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Economic slump provides tinder for global conflicts

With more people pushed into poverty, the probability of armed rebellions increases around the world.

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The new director of the National Intelligence Agency caused something of a stir last month when he warned Congress: "The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications."

On that theme, Hampshire College professor Michael Klare sees the world economic meltdown as already prompting "economic brush fires" around the world and worries whether these could prove "too virulent to contain."

It seems as if the lyrics "trouble, trouble, trouble" from Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" have become too real in today's world.

Last November Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group, noted that the global financial crisis would hit hardest the "poorest and most vulnerable" in the developing world. At that time, Mr. Zoellick calculated another 100 million people around the world had been driven into poverty as a result of soaring food and oil prices. These prices have eased. Nonetheless, hundreds of millions in poor nations must try to balance household budgets on incomes of $2 a day or less.

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