The Guardian • Issue #2095

PEACE NOTES

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2095
PEACE NOTES

Global Action on Military Spending has issued a statement for its days of action from 12 April to 15 May. The statement, “Disarmament now to save people and planet,” says:

Humanity is at a crossroads where political decisions on defence budgets will determine the trajectory of the multiple crises in which we are immersed.

Wars and armed conflicts are devastating whole regions of the world. Global military spending has increased by 19 per cent between 2013 and 2022 and has risen every year since 2015. Yet, from Gaza to Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, Myanmar, or Manipur, this has done nothing to resolve persistent conflicts nor reduce global tensions.

Instead, increased military expenditure and intensifying militarism have only increased the volatility of global peace and cooperation.

Rising temperatures are modifying climatic patterns in a profound and extreme way. Millions of people are already experiencing the disastrous consequences of climate change and environmental degradation, amplified further by violent conflict.

We must act now. These fluctuating weather and climatic patterns have direct repercussions on whether territories can remain habitable as well as on the future of decent and sustainable living conditions for all.

The world is at a geopolitical crossroads, even as we are moving away from the post-Cold War period into a new era of multipolarity yet disturbingly global leaders are increasing their reliance on militarised solutions. Now, military spending is touted as a necessity for maintaining all aspects of security.

Meanwhile, a large network of interests and global power has emerged, led by a very few supranational private actors who control companies and influence governments in a purely undemocratic manner.

It is a global power network that includes and connects military and fossil energy businesses.

A network in which militarisation not only causes the death of hundreds of thousands, but also becomes instrumentally responsible for environmental disaster by protecting fossil fuel interests and predatory actors.

A network that works, directly and indirectly, to prevent measures that could alleviate both the planetary environmental crisis and the suffering of millions of people.

A network that does not shy away from reaping profits from arms sales to genocidal actors, as we see in the military support given to Israel to continue its relentless attacks on Gaza. We need to ensure democratic power across the globe.

Military spending not only fuels wars and armed conflicts around the globe, it also takes away resources that could be devoted to addressing climate change, investing in global justice (including the UN Sustainable Development Goals), and promoting peaceful conflict transformation and disarmament.

Militaries are among the world’s biggest consumers of fuel, accounting for 5.5 per cent of global emissions, while the use of chemicals pollutes the land around military bases, poisoning it for generations.

The continued use of mines and cluster munitions, as well as conventional weaponry leaves land uninhabitable for generations. The opportunity cost of military spending costs us the Earth.

We are aware that the current challenges facing humanity (wars and conflicts, climate crisis, social crisis, crisis of democracy, pandemics, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and many more) are global and transboundary.

These challenges require a common and coordinated effort that can only be achieved by building new alliances among a wide array of actors – from civil society to international institutions, states, companies, and peoples – to finance and create justice, peace, and human rights for the planet.

Together, we must push for global common or collective security, one based on trust-building, cooperation, and solidarity. Reducing military expenditure is a necessary first step and the best opportunity to build peace and create a sustainable world with dignity for all.

(full statement can be found at demilitarize.org.uk)

The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More