Military Spending Reaches New Heights, Are We Safe Yet?
A new report just came out about global military spending. It’s up 45% in the past decade. And of course the world is far more safe and secure and peaceful because of it. Snort. There is actually little or no correlation between increased military spending and security as far as I can tell. In fact there’s so much wrong with this obscene situation it’s hard to know where to start. However, I’ve never let that stop me before, so I will go from the general to the specific.
First of all this represents a colossal waste of money. Money spent on the military is easily the worst way money can be spent in any long term sense, it’s literally money poured down a rathole. It creates very few jobs compared to other types of spending, and creates nothing of long term value. Money spent on infrastructure, education, health care, and research would be far more useful in the long and the short run. In a very real sense out-of-control military spending destroys its own nation through waste of resources as much or more than it will ever damage its enemies real or perceived.
Secondly, military spending encourages military thinking and military solutions, and this tends to snowball. The countries with the highest military spending are almost always the most militaristic countries, and highly militaristic countries get to a point where all problems are perceived as military problems and all solutions are military solutions. Since many of the world’s problems aren’t military at all, they are diplomatic or social or criminal; the military mind set if anything makes them worse. The USA and Israel are easily two of the best examples of how run away militarism has led to huge military expenditures with little or nothing gained from them. Using multi-million dollar equipment to fight insurgencies is like hunting mosquitoes with machine guns, it makes a lot of noise but doesn’t kill many mosquitoes and completely ignores the real problem, the swamp.
Lastly and related to this, military spending means the world is awash in weapons and trained military personnel. And here’s where the trickle down theory actually works, weapons are so cheap and common that every little militia or gang on the planet has military type weapons. In the USA the use of assault rifles by gangs has skyrocketed in the past few years and police cars are having to be armed and armoured against them. This is, um, madness!
In a more specific sense two areas stand out. One of the greatest increases in military spending in the past decade has been…Eastern Europe. Yes, freed from decades of communist mismanagement and liberated by the end of the Cold War, the former Soviet bloc is exercising its new found freedom by arming itself to the teeth. Some peace dividend. The reason for this is simple, corruption in high places. As soon as Eastern Europe was integrated into NATO and The EU, the west insisted that the newly free nations were now obligated to bring their military to NATO standards. (Which entailed spending buckets of money on western military equipment, but I’m sure that was just a coincidence.) It also means spending huge amounts of money on weapons systems designed to fight a fantasy war with the Soviet Union. The aptly named military-industrial complex gets richer, for no reason that can even rationally be named. And again, this is a reflection of just how deep this military thinking miasma has penetrated the west, the end of the Cold War is cause for bringing all of Europe up to Cold War military standards? Say what?
And lastly of course the USA, which now accounts for about 45% of the world’s military spending. Not since World War Two has the USA engaged in such profligate military spending, there does not seem to be a weapon or weapons system too expensive or too useless for our government to consider. In fact there’s a whole other post in the wings about that, Americans simple do not understand just how essentially useless the vast amount of our military hardware is in any real sense of the word. Most of it is still designed to fight World War Two style wars. World War Two ended decades ago and the nature of war has changed dramatically since then, but if the USA ever falls into a time warp and it’s 1941 again…by God we’re ready this time!
And of course all this military spending has made America and Americans the safest country and people on Earth. Again, snort. It’s also the reason why our nation’s infrastructure is falling apart and why we are the only industrialized nation on Earth that doesn’t have cradle to grave health care. In fact we can’t even seem to provide decent health care to our veterans these days, they were well armed when they were in uniform. I’m sure that’s a comfort. I suppose I could also comment on the psychological state we seem to have gotten ourselves into where no weapon is too terrible for the USA to forswear its use. However, the USA and the hows and whys of its arsenal of nightmare weapons is also a topic for another day. Sleep tight.
“A gun is as easy to get as a packet of cigarettes.”
Evan Jean Lolless, 34, serving life imprisonment for murder in the USA, 1997
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit: © Crispin Hughes/Oxfam. I obtained it from this site which is fighting to regulate and reduce the flow of weapons around the world. And no, I’m not a gun control nut who thinks that we can fix all our problems by taking away people’s weapons, I’m just pointing out that having the world awash in ever more weapons isn’t helping.)