Interfacing Cultural Data
Conflict Barometer is a software program that analyzes incidences of violence, civil strife and government repression can give decision-makers early warning of a state that is about to implode, New Scientist says.
The experience of the Conflict Barometer suggests the US-led offensive in Afghanistan must be kept short or of low intensity to avoid destabilizing neighboring countries, it adds.
The program, developed by Harvard University computer scientist Doug Bond and Ohio University political sociologist Craig Jenkins, runs through a daily input of several thousand news service reports, analyzing sentences in order to classify events according to roughly 200 categories.
The category counts are then factored into an equation to give a nation's ability to withstand conflict. A score of 100 signifies stability, while zero equals chaos.
Before September 11, the United States typically scored around 98, Britain in the 90s and countries such as Sri Lanka, in the grip of an ethnic civil war, 60 or below.
Writing in a specialist publication, "The Journal of Conflict Resolution," Bond and Jenkins reported that they traced a decade of scores for seven countries.
They found that the scale provided warnings six to nine months ahead of the outbreak of strife in Algeria and Sri Lanka, as well as Peru's march back to relative stability.
"A close observer might have done as well, but I think it helps to have the indicator out in front of you," says Jenkins.
About two or three nations implode each year, causing waves that can ripple around the world and sometimes creating refuges for international terrorism.
Bond and Jenkins say that nations fail when violence, civil war and brutal government crackdowns mount and stay high for many months.
The typical gestation period of a crisis is six to nine months, when the barometer starts to stay alarmingly below 85, they find.
That implies Washington must take a serious look at both the intensity and duration of the Afghan campaign to avoid destabilizing neighboring states, they say.
Jenkins is particularly concerned about Pakistan and Tajikistan, saying the index suggests both states are "teetering on the edge of instability."
This site is using the MinimalWhite theme.