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James Meek · What are you willing to do? On the case for civil war · LRB 26 May 2022

Systemic Peace hasn’t publicly updated its ratings for most countries since 2018, but for reference, the eight countries rated 5 that year were Ecuador, Haiti, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Somalia and Suriname. The ways Systemic Peace’s data diverge from what a lay person would expect of a democracy-autocracy scale are interesting. The US is rated as a sound democracy from 1829 until just before the Civil War, despite its embrace of slavery in that period. Belgium scores a solid 6 for much of its brutal rule over Congo. The UK gets a perfect 10 rating from 1922, despite being, at that time, at the head of a racially organised, exploitative empire that denied democratic rights to millions. Walter claims that a polity score is the best predictor of a country’s instability, but Systemic Peace gives Britain a 10 throughout the period of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which Walter uses elsewhere as an example of an actual civil war.