Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Moral Bankruptcy of the Global Peace Index or how to fake peacefulness

The Moral Bankruptcy of the Global Peace Index or how to fake peacefulness
Seth J. Frantzman
June 3, 2009
Tel 97-57-855-4551,

By the logic and methodology employed by the Global Peace Index Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany would have scored well. The Index was in the news recently with headlines that declared “Israel ranked lower than Iran”, “Israel hits rock bottom” and “Israel is one of the most violent countries.” This became apparent when the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace published its latest findings showing Israel to be less peaceful than Sudan. The message of studies such of this dovetails with the false legitimacy of conferences such as the UN’s Durban II which claim to be about racism but are in themselves racist. Together they are part of the moral bankruptcy and thoughtlessness that is behind so much of the rhetoric about peace, racism, war-crimes and justice that dominate the headlines.

The IEP describes itself as a “vision of humanity” that is bringing “a strategic approach to raising the world’s attention and awareness around the importance of peacefulness to humanity’s survival in the 21st century.” It claims to be dedicated to educating people about the “relationship between economic development, business and peace.”

Like other ‘indexes’ such as the Freedom Index and Property Rights Index the institute sifts through mountains of data on the world’s countries and then must reduce each data set into a set “indicators”. The indicators are then divided into three categories; “measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of safety and security in society and measures of militarization.” 144 were measured. Israel scored 141st and Sudan scored 140th. To arrive at this such variables as “relations with neighbouring countires” must all be made into numbers. This system, which is popular in the social sciences, means quantifying such abstract concepts as people’s “perception of criminality in society.” This is open to a form of fraud. Israelis may think their society is violent just like South Africans but the murder rate in Israel is 2.65 for every 100,000 whereas in South Africa it is 38.

Sudan which has caused the deaths of 300,000 of its own African citizens and displaced millions of them to Chad scores exactly the same as Israel under the category “number of displaced people as a percentage of population.” Perhaps the score for Sudan is the same as Israel because Sudan has achieved a complete genocide of its black Muslim Darfur population and there thus aren’t any displaced left? The creators of the Index seem to have punished Israel twice for the Gaza war while giving Sudan a pass since Sudan isn’t at war with her neighbours, she is just slaughtering most of the people within her borders.

This jerry-rigged statistical nonsense gives birth to a morally bankrupt result. The insinuation of the survey is clear: Israel is one of the most violent places in the world. This jives with the typical surveys in Europe where people place Israel on the top of the list of countries “threatening world peace.” By contrast countries currently involved in mass human rights violations, genocides and even slavery can be considered “peaceful.” Countries that resemble one large prison, such as North Korea are positively wonderful to live in. Lebanon, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and the Congo, all of which have central governments that barely function, are doing better than Israel. Egypt, where tourists are forbidden from visiting much of the country, where tourist attractions are like armed police camps and where tourists must travel on special trains for safety is considered 54th out of 144 country, a prime place to live. It is absent of violence apparently because neither the media nor foreigners can visit much of it. The fact that it guns down dozens of African refugees every year for the ‘crime’ of crossing its border doesn’t register on the Index. Neither do riots against Coptic Christians or terrorist acts.

Sudan shouldn’t be merely last on the list, for committing a genocide, it should have such a negative number associated with it as to indicate that it has murdered 300,000 people. Anything less points to the complete moral bankruptcy and irrelevance of “indexs” such as these. It is tempting to want to boil every country down to a neat number but when bias and thoughtlessness is built into the system of doing so the results are no different than Durban II.

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