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. Bad leaders in the past have been a plague on Humanity and we have no shortage of bad leaders now, led by people like Trump, Kim Jong-un, Putin, Assad, Duterte, etc - the list is very long.
2. 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). Some conflicts are so long- lasting that they almost become normalised and people stop thinking about their injustices or looking for a solution (see the Israel-Palestine conflict, a massive set of injustices which have so far lasted for at least 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.
3. As we write this, in mid-2017, 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. We must recognise that many staff in the UN and its Agencies have (for decades) been warning the member nations leaders of apocalyptically dire situations as they have developed, for example recently in Aleppo and Yemen, but the national leaders in the U.N. Security Council have not delivered global peace or security - ever. Those leaders' decisions are directly responsible for these, and other, massive disasters. They must take responsibility and many of them should already be on their way to the International Criminal Court
- if there was any justice.
4. In recent years many nations have been entangled in conflicts : in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali and the broader Sahel, Syria and Yemen - 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.
5. 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) against communism in Vietnam
, Cambodia and Laos was mind-boggling and still affects those countries (and the US) today. The US government engaged in systematic deceptions and lies throughout this long war. 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 pattern of lies and deceptions has characterised many US administrations since the second world war. Trump's administration is the latest and may be taking us all towards the third world war, or nuclear conflagration. This, and its pattern of global belligerence, does not inspire trust in the most militarily, politically and economically powerful country on earth.
6. Such continuing patterns of behaviour do not inspire much 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.
7. 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
) Once the US and UK launched this 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.
8. Unfortunately, this big silence (a mental 'blank' on security, conflict and peace) reflects the ideological mindsets and the vested interests of governments, 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 and conflicts.
Syria Now - Throwing More Bombs at the Country...
9. 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.
10. 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 situation in Aleppo in late 2016 was 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. The United Nations has called the situation in Aleppo "a meltdown of humanity". Even after Aleppo, this civil war is far from over.
11. 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 so 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 – but with the US led-NATO side withdrawing and allowing the Russian-Syrian side to do whatever they wish. This illustrates the bigger need to look outwards at the responsibility of the whole world. We need to build (urgently) a much more co-operative and agreed International Order – with international institutions that will deliver an enduring new world order of peace and security, for everyone.
12. 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 extremism, radicalisation or international terrorism. External military aid and support for one party or another has only magnified and spread those problems.
Nuclear Weapons & Proliferation
13. 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, there has always been a clear risk of nuclear arms or materials falling into the hands of Terrorist groups.
14. 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 immature 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 President 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 tensions and conflicts in the middle east. 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 over three decades.
15. 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, President 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.
16. 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.
17. 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).
18. 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 comfortably, perhaps thousands of miles away) 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.
19. 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.
20. 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 and bad leadership 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
21. 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.
22. 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 (mostly on itself) on a massive scale. This has grown exponentially with technology over past decades.
23. 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.
24. 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
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…
25. 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, a small percentage 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.
26. Whilst, in theory, the United nations has introduced the idea that states have responsibility to protect civilians in conflicts and in peace operations this is far from the actual reality. 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 under its own 'protection' 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.
27. Instead of spending vast amounts on military activities the world can and should spend the money to remove all global poverty and to set up and fund health and education services throughout those parts of the world which lack these vital services. 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.
28. 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 USA. 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 - disgracefully - a higher priority among the world's biggest military powers. This needs to change.