Monday, March 12, 2007
Even though conflict is big on television, not all wars infiltrate our consciousness. Where the United States or its (economic?) allies or (economic?) interests are not involved, war does not seem to exist for us. The Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden report that on average 9 minor armed conflicts (where the number of deaths does not exceed 1000 during the course of the conflict), 12 intermediate armed conflicts (where the number of deaths exceeds 1000, but is fewer than 1000 in any given year), and 13 wars (with more than 1000 deaths a year) go on at all times somewhere in the world.
In the year 2000, war took the lives of 168,000 Africans, 65,000 Asians, 39,000 “middle-easterners,” 37,000 Europeans, and 2,000 Central and South Americans. At the same time, American arms manufacturers were making it possible for war to be the “booming business” that it is. Forty of the top one hundred arms-producing companies in the world are American companies with profits totaling $664 billion dollars in 1999. Over $93 billion of that profit comes from the manufacture and sale of weapons, more than the profit of the other 60 companies combined (US$64 billion). Is this not something Americans should know about?
Meanwhile, those in the less technologically developed world who are not dying in warfare are likely to be dying of disease or starvation. While the life expectancy of the average American was about 75 years in 2001, it was 65 for the Indonesian, 64 for the Russian, 45 for the Afghan, 39 for the Zambian, and 38 for the Rwandan and the Mozambiquan. While an American baby has 99.4% of survival after birth, the infant mortality rate is 2% for the Russian, 10% for the Ethiopian, almost 15% for the Afghan, and nearly 20% for the Angolan.
And while much of the “third world” believes that we care little for their welfare, many more question our motivations even less kindly. They believe we are more interested in exploiting their natural resources for our benefit, and exploiting their people for their cheap labor.
If terrorism is evil — and it is — this is terror’s recruiting station.