For decades, the UK government has pursued an endless war, the very concept of which has long been superfluous, spending billions against imaginary risks. And at the same time, they neglected the real and pressing danger,” – writes George Monbiot for the Guardian.
Due to the enduring relevance of the article, EurAsian Times publishes the article in its entirety, well, almost!
Monbiot writes that just as the COVID-19 pandemic began expanding across the UK, London proudly declared that it had boosted military spending by £2 billion now totalling at £41.5 billion.
Most of this money will be spent on procuring 138 new F-35 fighter jets. The stealth fighter “represents a quantum leap in air dominance capability” and “has the range and flexibility to win, over and over again” claims the manufacturer – Lockheed.
But win against what – questions the author? Can it bomb the coronavirus? Can the F-35 overwhelm climate change? The most likely role of these stealth jets is to wage elective wars in distant nations. Even in these situations, the F-35 could be outdated before it is deployed.
Last month Ben Wallace, the British defence secretary, gave a speech in which he defined international law as “a straitjacket of permissions and authorities that make it hard for us to respond”. And he insisted, like any 19th-century colonial power, that the UK’s intervention abroad is “a force for good”. We have, apparently, “a moral obligation” to resolves conflict and instability overseas.
But in actuality, the last 17 years have seen UK’s interference has been the key reason for conflict and instability overseas. This UKs adventurism in the Iraq war caused regime change, bloodshed, unending strife, and the rise of terrorist groups who have created a mess in the region.
We have provided the state-of-art defence equipment to Saudi Arabia which they have in-turn deployed in Yemen. Yemen is now experiencing a massive humanitarian crisis: deprivation caused by the Saudi blockade, and epidemics of cholera, diphtheria, and various other dangerous diseases.
The vast majority of the UK’s “defence” capabilities have no defensive purpose writes the author. There is no logical rationale to spend 2% of our GDP on enhancing ‘ defensive capabilities. And the perceived Russian threat can be solved by negotiations.
The £41.5bn spent on the defence is more than twice as much money as the UK spends on tackling climate and ecological disruption – which are not mere threats but current emergencies.
The author laments both the UK and US governments for neglecting warnings about the potential scale and consequences of pandemics and overlooking to invest in genuine national defence i.e. extra capacity in the health system, beds, training, ventilators, and protective gear.
We need a comprehensive reassessment of security threats. The author agrees that like Russia’s and Iran, the British government strives for its spheres of influence and resources. However, in confronting genuine threats to humanity, there should be more that brings us together that sets us apart.
Monbiot suggests that ever there was a time for negotiating peace, this is it. If ever there were a time for nations such as the UK and the US to meet their disarmament commitments under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and work with Russia and China to put their wasted billions to better use, this is a perfect time.