NEWS

U.S. Does Poorly in Peace Rankings

By Matthew Harwood

The United States has once again received poor marks on an index that measures the peacefulness of 140 countries worldwide.

The Global Peace Index 2008, released yesterday by the United Kingdom's Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked the United States 97th, one place lower than last year. The most peaceful country in the world, according to the rankings, is Iceland and the most violent, Iraq, which came in 140th place.

According to the Global Peace Index's Web site:

The index is composed of 24 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources, which combine internal and external factors ranging from a nation's level of military expenditure to its relations with neighbouring countries and the level of respect for human rights. These indicators were selected by an international panel of academics, business people, philanthropists and peace institutions.

"The U.S. does so badly because it has the highest proportion of jailed people in the world. And it has high levels of homicide and high potential for terrorist attacks," said Steve Killelea, Australian entrepreneur and founder of the Global Peace Index.

Gavin Hayman, director of campaigns for Global Witness, told CNN.com that the United States' place on the index is skewed:

"The people who did this study only look at peace and the absence of war, and this approach may throw up some perverse readings. The U.S. has done some nasty things geopolitically, and it ranks poorly because of its high military spending, but that's a little unfair as they are the ones that keep the world's waterways free, and play a role in protecting global assets."

Despite the U.S.'s poor ranking, the world, Killelea said, is a marginally more peaceful place than it was last year. Countries such as Angola, Indonesia, and India progressed most toward peace while Scandinavian countries combined to retain their position as the most peaceful region in the world. Israel, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, and Iraq brought in the rear.

Comments

Meaningless

In my opinion, these peace rankings are relatively meaningless. As a world superpower, America has accepted a tremendous amount of responsibility; some of it unwillingly.

America does have a high rate of imprisonment but the country also has a high rate of illegal immigration; many of whom are residents in the correctional facilities. What is the alternative?

Because of America's wealth and influence, it is also a highly sought after target by terrorists. With a need to defend the nation, it's only proper to take defensive approaches which ultimately gives the impression of a less peaceful nation.

One responsibility America has taken is the unofficial enforcers of the world. Due to our sizeable military and intelligence fields, we have taken it upon ourselves to come to the aid of other nations; economically, militarily, and through other means.

Perhaps an important item of note is that ensuring our nation's security means having to expand our borders; so to speak. By keeping tabs on individuals, groups, cargo, etc at their places of origin, we can better ensure our security. This type of action also calls for more resources; again, which lowers the so-called peace ranking.

As long as we can maintain the delicate balance between freedom and security, I don't care if we end up dead last in the rankings. The fact is, people are still streaming into this country in search of opportunity which says a lot for its overall value.

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