Disarmament and modernization of Defense strategies

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bravo! At last the Spanish Ministry of Defense has reacted and has risen to the demands of democratic governance: "We shouldn’t have acquired systems that we are not going to use, with money that we didn’t have", declared the Secretary of State for Defense in August, 2011. To honor commitments and alliances –especially NATO, which should for once and for all be channeled into a European security system, allied with but not dependent on the U.S— particularly under the previous administration, Spain acquired large stocks of weapons that we neither needed nor could pay for. They are weapons “for conflict situations that no longer exist".

Giving the pertinent orders to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, over a year ago President Obama announced the design and implementation of a new security strategy to address more quickly and efficiently new types of conflicts, which since the Viet Nam War have proven to require new modes of combat and materiel.

But the power of the huge war machine industry is not so easily dissuaded.

A year ago (September 13, 2010) the International Herald Tribune warned of the negative effect that global recession would have on the arms trade. In 2009 there was a 8.5% decline and “only” 57,500 million dollars worth were sold. The U.S. represents 40% of the world’s market. The best clients are the countries of the Middle East and Asia. (Where do the Gulf States put so many aircraft?) Because almost simultaneously, the largest contract for airplanes ever signed was announced with Saudi Arabia: 60 billion dollars.

After the U.S., the biggest arms merchants are Germany, Italy, China and the United Kingdom.

Right now the Pentagon is calculating whether it will finally be possible to produce the F-35, the most expensive military aircraft in history, to be manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The Pentagon still intends to purchase 2,443 F-35 within the next 25 years, for a total of 382 billion dollars. The Secretary of Defense has warned that there must still be further cuts in materiel and logistics, and that the U.S. cannot continue to assume 75% of NATO’s costs. The European allies invest a maximum of 2% of their GDP in military spending, while in the U.S. it is 5%.

Weapons arsenals have historically been perceived as an indication of a nation’s security. Security that is indeed important, but which is normally considered as the opposite of peace. “If you want peace, prepare for war...".

The time has come to prepare for peace. To “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war", in the words of the Preamble to the United Nations Charter.

New strategies... ceasing to sell or to oblige others to buy expensive weapons for out-dated wars.

Arms! Arms! Can nothing mitigate the shameful hunger, the collective embarrassment of extreme poverty, neglect and indifference? And on a worldwide scale, as if it were unquestionable, security receives thousands and thousands of millions, while peace and human dignity are tossed a few scraps, and more from charity and the kindness of citizens than from justice, as the duty of the State.

Lately the use of unmanned combat planes, the "drones" is being considered. Drones and hunger! Death by hunger, death by drones. By hunger, every day. By drones, once in a while.

The famine in the Horn of Africa had been foreseen. Warnings from institutions of the United Nations System and NGOs have been falling on deaf ears for quite some time... But nothing. Nothing can stop the immense war machine, one of the fundamental pillars of the “great domain".
The use of unmanned aerial systems has resulted in a situation in present conflicts in which rather than soldiers, the victims are principally civilians. And according to The Economist (July 30, 2011) in the last few years the Pentagon has increased its production of drones by 13 times (a minimum of an additional 5 billion dollars annually). They say that armies will progressively use machines instead of people. Predator and Reaper drones, equipped with the latest technology and controlled from thousands of miles away can undoubtedly be useful in many conflicts, and especially against terrorism... provided that the lives of the civilians in the countries in which they are deployed are considered to have the same value as the lives of soldiers of the countries that use them.

I believe it is appropriate to include here a paragraph from Paul Kennedy’s book “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”: "…wealth is usually needed to support the military power and the military power to acquire and protect wealth. If, however, too large a portion of the state's resources is diverted from wealth creation and allocated instead to military purposes, then that is likely to lead to a weakening of national power over the longer term. In the same way, if a State overextends itself strategically --by, say, the conquest of extensive territories or the waging of costly wars-- it runs the risk that the potential benefits from external expansion may be outweighed by the great expense of it all, a dilemma which becomes acute if the nation concerned has entered a period of relative economic decline"...

So, bravo for the clarity with which the Spanish Defense Minister has begun making “cuts” that may, in addition to having beneficial internal effects, contribute to putting the “great military domain” in its place... With renewable energies we will soon tame the “great energy domain"... And later the media domain, and the economic domain...

Yes: with the help of virtual mobilization, we may very well be on the verge of the “era of the people".