Put aside all the recent advice and comments by all the retired police and military advisors, ignore the growing list of buzz words such as “lone wolf” and lastly focus on what has been happening under the collective term of terrorism in the past few years and let’s call it what it really is…violence economics.
Non-state actors, that is, those that have power and are able to influence at a national/international level but do not belong/align themselves with any particular country or state will continue to get a lot of media coverage and the focus of many parts of the public and private sectors. But is this attention and expenditure warranted or proportional to the threat? Typically, only the most violent and successful will get much more than a passing mention on the international news circuit and for those that crack the “viral code”, they will be the sole focus of the media for days and weeks, further feeding the focus and expenditure in the pursuit of apparent peace or resolution. These groups or respective “franchises” then invest themselves in a series of “one-upmanship” in order to survive or remain relevant/topical.
For the most part, much of what is routinely referred to at present as terrorism is in fact not terrorism at all, or the term has been modified to accommodate a new or topical group/s. Many violent acts are not committed in the name of politics at all. In many instances it is simply criminal violence and even war, wether there has been a formal or democratic consensus to commit to such an act. War however gets less support and funding than a supposedly mobile and home influencing threat such as terrorism. It also upsets neighbours, allies and political opponents.
Those countries that produce the most, not surprisingly spend the most on anti-terrorism and even war/war-like expenditure. However, those countries most affected are the least likely places on earth that most people, especially those from the top producing countries, would ever even travel to. Why is it that? If a lesser entity or competitor forces a larger entity or competitor to expend a disproportional amount of money and resources in order to compete…hasn’t the lesser of the two achieved a major victory not associated with territory, body count or brute force? Is this not a hugely successful business model that for some reason isn’t taken into consideration by current standards?
Violence has increasingly become a key economics element by virtue of it’s related goods and services. The production, distribution and consumption of these goods and services is now worth billions. It has not however resulted in hard currency or individual wealth for distributors/dealers or it’s citizens in most cases. In fact, it is more likely to be consumed by higher grossing financial economies, or more likely to be exported to those markets and it’s own consumers.
Violence scares most people or invokes an array of physical and emotional responses. These emotional states and responses can be exploited to motivate individuals and communities to act. It does not necessarily result in the most appropriate or considered response the closer that action is to the emotional/physical event. This applies to death, murders, wars and terrorist attacks.
Injuries and deaths related to physical and violent acts through the use of firearms and explosives cost more than management of any other mechanism of injury/death. Psychological costs are shown to be much higher also, in addition to leading to patters and repeat exposures, not to mention the community impacts also stemming from violence.
The economic cost of violence containment is staggering! Research shows that nearly twice as much is spent globally on violence containment than agriculture. Three times more than is spent on tourism and ten times more than is spent in the world airline industry. And these numbers are increasing year-on-year. Is it a wise investment? What is the return on investment (ROI)?
Whilst a particular interpretation of the numbers suggests that global terrorism deaths have almost double since the year 2000, most of those counted were more appropriately war/war related deaths. A very small percentage (less than 2.6%) of these global deaths occurred in Western countries, over a 15 year period. The distribution of violence and deaths is therefore extremely disproportional, despite the equally disproportionally expenditure on prevention.
2016 is therefore likely to see a decline in terrorism that impacts developed countries. There will be occasional violence and even deaths which will fuel an increase on expenditure in the pursuit of peace and prevention. It is unlikely however to impact a greater proportion of locals, neighbours or travellers than it already does, regardless of how many more news events, experts and professional gatherings are spawn from such events.
Violence economics will have two predominate benefactors. Those that plan, manage and spend a lot of time, money and resources to prevent their inclusion or blame for a small possibility of direct involvement in a violent war or terrorism event…and those that will profit from the opportunity fear, uncertainty and doubt offered during times of uncertainty and expand their market share and develop new business in areas everyone else is too blind to see as an opportunity. It is this latter group that is most likely to contribute to the less fortunate or most affected population.
Tony Ridley, CEO & Founder – Intelligent Travel