A Nobel Peace Prize “Finalist”?

May 14, 2009

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[First published October 4, 2005] If you will forgive me, sometimes I have to get personal because of the importance of a question to the credibility of my research and data. I have for years claimed I was a “Nobel Peace Prize finalist”. This has been questioned by both friend and foe, which have asserted that (1) there is no such category, and (2) the Nobel Committee does not release such information, and (3) it doesn’t leak. Several years ago, someone unhappy with my research results checked with the Committee, was told the above, and then spread the word that I lied and, therefore, my assertions about my data and results could not be trusted.

So, to those who emailed me about this slander, I pointed out that I was only passing on what the local media told me in setting up an interview on this. Assuming it would settle the matter, I emailed them this pre-interview news item from the Honolulu Advertiser (3/1/96): 

Rudolph Rummel’s lifelong study of war, violence and mass killing has led him on a quest for peace. So it is only fitting that . . . he is among 117 finalists for the prize, which will be announced in October.

Recently, a colleague who I highly respect, is a friend who supports my research, and who is knowledgeable about the workings of the Nobel Committee tried to persuade me to drop the claim to being a finalist as not too important, and anyway, to people like him in the know, it looked “foolish.”

He simply is unaware of the esteem many without his inside view of the Nobel nomination give to it or even better, to being “finalist.” Of the prizes and awards I’ve won, and all the books and professional articles I’ve published, this is the number 1 credibility booster for my research claims.

In any case, I passed on to him the above news item. He then communicated with the Director of the Nobel Institute (who is ex officio secretary of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee) and I received this reponse:

He confirmed my impression that there is no short list of 117 nominees. Not in 1996 or in any other year. There is a list of people nominated for the Prize, as you indeed were. There is a short list of at most 30-40 people. The credentials of these candidates are examined by a group of confidential reviewers for the Nobel Institute.
In his time as Director, and he has been in that position since well before 1996, Geir Lundestad has never experienced a leak of either the long list of all nominees or the short list of those reviewed.

Okay, so I went on LexisNexis and did a search for the February 1996 wire from which the local media said they got their information. The incredible Internet came through again. I found the wire and it is below in full, so that no one feels I left anything out:

Associated Press
February 29, 1996; Thursday 09:21 Eastern Time
SECTION: International news


Taiwan’s president, Lee Teng-hui, has been nominated for the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for his pro-democracy drive, one of 117 names on the final list tallied by Nobel officials this week.

Lee, Taiwan’s president since 1988, was nominated by a former Swedish deputy prime minister, Per Ahlmark. Ahlmark also submitted the names of Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng and Rudolph J. Rummel, professor emeritus at Hawaii University, who has collected evidence on repressive political regimes.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which never releases lists of candidates, on Thursday refused to confirm the names of nominees for this year’s prize.

However, those making the nominations often announce them. Other known nominees this year include U.S. President Clinton and his emissary Richard Holbrooke for their peace efforts in Bosnia.

”I can only say that we now have a final count on nominations. There are 117 this year, including 28 organizations,” said Geir Lundestad, the committee’s non-voting secretary. The number in past years has been between 120 and 130.

The five-member awards committee arrived at the final number Wednesday when it began sifting through this year’s nominations mailed by the Jan. 31 deadline.

Taiwan is planning its first democratic presidential election on March 23. However, the drive toward democracy has heightened tensions with mainland China. Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and threatens to attack the island if it declares independence.

”Almost the entire transition by Taiwan to a democracy has occurred during Lee Teng-hui’s presidency,” said Ahlmark in his nomination letter, released in Sweden.

”For the first time in several thousand years of Chinese civilization, part of the Chinese nation is today run through elections and an equal voice under political freedom,” Ahlmark wrote.

Taiwanese are worried about China’s reported plans to hold a military exercise by 150,000 troops on the mainland coast facing Taiwan. Some regard the exercise as an attempt to dissuade Taiwanese voters from supporting Lee.

Other known nominees include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has acted as a mediator in crises in North Korea, Haiti and Bosnia; Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician jailed for revealing secrets of Israel’s atomic weapons program; Russian Human rights activist human Sergei Kovalyov; East Timor’s Catholic Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo; Bishop Samuel Ruiz of Mexico, and Maha Ghosananda, a Buddhist Monk, for his efforts to bring peace to Cambodia.

Groups nominated include Russia’s anti-war group Soldiers’ Mothers, The Salvation Army and Doctors without Borders.

The peace prize, worth 7.4 million Swedish kroner (about dlrs 1 million) this year, will be announced on a Friday in mid-October, Lundestad said.

The award is always presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, a Swede who invented dynamite and endowed the prize in his 1895 will.

The other Nobel Prizes in literature, economics, physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine are awarded on the same day in Stockholm, Sweden.

There you have it. Regardless of what he says, Geir Lundestad was a source of inside information — a leak. Moreover, the wire refers to a “final list” of nominations, and “arrived at the final number Wednesday when it began sifting through this year’s nominations.” Clearly, the Committee winnowed down all the nominations that came in to a “final list,” which is consistent with saying this was a list of finalists. Therefore, the local media got it right. I was a finalist on a list of 117 nominations.

[But since most colleagues will accept Geir Lundestad’s claim that there was no leak of the finalists list, and to claim I was a finalist is controversial, I just note that I have been frequently nominated by the the Nobel Peace Prize by former Swedish deputy prime minister, Per Ahlmark (see here]

Counting the Democratic Peace Away

May 14, 2009

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[First published October 9, 2005] I often come across the assumption that science is so explicit, empirical, precise, and clear that it is a proven alternative to assumption laden philosophy, traditional scholarship and what passes for social analysis. Wrong.

Social scientific research is laden with assumptions. For example, one assumption in the scientific studies of which I’m aware that concerns me is the following. So many applications of correlational methods, as of the correlation coefficient itself or regression analysis, assume that the relationship between an x and y is necessary and sufficient (necessity: y does not occur without x; sufficiency: if x then y; necessary and sufficient: y occurs if and only if x). But what if x is sufficient only; or necessary only? Then the correlation could be weak, even though there is a very strong causal relationship. For example, that both nations be democratic is a sufficient condition that they will be at peace with each other. However, they may be at peace for other reasons, such as distance (e.g., Ecuador and Kenya), shared interests of the moment (e.g., Syria and Iran), or fear of a third party (e.g., China and Taiwan). For peace between countries, that they be democratic is only a sufficient, but not necessary condition. This theoretical relationship is shown in the figure below, each dot representing a hypothetical war or act of violence.

If the figures reflect the true relationship, which I’m sure it does, then it is incorrect to test this relationship between democracy and peace by correlational methods, since they would obscure it. But this is what is most often done, followed by the exclamation: “See, the relationship is weak. There is no significant democratic peace.”

A more appropriate way to test this is by cross-classification tables, such as Tables 1 and 2 in the upper left of the democratic peace chart below (click to enlarge)

A more specific problem of concern is the general use of a simple count of wars to test/assess relationships. The problem is especially evident in testing whether democracies are less warlike than other types of regimes. But a count of wars is very misleading, since a regime coded as having a war can have virtually no one killed in the war as long as, using the common criteria that it had over 1,000 troops involved, or that many were killed overall in the “war” (thus, a nation suffering 800 killed in a violent confrontation in which the overall toll is 950 would not be counted as having fought a war).

For example, in the Boxer Rebellion (1900), which is classified as a war since there were over 3,000 battle dead, Great Britain lost 34 killed, the United States 21, and France 24. Yet, this would be classified as a war for each of these nations. Then consider the Falklands War of 1982 between Great Britain and Argentina. Figures vary on the number killed, but somewhat less than 1,000 seems a good number, with about 650 to 700 of those being Argentineans. But by virtue of the criteria mentioned, since it did not rise to the 1,000 battle dead threshold, in spite of her high number killed compared to Great Britain, the USA and France in the Boxer rebellion, this would not be counted as a war for Argentina or Britain.

The problem with this simplistic count of wars for a regime can be seen in another way. Counting wars or military actions equates conflicts that are vastly different. For example, the Philippines lost 90 killed in the Korean War, and this is counted as one war for the Philippines because she had more than 1,000 troops involved. But the Soviet Union lost 7,500,000 battle dead in World War II, and this also is counted as one war. Thus, in comparing, say, the democraticness of regimes and their use of force, if we measure force by a frequency count of wars, then Great Britain in the Boxer Rebellion, the Philippines in the Korean War, and the USSR in World War II are treated as equally using force, since each gets a count of one for war, even although Great Britain lost only 34 in combat, the Philippines 90, and the Soviet Union over 7,000,000. Yet, such frequency counts of wars or the use of force have been the main way the relationship between democracy and violence, among other relationships, have been tested.

Consider also that whatever we theorize to be the underlying conditions inhibiting or preventing democracies and near democracies from violence, to my knowledge no one argues that democracies are equally inhibited from using force in a conflict in which the expectation is of losing a dozen or so soldiers versus engaging in a total war in which the loss of millions may be suffered. But this is the theoretical assumption in the use of a simple count of wars.

Sometimes I think that the mechanics of analysis (getting and preparing data for analysis, setting up the computer application, applying it to the data, and then reporting the results), and the pressure to do what others have done in their research, overwhelms common sense.

Keep this in mind when you will read here and there on the internet that democracies are as warlike as other regimes.

Links of Day

“Mark Steyn: Islamist way or no way” By Mark Steyn (10/4/05)


. . . . the Islamists don’t even bother going through the traditional rhetorical feints. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. “We are here as on a darkling plain …” wrote Matthew Arnold in the famous concluding lines to Dover Beach, “where ignorant armies clash by night”.
But we choose in large part to stay in ignorance. Blow up the London Underground during a G8 summit and the world’s leaders twitter about how tragic and ironic it is that this should have happened just as they’re taking steps to deal with the issues, as though the terrorists are upset about poverty in Africa and global warming.
. . . . The word peace, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam — or House of Islam — to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace.”
That’s why they blew up Bali in 2002, and last weekend, and why they’ll keep blowing it up. It’s not about Bush or Blair or Iraq or Palestine. It’s about a world where everything other than Islamism lies in ruins.

” Zarqawi justifies killing of civilians”:

Iraq’s al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi said militants were justified under Islam in killing civilians as long as they are infidels, according to a new audiotape attributed to him yesterday. “Islam does not differentiate between civilians and military, but rather distinguishes between Muslims and infidels,” said the man on the tape posted on the Internet, who sounded like Zarqawi.

RJR: If I may spell this out (assuming that you and your family is nonMuslim), it’s like getting an email or phone call from a gang leader saying, “I’m going to murder you, your mate, and your children.” What protects us is that we are hidden in a crowd of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Links I Must Share

“NATO widens role in Afghanistan”

NATO will increase its force in Afghanistan to as many as 15,000 soldiers and will take on counterinsurgency operations as its expands its mission into southern Afghanistan over coming months . . . .

RJR: This is quite a breakthrough in this war on terror. NATO, an all democratic 26 member military alliance of mainly East and West European democracies (plus Turkey, Iceland, Canada, and the U.S.) has broken out of its Europe only shell with its increasing involvement in African peacekeeping, and now this enlargement of its contribution to the Afghan democracy. Can one hope that NATO will soon be the military arm of a global Alliance of Democracies?

“Who Cares About Midterm Elections?”

RJR: This is sardonically put, I’m sure. The point is that too many are caught up in the 2008 battle, while ignoring the 2006 one for Congress that is of utmost importance. Imagine that the Democrats take over the House and Senate. What will they do then about Iraq and the War on Terror? Hmmmm.

“Terrorism Strikes the Heartland”:

. . . .it’s not every day that there’s a terrorist attack on U.S. soil and supposedly there hasn’t been one since 9/11. But that’s exactly what happened outside a packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday night (10/1).

RJR: That authorities would suppress and distort information on this terrorist attempt to murder thousands should be a wake up call regarding what they will do if bird flu hits some area in the U.S. I’m not trying to malign health authorities, but their primary concern will be to avoid a panic that would make quarantine and the isolation of the pandemic difficult. What is society-wise may not be for the alert individual, if they can avoid the pandemic altogether.
STAY ALERT. Consult pandemic 2005 every day (here).

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