is devoted to military. Not a step in the right direction.  All the more reason, however, for anyone who wants peace to remain vocal and vigilant. How about if we try to be number one at something else for a change.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”