Yesterday’s papers reported the release of a fascinating report on world security by the Human Security Centre or, as The Australian put it, “a three-year international study by a team of experts led by left-leaning Australian academic Andrew Mack.”

We don’t know if News Ltd has a new policy at of identifying the political tendencies of every academic it mentions, but a more likely explanation is that it was an attempt to weaken Mack’s credibility. The Age‘s report evidently saw no need for such a description.

No doubt Mack comes from the left, but it’s hard to see why The Australian has a problem with his report. The story mentions that it is “likely to attract criticism from the US” for crediting UN peacekeeping with a major role in reducing world conflict. But the report’s overview gives prime importance to the decline of colonialism and the end of the Cold War, explaining that the latter development “allowed the UN to begin to play the security-enhancing role that its founders had intended.”

There’s nothing very left-wing about the rest of it either; indeed it explodes some cherished left-wing myths, such as that “Women are the primary victims of war” or that “There are 300,000 child soldiers serving around the world.”

And overall it’s a remarkable good news story. “The number of armed conflicts around the world has declined by more than 40% since the early 1990s … international crises, often harbingers of war, declined by more than 70% between 1981 and 2001 … The number of actual and attempted military coups has been declining for more than 40 years.”

These aren’t really left-right matters at all; if anything they vindicate the neo-conservative claim that the spread of democracy will lead to a safer world. But you don’t have to be a neo-con to see that.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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