The Institute For Economics and Peace has released its annual “Global Peace Index,” and once again, the U.S. lags behind most of our democratic allies.
The index measures “peace” based on factors such as the level of violent crime, and the amount of militarization. With a military budget that surpasses those of the next seven countries combined, it’s amazing that America doesn’t rank near the bottom based on that factor alone.
Which countries scored the best on the Peace Index? It was largely those “socialist” European countries that the American right loves to criticize at every opportunity. Iceland ranks number one, with Denmark and Austria coming in second and third. Six of the top ten countries on the list are in Europe.
The United States ranks 94 in the list of 162 countries. Let’s get the chant going. “We’re number 94! We’re number 94!” It’s worth noting what countries have scores close to ours.
We come in better than Saudi Arabia, Haiti, Brazil, and Jamaica, for example. But we’re behind Cuba, Bangladesh, Morroco, and Peru.
All of the America’s democratic allies are ranked much higher than the U.S. In addition to the three countries already mentioned, Canada ranks 7, Germany is 16, and the United Kingdom is 39.
But there is some good news. The U.S. has moved up from 101 in last year’s list. The major reasons given for that are President Obama’s reduction in American military involvement abroad, and the nuclear deal that was struck with Iran — both of which have been opposed by Republicans, and even some Democrats. But even with those improvements over last year, America’s militarization score is actually worse now than it was in 2008.
How can the U.S. become more peaceful? The report makes a distinction between what it calls “negative peace,” and “positive peace.” Negative peace is “the absence of violence or the fear of violence.” Positive peace is “the attitudes, institutions, and structures which create and sustain peaceful societies.”
There are eight factors involved in positive peace:
- Sound business environment
- High levels of human capital
- Low levels of corruption
- Free flow of information
- Good relations with neighbors
- Acceptance of the rights of others
- Well functioning government
- Equitable distribution of resources
If true peace is equal to positive peace, it looks like America has some work to do.
Here’s how the 162 countries in the study ranked, in terms of “peacefulness.”
Featured image via Wikipedia