Friday, March 13, 2015

The world is a much more dangerous place

Tacitus prepares for a trip to Europe, and packs his situational awareness:
I now have the available time and resources to travel where I will, but there are more risks than there used to be.  It once was that you were safe so long as you did not venture out on an ill advised jaunt into bandit infested hill country.  Now the bandits have come down from the hills and live among us.

I have walked through too many places where terrorists attacks have occurred.  The Olympic complex in Munich, the London Underground, the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.  I regularly pass through the Amsterdam airport where the infamous "underwear bomber" was helped onto a US bound plane on some sort of humanitarian ticket.  I have driven past the Pentagon and have walked under the dome of the US capitol that escaped its intended targeting on 9/11.

...

I usually avoid politics in my writings.  But part of the reticence to discuss the catastrophic implosion of Libya is that to do so would be an embarrassment to our Current President - who was gifted a Nobel Peace Prize for his anticipated diplomatic brilliance - and to our hopeful "President in Waiting", who was Secretary of State when the Libyan incursion was somehow, implausibly, deemed to be a safe and prudent action.

But these are the conditions that exist.  This is the world we live in.  The bandits are probably now in the Seven Hills of Rome.
This is a long and thoughtful post on how the world is much more violent than it used to be.  Quite frankly, I'm glad I had the chance to see so much of Europe when I lived there, because I'm not at all sure that I want to go back.  Things are bad and getting worse.

Back then, I was living in Condition White.  I went to all the tourist spots, dragging the kids with me.  Now, I'd plan very differently.  I'd also pay much more attention than I did then.

8 comments:

burt said...

BP, the world is indeed becoming more dangerous. That's mostly due to the increasingly widening gulf between political / sociological ideologies, and the shrinkage of "maker" into "taker" societies encouraged (coerced?) via active political interference.

There is one particular political / sociological ideology using the "divide and conquer" strategy as it grows in size and strength, but nobody is allowed to mention its name. It won't even admit that it is doing this, and its core belief structure permits - and even encourages - lying as part of the conflict.

The question remains: how much longer can "the world we live in" be sustained before something happens to tilt the balance? And will that tilt cause improvement or decline?

Brad Richards said...

I'm not really so sure. Yes, we have the joys of Islamic terrorism, but is the world - or Europe in particular - more dangerous on a day-to-day level? I don't think so. The difference is that we hear about every awful event. We also tend to remember the past with that certain, golden glow.

I did a bit of looking around. Among others, I fount this paper discussing the frequency of major terrorist attacks. If you look at figure 3, you will see that things have remained pretty flat, with small peaks around 1974 and 1996. Interestingly, 9/11 doesn't even show up as a blip. Other papers and statistics are also available - they all show pretty similar results: peaks in terrorism around 20 and 40 years ago, but mostly flat historically.

Crime? Violent crime is, on average, down in essentially all first-world countries, as well as much of the developing world. Stats are easy to find.

Wars? When haven't there been wars? If it's the Middle East today, it was Asia yesterday and Central America before that. "On the evidence, peace is a purely theoretical state of affairs whose existence we deduce because there have been intervals between wars." [JEP].

I live in Europe, and while there are dangerous areas, it's probably safer here than in many parts of the USA. Certainly I'd rather walk the slums of Zürich than those of LA.

Hjalti said...

Did I miss a link to the original article?

Borepatch said...

I added the link. Thanks, Hjalti.

Tacitus2 said...

Brad
I agree that from some perspectives the world is safer now than at most times in history. My point was that it is harder to ensure your safety by avoiding known bandit infested areas (hills, urban areas of savagery). Yes we have had terrorism for quite a while now but the old school terrorists had specific targets. Anarchists threw bombs but mostly at Czars and Dukes. My self, my wife, my children were at low risk. Such killings were once collateral damage. Now they are Martyrdom Points.
Tacitus

chiefjaybob said...

"Crime? Violent crime is, on average, down in essentially all first-world countries, as well as much of the developing world. Stats are easy to find." I'm sorry, but citation needed. Everything I have seen, especially regarding Great Britain, indicates that violent crime is significantly higher than twenty years ago. I would be far more worried about getting my skull cracked than I would be about a subway bomb.....

Brad Richards said...

Here's one, giving absolute number of crimes in the UK (i.e., not per capita). Current crime rates are around the level from 1990 in absolute terms; if you correct for population, then around the level of 1980.

Here is a longer term view of homicide rates in Europe, on a per capita basis. The blip around 1990 is still visible, but compared to early times in history, well...

Sherm said...

I've a daughter teaching school in Brussels. She knows the "no go" parts of the city and avoids them. She also knows the head of security for the US Embassy so, if she has any questions about another country or place, she runs it by him. It has stopped her from going to a place or three that she thought would be fun.