Defund armies, defend People!

Whether there is an economic or health crisis, it does not matter, there is a sector that never knows crises in the world: Warfare.
According to the detailed information provided by SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), an independent agency that collects and analyzes global data on conflicts and armaments since 1966, the global military spending has increased, and massively, in recent years.
On April 26, SIPRI will publish an extensive information database relating to the year 2020, so for now we can draw some considerations from the data contained in the 2019 report.

Let’s start with the total global spending: 1.92 trillion dollars, or 1.8 trillion euros.
To understand the order of magnitude of this figure we can say that it is almost equal to the Gross Domestic Product of a country like Italy, while it represents 2.2% of world GDP.
If we divided this amount equally among the inhabitants of the planet we would have to charge $250 each.
You can certainly understand how this figure, in some areas of the world, represents the net gain of some monthly work, therefore it is likely that the amount we are paying individually in the neoliberist countries is considerably higher. And it is even more true that we are paying it for the weapons that will result in death, destruction and an even greater gap between those poorer areas and the rest of the world which imposes to them its own capitalist policies.

Crazy policies that have no logic to them other than a surefire short-term profit for the very few and an equally sure medium and long-term humanitarian, social and environmental failure for all.
The arms race represents, in our opinion, the most perfidious of the inconsistencies of our planet: a scam that we ourselves organize to our detriment, clearing us of it with chilling ease.
Regarding pollution, for example, there are no theories, nor even practices, according to which the damage caused by harmful emissions can be countered with further harmful emissions.
For heaven’s sake, there is no limit to the worst, but at the moment we do not register trends of this kind.
On the contrary, the war industry has the deliberate purpose of resolving violence with violence, conflicts with conflicts, and wars with wars.

If so, if armaments and armies were really able to resolve conflicts of any kind between nations or populations, as of today, April 2021, we would no longer have a war in Syria; a wonderful country in which the major world war powers were able to show their best military skills and their ability to resolve those disputes… The result?
After more than ten years, the war is still there and, according to the SOHR, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, has left at least 400,000 victims in the field, while UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, estimates that there are 5.5 million Syrian refugees around the world, most of them in Turkey, an undemocratic country that uses them as blackmail against the European Union, a shell of states in which the necessary weapons are produced to generate those dead and those refugees.

Alan Kurdi was a 3 years old Syrian child of Kurdish ethnic background who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, as part of the Syrian refugee crisis in September 2015. Public domain photo taken by the Turkish journalist Nilüfer Demir.

In Germany, for example, the highest increase in military spending among the great powers was recorded in 2019: + 10% (almost 50 billion dollars).
And if France has stabilized its already high military budget (just over 50 billion dollars), the case of Italy is emblematic: Il Bel Paese has risen the military expenditure to 27 billion a year, while it has cut investments in schools for the next three years.

In the United Kingdom, military spending remains very high (49 billion dollars), but with ghastly forecasts of increase: for the first time since the Cold War there will be a boosting flow of public money into nuclear weapons; the missiles will increase from 180 to 260 for an expenditure of 16 billion pounds in four years. In the same days when Her Majesty’s Government approved these figures, the salaries of doctors and nurses were simultaneously increased … Yes, they were increased by 1%.

The Russians have also seen military spending rise, exceeding $ 65 billion, but what is disconcerting is that this is almost 4% of GDP.
China and India, now firmly in second and third place worldwide, have recently had slightly different attitudes. While Beijing has confirmed its growth trend (reaching an aggregate of 261 billion), New Delhi is rapidly growing in armaments financing (+ 6.8% compared to 2018) also due to the tightening of relations with China and with Pakistan.

On the other hand, those great “exporters of democracy” of the United States of America are competing in a totally different race: despite the internal economic crisis, in 2018 they increased their war expenses by 5%, reaching the figure of 732 billion dollars.

And although these numbers are chilling, the problems do not lie exclusively in them, as international associations that promote peace and disarmament have been denouncing for decades.
In fact, large quantities of armaments, destined for a smuggling trade that mostly feed paramilitary organizations and terrorist groups, often disappear from the statistical, legislative and fiscal radars.
But it is precisely from these organizations that another key element is often relaunched: the governments of “democratic” and self-styled pacifist states often authorize the export of arms by companies operating in their territory to nations whose dictatorial regimes constantly violate human rights, repress fundamental freedoms and carry out ethnic, religious and political persecution.

Among the countries that in recent years have exponentially increased their arms purchases there is Saudi Arabia which since March 2015 has attacked the population of Yemen by bombing roads, hospitals, houses and schools (the latest data speak of 133,000 victims and 3.6 million people displaced).
Those weapons are bought by companies residing in countries that prohibit (or rather should prohibit) the sailing to governments that do not respect human rights.
Italy, for example, continues to do business with Al-Sisi’s Egypt by selling heavy weapons and warships to a regime that imprisons journalists and university researchers.
In the United Kingdom, Elbit Systems, the largest private Israeli war company, has its factory and coverage, in Shenstone, near Manchester, where they produce the drones with which Israel bomb Palestinian civilians.
It is certain that the Hermes drones produced by Elbit were the most used war instruments in the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014 which caused 2,200 victims, including 500 minors; and we all still have in our mind the memory of that horrible news coming on July 16 of that year, when four Palestinian children were killed by a drone while playing football on a beach: Ismayil (aged 9), Aed (aged 10), Zacharia, (aged 10) and Muhammed (aged 11).

Four children in Gaza. Photo: “Laughing! #Gaza” by achimvoss licensed under CC BY 2.0

A few days earlier, on 9 July, nine boys had been killed by a missile as they watched the Argentina-Netherlands semifinal of the World Cup in an improvised location where they could have a better satellite TV reception.

Therefore, what is of greatest concern is the growing indifference in front of those numbers and even in front of those faces.
Despite this, numerous organizations around the world are working to ensure that the message of peace also becomes, in an effective way, a tool to put an end to the production and therefore to the trade in arms.
To arrive at national laws and international agreements it is first necessary to make the elected members of Parliaments understand the precise will of the voters, and to do this it is essential that the voters mobilize around this issue, make their voices heard, their dissent recognized.

Also because we need to consider that we face governments and large corporations that use all available media to convince us of the righteousness of their militarist choices.
Did you notice that these expenses are labeled as “investments”, and at every feared risk of closing these factories of death, the flag of “unemployment” is waved, or even theories are proposed according to which these loans are also useful for “scientific research”?

Scientific research? Really?
Well, according to OXFAM (the confederation of independent organizations focused on the alleviation of global poverty), it would cost only 0.7% of global military spending to vaccinate all the world’s 7.8 billion inhabitants against Covid-19.
So, what’s that scientific research for?

To oppose all of this, to represent the reality of the facts and to push those who are in charge to concrete actions, the Global Days of Action on Military Spending were created, promoted by the GCOMS (The Global Campaign On Military Spending) which brings together more than 100 organizations from 35 countries around the world.
From 10 April to 17 May there will be numerous initiatives carried out in the various states and some of them will see a contemporary and worldwide involvement.
As in the case of April 26, when there will be a press conference and a twitter storm on the occasion of the release by SIPRI of new data on world military spending.

The message of this year’s mobilization is clear:“Defund the military, defend people and the Planet”.

In fact, what is required is the drastic reduction of military spending and the reallocation of financial resources in sectors that can really respond to the growing demand for social and ecological justice.
There is less and less air and there are less and less rights.
Weapons, it must be reminded, do not give neither air nor rights.

There is less and less air and there are less and less rights.
Weapons, it must be reminded, do not give neither air nor rights.
Defund the military, defend People and the Planet.
@DemilitarizeDay #GCOMS #DefundTheMilitary

Originally tweeted by The Human Exploring Society (@HumanExploring) on 17th Apr 2021.

One response to “Defund armies, defend People!”

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