Our concern, like all people of goodwill, is for a world that can evolve peacefully, where rogues are dealt with by international law and consensus, and where all nations can move to democratically perfect their political systems, without having them imposed by others. This is not a hopeless utopian dream. By democracy we mean human rights, political rights, freedom of the press and the absence of public corruption. Already by our calculations there are 36 nation states, which are unquestionably democratic, with another 38 moving in the right direction. Our sister site www.worldaudit.org in its Democracy Table, lists them… and the laggards. But one outstanding feature shared by the top 36, is that they have also achieved successful economies.
It is not unreasonable to deduce from this fact, that achieving the spread of democracy that President Bush's administration very properly seek to do, is more likely to succeed by the spread of prosperity fairly distributed, than by the equivalent of bayonets. To paraphrase (and contradict) Chairman Mao: "Democracy does not come from the barrel of a gun".
It so transpires that at this stage of the world's development, there is just one superpower and one only. Although the USA has only 5% of the worlds population it has the most successful economy; its culture is all pervasive, its science is outstanding, but its military strength seems far out of kilter with what it's defence requirements suggest, with no sign of easing up. As in other fields of achievement, whatever the US does is the standard that drives the world's nations with their own military budgets.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2003 the United States spent approximately 47% of the world's total military spending of US$956,000,000,000.
Isn't this just a little excessive?
It is a well known charge that generals, admirals and those whose work it is to plan for military contingencies, are preparing for a 'next war' as if it were to be a re-run of the last. But any objective reading of the US defence array might turn aside to ask against whom could this mighty conglomeration of weaponry be directed?
Who, after all, can the planners have in their sights?
"Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States." - President George W. Bush, National Security Strategy, Chapter IX, September 2002.
Well, that's perfectly understandable but let us first take China, whom the armchair generals tell us have ambitions to be the next superpower.
China ranks number two of all nations in military expenditure, but far behind the US. The US military budget is said to be six times bigger than theirs. What China spends each year on their military budget is somewhat opaque but their entire revenue as a nation is $317bn (considerably less than just US defence expenditure alone at $437 bn). In 2004 they spent about $67bn on military expenditures which would indeed be about 16% of the USA's. That 2004 figure incidentally, is close enough to the same amount that the US spends just on military research & development, at $60.7bn. US military technology is light years ahead of other countries already, due to the massive investments of the past.
Russia's revenues in dollar terms are now half the size of Holland's and smaller than Belgium's, at $106 bn. Defence expenditure is shown in roubles because Russia spends in roubles. It has a current year military budget of 528 billion roubles, but given the exchange rate of 29 ru to the $ this becomes $18.2bn, less than a third of China's military spend and just 4.5% of that of the USA. We can forget about Russia as a threat, except of course that they have a massive armoury of nuclear weapons - so no-one is going to mess with them!
Apart from these two suggested 'belligerents', who on earth else is there?
So there's something that 'they' are not telling us. It has to be in preparation for an attack from Mars, because what else can it be about?
[Unless, unless…the neocons are planning something BIG! Venezuela perhaps? That famous George. W. Bush advisor on Christian affairs, the TV preacher Pat Robertson, has called on TV for Washington to 'assassinate President Hugo Chavez' of Venezuela - brotherly love or what?].
THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES
We were told that the real war is that on terror. Everything we have seen about that type of conflict tells us that the adversary relies on stealth. What they now do at all costs, since their training bases were hit in Afghanistan, is to avoid concentrating and creating targets for the sophisticated strike weapons in the allied armouries. It seems almost inconceivable that there will ever be a pitched battle where state of the art weaponry can be deployed against them. Falluja in Iraq was a crude Stalingrad-type assault with air strikes and artillery, followed by ground troops taking street by street, trashing everything in sight.
The outcome -victory, with many civilian dead and a shattered town, just like WWII.
In urban terrorism, street war like that in Baghdad is the likeliest point of confrontation. Offence depends on good intelligence. The terrorists know that and are not at a disadvantage. Defence in this situation, control of the streets, is largely specialist military-police work. The point is that in these circumstances of low technology warfare, it passes all understanding how building new carrier groups, or even faster, stealthier and more lethal fighter aircraft can command so much of the worlds wealth, when they appear so irrelevant to the actual military task now, or likely in the future.
The US military budget is larger than the military budgets of the next twenty spenders combined. It is worth noting that in addition to the aforementioned R&D expenditure of $60.76bn, there is also an item of $76,217bn for Procurement, so that's 137 billion of US tax payer's dollars , going not to payroll the troops, but mainly outside of the military, to the ubiquitous 'defence industries'.
We inhabit a world where resources to put it mildly, are unequally distributed. That was always held to be a cause for people around the world being attracted to the false god of communism. But the western way triumphed, largely because the US could and did outspend the Soviets on military budgets, to such an extent that in trying to compete, they were ruined and slipped all the way down the greasy pole.
The irony was that it was no particular weapons system, but the sheer fact of massive military spending that won the cold war. But now there is no cold war!
The Pentagon needs an enemy and suggests China, who are busy out there selling garments to the western world, not threatening their only serious customers. China is doing better economically than they ever did before, they expect soon to join the WTO. Why would they ever bring down disaster on themselves by hostilities that they don't need, what could conceivably be their war aims?
[This is Donald Rumsfeld in Singapore June 4th:- he rebuked China saying: "it was pouring huge resources into its military and buying large amounts of sophisticated weapons, despite facing no threat from any other country."]
But that exactly describes the USA!
The reality is clear that the US doesn't have to spend like this - it chooses to do so. Presidents and lawmakers have been convinced by whom, lobbyists, generals, admirals? And what are their motives?
The USSR was ruined by excessive military spending bringing a bloodless end to that chapter of history, but the USA today potentially, is moving into exactly the same danger zone. With external debt to other countries standing at more than $1.4 trillion and an excess of expenditure over income last year of $476 billion, this debt alone is more than the entire annual revenues of Russia and China combined. Surely these questions should be addressed and not lost in the mists of a low intensity terrorist war?
There was a war-winner of a general who understood these things. Dwight Eisenhower, President of the United States, warned on stepping down from office in 1961:
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together".
IKE, top soldier, top politician, knew a thing or two, didn't he - so to what extent are the US citizenry and their lawmakers now behaving in an "alert and knowledgeable' manner?
Clive Lindley Publisher - September 2005