"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Monday, December 10, 2012

Arming the World... or Caring For the World?

The Nobel Peace Prize was given to the European Union (EU) earlier today in Oslo, Norway. The EU represents roughly one third of global arms exports.  President Obama, who was the previous recipient of the Peace Prize, is the president of the number one global arms exporter - the United States.

You might ask, and rightly so, just what gives here.  Yes, there is a huge disconnect.  How does arming the world, and constantly preparing for and making war have anything to do with peace???  Of course, it does not!!!  And the tragic irony is that even a small percentage of the money spent on the world's militaries could take care of most human needs around the globe.

Read David Swanson's article below to see just how much that would be.


UN Development Goals Could Be Met With a Few Percent of Military Spending

By David Swanson
Here's a useful new report from the International Peace Bureau. Globally, the report finds, spending on war preparations is higher than ever as an absolute amount and as a percentage of public spending (if not as a percentage of GDP). This spending is led and dominated by the United States, which of course pressures other nations to try to keep pace. The United States also dominates the manufacture and sale of weapons to other nations.

The figures that the IPB uses admittedly leave out many types of military spending. In fact, they capture less than 60% of U.S. military spending. So, the conclusions are all extremely "conservative" -- that is to say: dramatically wrong. Without knowing how much of other nations' war preparations spending is missing, one cannot do the calculations correctly. Nonetheless, IPB's conclusions are stunning and include these:

--the world's military spending is 12.7 times higher than its official development assistance, and

--604 times higher than UN budgets for peace, security, development, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and international law, and

--2,508 times higher than the combined expenditures of the UN's International Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Organizations.

--the war preparations spending of the world is $249 per day per person on earth.

--about 5% of that would meet the UN's Millenium Development Goals by 2015.

In other words, war spending does not just generate the well-known Military Industrial Complex's pressure for more war, which takes more lives, but the failure to use a little of that money for something useful means the failure to save and improve countless lives as well. Our budgets are at once sins of commission and omission. The millenium goals are goals for ending poverty and hunger, providing education, and protecting health, sustainability, and human rights.

There may not be a war on Christmas, but if our "leaders" have their way there will be several wars on Christmas, and we're paying for them in several senses of the word.

Peace on Earth. Pass the ammunition.

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