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To Curb Global Violence, America Should Look Within

Global conflict is spiking, inflamed by inequality and misinformation. But recent polling suggests that the United States has much work to do at home on both fronts before it can spread liberal values abroad.

CHICAGO – The world is now witnessing the highest number of protracted violent conflicts since the end of World War II, and inequality and misinformation are fueling the turmoil. Policymakers seeking to curb the violence would be wise to consider their own citizens’ attitudes about inequality and misinformation. In the United States, recent polling from the University of Chicago’s Pearson Institute and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggests that there is much work to be done.

The victims of global violence span social, economic, and geographic boundaries. Aside from the Russia-Ukraine war, nearly 30 conflicts are ongoing worldwide. With no resolution in sight, these conflicts have displaced close to 84 million people. Even if the fighting stops in some of these regions, death and trauma will still permeate many communities, uprooting families and dissolving social bonds. These conflicts destroy habitats and deeply scar generational well-being, creating cycles of violence that stretch across generations.

One major trigger of these conflicts is social inequality. Though not as easily observable as death tolls or shifting borders, inequality remains deeply intractable. Stanford University historian Walter Scheidel argues that inequality has been deeply entrenched since the Stone Age, and it rarely subsides without paroxysms of violence.

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