Global military growth is no defence for billons facing COVID-19: Labour leader
New figures on military expenditure from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reveal an increase in military spending of 2.6% worldwide last year, to a total of US$ 1,981 billion.
“Governments have brought shame on themselves by wasting vast sums of money on the military and increasing spending while urgent requirements for public health and economic reconstruction and resilience from the COVID-19 pandemic have not been met,” said labour leader Sharan Burrow.
Sharon Burrow is General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which represents 200 million members of 332 affiliated union in 163 countries and territories.
“This is a scandalous misuse of resources at a time when the whole of humanity is threatened by the virus, and when vital financing to tackle climate change is missing. The fact that governments have prioritised their ability to fight wars against each other rather than confronting existential human crises simply beggars belief.”
The SIPRI figures show increased military spending in every region except the Middle East, mainly due to a drop in Saudi Arabia that still spends tens of billions of dollars each year.
Just the 2.6% increase alone would more than meet the investment required for a social protection fund for the least wealthy countries, or cover two-thirds of the investment needed to provide social protection to every person on the planet.
“Much of the world remains defenceless against the SARS-CoV-2 virus due to nationalism and corporate capture of vaccines and other public health tools. This gross misallocation of funding deprives hundreds of millions of people of protection and starves investment in job creation, social protection, public health and care.
“Governments should reduce the size of their military and convert arms manufacturing into socially useful production. Weapons don’t provide security. It is social justice, engagement of civil society and negotiation that keep people secure,” said Sharan Burrow.
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According to American news channel, Democracy Now.org, the US spends as much on armaments as the next 12 countries including Russia, China and yes, Great Britain. They plan to advance their nuclear bombing capability by spending $100 billion on one twenty times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima mounted on a missile having a range of 9,600 kilometers. Of the 330 million people living in the US, 140,000 live in poverty. If the US military were a country, in terms of its usage of energy and resources, it would be the 44th largest country in the world. World military spending last year rose to $1981 billion. My first question is: which country is the military threat to the US that they deem it justified to spend that kind of money denying that many of their own people of their needs? The second question: how much would it cost over how many years to raise the standard of living and quality of life of the remainder of the nearly 8 billion population of our planet to the median of those living in the countries of the first world today?
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