Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Demography and War

Every so often we will discuss demographics in the context of fertility. European fertility is down, Muslim nations have much higher fertility, and the Palestinians so called "right of return" is a political use of fertility in the continuing effort to destroy Israel.

Clark Whelton has written an excellent article on Gunnar Heinsohn's idea on the relationship between national demographics and war. A Demographic Theory of War - Population, power, and the 'slightly weird' ideas of Gunnar Heinsohn.
"LOOK AT IT THIS WAY," Gunnar Heinsohn said. "Your family is in a shooting war with a family across the street. Your forces consist of a father, mother and one child, perhaps two. The other family has a father, mother and seven children, perhaps eight or nine. For your family, the loss of one person would be devastating. The larger family can take casualties and continue fighting."
How important is this?
"My point," Heinsohn continued, "is that the strength of a nation's military is affected by the size of a nation's families. Falling birth rates in Western countries mean that even light casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan bring cries of pain in Europe and America. But Iraq and Afghanistan are growing rapidly. Their populations are swollen by youth bulges. Their average family has five or six children. They are in what I call 'extreme demographic armament.'"
Some of the points that he makes;
* The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue because "Western aid has enabled Palestine--where nearly every newborn is considered a refugee and provided with food and medical care by international agencies--to defeat Israel demographically." The population of Gaza jumped from 240,000 in 1950 to almost 1,500,000 in 2007. In 2006 there were 640,000 Jewish boys under 15 in Israel, against 1,120,000 Arab boys under 15 in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. The last cohort with a Jewish majority is the 30-44 age bracket--540,000 Jews vs. 410,000 Arabs--which is now past prime military age. And yet despite 60 years of fighting and violence, the overall Israeli-Arab death toll is relatively low. It ranks 49th on Heinsohn's list of fatalities in conflicts worldwide since 1948. The Israeli-Palestinian conflicts rank 67th.

* Colombia's return to peace and public safety was not brought about by tough controls imposed by the Uribe government. Peace is a result of the "ageing out" of Colombia's last big youth bulge, combined with falling birth rates, "which have simply dried up the recruitment pool for violent gangs." Similar drops in violence and political extremism have been seen throughout South America as youth bulges disappear into middle age.

* Turkey may become a more reliable partner of the West. Turkey's youth bulges have run their course and total fertility has fallen below the U.S. birth rate. This means Turkey can no longer afford to push its young people abroad to find jobs. It must encourage them to stay, "and feels reluctant to sacrifice them in war."

* Low birth rates in Russia and China place both countries in demographic capitulation.

* Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's top lieutenant, miscalculated when he encouraged Somalia to fight its war with Ethiopia by doing to the Ethiopian army what al Quaeda is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan--inflicting casualties that cause protest and dissension in Coalition countries. In 1993 U.S. forces fled Somalia after suffering 18 killed and 73 wounded. But unlike America and the UK, Heinsohn noted, Ethiopia is in strong demographic armament. It is unlikely we'll see peace marches in the streets of Addis Ababa or that Ethiopia will be deterred by losses on the battlefield.

* To compensate for falling birth rates and "to slow the ageing of its own populations, the Anglo-World--the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand--is trying to attract immigrants from a handful of European countries. But these European providers of manpower, such as Poland, Ukraine, and Austria, are in demographic capitulation and are desperately trying to attract immigrants themselves. By 2050, the total demand for foreign talent in the developed world will reach 150 million. The United States alone will realize growth by pulling in the best and brightest from everywhere else. For this reason, friends and allies may opt out of alliances with the U.S., not out of anti-Americanism but because they don't want to be demographically neutered."
As always, read the whole thing. There are numerous interesting and even surprising cnclusions here.

This is a great read covering very important material.

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