Time to Stop Military Spending and Pursue Peace

We are becoming more belligerent and less peaceful. The nationalist movements across the globe have resulted in the overall decline of human rights, peace, and civility. Much of the decline can be attributed to the US and its Western allies’ interference in the affairs of the less fortunate nations. Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are examples of disasters where the West has been among the major instigators.
This deterioration can also be credited to the internal conflicts. However, the Western arms supplies further inflame these conflicts. The US remains the major arms supplier into most international conflicts. The US arms exports contribute, directly or indirectly, to deaths, destruction, and displacement of people in many troubled countries, most notably Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
In Afghanistan, the US 2001 invasion of the country has been disaster over the years; there is still no peace insight. In Iraq, the US invasion caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, divided people into faiths and ethnicities, and displaced million of Iraqis. In Syria, the US encouraged the regional allies to infiltrate the country with foreign fighters, forcing the Syrian government to seek Russian and Iranian supports to resist the insurgents and foreign mercenaries. The US policy contributed to the emergence of the terrorist organizations like ISIS, Daesh, that marched into Iraq and attracted the world attention by its videos of beheadings the innocent Iraqis. The US has continued providing arms and intelligence supports to the Saudi-led coalition’s air-campaign against the poor country of Yemen, causing some of the world’s worst human rights disasters. Consequently, thousands of Yemenis have been killed and nearly 10 million of them are on verge of famine.
Many Americans perceive Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria as the sources of world tension; however, their military expenditures are by far more restrained than those of the US. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the US 2017-military expenditures exceeded that of the next seven highest spending countries, including China and Russia. The US overspending would be better spent assisting with medical and other PTSD disorders for its veterans. It could provide opportunities to the poor and help mentally disturbed people who have caused many shootings and deaths at home. The US overspending also drives other countries to increase their military expenditures, depriving their own people from many social programs. The global portion of military overspending could be re-allocated to fund programs to eliminate poverty and promote peace everywhere. The path to permanent peace is through understanding and negotiation, and not conflicts and wars.
In 2017, according to humanitarian organizations, arms-exports contributed to worldwide drops in human rights, democracy, and peace. In the Civility Report, scores for the US, the EU, the UN and the UN Security Council all declined. The US and the EU could improve their scores by resorting to negotiations and refraining from arms exports, and militarily campaigns or threats against other countries. The UN and its Security Council could improve their scores by becoming more proactive in preventing conflicts. An example is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), negotiated with Iran by the P5+1 group (China, France, Russia, the UK, the US, plus Germany) and endorsed by the UN Security Council; thus, it prevented a major international conflict. However, the Trump Administration has backed out of it.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” said the former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Excessive military expenditures have remained a global problem, causing more violence and killings while robbing the poor.
Through collaboration among nations, we could have fewer armed forces. Costa Rica is a good example of a nation without armed forces since 1948 that is peaceful, its citizens are among the happiest people in the world, and is a top tourist spot for many Americans. Despite conflicts in the neighboring countries, the nation has refrained from resorting to armed forces. In response to such pressure, former President Laura Chinchilla said: “… the absence of an army has been a guarantee of security in the country."
We urge the US and its Western allies to restrain from proliferation of arms, encourage negotiations, and work toward a peaceful world.

Dr. Mehdi Alavi, President
Peace Worldwide Organization

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