Long reads shortened
How we lost “the most peaceful era in history”
When Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine, says Yuval Noah Harari in The Atlantic, he ended “the most peaceful era in human history”. Until the late 20th century, the word “peace” meant merely “the temporary absence of war” – conflict was always just round the corner. Military spending dominated the budget of “every empire, sultanate, kingdom and republic”: for the Romans, it accounted for up to 75% of the total; for the British Empire, it never fell below 55%. But in the long peace that began after the Second World War, governments have been able to stop splurging on weapons. In recent years, they have devoted an average of just 6.5% of spending to defence. That has enabled them to invest far more in things that make life better, such as healthcare, welfare and education.