Is The U.S. The Most Violent Of All?

January 18, 2009

[First published February 3, 2006] I’ve had the most respected academics in peace research tell me flatly that the United States is the most violent nation in the world. And after I’ve given lectures and speeches on the democratic peace, some questioners have said or implied the same thing. This myth has been widely believed among peace researchers and is a matter of religious faith on the left.

In response, I would point out the bloody wars in Africa and Asia not involving the U.S., including the Iraq-Iran war which cost about a million lives. Then, I would note the worst domestic democides, including that of Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, and so on, and compare the top annual domestic democide rates (the percent of the population murdered per year of the regime) to that for the U.S. (I always had a special page in my notes with the figures):

U.S. = .000016
USSR = .42
Communist China = .12 (if 1959-1962 famine treated as nondemocidal)
Hitler’s Germany = .09
Pol Pot’s Cambodia 8.16

And, I would add, here are the average overall domestic democide rates (average percent of the population murdered) for types of regimes.

Democracies = .043, of which the U.S. = .001
Authoritarian regimes = 1.1
Totalitarian regimes = 3.9, of which communist = 5.2

Particularly note how small the annual rate is for the U.S. even compared to the average for democracies.

But, the leftist mind assumes that there has to be something bloody wrong with the U.S. (in addition to its raging imperialism, blood sucking capitalism, and ardent support for right wing dictators), and so they fall back on the civil murder rate. They say, “No one is secure in America, since Americans murder each other at a rate greater than any other nation, and that’s why it is the most violent nation in the world.”

Well, this can be easily checked on the Internet, such as through The International Crime Victim Survey and here. From the latter source, I reproduce its rank ordered list of murder’s per nation per capita.

Note that the U.S. is not only 24th, but that its murder rate is tiny compared to the top four nations. It is 6.9% of Colombia’s, 8.6% of South Africa’s, 13.2% of Jamaica’s, and 21.2 % of Venezuela’s.

The next time a so called “anti-war” activist, self-righteous “peace researcher,” or blathering leftist declares that the U.S. is the most violent nation in the world, kindly tell them that their ignorance is only exceeded by their ideological blindness.

They are Terrorists, and They Murder, Not Just Kill

December 11, 2008

{First published on January 4, 2005] He who frames the concepts of discourse and thought wins more than half the battle. The real world—things as they are—is an ever-dynamic field of sounds, colors, lines, volumes, smells, and textures. We make sense if all and order our lives by the concepts we adopt to describe this reality.

Similarly, in politics, we not only conceptualize it in different ways, but since so much of politics is a conflict over means and ends, how we conceptualize this reality is a weapon in the conflict, especially if a violent one. One example of this should suffice: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Note how “democracy,” “people,” and “republic” have been consciously used to mislead the unwary about the bloody thug and his henchmen that viciously rule these poor people.

Sometimes, however, those using certain concepts just don’t know what they are doing; they are the conceptually unwary who just use whatever concepts other’s, the concept makers—the weaponizers—have employed. But, this is not generally true of the left. They have been good at inventing concepts to further their struggle for dominance, such as the concept of “equality” for the power centered rule by a small elite.

This post is the second in a series on misconceptualizations that lead the compliant media (not the ones who intentionally father the concept) and others astray in thinking about some conflict. The first was on terrorism . This one is on the use of “kill” for “murder.” The next one will be on Marxism.

If a Jane Doe slits a man’s throat and suffocates his children to death, what do we call what she has done? Murder? What do we call a civilian john Smith who packs dynamite into a car and sets it off near a market crowded with other civilians. Also, murder? The proper answer is that it depends on which side of the barricades you are on. Or, whether you even know that the barricades are there.

Consider two examples. From one of today’s news items on the Iraq violence. “BAGHDAD, Iraq – Three suicide car bombs, including one that exploded near the Iraqi prime minister’s party headquarters in Baghdad, and a roadside explosion killed at least 16 people Monday as insurgents pressed their deadly campaign . . . .”

An older news item: “A group holding seven truck drivers, three of them Indians, hostage in Iraq have said they will kill one of them on Friday if their demands were not met.” (They had actually used the word “behead.”)

Note in the first item the use of the term “insurgents,” and in the second “group,” for what are terrorists. And in both items, the concept “kill” is substituted for what is murder. If the Jane Doe and John Smith above were terrorists and snuffed out those lives in Iraq, the major media and commentators would most likely have termed what was done a “killing.”

Soldiers kill enemy soldiers. If soldiers kill civilians, it is murder. If civilians kill civilians, it is murder. Why is this proper terminology not used in the Iraqi violence? Simple. To say that the terrorists killed, rather than murdered, x number of people is to avoid delegitimizing them. Murder is awful, and must be punished. However, if the terrorists are treated as dong what soldiers do, well, that’s combat, and solders can be awarded medals for that. For those who oppose American involvement in Iraq and tend to support the “rebels” or “insurgents” (read terrorists), murder is just too strong a term. It sends an unwanted message.

[First published January 4, 2008] Please. Lets call murder murder, terrorists terrorists, and thus conceptualize these savages and their criminal inhumanity as it should be. I submit. It would make a difference in the public support for the American effort to help democratize Iraq. And the left knows it.

Link of Note

Washington Post-ABC News poll (12/20/04)
Six paragraphs down: “A strong majority of Americans, 58 percent, support keeping military forces in Iraq until ‘civil order’ is restored, even in the face of continued U.S. causalities.” I believe this support would rise well into the 60s if the terrorists and their murders in Iraq were called what they are, with pictures of the victims, just like any murders in the U.S.

Not Suicide Bombing–Its Murder Or Genocide Bombing

November 28, 2008

[First published on December 14, 2004]News today is that Israeli “Security forces recently foiled a planned suicide bombing, planned by the joint Hamas-Tanzim terrorist infrastructure in Nablus.” Another report is of, “A suicide car bomber today killed seven people at a checkpoint at Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.”

Suicide bomber? When did this neutral term come into usage, anyway? [Like the term “militant” for terrorist] It is bereft of intention and political blame, and serves to neutralize what is an immoral, inhumane, and barbarous attempt to murder innocent people. It is a crime against humanity, but you wouldn’t know it by the label. 

To recognize the true nature of this bombing, that against Israeli Jews should be called what it is, “genocide bombing.” That going in Iraq should be labeled “murder bombing.” Then we could better appreciate what is going on.

Fox News had moved a little toward this by calling it all “homicide bombing.” But a homicide lacks the intention to kill, as does murder. Come on now, Fox News. At least you can call it what it is.