Canada Rises on the Global Peace Index?

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Canada Rises on the Global Peace Index
by C. L. Cook
Canadians received good news this week, with the release of the Global Peace Index, (GPI). It seems, according to the GPI, Canada has leapt six country places from last year's assessment, springing from 14th to 8th highest overall most peaceable nation in the world!

"But, how?" you may ask, did it do that.

The annual assessment of the world as it is is a product of the prestigious Institute for Economics and Peace, (IEP). The institute describes itself as; "an international research institute dedicated to building a greater understanding of the inter-relationships between business, peace and economics, with a particular emphasis on the economic benefits of peace."

Besides the surprising business economics of peace, (and particularly the emphasis on the economic benefits of peace) a notion running contrary to the traditional concept of war, or un-peace, as particularly economically beneficial to some, the Institute possesses too a curious provenance.

Born in 2007, the IEP is the product of a union between Sydney, Australia and New York City non-partisan, not-for-profit partnerships and various agencies, clubs, and institutes, hosted by various universities and business schools.
 
Foremost listed among the international partners is the Aspen Institute, (AI). AI says its mission is to: "foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues."

To emphasize its dedication to these two-fold goals, AI hosts on its Board of Directors some of the planet's preeminent proponents of peace and economics. The tone is set by Chair, Madeleine Albright, described as the: "Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets."
 
Albright is over-modest; many may remember her role as Secretary of State of the United States of America in the 1990's when she and her president, Bill Clinton tried so very hard to solve the Balkan problem peacefully, with mixed results.
 
She is also immortalized in a 60 Minutes news program interview, wherein when asked by CBS interviewer, Leslie Stahl if she believes the estimated half-million unnecessary child deaths resulting from her country's embargo policy against Saddam Hussein's Iraq was "worth it" she answers in the affirmative.

No peace so complete as the grave, verily.

Joining Madeleine on the board are a veritable galaxy of foundation doyens, steely-eyed CEO's and financial officers from companies like Goldman Sachs, a smattering of academe's brightest lights, some politicos, and David Koch, most famously half of Koch Industries' Koch brothers.
 
These same are currently, through their bankrolling of the Tea Party and various politicians, attempting to destroy America's remaining public sector unions through the introduction of legislation so regressive it would make King John pall. The Koch's are also among the global leaders in the Global Climate Change denial business, doling out millions to blunt environmental initiatives on myriad fronts.

Beyond the credibility gap the hosts of Establishment defenders populating the various boards, think tanks, and institutes comprising the IEP represent, I wondered simply how they came up with the Canada numbers.
 
Canada, a country moving steadily under prime minister Stephen Harper into the arms of the Military-Industrial-Prison Complex, and currently involved in two hot wars in Afghanistan and Libya, and covertly supporting destabilization efforts and foreign occupations conducted by its close allies the U.S. and Israel, (not to mention its self-lauded central role in the NATO alliance and that organization's perpetual warmaking) is about as peaceful as Barack Obama's Nobel prize.
 
I couldn't quite square the new rating, so wrote a letter to the IEP* asking for clarification:

Greetings IEP; I read your analysis of my home country, Canada in a local paper with astonishment today. Thinking there was some mistake, I looked you up online. So far, your site seems a bit opaque. Who are you, and by what standard do you make your assessments is what I'm curious about?

Canada has, over the life of your organization, transformed its military into an aggressive war fighting institution. It is overtly involved in armed conflicts in Afghanistan, and Libya, while supporting the state violence of both the United States and Israel in the Occupied Palestinian territories. It responded favourably to the 2006 invasion of Lebanon by Israel, remaining silent as that country killed four UN peacekeepers, (one of them being Canadian), and supports the American occupation of Iraq, (and of course Afghanistan) while supporting too US aggression in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

The extreme brutality Canadian police exhibited in 2010 during the G20 meetings in Toronto was unprecedented in the history of the country, seeing more than 1,000 peaceful demonstrators arrested on spurious charges, and held in the most deplorable conditions. There is too, as of this date, but a single charge of excessive force filed concerning this black day in the history of Canadian civil governance.  

More than a billion dollars is reported to have been devoted to G20 "security" operations, monies yet to be properly accounted for. Canada's government has too dramatically increased military spending over this same period, and now stands as the only country outside the US willing to spend billions on the controversial F-35 fighter jet. Meanwhile, 160 Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, and the government here refuses still to reveal how many Afghanis it has killed, maimed, and turned over to American and Afghani forces to be imprisoned, tortured, and murdered in custody.

Rarely mentioned in this country too is Canada's involvement in the Haitian coup d'etat that ousted the democratically elected, and wildly popular, president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, or Canada's tacit support for the violent overthrow of the Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya.
 
This is not a complete list by any means: Canadian Forces (CF) was involved covertly in the Iraq war, the Canadian Navy too supporting America's illegal invasion of that country, and even now quietly provide logistic and diplomatic aid to efforts to foment further war against Iran. The country's secretive spy agency CSIS operates with complete impunity, while JTF2, a commando-styled assassination outfit, operates beyond civilian oversight.   

Again, I ask; "Who are you, and what is your methodology?"

Sincerely,

Chris Cook
Managing Editor
Pacific Free Press

The picture this all paints is hardly one of a nation pursuing, or even mildly interested in, peace. It is instead, sadly, a portrait of a militarist state, captured into the service of elite corporate interests, and willing to kill, maim, and terrorize any who stand in the way of its economic imperatives. And the Institute for Economics and Peace, in its elevating of Canada on its index is revealed as a disingenuous cheerleader, in true Orwellian form, for war in the guise of peace.

But, it's not like the folks at IEP don't recognize peace when they see it. Executive Chairman and founder, Steve Killelea notes of this year's index release;

"The fall in this year’s index is strongly tied to conflict between citizens and their governments; nations need to look at new ways of creating stability other than through military force."

Has anyone notified the Canadians?  
 
 
 
 
 
* UPDATE:
 
The IEP response to the letter arrived May 31, 2011, and reads thus:
 

Dear Chris,

 

Thank you for your email and for taking the time to investigate our research – we appreciate the dialogue.

 

The Institute is independent, not-for-profit and non-partisan. All of our research methodology and our organizational background is available at either our website www.economicsandpeace.org or our associated website, www.visionofhumanity.org

 

The methodology paper for the 2011 GPI is available here:

http://www.visionofhumanity.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/2011-GPI-Results-Report-Final.pdf

 

There you can get detailed information on how we calculate the index, the names of our expert advisory panel, as well as details of the work we do with the Economist Intelligence Unit. Each of the 153 countries are scored on 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators which come from a variety of well-respected sources. Sources and scoring ranges for the indicators are available in that methodology paper.

 

On page 17 of the report is a brief overview on why Canada scored as it did. You can also see Canada’s indicators scores here: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi-data/#/2011/scor/CA/detail .
 
To address some of your points:

 

§  We have 8 indicators on militarization and 5 measures on ongoing domestic and external conflict. These are both quantitative and qualitative measures which are calculated on a relative basis. On several of these measures Canada scores the best possible score (1). For example, some not limited to:

o   Military expenditure as a % of GDP (between 1.2% to 1.5% of GDP) This is comparatively low versus other developed nations.

o   Meeting funding commitments for UN peacekeeping missions (1 out of 5)

o   Number of armed service personnel per 100,000 people (1 out of 5)

o   Imports of conventional weapons (1 out of 5)

o   Number of heavy weapons per 100,000 people (1 out of 5)

§  Conversely Canada’s score is appropriated negatively affected by;

o   Relative high level of military sophistication (3)

o   Ease of access for small arms (2)

o   Number of deaths from organised conflict (2) (a nation that has over 1000 battle deaths scores a 3)

o   Number of external and internal conflict fought (1.5)

 

On the issue of the G20 meeting – Canada this year had its score for likelihood for violent demonstrations decline from 1 to 1.5, impacting the peace score negatively.

 

All of the issues you refer to only constitute 40% of the total weighting, while the remaining 60% is based on the internal peace score – here Canada fares quite well in comparison to other nations. i.e. number of homicides, level of violent crime, number of displaced people in the population, and political instability all scoring well in relation to other developed nations. Please bear in mind the scores reflect relative placement and are not expressions of ‘ideal’ levels of peace. We ultimately do this work to start a positive discussion on how we can constructively and collectively build a more peaceful world.

 

I hope you can read our methodology and that this information is helpful.  

 

Kind regards,

______________________________

Daniel Hyslop

Research Manager

Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)
 
 

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