They don’t need bullets, but bread and justice

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The reactions of the European Union to the mobilizations in Tunisia and Egypt were inappropriate for a great regional entity, underscoring that it still lacks common foreign, security and defense policies. Once again new challenges have uncovered the extraordinary deficiencies in what, even with its many patches, continues to be merely an economic community. It’s sad that the only thing that’s occurred to the EU leaders is to reinforce the EU’s defensive capacity in the north Mediterranean to contain social movements from the south. Don’t they realize that these events are the result of massive citizen participation, facilitated by cyberspace? Don’t they realize that precisely what the citizens in those countries want is a change of system and in “colonization” by those who to-date have assumed global governance? Don’t they realize in Brussels and Washington that those countries desire freedom, democratic participation, social justice and quality of life for all?

Less than 20% of us live in the wealthy neighborhood of our global village. The rest, in a progressively inferior gradient, live in difficult conditions in which at times they struggle exclusively to survive. I have constantly pointed out that it is a collective shame that we continue to invest 4,000 million dollars daily in military spending, while over 70,000 people die of hunger in an authentic genocide of abandonment and neglect. Now we’ve read in the press (El País, 5 February 2011) that "NATO warns Europe of the effects of the revolt and demands increased defense spending"!! What happened with the majority of the aid that the US gave Egypt? It returned to the US in the form of purchases of military hardware, to the delight and profit of Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, among others...

No: it is a tremendous error to think that what Europe needs is to further increase its military potential and the military potential of the regimes in those countries. What Europe should do is to once and for all dedicate itself to achieving sustainable economic development in those countries; supporting increased participation in exploiting the natural resources of so many places that have become impoverished due to the greed of those in the “north”. They don’t need more investment in defense, but rather in “life”. The West needs to rapidly review their military arsenals, the majority of which are filled with outdated weaponry; the definitive destruction of nuclear warheads; a rapid increase in sustainable energy sources to reduce consumption and “oil power”; a strong United Nations to enable rapid intervention in unacceptable drifts toward violence and extremism; global coordination of all personnel and technological resources to respond to natural or man-made disasters...

What Europe needs is to anticipate the “revolts”, which thanks to distance participation will soon ensue all over the world (including Europe) among those who will no longer accept the pitiful spectacle of speculators’ hounding of democracies that, due to pressure from the markets, are forced to reduce or abandon their social programs.

"Europe must be prepared to defend itself against new threats”. Europe cannot allow itself to neglect defense", warned NATO Secretary General Anders F. Rasmussen. But threats are no longer of war, but rather of a social nature, of demands for a decent life. Europe doesn’t need to reinforce its military armament, but rather to offer an outstretched hand.

Neither is greater “cyberdefense” required. For the moment I would recommend listening... and taking the appropriate preventive measures. Prevention is the greatest victory.

shouldn’t seek new “military partners” who will be of little use in facing the challenges of these troubled times. They would do better to heed the prophesy of Isaiah: If you “deal thy bread to the hungry, …then shall thy darkness be as noonday”.