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.