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. The current examples of Syria and Yemen remind us - once again - that morality and justice are 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. 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 a long time) been warning of the apocalyptically dire situations as they have developed in Aleppo and Yemen but their political leaders in the U.N. Security Council have not delivered peace or security - ever. Their decisions are directly responsible for these, and other, massive disasters. They must take responsibility now and should already be on their way to the International Criminal Court
- if there was any justice.
2. 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.
3. The most heavily armed country on the planet is the US. The US 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 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, and its subsequent pattern of global belligerence, does not inspire trust in the most militarily, politically and economically powerful country on earth.
4. The continuing pattern of such behaviour does 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. 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.
5. Unfortunately, there is a big silence, a mental 'blank' on security, conflict and peace which reflects the ideological mindsets and the vested interests of governments and corporations around the world. Often conflicts are fought out in 'proxy wars' where the opposing forces have the overt or covert backing of the 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, with various levels of secrecy over specific types of military support 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...
6. 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. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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
9. There are thought to be over 17,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of eight nations around the world - enough to kill everyone on the planet many times over and to heavily irradiate the whole planetary environment for hundreds of thousands of years. These deadly weapons are owned by five legally recognised nuclear states (the USA, Russia, France, China and the UK - these are parties to the 1968 Non Proliferation Treaty, the 'NPT', and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) and also by India, Pakistan and Israel, none of which are parties to the NPT. Accurate figures are unknown because they are unwilling to make the figures public.
10. The world has now had nuclear weapons for over seven decades. In all that time only one country has actually used nuclear weapons. The US 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 US 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 country with the most nuclear weapons today is the US. Many people around the world consider that the US is today the most belligerent and domineering of the big powers with nuclear weapons.
11. The five big nuclear states are all committed long term to strengthening their nuclear capabilities and modernizing their weapons systems. Ideological incompatibilities between the US and Russia are at the heart of current tensions among the 'big five' powers about their own nuclear arsenals. The exact nuclear status of Israel, Iran and North Korea is unknown : 'secrets wrapped up in mysteries, wrapped up in rumours'. This raises big concerns about nuclear proliferation - all these countries are sources of international tension. Israel's exact nuclear status (and its dependence on the USA) is possibly the most opaque of all. The potential for conflict between Israel and Iran has been a major concern for many decades.
12. All other states which have a civil nuclear power industry have the capability to produce fissile materials. These fissile materials (primarily plutonium and highly enriched uranium) are hazardous or 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.
13. 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.
14. 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. Bad leaders also often pursue policies designed to create economic, social, ethnic, or religious conflicts in their own countries 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 consistently 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. They 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
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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…
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.