The annual Global Peace Index, recently released for June 2017, has found that while the world is more peaceful now than last year, violence has increased significantly overall in the past decade.
Although the situation has improved in many countries, the ten lowest-ranking nations – known as the world’s “least peaceful” countries – have shown little change in recent years.
However, nine of those ten countries share one commonality in the violence that they’ve experienced: U.S.-led destabilization efforts and regime change operations.
Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan: Targets for regime change and manufactured sectarianism
Syria, which ranked last in the June 2017 index, has been in the throes of a U.S.-led regime change effort for the better part of six years – a conflict that has ravaged one of the most prosperous nations in the Middle East and turned it into the latest battleground for a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia.
The U.S. has been planning the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at least as far back as 2006. Since the 2011 “uprising,” the U.S. has continuously funded and armed opposition groups in Syria along with several extremist groups, many of which have since joined terrorist organizations like Daesh (ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front.
The nations that rank just above Syria – Iraq and Afghanistan – were both targets of major U.S. invasions in the early 2000s and the U.S.’ continued presence in both of these countries has greatly contributed to the still-deteriorating situations in both nations.
With the U.S. troop presence growing in Iraq and set to surge dramatically in Afghanistan with the deployment of over 50,000 troops, more conflict is inevitable.
South Sudan: “Nation-building” gone awry
South Sudan, which ranked fourth, has also been victimized by U.S. intervention and “nation-building.”
The U.S. pushed South Sudan to secede from Sudan in 201,1 as South Sudan held 75 percent of Sudan’s oil reserves — the largest oil reserves in all of Africa. Analysts argued that the U.S. sought to create an independent South Sudan in order to dislodge Chinese claims to Sudanese oil, as the Chinese had previously signed oil contracts with the (now Northern) Sudanese government. The U.S.’ significant aid contributions to South Sudan, totalling $1.6 billion between 2013 and 2016, suggest that Washington has sought to influence the government there for that very purpose.
Just two years later, however, South Sudan dissolved into a deadly civil war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 1.5 million. Some analysts have suggested that the civil war broke out between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his former deputy Riek Machar only when Mayardit started to cozy up to China.
The chaos from U.S. meddling in South Sudan has reached beyond its borders and brought trouble to Sudan, with that nation ranking as the eighth least peaceful nation.
Yemen: U.S.-backed Saudi aggressors responsible for famine, war crimes
Yemen, which ranked fifth, has also been involved in a U.S.-linked conflict, though the United States’ role has been less direct. While the U.S. is not leading the fight in Yemen, it has ardently backed the war’s aggressor – Saudi Arabia – from the beginning and has supplied the Saudis with billions of dollars in weapons, as well as occasionally bombed locations in Yemen to aid their Gulf allies.
In addition, the U.S. has turned a blind eye to the Saudis’ numerous war crimes in Yemen, despite the enormity of the tragedy unfolding there, including blocking aid shipments and consequently triggering widespread famine. The U.S. has been eager to see Saudi influence continue in Yemen – as it was prior to the conflict – due to Yemen’s location, which grants it control over the strategic strait of Bab al-Mandab, a chokepoint for the Saudi oil trade.
Yemen is followed by Somalia in the rankings.
Somalia: State of anarchy persists thanks to U.S. involvement
U.S. involvement in Somalia has a long history and reached a climax in the early 1990s, when the U.S.-supported military dictatorship of Siad Barre was overthrown, plunging the nation into civil war.
Thanks to Somalia’s strategic location for global oil markets at the mouth of the Red Sea, the U.S. became involved and, according to a staffer for the chief of the UN Somalia operation, “dragged the UN into Somalia kicking and screaming.” Somalia remained in a state of anarchy for 16 years until a coalition of Islamic courts took over the capital in 2006. However, this government was soon overthrown by Ethiopia with U.S. support.
Current U.S. anti-terrorism policy in Somalia, which includes the use of airstrikes, has been blamed for worsening the nation’s conflict and its burgeoning humanitarian crisis, having driven the nation into famine.
Libya: Plunged into chaos after challenging U.S. petrodollar
Another recent victim of U.S. regime change efforts, Libya now ranks as the seventh least peaceful nation in the world. Once one of the most prosperous nations in Africa, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi made the “mistake” of challenging the U.S. petrodollar system by creating a gold-backed pan-African currency known as the dinar. Following his ouster, Libya was essentially transformed into a failed state where there is still no clear government, terrorism runs rampant and slaves are now openly traded in public.
Ukraine: Targeted by U.S.-led coup over gas industry
Ukraine, which was the target of a U.S.-led coup in 2014 to weaken the influence of Russia’s lucrative gas industry on European gas markets, now ranks tenth among the least peaceful nations in the world. The only nation ranking near the bottom that has not experienced clear U.S. involvement is the Central African Republic, which ranks ninth.
The United States’ not-so-peaceful ranking
The United States itself also plummeted dramatically in this year’s Global Peace Index, now ranking 114 out of the 163 nations surveyed. This decrease was the greatest decline measured in any country this year.
Statisticians have blamed divisiveness that has made itself plain following the 2016 presidential election, as well as a continued rise in homicide rates.
The United States’ involvement in military conflicts abroad is not factored into its ranking, meaning that this placement is conservative at best. As indicated by the ten lowest-ranking nations, if this factor were taken into consideration, the U.S. could likely find itself at the bottom of the list for its role in spurring disastrous and deadly conflicts around the world under the guise of foreign policy.
Feature photo | A protest against US military action in Syria during a rally in New York on Friday, April 7, 2017. Andres Kudacki | AP