With millions starving throughout the world, the global powers that be spent $1.4 trillion (US) on weapons of war last year. That’s trillion with a “t”!
That figure comes from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which keeps track of such things. And, as you might expect, the U.S. accounted for more than half the total increase, with China and Russia not far behind. Britain has increased its military expenditure by 21 percent since 1999, yet the Guardian newspaper, which reported these findings, says that country “faces a significant military budget shortfall” because of involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other big spenders on arms last year included India, Brazil and Algeria.
If you studied history, you know that when countries build up huge war machines, they tend to use them. The First World War is an example of this chilling truth. When you consider that much of today’s weaponry is nuclear, the possible consequences of this deadly arms build-up are very, very frightening.
Consider America’s Trident nuclear ballistic missile submarine. It’s a doomsday machine, built to strike back if the United States is ever involved in a nuclear holocaust. As you read this, the USS Florida (pictured at right) is probably gliding beneath the waters of the Atlantic. As long as two football fields, the Florida is loaded with enough nuclear weapons to totally incinerate the former Soviet Union. One Trident nuclear ballistic missile submarine carries the power of 5,000 bombs like the one that destroyed Hiroshima.
While President Obama is trying to talk the world into getting rid of nuclear weapons, the arms build-up continues. Why? The superpowers already have the capacity to blow up the world many times over. If they do not choose to use nuclear weapons, they could do it with conventional explosives, or by some other horrible means that we do not even know about. While we ordinary citizens go about our daily lives, working to put bread on the table, and house and feed our families, diabolical agencies are operating in the shadows, seeking new and more horrible ways to end life on earth.
If only these resources and this creativity were harnessed to feed the world rather than to blow it up. But I fear that will never happen. Too many people make too much money from making and selling weapons of war. And human nature has not evolved to the point where we can trust each other and work together for the benefit of all mankind. Instead, we choose to live in fear and indulge our hatreds and prejudices.
Incidentally, do you ever wonder why Republican politicians are so upset that the U.S. is not budgeting more money for “defense”? Could it be that the “merchants of death” who profit from the sale of these products contribute so much to their campaigns?