Perpetual Peace: Accepting the Yoke Without a Struggle
The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has released its 2012 Global Peace Index (GPI), and Americans can breathe a sigh of relief: the U.S. has once again avoided dropping below China in "peacefulness." To be precise, America is now the 88th-most peaceful nation on Earth, just ahead of the 89th-ranked People's Republic.
If you just crawled out from under a U.S. Constitution and are wondering what standard of "peace" could yield a ranking that would have the world's beacon of freedom and the world's most powerful dictatorship in a virtual tie, I can do better than just offer a verbal summary of decades of moral relativism, moral equivalency, and socialist special pleading. I can direct you to a picture, the GPI's interactive map, where you can have all the fun of clicking around the world for yourself, to learn exactly what constitutes peacefulness or the lack thereof.
Let's begin at the beginning. As America and China are languishing in the middle of the global peace pack, one might wonder which lucky countries are 80 places ahead of them. Here, in the study's own words, is the answer: "For the sixth consecutive year [i.e., the entire life span of the GPI], Western Europe remains markedly the most peaceful region with the majority of its countries in the top 20."
Naturally, European "social democracy" leads to a more peaceful life. Especially if you blithely ignore the following:
(1) Islamic fundamentalism. True, life tends to be peaceful (in the GPI sense) in those radical Islamic households in which women cannot reveal their hair in public for fear of being beaten within an inch of their lives by their husbands, brothers, or uncles. Intimidation without opposition usually leads to a non-confrontational atmosphere.
And thanks to liberal moralizing and some well-targeted acts of jihadist violence, this intimidation factor has a "pacifying" effect on the non-Muslim segments of the population as well. I know a 23-year-old French student, on an exchange year, who says it is very common, while walking in many normal neighborhoods in Paris and other French cities, to be berated, harassed, and called names by Muslim men simply for wearing Western-style clothing. As a result, women learn not to frequent those neighborhoods. In other words, the French are gradually losing the right to live as Frenchmen -- in France. That's France, the 40th-most peaceful country.
We need not recount all the related, and often deadly, details regarding the spread and influence of radical Islam in the United Kingdom (29th), Sweden (14th), and the Netherlands (28th).
(2) The protection against hostility provided by the unpeaceful Americans. For all the economic calamity now facing Europe after decades of out-of-control welfare-statism, imagine how much sooner the end would have arrived for Greece (77th), Italy (38th), Spain (28th), or Portugal (16th) -- not to mention North America's Eurozone branch store, Canada (4th) -- if they had actually had to spend their own money providing for their national defense all these "peaceful" post-WWII decades.
Apart from those nations so remotely located as to make them largely immune to hostilities, such as Iceland (1st) and New Zealand (2nd), how many of today's most "peaceful" nations, had they been left without the permanent protection of the "warlike Americans," would be free today to enjoy the luxury of gathering in geriatric "youth mobs" to protest against the indignity of having to work for a living like people had to do before Europe became a non-workers' paradise?
Which leads us back to the neck-and-neck race between the U.S. and China.
The IEP explains its GPI statistics as follows: "The data is sourced from a wide range of respected sources, including the International Institute of Strategic Studies, The World Bank, various UN Agencies, peace institutes and the EIU."
Of course, the key question is not "Where do they get their data?," but "How do they use it to calculate peace?" Here is the IEP's answer:
The International Expert Panel agree on the indicators and the weights assigned to them for the Global Peace Index. The panel constantly reassess and develop the methods and measures used in the index, as well as incorporating the socio-economic factors associated with peace.
If you've taken the bait, and are curious as to who constitutes the "International Expert Panel," you may see the full list here.
As with April's identically motivated World Happiness Report, which produced virtually identical results (as I explained previously at American Thinker), the whole notion of an "index" -- a numerical ranking system based on statistical analysis -- is a ruse designed to doll up the truth about this "peace report": that it is merely an opinion piece written by leftists, and intended to promote that European form of socialism which uses the facade of multi-party democracy to mask its authoritarianism.
If you asked me to describe the perfect food, I could tell you I love pizza -- or I could concoct 23 statistical categories, and then rank 158 foods "objectively" according to these categories. My categories just might happen to include "amount of bread used as a base," "degree of reliance on tomato sauce," "extent of cheese coverage," "circularity," "ability to be cut into equal wedge-shaped pieces," and so on. The outcome of the two ways of answering would be the same, but wouldn't the second formulation seem awfully scientific and "objective"?
Likewise, if you want to know how China can match the U.S. in peace, you must look at the 23 "GPI indicators" the "researchers" used to rank the 158 countries in this "study."
Let's examine a few telling "indicators" on the list. In each category, a country is given a numerical rating from 1 to 5, highlighted with a corresponding color ranging from yellow ("Most peaceful") to red ("Least peaceful").
Category two is "Security officers and police." Okay, an easy win for the U.S., right? Wrong. The two countries are given the same score here, 2.0.
That's right, the land of Tiananmen Square, house-arrested family members of anti-forced-abortion activists, severe internet monitoring, and censorship of political discussion is equal to the United States in its quality of security and police forces. This makes sense only if you judge quality in terms of efficiency and dutifulness in enforcing the laws, regardless of the laws themselves, or the enforcement methods used. The GPI's willful dismissal of moral distinctions -- pardon me, "ideological differences" -- is the primary "control mechanism" of this analysis, as it allows "stable" dictatorships to be judged on equal footing with free nations. In other words, the GPI serves the same purpose as the U.N.
Indicator number four: "Jailed population." Here China receives a benign and peaceful 1.5, while the U.S. rates a bright red 4.5. Apparently it makes no difference, for the purposes of peacefulness, who is in jail -- i.e., whether they are rights-violators or political dissenters -- but only how many are in jail. (As if we can know, for that matter, how many Chinese are in jail.) And this is understandable from the GPI's presumptive socialist position: political dissent is just another disrupter of the peace, like any other crime -- if peace means compliance with authority.
Indicator number five: "Access to weapons." Here, again, America is the loser. The 2nd Amendment is directly penalized in this ranking system. A ban on private citizens owning weapons promotes "peace."
Moving down the list, we get to the real nub of things. The U.S. scores worse than China in "Military expenditure," meaning that spending more of one's budget on the military is deleterious to world peace, regardless of whether that military spending is in the service of defending freedom or threatening it.
And then there is "Military capability," in which America scores the highest (worst) ranking, a 5.0. America's singular offense against peace, according to the GPI, is not aggression, imperialism, oppression, or any other warlike activity. Her big crime against peace is having the greatest military capability. This offense is exacerbated by America's high scores in "Heavy weapons" (i.e., military capability by another name, just to pile on) and "Weapons exports" (i.e., providing allies with security they can't or won't build for themselves).
In short, having the capacity to fend off aggressors, to defend liberty, and to protect one's weak friends is the greatest threat to world peace. America is the 88th-ranked country in peacefulness, barely ahead of China, because she has the gall to be strong enough to defend the existence of the entire semi-free world against the threats of aggressors. Every European nation is so superior to America in part because America has been kind enough to preserve Europe's peaceful socialist fantasy world by sinking her fortune into providing security for a whole civilization. Not to mention the blood of her sons -- which, by the way, is also counted against America, by way of her high score (3.0) in "Deaths from conflict."
And just to round out this little study, let's shine a light on the real heart and soul of Western European socialist advocacy by taking a look at how Israel fares in the GPI.
Out of 158 countries, Israel is ranked 150th -- below Saudi Arabia (106th), Iran (128th), Yemen (143rd), Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt (111th), and, best of all, the two nations tied for 147th place, Libya and Syria.
If you are inclined to wonder whether perhaps Israel's low peace ranking is based on external threats, more than on anti-Israeli sentiment among the GPI "researchers," consider some of the indicators in which Israel scores worst: "Armed services personnel" (4.5), "Military expenditure" (2.8), "Heavy weapons" (5.0), "Military capability" (5.0), "Weapons exports" (5.0), and "Weapons imports" (3.5).
If you need something comparative to drive the point home, how about this: in the "Security officers and police" category, Israel scores a mediocre 2.0; Syria scores a 1.0, the perfect score. (Just think: if China can get its police and security officers up to Syria's high standards, it might pass America in next year's GPI rankings.)
If the internationalist left, which produces reports like the Global Peace Index, has its way -- and of course it is having more of its way each day -- the glorious and oh-so-European goal of perpetual peace will soon be reached. We will know we have realized this dream when tiny, besieged nations allow themselves to be obliterated quietly; when powerful, freedom-loving nations stop loving freedom and being powerful; and when the world's masses stop chafing and grumbling about the suppression of individual liberty, and start embracing the obvious charms of European socialism: zero-hour work weeks, cradle-to-grave adolescence, and, very soon, a civilizational collapse that, while perhaps not quite perpetual, will certainly outlast everyone living there today.
In short, the world would be a more peaceful place if everyone would just accept the yoke passively, and allow himself to be led into the flames without a struggle. Peace, on this standard, simply means making the global socialist bureaucrat's life easier.
A final note. The GPI lists among its official "Endorsers" the following people: Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner, Jeffrey Sachs (author of the World Happiness Report), the King and Queen of Jordan (GPI rank: 62nd), a host of U.N. characters, a couple of dozen "Renowned Academics" (mostly professors of Peace Studies you've never heard of), Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, and "United Nations Messenger of Peace & Academy Award-winning actor" Michael Douglas.
With friends like that, peace hardly needs enemies. Go, Tunisia (72nd)!