Give Peace a Chance came out in 1969 while fighting was still going on in Vietnam. This song was first recorded during the Montreal Bed-In with John Lennon and Yoko in 1969. Since 1969 the wars of the world are steadily declining.

War has become, at least in developed countries, as obsolete as dueling or slavery. Is it possible that civilization is ready to give peace a chance?

Deaths from terrorism are certainly on the rise, but so far it's been killing far fewer people than major clashes between industrialized states did in the beginning of the 20th century. Only in one year, 2001, did terrorism kill more people in a year than World War II did in an hour, an average of 1200 combatants and civilians.

Centers that track world warfare (see links below) report a downward in global warfare and the lesser conflicts.

A major change, investigators agree, is the virtual end of wars among industrialized states, mainly in Europe. The 60 years since the catastrophe of World War II is the longest outbreak of peace in Europe since Roman Pax in the years prior to 415 AD.

Globally, the most lethal conflicts -those with 1000 or more battle deaths a year - are down 80 percent since 1992. Is the reason the efforts of the Maharishi's believers or the efforts of anti-war demonstrators? More likely, this is the result of two shifts: a decline in wars between countries and a decline in civil wars, which can be attributed, for the most part, to effective international peace keeping.

The number of wars rose steadily from 1968 until about 1992, then dropped sharply. In 2006, 20 to 30 wars are going on in the world, depending on your definition of war. That's down from 50 to 60 wars in 1992. None of these armed conflicts pits highly developed countries against one another, although several are "asymmetric" conflicts between industrialized countries and primitive enemies like al Qaeda.

The Cold War, which ended in 1992, also ended proxy wars that pitted U.S. and Soviet-backed forces against each other. These Superpower wars raged in Vietnam, Central America, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Angola. Peace activists estimate that while it lasted, the Cold War was responsible for a third of all international armed conflicts.

Although the United Staes remains bogged down in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, since the great peace marches and anti-wars demonstrations of the Sixties, tolerance of U.S. casualties has fallen dramatically. Polls in 2005 reported that most Americans turned against the war in Iraq after about 1,500 U.S. combat deaths. The turning point in Vietnam came in 1968 after 28,000 war dead.

For believers in world peace like John and Yoko and the gurus of the Sixties, here are some hopeful signs that the times they are a'changing.

The number of international crises - defined as situations that world leaders consider threatening to their countries' peace and security - has declined by more than two-thirds since 1981.

Instances of genocide and mass killings of ideological foes are also down from 10 a year in the early 1990s to one in 2004, the genocide in Sudan.

In 1946, 20 nations in the world were democracies. Today, 88 countries are. Democracies go to war more slowly and rarely fight one another.

The number of United Nations peacekeeping operations more than doubled from 1988 to 2006, from seven to 17.

UN peacekeeping is not what the Maharishi had in mind, it's basically a philosophy of 'stop the killing or we'll kill you'. But it seems to work. A report by the Rand Corp. states that two-thirds of peacekeeping missions succeed.


Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

International Peace Research Institute

Center for International Development and Conflict Management

Human Security Centre