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The Global Youth Bulge
Emily Gertz, 1 Mar 05

A surge in the number of youth worldwide threatens international security. Countries where young adults (generally counted as those aged 15 to 29) add up to more than 40 percent of the total working-age population are nearly two and a half times more likely to endure armed civil conflict. The "demographic of insurgency, ethnic conflict, terrorism, and state-sponsored violence" is how Richard Cincotta, a senior research fellow at the WorldWatch Institute, describes it in his Global Security Brief, Youth Bulge, Underemployment Raise Risks of Civil Conflict.

The vast majority of recruits are young men, most of them out of school and out of work. It is a formula that hardly varies, whether in the scattered hideouts of Al Qaeda, on the backstreets of Baghdad or Port-au-Prince, or in the rugged mountains of Macedonia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, or eastern Colombia.

The youth bulge is most prevalent in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of the South American Andes, Central Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Factors include tendencies towards large families, low status of women, population growth outpacing job opportunities in both cities and countryside, depleted environmental resources, rapid urbanization, and relatively limited health and human services infrastructure.

The good news is that experts like Cincotta consider these countries to be at the beginning of demographic transitions towards lower birth rates, and greater balance and stability in population and economy. If the developed world wants to help speed this transition, rather than suffering through it, key steps include: empowering women, improving maternal and reprodutive health, and providing aid and development to create training and job opportunites in youth bulge nations. In other words, the kinds of steps outlined in the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

We're seeing the rise of neoconservative green in the U.S.--arguments that the nation must convert to alternative, green energy sources to end our vulnerability to terrorism and overseas oil entanglements. Maybe when the risks of the youth bulge connect with equal force, we'll see the equivalent in red: bleeding hearts for national security.

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The main argument seems to be that there's a terror danger because:

"The vast majority of recruits are young men, most of them out of school and out of work."

As it happens this is and has forever been so: "The average age of the Vietnam soldier was 19".

Young males can, are and will be used for killing, because they have, by nature, the necesarry blind fervor.

The issue here is not this empty word called "terror".

Posted by: tpo on 4 Mar 05



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