Global Concerns - 2 – Militarization, War, Conflict & Profit Before People

"We have guided missiles and misguided men."Rev Martin Luther King, warning that : “We live each day on the verge of nuclear co-annihilation.”

“War Is A Racket” – Major General Smedley Butler

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“The notion that the press was used in the [first Iraq] war is incorrect. The press wanted to be used. It saw itself as part of the war effort.” - Author and former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges

"Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other." - Elie Wiesel

"Every night we sleep hungry. Often we dream that we are eating all night." - Fatemah (an 11year-old citizen of Yemen, comment to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 2019)

1. For those of us who want ourselves and our descendants to live in a more peaceful, secure and equitable world, the scale of the military, of conflicts and of war is both daunting and deeply immoral. Total world military expenditure rose to $1,739 billion in 2017. For a sense of perspective : Just 3% of U.S. military spending could eliminate starvation on earth. Just think what peaceful projects (say) 10% of global military sepending could buy instead, to help people around our world. The money could lift billions of people out of gross poverty, extend life expectancy and improve the quality of billions of lives. Instead, now (over twenty years after the end of the Cold War) a handful of states - including the five permanent Members of the UN Security Council - are still maintaining vast arsenals of weapons of mass destruction (and selling us much as they possibly can to other countries). This makes no sense, strategically or financially - and it certainly makes no sense ethically and morally.

Missing : Morality, Ethics & Justice

2. For several years UNESCO have regularly reminded us all that 19,000 children die each day from avoidable causes. So, this spending on arms and the military is completely immoral, when we need to be ending poverty worldwide, and meeting many other urgent humanitarian needs. These few powerful nations continue to delude themselves into thinking they have created 'national security' for themselves based on their ability to annihilate mass populations of humans and the global environment. Of course, this does not make any of us safer or more secure. All it does is undermine global stability. These views are peddled by Bad leaders and their friends in the arms industry who (in the past and the present) are a plague on humanity. We have no shortage of bad leaders now, all selling their particular delusions, led by people like Trump, Kim Jong-un, Putin, Assad, Duterte, etc - the list is very long.

3. The current examples of Syria and Yemen remind us - once again - that morality and justice are also missing from the Security Council of the U.N (the USA, Russia, France, China and the UK are its permanent members - and the biggest military spenders). Some conflicts are so long- lasting that they become normalised and people stop looking for a solution to the injustices (for example : see the Israel-Palestine conflict, a massive set of injustices against the Palestinian people which have so far lasted for over a century). Far too many of us are used to our political 'leaders' (supported by their friends in the press and media) telling us that our countries are going to war, or into armed conflict.

4. As we write this, the situations in Syria and Yemen and several other parts of the world are a shameful indictment of the whole world, especially its leading nations. In Yemen in early 2018 over 100 children each day are dying because of the war. Acording to the UN High Commission for Refugees, in early 2019 : (a) Twenty four million people are affected by conflict and in need of humanitarian Assistance, (b) 2.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety, (c) 65,000 people have been killed or injured in the fighting. It has been called by the UN : "The world's worst humanitarian crisis'. There is lots of evidence that the Saudi Arabian Military has been bombing schools and hospitals. The main suppliers of their aircraft, weapons and bombs are the USA, Britain and France (three of the five veto-holding Members of the UN Security Council). This war has caused the worst Cholera outbreak on record - yet Cholera is a preventable disease. The Saudis have imposed a blockade on Yemen, including stopping food supplies into the Yemen. As a result, the famine brought about by this war is, according to the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator : "the largest famine the world has seen for many decades".

5. We must acknowledge that many staff in the UN and its Agencies have (for decades) been warning the member nations and their leaders of apocalyptically dire situations as they have developed, in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and many other places, for example recently in Aleppo and eastern Ghouta in Syria as well as in Yemen. However, the nations in the UN Security Council have not delivered global peace or security - ever. Their leaders' decisions are directly responsible for these, and other, massive disasters. Too many other nations are complicit in allowing this to happen. They must all take responsibility and many of their leaders should already be on their way to the International Criminal Court - if there was any justice.

6. In recent years many nations have been entangled in conflicts : in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali and the broader Sahel, Syria and Yemen, Ukraine - to name only a few examples.
Question : How many of these countries (after ‘western’ military interventions) are now happy, secure, peaceful and democratic nations, at peace internally and with their neighbouring countries ? Answer : None. Unfortunately, there are many more examples showing that conflict is not a sound or sufficient solution for conflict. The military response is too often a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The USA - Global Leader or Dark Deceiver ?

7. The most heavily armed country on the planet is the US. It has more military weaponry than the rest of the world combined. It has more unmanned military drones than the rest of the world combined. The scale of harm done by the US during its long war (1955-74) in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos was mind-boggling (millions were killed) and still affects those countries (and the US) today. Throughout this long war the US government engaged in systematic deceptions and lies. It lied to and deceived not only its own public but also the US Congress, the UN and the whole world. You can read more on this here. This truth was revealed to the US and global public by the publication of the Pentagon Papers (leaked in 1971 by the Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, see more here). This information was published by the New York Times and Washington Post in 1971. The US Government responded immediately by launching a Court Case against the newspapers but in a historic judgement the US Supreme Court ruled against the Government.

8. This pattern of lies and deceptions has characterised all US administrations (and many other governments around the world) since the second world war. Trump's US administration is the latest and may be taking us all towards more wars, or nuclear conflagration. Its pattern of global belligerence, does not inspire trust in the most militarily, politically and economically powerful country on earth. Such continuing patterns of behaviour do not inspire hope for global peace and security. For all of us who are hoping for solutions to the world's big problems a quick scan through this list of brave Whistleblowers and what they have revealed provides a shocking expose of what governments, corporations, the military and official bodies are doing - and what they do not want you to know. Many of these whistleblowers have exposed wrongdoings in the USA over many decades, confirming that state deceptions are deeply intrinsic to the American state and very persistent.

9. For another example, consider the behaviour of the UK government in going to war in Iraq (as part of the US's 'coalition') in 2003, despite the fact that the United Nations at the time clearly stated (a) it would be
illegal to go to war, and (b) the UN’s weapons inspection team confirmed that Iraq had no ‘weapons of mass destruction’. (More on this here) The Blair Government in the UK lied to and mislead the public comprehensively but they have never been held to account. Once the US and UK launched this illegal war hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children were then killed, along with thousands of coalition personnel. Bush and Blair, the leaders of the US and UK (and their other 'coalition' partners) should face the International Criminal Court, along with the members of (deceased) Saddam Hussein's oppressive state machine. However, there seems little chance this will ever happen. The international laws which should apply equally to all have never yet been applied to leaders of the big superpowers.

10. Unfortunately, this big silence (a mental 'blank' on security, conflict and peace) reflects the ideological mindsets and the vested interests of the big states, international bodies and arms corporations around the world. Often conflicts are fought out in 'proxy wars' where the opposing forces have the overt or covert backing of big 'superpowers'. Examples currently include both eastern Ukraine and Syria with (in both of these cases) opposing forces backed by Russia and the US-led NATO countries. There are always various levels of secrecy over what specific types of military support are being given by each of the big powers. The global arms industry feeds - and feeds off - such tensions, conflicts and secrecy.

Syria Now - Throwing More Bombs & Missiles at the Country...

11. In November 2015 the United Nations Security Council gave its blessing (and almost limitless freedom of action) unanimously to those nations who wished to add even more bombing and other military force into the already deadly, chaotic, fluid and multi-party conflict in Syria. This was an open door for Russia's massive and decisive military support for President Assad's government. Together, Syria and Russia set out to defeat the rebel forces who wanted (along with the USA, Britain and many others) the Syrian President Assad's downfall. The Assad forces had, up to that point, already killed many more of his own citizens than had ISIS / ISIL / Daesh combined - this is just one of his enormous crimes.

12. Unfortunately, having other nations (the USA and Russia, just for example) throwing even more bombs and rockets into the country has meant even more deaths – mostly of innocent men, women and children. The dire situations in Aleppo in late 2016 and in eastern Ghouta in early 2018 were a direct result of the failure by the U.N. and the international community to fulfil their 'responsibility to protect' the civilian population - a responsibility they have given themselves under international law. Between them, these internal and external parties to the conflict are guilty of enormous war crimes and crimes against humanity in many areas of Syria. The United Nations called the situation in Aleppo "a meltdown of humanity". Even after Aleppo and eastern Ghouta, this civil war is far from over.

13. For Syria, there has not been any overall international strategy for resolving the multiple issues and calming the multiple parties involved in this complex conflict. There is also, so far, no credible strategy (or resources committed) for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction to ensure that Syria is on a path to become secure and peaceful - both internally and with its neighbours. Russia on one side and the US-led NATO nations on the other side have not resolved their very different priorities (and loyalties) over Syria – this is why Syria developed as a proxy war between the two big powers. However, the US led-NATO side has effectively withdrawn and allowed the Russian-Syrian side to do whatever they wish. There have been repeated uses by the Syrian regime of chemical weapons (these were first outlawed internationally in 1925) with obvious appalling effects on civilians. In April 2018, after chemical weapons were again used by the Syrian regime in Douma, Trump's USA and Russia have traded dire threats with each other. This illustrates the bigger need to look outwards at the responsibility of the whole world, particularly the UN Security Council - and specifically at its ineffectiveness. It has been clear for a long time that the world needs to urgently build a much more co-operative and agreed International Order – with international institutions that will be effective at delivering an enduring new world order of peace and security, for everyone.

14. The many millions of innocent men, women and children inside Syria (and those millions of refugees forced to leave) have been suffering and dying in very large numbers. This has been obvious for the world to see for a long time. More bombs dropped on and rockets fired at Syria have been killing and maiming many innocent people and will not solve the causal problems : Bad leaders, corrupt governments, religious or ideological extremism, radicalisation or international terrorism. External military aid and support for one party or another has only magnified and spread those problems. Now, in early 2018 this war has been going on for over eight years and there is no end in sight.

Nuclear Weapons & Proliferation

15. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) states that there are about 14,900 nuclear warheads in the hands of nine nations around the world (at Autumn 2017). If used, these weapons are sufficient to kill everyone on the planet many times over and to heavily irradiate the whole planetary environment for hundreds of thousands of years. Over 97% of these deadly weapons are owned by the 'big five' legally recognised nuclear states (the USA, Russia, France, China and the UK). These states are parties to the 1968 Non Proliferation Treaty, the 'NPT'. They are also the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Nuclear weapons are also owned by India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, none of which are parties to the NPT. The fact that there are states with nuclear weapons who are outside of international treaties and agreements raises big concerns about nuclear proliferation. In addition to the nine nuclear weapons countries another 59 nations possess nuclear materials and the ability to create their own nuclear weapons. There are also clear risks of an accidental use of a nuclear weapon, or that lost or stolen nuclear materials will enable terrorists to acquire a nuclear weapon. These risks have increased as more countries have gained nuclear capabilities.

16. All the nuclear-armed countries have been sources of international tension in recent decades. The USA and Russia together now own about 92% of the world's nuclear warheads - (and yes, that unstable megalomaniac ignoramus Trump is in charge of around half of these warheads). The potential for conflict between the USA and Russia decreased greatly after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 but has been increasing over the past decade. Elsewhere, the potential for conflict between Israel and Iran (which has been very close to building its own nuclear weapons) has been a major concern for many decades. In October 2017 the USA's Trump announced in typically belligerent style that the USA was withdrawing from an international agreement with Iran which exists to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. All the other international parties (including Iran) vowed to stay in this agreement. As the supplier and sponsor of Israel's nuclear weapons the USA has for many decades played a big part in expanding tensions and conflicts in the middle east.

17. On the Indian subcontinent, there have been decades of extreme tension and outbreaks of violence, conflict and war between the two nuclear armed states of India and Pakistan. Currently, the belligerent behaviours of Trump's USA and North Korea towards each other (and towards others) have pushed nuclear tensions - and global risks - to their highest level for decades. The 'Doomsday Clock' of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe and it shows the hypothetical global catastrophe as "midnight". The Clock has been maintained since 1947 and only twice has it reached as close as 2 minutes to 'midnight'. The first time was in 1953 at the height of Cold War and Korean War tensions. The second time was in early 2018 and there are no signs that it will move back, away from 'midnight', very soon.

18. The world has now had nuclear weapons for over seven decades. In all that time only one country has actually used nuclear weapons. The USA used them in August 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands of people and consigning many millions of people to devastating long term health, genetic and other effects. The USA dropped these nuclear bombs on Japan, despite the fact that Japan had formally offered to surrender several days before the first of these bombs were dropped. The countries with the most nuclear weapons today are the USA and Russia. Many people around the world consider that the USA is today the most belligerent and domineering of the big powers with nuclear weapons. Certainly, Trump of the USA flings around nuclear threats (e.g against North Korea and Iran) in the characteristically stupid and immature manner he brings to all things. This has been called the battle between Kim Jong-un and Dim Dumb Don.

19. The 'big five' nuclear states are all committed, long term, to strengthening their nuclear capabilities and modernizing their weapons systems. We can safely assume that the other smaller nuclear states are trying to strengthen their nuclear capabilities too, if they can. An important study in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published in March 2017, showed that the USA ex-President Obama's nuclear weapons modernization program increased "the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of about three. It creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike." As the study pointed out, this new capacity undermines the strategic stability on which human survival depends. Ideological incompatibilities between the USA and Russia are at the heart of current tensions among the 'big five' powers about their own nuclear arsenals.

20. Apart from the states mentioned above with nuclear weapons, there are many other states which have their own civil nuclear power industry. These all have the capability to produce fissile materials (primarily plutonium and highly enriched uranium) which are extremely dangerous and can be the basis for nuclear weapons production. These fissile materials are security risks as well as health risks if released or exposed to the natural environment or to living organisms. The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the USA showed the devastating effects of these weapons. Also, accidents at nuclear power plants have given us indications of the damage that large scale releases of radioactivity into the environment can do, for example in Windscale (in the UK), Three Mile Island (in the USA), Chernobyl (in Russia) and Fukushima (in Japan, following the 2011 Tsunami).

Drones - Reality Without Morality

21. The US has more unmanned military drones than the rest of the world combined. In recent years it has, through the manufacture and use of Drones, been able to target any person or place anywhere on the globe. When a Drone’s rockets or bombs are aimed and then fired by a remote operator
(sitting safely and comfortably thousands of miles away, probably in the USA) a number of people are likely to be killed or injured. It is estimated that up to 98% of Drone casualties are unarmed and innocent bystanders – women, children and men. You may hear military Public Relations officers talking about this as the use of ‘Kinetic Force’. This is one of their many obscene abuses of language, designed to obfuscate and to mislead publics. Drone operators and military public relations officers are clearly very alienated and suffering from extreme DIS-connection. They are trained to ensure they are disconnected from decent social norms and appropriate human emotions. They and their military employers normalise all this and make it seem like a normal job, turning up for their shifts, uncomplicated by any real morality. This is reality without morality.

Bad Leaders

22. There have been many cases of bad leaders promoting division in order to enable themselves to rule. Bad leaders may also exploit or take control of weak state institutions (e.g. Constitutions or Laws), suspend them (for example in ‘States of Emergency’), damage or remove democratic mechanisms (for example suspending, cancelling or rigging Elections) or they recruit ‘helpful’ associates such as the Military, the Press or Media, or corporations such as those in the arms industry. They may foster armed conflicts within their own country (e.g. in recent years in Burma/Myanmar, in the Phillipines and in Thailand). Bad leaders may support ‘rebels’ or ‘insurgents’ or carry out
or sponsor destabilising activities in their own or other countries (e.g. Israel's actions over the past century in Palestine). They may recruit children as soldiers, smuggle or supply arms, or engage in military build-ups, or stir up tensions, domestically or internationally, in diverse other ways. Improvements are badly needed in multi-lateral or bi-lateral relations in several parts of the world – the examples of India - Pakistan, China - Japan, North Korea - South Korea and Israel - Palestine come to mind.

23. Bad leaders often pursue policies in their own countries which are designed to create economic, social, ethnic, or religious conflicts in order to ‘Divide and Rule’. They deliberately magnify divisions in their own population so that they and their political allies may gain, retain or increase their power within the state. This has happened or is now happening continuously in many countries that claim to be beacons of ‘Freedom’ such as the USA and Britain. In truth, bad leaders, bad leadership and bad governance need to be tackled at source, at the earliest stages and within their own states. However, bad leaders are actively created or at least tolerated within states by, eg : weak constitutions, weak laws or failing justice systems, faulty electoral systems, corrupt elites, armed services, biased or corrupt press or media, illegitimate power-bases. Ultimately, if their own countries fail to deal with bad leaders then the International Criminal Court is the right place to put bad leaders, whichever country they are from. They should be put on trial for war crimes or crimes against humanity - at the earliest opportunity.

The Global Arms Trade

24. The militarization of both the regions of the world and the problems of the world is actively fostered by governments (overtly or covertly), by the international arms trade and by individual politicians, monarchs, members of royal families, diplomats and all the so-called 'defence' or 'foreign policy' 'Think Tanks' and lobbyists who are funded by the big players. They all exist in this global industry in collusion with politicians, state officials, leaders of pariah states, of armed militias, rebel groups, insurgent groups, terrorists, arms brokers and arms dealers. Mixed into this are staggering amounts of bribery, corruption, 'black market' activities and money laundering - involving a range of financiers, bankers, royal families, transporters, intelligence operatives, military personnel, mercenaries, shady middlemen and common criminals. It would be naive to think that this pattern of wrongdoing and wrongdoers is restricted solely to the arms industry, it is much broader than that.

25. This is how global militarization and the arms industry work. They feed conflict and cause very serious problems, undermining state and global security and stability on all continents. This damages millions of lives and causes many deaths every year. This has been persistent and deliberate, across the world and across
history. Humans are clearly the most dangerous species on the planet with a history of using force and violence (on itself) on a massive scale. This has grown exponentially with technology over past decades.

26. The arms trade and so-called 'security' industry has devastating effects on peace, human rights and economies around the world. It is as morally unacceptable as the slave trade. People all over the world have been campaigning for decades to get this stopped but it continues. There is less international regulation of arms sales than of banana sales.

27. So, governments should stop promoting and supporting the arms companies, the arms trade and arms smuggling. The main culprits are the big world powers always acting covertly and in concert with greedy corporations who are interested only in profit, even at the expense of millions of peoples' lives. This is neoliberalism or 'disaster capitalism' in action. Secrecy and unaccountability are the bywords of these governments, corporations and their many powerful allies in the global arms industry.

The Global Peace Trade – If Only the World Had One…

28. For comparison, and to gain some perspective : Of all the Millennium Development Goals that the world adopted in 2000 to shape future international development not one referred to peace or security. By comparison, some of the money spent annually in global military budgets could easily pay for achieving all the world’s Development Goals – and improve everyone's security massively, for the long term.

29. Whilst, in theory, the United nations has introduced the idea that all states (including those in war or conflict or peace operations) have a 'responsibility to protect' civilians, this is far from what has actually happened. The failures of UN operations in Rwanda, Srebrenica, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, South Sudan, Syria (and many other places) all show that the international community often lacks the will to protect civilians in terrible situations. This has been allowed to continue for far too long. This is another sign that our international institutions need to be improved markedly.

30. Instead of spending vast amounts on military activities the world can and should rapidly phase out most arms stocks and use the money released by this to remove all global poverty and to set up and fund health and education services throughout the world. These vital services are needed by people everywhere. The world can easily afford to train and provide all the doctors and nurses to meet the medical needs of everyone in the world. It could also afford to build healthy water and sanitation services for everyone, everywhere. It could afford to ensure an effective food security system which would ensure good nutrition for every person on the planet.

31. The fact that this is not being done – and is not even a real priority for the big world powers – is not due to any lack of money, it is due to them having other very different priorities. All this (and more) would cost far less than the annual military budget of just the biggest powers. Alternatively, all of these things would only cost a fraction of the Taxes which are avoided and evaded each year by the big global corporations. So, the greed and wealth of a tiny global minority is - shamefully - a higher priority among the world's biggest military and economic powers. This needs to change.