Reprinted with permission from the Friend and the author, Ken Veitch, 26 November 2010
Photo: Adrian Pingstone/Wikipedia Commons
Harrier: one of the pieces of equipment to be cancelled or not replaced by the defence spending reviews.
Ken Veitch suggests some questions to ground us:
I love this description of politicians as corks. In the light of the Comprehensive Spending and Strategic Defence and Security Reviews, I suggest now is a good time for questions to be asked by those of us paying the cost of decisions being made in the corridors of power.
1. The 2010 military budget, £37 billion, costs nearly £2,500 per household per year. Could at least some of this money be better spent on the real threats we will face, such as climate change, and on useful technology, such as in medicine, new energy sources and transport systems?
2. We are pledged, by the 1970 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, to work for ‘general and complete disarmament’, but Trident, the UK’s own weapon of mass destruction, is being upgraded to last for another forty years. How can we base our ‘security’ on nuclear weapons and not expect other nations, such as Iran, to follow suit?
3. The UK is already the world’s second largest exporter (behind the USA) of military equipment to foreign governments, including human rights abusers and Third World countries. Yet the government wishes to increase these sales still further. Does this not bolster repression in the countries concerned, and add to the likelihood of conflict?
4. The prime minister insists the war in Afghanistan, at huge cost in money and lives, and with some of our forces under USA command, will continue ‘till the job is done’. What exactly is ‘the job’ and when may we be certain it has been completed?
5. There is an ongoing ‘war on terror’ but we are allied to, and militarily dependent on, a country (the USA), that routinely uses violence, subversion and economic devices to further its apparent goal of global military dominance of land, sea, air and space. What are the costs and the dangers of this alliance?
6. In spite of our economic plight, work on two ‘super’ aircraft carriers, totalling £5 billion, is to continue. The head of the navy enthuses about the carriers’ ‘force projection capability’, and their future use as ‘a big stick, instruments for coercion’. If we did good in the world, such as reconfiguring our military forces for humanitarian work, who would want to attack us?
Opposition to the Whitehall war machine is growing day by day, and it is vital to challenge the dangerous policies being pursued in our name. Please consider writing to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Letters to national/local newspapers and participation in radio phone-ins can let your views be shared country-wide.
Ken Veitch is a member of East Cheshire Area Quaker Meeting.