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PMC Articles Tagged 'conflict'

What Sex Means for World Peace

May 7th, 2012 by joe | Add a Comment

Here is an excellent read. See: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/24/what_sex_means_for_world_peace

What Sex Means for World Peace
The evidence is clear: The best predictor of a state’s stability is how its women are treated.

In the academic field of security studies, realpolitik dominates. Those who adhere to this worldview are committed to accepting empirical evidence when it is placed before their eyes, to see the world as it “really” is and not as it ideally should be. As Walter Lippmann wrote, “We must not substitute for the world as it is an imaginary world.”

Well, here is some robust empirical evidence that we cannot ignore: Using the largest extant database on the status of women in the world today, which I created with three colleagues, we found that there is a strong and highly significant link between state security and women’s security. In fact, the very best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-religious identity; the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. What’s more, democracies with higher levels of violence against women are as insecure and unstable as nondemocracies.

Our findings, detailed in our new book out this month, Sex and World Peace, echo those of other scholars, who have found that the larger the gender gap between the treatment of men and women in a society, the more likely a country is to be involved in intra- and interstate conflict, to be the first to resort to force in such conflicts, and to resort to higher levels of violence. On issues of national health, economic growth, corruption, and social welfare, the best predictors are also those that reflect the situation of women. What happens to women affects the security, stability, prosperity, bellicosity, corruption, health, regime type, and (yes) the power of the state. The days when one could claim that the situation of women had nothing to do with matters of national or international security are, frankly, over. The empirical results to the contrary are just too numerous and too robust to ignore.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/24/what_sex_means_for_world_peace

Population, Environment and Conflict

December 26th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Many thanks to Roger Martin of Population Matters for this paper he delivered at the African Population Conference in Ougadougou, organized by the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS).

UAPS 2011

Item 11.3: Population, Environment and Conflict


The paper traces historic competition and conflict over scarce resources throughout evolution, and among early agricultural and industrial societies. It describes how population growth increases pressure on the natural environment and on farmland soils and water supplies, becoming both the spur for and means of provoking violent conflict with neighbouring communities, states and empires. It outlines several contemporary sources of tension over food, water, energy and other natural resources, in the context of the approaching ‘perfect storm’ of population growth, climate change and peak oil. It cites examples of the strange omission of any reference to the population driver, and thus to the consequent need for well-funded programmes of family planning and women’s empowerment, in many current reports on global issues where they are clearly relevant, ascribing this to an irrational taboo. It contrasts the importance of this issue with the ‘derisory’ aid for family planning; and makes some recommendations.

Item 11.3: Population, Environment and Conflict

I come to the population issue from my two careers, first as a diplomat, then as an environmentalist. But I came to Africa in 1959 as a first-year VSO volunteer in the then Northern Rhodesia. The population at that time was 4 million; Zambia’s today is 13.3 million, more than triple, and rising at 2.4% per year.

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Raising news awareness on driving forces behind failing states

December 21st, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Mark O’Connor for this article by UK population writer Brian McGavin, addressed to news editors.

To News Editors: Raising Awareness on Driving Forces Behind Failing States

From: Brian McGavin, writer and analyst.

November 2011

Below I give some interesting and generally unreported facts that give important background on many of the failing states regularly in the news. For example, Somalia, Haiti, Iraq, Palestinian Territory and Afghanistan. It also includes Pakistan and Iran.

Despite the near daily news coverage of these countries, critical, underlying issues are almost never mentioned by journalists reporting endless symptoms and predicaments. These issues add a great deal of insight into the key development challenges facing the countries concerned and by implication the policies of countries like the US, UK and Canada, where billions are being spent in aid and military interventions to try and stabilise failing states.

The aim is to give journalists more balance and context to reports. A simple one or two-sentence addition of data gives a far better understanding of the significance of demographics to a country’s geo-political profile, its aid dependency and social and economic future. (See table below*)

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Demographics Loom Large in State Failure

December 21st, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Lester Brown for this article.  See  www.earth-policy.org/data_highlights/2011/highlights20

Demographics Loom Large in State Failure

Earth Policy Release
Data Highlight
November 8 , 2011

After a half-century of forming new states from former colonies and from the breakup of the Soviet Union, the international community is today faced with the opposite situation: the disintegration of states. Failing states are now a prominent feature of the international political landscape.

The most systematic ongoing effort to analyze countries’ vulnerability to failure is one undertaken by the Fund for Peace and published in each July/August issue of Foreign Policy. The research team analyzes 177 countries and ranks them according to “their vulnerability to violent internal conflict and societal deterioration,” based on 12 social, economic, and political indicators. Each indicator is scored from 0 to 10. A combined score of 120 would mean that a society is failing totally by every measure. Somalia, the country first on the list, scores 113.4. A score of 0 is the strongest score possible. Finland, number 177 on the list, is the strongest state with a score of 19.7.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.earth-policy.org/data_highlights/2011/highlights20

Population bomb: 9 billion march to WWIII

October 21st, 2011 by joe | 4 Comments

Thanks to Lee Gatewood for this article.  See http://www.marketwatch.com/story/population-bomb-9-billion-march-to-wwiii-2011-06-28

June 28, 2011, 12:01 a.m. EDT

Population bomb: 9 billion march to WWIII

Commentary: Can anyone halt this economic explosive?

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) – Sshh. Don’t tell anyone. But “while you are reading these words, four people will have died from starvation. Most of them children.” Seventeen words. Four deaths. That statistic is from a cover of Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 provocative “Population Bomb.”

By the time you finish this column, another five hundred will die. By starvation. Mostly kids. Dead.

But global population will just keep growing, growing, growing. Why? The math is simple: Today there are more than two births for every death worldwide. One death. Two new babies.

Bomb? Tick-tick-ticking? Or economic bubble? Population growth is a basic assumption hard-wired in traditional economic theory. Unquestioned. Yes, population is our core economic problem. Not a military problem. But the bigger this economic bubble grows, the more we all sink into denial, the closer the point of no return where bubble becomes bomb, where war is the only alternative.

Yes, folks, ultimately population growth is an economic nuclear bomb, tick-tick-ticking a silent countdown to global disaster. In denial, we march a self-destructive path to WWIII.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/population-bomb-9-billion-march-to-wwiii-2011-06-28

Reading the World In a Loaf of Bread

August 18th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Christian Parenti, author of the just published Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, (Nation Books), for this article by him.  See: http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175419/

Reading the World In a Loaf of Bread
Soaring Food Prices, Wild Weather, Upheaval, and a Planetful of Trouble

By Christian Parenti

What can a humble loaf of bread tell us about the world?

The answer is: far more than you might imagine.  For one thing, that loaf can be “read” as if it were a core sample extracted from the heart of a grim global economy. Looked at another way, it reveals some of the crucial fault lines of world politics, including the origins of the Arab spring that has now become a summer of discontent.

Consider this: between June 2010 and June 2011, world grain prices almost doubled. In many places on this planet, that proved an unmitigated catastrophe.  In those same months, several governments fell, rioting broke out in cities from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Nairobi, Kenya, and most disturbingly three new wars began in Libya, Yemen, and Syria. Even on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Bedouin tribes are now in revolt against the country’s interim government and manning their own armed roadblocks.

And in each of these situations, the initial trouble was traceable, at least in part, to the price of that loaf of bread.  If these upheavals were not “resource conflicts” in the formal sense of the term, think of them at least as bread-triggered upheavals.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175419/

Crop growers brace for more violence in Egypt

June 22nd, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

I came across this article in the Egyptian Gazette on an Egypt Air flight. See:

Crop Growers Brace for More Violence in Egypt

By Mohssen Arishie – The Egyptian Gazette
Sunday, June 5, 2011 04:22:53 PM

CAIRO – As the nation starts to sweat under a scorching sun, Egyptian farmers are afraid that there may be more brawls like last year’s over the lack of irrigation water.

Soothing statements by the Government about the resumption of cordial relations with other Nile Basin states haven’t persuaded infuriated farmers to stop cursing water officials.

Every summer, crop growers get involved in nasty fights with their neighbours over who should irrigate their land first, saving their crops from dying.

Sometimes, farmers’ crops in hard-hit areas do in fact shrivel up and die. The tragedy can be more disastrous, when some growers ignore the public’s health and use sewage water to irrigate their land.

Many citizens have died as a result of eating contaminated fruit and vegetables. The Government is also suffering, as health officials complain that the medical treatment for people who get sick from eating contaminated agricultural produce is very expensive. Ridiculing the Government’s complaints, a frustrated crop grower insists that a proper irrigation system would be great for the public’s health and the State budget.

Abdel-Aziz Khalaf, a farmer in the Delta Governorate of el-Menoufiya, condemns the Government, represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, for betraying the farmers in summer.

“Although there is a shortage of irrigation water every summer, it does not seem that the agricultural officials are willing to suggest a solution. Everybody is letting down everybody else. The Government does not want to learn from past disasters,” he says.

To read the full article, please click here:

The New Geopolitics of Food

May 31st, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

From Foreign Policy Magazine.  See http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/25/the_new_geopolitics_of_food. Also, see http://www.foreignpolicy.com/issues/current for a series of articles in the May/June issue on the global food situation.

From the Middle East to Madagascar, high prices are spawning land grabs and ousting dictators. Welcome to the 21st-century food wars.


In the United States, when world wheat prices rise by 75 percent, as they have over the last year, it means the difference between a $2 loaf of bread and a loaf costing maybe $2.10. If, however, you live in New Delhi, those skyrocketing costs really matter: A doubling in the world price of wheat actually means that the wheat you carry home from the market to hand-grind into flour for chapatis costs twice as much. And the same is true with rice. If the world price of rice doubles, so does the price of rice in your neighborhood market in Jakarta. And so does the cost of the bowl of boiled rice on an Indonesian family’s dinner table.

Welcome to the new food economics of 2011: Prices are climbing, but the impact is not at all being felt equally. For Americans, who spend less than one-tenth of their income in the supermarket, the soaring food prices we’ve seen so far this year are an annoyance, not a calamity. But for the planet’s poorest 2 billion people, who spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food, these soaring prices may mean going from two meals a day to one. Those who are barely hanging on to the lower rungs of the global economic ladder risk losing their grip entirely. This can contribute — and it has — to revolutions and upheaval.

Already in 2011, the U.N. Food Price Index has eclipsed its previous all-time global high; as of March it had climbed for eight consecutive months. With this year’s harvest predicted to fall short, with governments in the Middle East and Africa teetering as a result of the price spikes, and with anxious markets sustaining one shock after another, food has quickly become the hidden driver of world politics. And crises like these are going to become increasingly common. The new geopolitics of food looks a whole lot more volatile — and a whole lot more contentious — than it used to. Scarcity is the new norm.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/25/the_new_geopolitics_of_food

This Time We’re Taking the Whole Planet With Us

April 21st, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Joyce Tarnow for this article. See http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/60-60/5184-this-time-were-taking-the-whole-planet-with-us

Posted on March 7, 2011: This Time We Are Taking The Whole Planet With Us.

By Chris Hedges

I have walked through the barren remains of Babylon in Iraq and the ancient Roman city of Antioch, the capital of Roman Syria, which now lies buried in silt deposits. I have visited the marble ruins of Leptis Magna, once one of the most important agricultural centers in the Roman Empire, now isolated in the desolate drifts of sand southeast of Tripoli. I have climbed at dawn up the ancient temples in Tikal, while flocks of brightly colored toucans leapt through the jungle foliage below. I have stood amid the remains of the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor along the Nile, looking at the statue of the great Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II lying broken on the ground, with Percy Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” running through my head:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Civilizations rise, decay and die. Time, as the ancient Greeks argued, for individuals and for states is cyclical. As societies become more complex they become inevitably more precarious. They become increasingly vulnerable. And as they begin to break down there is a strange retreat by a terrified and confused population from reality, an inability to acknowledge the self-evident fragility and impending collapse. The elites at the end speak in phrases and jargon that do not correlate to reality. They retreat into isolated compounds, whether at the court at Versailles, the Forbidden City or modern palatial estates. The elites indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of vaster wealth and extravagant consumption. They are deaf to the suffering of the masses who are repressed with greater and greater ferocity. Resources are more ruthlessly depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses. The Roman and Sumerian empires fell this way. The Mayan elites, after clearing their forests and polluting their streams with silt and acids, retreated backward into primitivism.

As food and water shortages expand across the globe, as mounting poverty and misery trigger street protests in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, the elites do what all elites do. They launch more wars, build grander monuments to themselves, plunge their nations deeper into debt, and as it all unravels they take it out on the backs of workers and the poor…

To read the rest of the article, please click here: http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/60-60/5184-this-time-were-taking-the-whole-planet-with-us

What Lies behind Egypt’s Problems? How do They Affect Others?

April 20th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Mark O’Connor for this article.  One of the graphs below makes very clear the link between the price of oil and the price of food.  See http://ourfiniteworld.com/2011/01/29/whats-behind-egypts-problems/

What Lies behind Egypt’s Problems? How do They Affect Others?

Posted on January 29, 2011 by gailtheactuary

We have all been reading about Egypt in the newspapers, and wonder what is behind their problems. Let me offer a few insights.

At least part of Egypt’s problem is the fact that in the past the government has threatened to reduce food subsidies. Now it is planning to hold food subsidies level and raise energy subsidies, but it is not clear that the dollar amount of subsidy will be enough. The government is taking steps to make food and energy affordable for most, but there is worry that the steps being taken will not be enough.

Egypt’s Declining Financial Situation

There is a good reason why one might expect Egypt to start running into problems with energy and food subsidies. Its own financial situation is declining at the same time that the cost of food imports is soaring. If we look at a graph of Egyptian oil imports, exports, and consumption (using a graph from Energy Export Databrowser, which graphs BP Statistical Data), we find that Egypt’s oil use has been rising rapidly, at the same time the amount extracted each year is declining.

To read the full essay, please click here: http://ourfiniteworld.com/2011/01/29/whats-behind-egypts-problems/