We need to cut ‘defence’ spending, not increase it

The Daily Telegraph’s campaign for high military spending has gathered momentum. Tory backbenchers, retired generals and even some Labour MPs have backed calls to keep “defence spending” at 2% of GDP. Last week, in a Commons debate attended by very few MPs, the majority of those who bothered to turn up voted in favour of the proposal.

There are several facts that rarely get mentioned.

Firstly, when they speak about “defence spending”, they mean the budget of the Ministry of Defence. A great deal of military and war-related spending is from other budgets. This includes funding for research and much of the cost of fighting actual wars. When this is added in, the figure is far above 2% of GDP.

Secondly, the UK’s military (or “defence”) expenditure is not low by international standards. It is very high. According to academic research in Sweden in 2013, the UK has the sixth highest military budget in the world. Even if it has fallen slightly since then, Britain is still spending far more on war than most of Europe, let alone the rest of the world. The Daily Telegraph itself published a chart illustrating that the UK is spending a higher percentage of GDP on “defence” than almost every other member of NATO and the  European Union.

Thirdly, “defence” is clearly a euphemism for spending on warfare and preparations for warfare. Despite the choice of wording, much of this expenditure has little or nothing to do with defending the British people. Supporters of “defence” spending talk about “national security” as if only weapons and soldiers can make anyone secure. In reality, the use of British troops as a support act in US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan has increased terrorist threats to Britain, making us less secure. All sorts of things help to make people secure – including a warm home, enough to eat and healthy relationships. These are being denied to increasing numbers of people in Britain by vicious cuts to public services, the welfare state and local authority budgets – cuts that are much larger than cuts to “defence” spending. The British people are threatened more by their own government than by any foreign power.

The militarists are increasingly vocal and well-organised in lobbying for high military spending in the UK. As the pressure grows, those who believe in real security need to speak up and expose the reality.

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One response to “We need to cut ‘defence’ spending, not increase it

  1. Here in the US, we are faced with the same corruption in government. The bankers and weapons manufacturers are controlling the direction of most countries, it seems. Every country has psychopaths leading the warmongering and wasteful spending agendas.

    Psychopathic lawmakers are devoid of empathy and conscience. Their focus on power and greed takes precedence over the well-being of the people. There is a neurological propensity for contrariness, lying pathologically, and being self-serving at the detriment to others. Psychopathy is a lack of conscience – an impairment of the amygdala, orbital frontal cortex, all of cingulate cortex, parahippocampal area, and insula.

    I am leading a campaign to psychopath test politicians. Most people don’t know how to identify them, and are quite oblivious.

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