Opinion

Eight ingredients for a peaceful society

What makes for a peaceful society? Hot spots from Congo to the Middle East would benefit from such knowledge. But so would the United States, which, at home, isn’t always so harmonious and abroad, is still at war in Afghanistan.

Michael Shank, vice president of the Institute for Economics and Peace’s US office gives his take on eight ingredients America needs to build a peaceful society.

4. Five other ingredients

America does fairly well on five other factors in the institute’s report: a sound business environment, acceptance of the rights of others, good relations with neighbors, free flow of information, and low levels of corruption. But there’s still much room for improvement.

For example, on the “rights of others,” the US has yet to ratify the international treaties related to the rights of the child, the International Criminal Court, and the elimination of discrimination against women. 

On “corruption” and the perception of corruption, the Occupy Wall Street protests illustrate growing distrust of the financial industry, an industry that can now spend unlimited amounts in federal elections thanks to campaign finance laws weakened by the Supreme Court.

On “good relations with neighbors,” America’s ongoing drug and gun wars with Latin America and war and conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, continue to cost taxpayers trillions of dollars.

Baby steps on any of these fronts will garner big gains as a more peaceful America (on par with Canada, for example) would yield $361 billion in annual savings and additional economic activity. The investment is worth it.

Michael Shank is the US vice president at the Institute for Economics and Peace and a former senior policy advisor to Democratic Congressman Michael Honda of California

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