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C. Stirling Bartholomew

The kill level of the 21st century will be orders of magnitude greater than the previous century. The weapons are there. It's just a matter of using them.


True, but since we have evolved into creatures of greater moral sensitivity than those of previous generations; since we no longer believe in the irascible gods of yore, but in warm fuzzies; more precisely, since we believe in ideal and inaccurate projections of ourselves, those weapons will never be used.

Yeah, right.

Chris Smith

I'm not counting on humanity's moral evolution to prevent death on the scale of last century, but there are a few other considerations that may do so.

First of all, let's look at war. The probability of war is highest when two nations that are dissatisfied with each other reach "power parity". This is called a "power transition". When we project current demographic trends into the future, there are only a few major power transitions that are expected to occur this century: when China passes the US, and then when India passes the US. (Further down the road, it's possible that India will pass China.) As long as we can effectively manage these transitions, World War 3 should be permanently avoidable.

Secondly, let's look at genocide. Genocide is far more likely to occur in an autocratic state than a democratic one. Data collected by the Polity IV Project show that the number of autocratic governments today is about a fourth what it was at its peak in 1975. The number of democracies has more than doubled since that time. It seems that in the last thirty-five years, at least, selective pressures have favored democracies. If this trend continues, we should see fewer genocides in the next century.


Hi Chris,

It is also often claimed that despite so many wars and rumors of wars in the last few decades, the number of people killed and injured in wars continues to decline, decade after decade.

But I'm guessing that such statistics mask others. As soon as one focuses on power parity issues - of special interest to the countries you mention, but less relevant to many others, the victims of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse on the loose in counties with a government like that of North Korea or lack of an effective government as in Haiti and Somalia go uncounted and unconsidered.

A great number of casualties occur today in failed and semi-failed states and states that fail their people even as they succeed. The number of victims of a state like North Korea, at war with its own people, may run into the hundreds of thousands. How does one even count them? Sudan, Somalia, the Congo, just recently, the Ivory Coast.

The question of domestic violence also needs to be considered, if one wants to think about violence on the microcosmic as well as macrocosmic levels. Things like the sky high rate of incarceration in a country like the US needs to be examined.

People in our society tend to have libertarian views on many things, but that goes hand in hand with permitting the state to be highly coercive of its own citizens, of other states, and of non-state actors. Just saying.


"People in our society tend to have libertarian views on many things, but that goes hand in hand with permitting the state to be highly coercive of its own citizens, of other states, and of non-state actors."

Could you unpack this intriguing statement a little bit, John?


Actually, now that I look at it more closely, what interests me is the phrase "hand in hand." Do you mean to imply a causative relationship? If so, are you saying that widespread holding of libertarian opinions by the public somehow (paradoxically) lowers the barriers to state action even more than to private action? I have a feeling there is a world of reading behind your statement that you have done and I have not.

I've always felt, in my guy-on-a-barstool way, that liberalism isn't just getting your arbitrary personal freedom underwritten by the government, it's a definite way of life. Could this thought be a sort of poor cousin to the thought you are getting at?


Hi Woofin,

First off, classical liberalism has a lot more in common with classical conservatism than either have in common with Ayn Rand libertarianism, libertarianism of the Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck varieties, liberalism of the Michael Moore variety - the list is very long.

A vulgar notion of "Don't tread on me" and "Drop the bomb" seem to go hand-in-hand. They don't have to; but they often do.

The Italian Protestant tradition I am at home in has a long anti-fascist tradition; the slogan "fascism means war" encapsulates a way of life that got a number of my spiritual ancestors killed. I combine that with elements of classical liberalism and classical conservatism whereas libertarianism leaves me very cold.

The net result: I am absolutely appalled by the incarceration rate in the US. I am in favor of the reinvention of accountability structures beyond and outside of the state. I am happy if we pick a fight with brutal dictators but only if we are willing to do so with boots on the ground and a full-court press on all levels, diplomatic and otherwise. I believe that a form of national service should be required of all young people. I believe that native-born Americans should be forced to take a citizenship test until they pass it, a test like the one my wife took to become a US citizen. I believe we should live within our means as a nation. I believe it is the duty of government to defend the defenseless and uplift the poor. I believe the core mission of the US is still summed up by Emma Lazarus's poem, the New Colossus.

Put another way, I am completely without representation in the current political climate.

Seth L. Sanders

Eloquently stated, John!

Pulp Fiction 6

I find it very off putting how we have to essentially waste time and money on family violence. I feel that it is a matter that should not be handled by on duty officers who have, not more important but, more pressing issues at hand while they are on duty such as accidents and likewise. I also don't like how in society revenge is something that is expected out of a person who is wronged. I know it's been said a million times, but an eye for an eye really does make the whole world blind. I understand that when we go to war we are fighting for something that matters, but in the end if we bomb someone and they bomb us back basically we are all at a loss in the end.

Shawshank 4

I have to agree with you, Pulp Fiction 4. What is the world’s fascination with violence and why do we need to keep finding ways to justify it? It goes back to what, elementary school, when the children fight with each other and when asked “Why?” they respond with “They did it first!” or “They started it!” As a society do we need to make acting like children a justifiable action? I know something like war, for example, isn’t such a black and white concept but has anyone ever wondered what would happen if we all accepted the violence brought on by someone rather than striking right back with the same violence, if not worse? If that is not a question to be asked, what questions are being asked when the topic of war is present? Is it safe to say leaders-presidents, and other national authoritative figures-automatically begin to think of the best revenge to seek and how to go about seeking it? Then, after all of that, the only other wonder I have is just… why?

Shawshank 4

The above comment was intended to agree with Pulp Fiction 6, I apologize for my mistyping.

Pulp Fiction 5

I am sad to say that violence has almost become part of me in growing up. We have been in a “confrontation” since I was in 4th grade so it basically is just part of the day to day life. Now obviously this would be different if the war was on U.S. soil but none the less we here every day about more U.S. soldiers being killed. Will we ever see a world of peace? I am trying to be optimistic in saying maybe, but my gut says that is extremely unlikely. Even if the major powers in the world decided they were content and didn’t wish to fight some smaller country lead by a dictator would try to take over the world. Wars have lost all there meaning as the years have passed by. I can honestly say that the American Revolution and Civil war were wars that needed to be fought. It was clear that violence was the only way to make sure the right thing was done in the future. Wars today are stained with oil and really have no meaning other than to achieve more control of oil reserves or gain votes in an election. Obviously something had to be done about Saddam Hussien and Osama Bin Laden, but honestly war might not have been the best option. Violence has been a part of our history for so long that it almost is looked upon as normal, but in my opinion violence should be a last resort only used after all other options have been exhausted.


War is unarguably a terrible thing. In biblical times and today soldiers see and hear about things that can’t even be explained. Even today during battles and wars countries take things to far and even kill innocent civilians. War I’m assuming puts an individual in a certain state of mind in which one can become inhuman. The Assyrians are no different then Nazi, Germany trying to wipe out an entire race. The only difference between the times would be the politics and the weaponary used. The motives behind ideas don’t change we still become the animal during war time as the Assyrinans did.

Breaker Morant 6

Acts of Violence, by all means, should never be the solutions to any problems in this world. As long as we are humans, there is a tremendous need to promote harmony and peace in this world. It doesn't matter if one is the soldier, or the civilians, we're created in the "image of God", and must treat all as the "image". War, violence can never solve anything nor do they promote the highest good; people today still suffer from the violence and war of the past-World War 2, etc-and has not recovered to find true happiness. It is only just to refrain and stop the acts of violence, no matter where it is in the world. This is true justice, to stop acts of violence. Justice is not repayment, "eye for eye, tooth for tooth"; but true justice is doing what is right and good that will bring the highest blessing to humanity.

Breaker Morant 3

My opinion on this matter is that, as a race, we have strayed quite far from the sort of "holy wars" described in Biblical times. I believe every nation has an agenda. Even if they say they believe they are fighting for the betterment of the world, if their agenda is challenged, they will use any means necessary to uphold their desires. After reading this, I feel it only affirms my belief that no nation is above acts of terror and violence. I feel that even though we say we are nations under God, we often ignore his commandments when put to the test.

The Mission 21

This was a very interesting article for me to read. All the time we hear of people doing the greater good and bringing peace to this world. And that is what we look for when we choose the leaders of our country. But we also must remember that us Americans have a very large ego. We as a nation believe that it is our job to protect the other, weaker nations from dictators and tyrants. But this also comes at a loss of innocent life and invasion of a country's privacy. Another thing I agree with in this blog is when it reads how the littlest things can set us off into a mind set of revenge and closed mindedness. Like I stated earlier in one of my blogs. I once came across a newspaper cartoon where it showed two nations at war with one another and the caption was: “Two religious groups fighting over which one is more peaceful” I thought that was a very clever way of putting things

Dead Man Walking 2

Since the beginning of civilization and probably even earlier than that, violence has been part of us. We are always fighting for something it seems like and using acts of violence. From in the beginning when it was survival of the fittest. We had to fight to survive. Once people began starting large civilizations like The Roman Empire and the Greeks, they were obsessed with power and always wanted more. In the ancient world, war and fighting was a way to gain control of more power. That's basically they way in which war is justified. It is a struggle of power. Governments will always try to justify their reasons for war or acts of violence to make it seem like the right thing to do. In the end tho, it's all a power struggle. Everyone just wants to be the top dog and they do this by using acts of violence.

Praying with Lior 2

Violence is all around us where ever we go. It occurs at so many levels in our daily lives, local, state, nationally, and worldwide. We see and deal with violence every day. Violence is a part of who are as people. When we don’t get what we think we deserve, we resort to violence. Acts of violence destroy many lives and change the lives of many others. Example of this are the 9/11 attacks and gang violence. September 11, 2001 changed the life of every American that day. Gang violence is a major problem in many US cities. Many gang members grew up hating members of a rival gang for no reason; they were taught at a young age that they were bad. There is no good reason for the violence. Violence can almost always be

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