This is why I find our national political obsession with al-Qaeda so annoying:
[A]fter five decades of inexorable increase [italics Chatterbox’s], the number of armed conflicts started to fall worldwide in the early 1990s. The decline has continued.
By 2003, there were 40 percent fewer conflicts than in 1992. The deadliest conflicts — those with 1,000 or more battle-deaths — fell by some 80 percent. The number of genocides and other mass slaughters of civilians also dropped by 80 percent [between 1988 and 2001], while core human rights abuses have declined in five out of six regions of the developing world since the mid-1990s.
International terrorism is the only type of political violence that has increased. Although the death toll has jumped sharply over the past three years, terrorists kill only a fraction of the number who die in wars.
Here, we have a perfect opportunity for a foreign policy based not on threat reduction but on humanitarian objectives. Instead of worrying about conflict prevention, we could focus our energies on curbing AIDS, or genocide intervention. But no. We are too focused on finding an enemy, any enemy, and demolishing it. And that enemy turned out to be al-Qaeda. For a while during the Clinton administration, a humanitarian future seemed possible. With the interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo and his AIDS initiatives, Clinton set a good precedent. But it seems that we’ve lost that since 2001. Like so many things, in fact.