Monday, September 21, 2009

International Day of Peace: Which Countries are the Most Peaceful?

Today is the "International Day of Peace" celebrated by millions around the world; unknown to millions around the world.

According to the Global Peace Index, Japan is the 7th most peaceful country in the world––following New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria, and Sweden.

In Asia, Singapore rates 23rd; Malaysia 26th; South Korea 33rd; Taiwan 37th; Vietnam 39th; Bhutan 40th; China 74th; Mongolia 89th; Phillipines 114th; Thailand 118th; India 122nd; Pakistan 137th; and Afghanistan 143rd (last from the bottom place which goes to Iraq).

However, one has to wonder about the methodology of these ratings as the GPI puts the US––the world's largest arms dealer still at war in Iraq after invading it without provocation in 2003; now escalating conflict in Afghanistan––at only 83rd--while Iraq is rated last. Why should a country that experiences invasion and resulting ongoing violent conflict be rated less peaceful than the invading country?

And shouldn't "peaceful" points be deducted if a nation profits from weapons manufacturing? Arms sales originating from Sweden (6th most peaceful) exploded last year. US weapons manufacturers made record sales in 2009. The US was the world's largest arm exporter in 2008, followed by Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, according to the data released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ( ). The UK's "first-class defense industry" had the most sales in 2007, according to the Times.

The US manufacturer Boeing was the top arms producer in 2007, with arms sales of $30.5 billion: "It's a great time to be in the fighter business." Lockheed Martin reported $42.7 billion in sales in 2008, with the supposedly second and third most peaceful nations of Denmark and Norway joining the United States, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, and Australia to co-finance the F-35 jet fighter. Japan and South Korea will be among the buyers.

It also doesn't look like spending on weapons was taken into consideration either. Global arms spending hit a record in 2008:
...Global military spending reached a record $1,464 billion last year with the United States taking up by far the biggest share of the total, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday.

Arms shipments were up 4 percent worldwide from 2007 and 45 percent higher than in 1999, the think tank said in its annual study of the global arms trade.

"The idea of the 'war on terror' has encouraged many countries to see their problems through a highly militarized lens, using this to justify high military spending," Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of the Military Expenditure Project at the think tank said in a statement.

"Meanwhile, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $903 billion in additional military spending by the USA alone."

The United States accounted for 58 percent of the worldwide increase between 1999 and 2008. China and Russia both nearly tripled their military spending over the decade, SIPRI said.

Other countries such as India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Brazil, South Korea, Algeria and Britain also contributed substantially to the total increase....
The Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation put world spending on arms at $1.47 trillion in 2008. The US at $711 billion accounted for 48% of the world's spending on military weapons--followed by China, Russia, the UK, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and India.

And shouldn't "peaceful" points be deducted for maintaining weapons of mass destruction? Almost 2,000 nuclear warheads (of over 8,000 operational warheads) are kept on high alert and capable of being launched immediately. All together, the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan and Israel are holding onto a total of around 25,000 nuclear weapons.

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