In his book Capitalist Realism: Is There no Alternative? Mark Fisher sharply argues that when it comes to thinking about changing entrenched social norms and priorities our lives have become dominated by an attitude of resignation and fatalism.
Fisher’s argument can be easily applied to mainstream discourses around climate change and militarism. Just as capitalism dominates the horizon of the possible, talks and ideas for a future without fossil fuels and wars are often rejected as mere utopian fantasy. Indeed, the ‘no alternative’ ideology has such a totalising effect that many seemingly treat ecological catastrophe and the arms trade as facts of nature that simply cannot be reversed, despite hard evidence and rational arguments for the opposite. Continue reading “Time to Act: No War! No Warming!”
The official justification for the Government’s unquestioning support for the arms trade is that it is vital to safeguard “national security”. CAAT’s Arms to Renewables campaign argues that we must shift priorities to tackle the root causes of insecurity.
What is security?
For individuals in the UK and all over the world, security means having basic needs met and feeling safe in our homes and communities.
In contrast, the Government views security almost exclusively through a military lens. Its National Security Strategy is based on military force and the projection of power. Continue reading “A New Vision of Security”
The crisis in Ukraine is fast escalating into a civil and proxy war. Over 150 people have died in clashes between Ukrainian Soldiers and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, many of them civilians. In the bloodiest incident, more than 30 people were killed in Odessa when Neo-Nazis set fire to a trade union building. Most recently jets have dropped bombs on the city of Lugansk.
Given these circumstances, it is quite extraordinary that NATO is planning war games in Ukraine this July. UK and US troops are due to participate alongside Ukrainian troops in joint military exercises as part of NATO’s ‘Rapid Trident’ manoeuvres.
Many European governments have used the situation in the Ukraine as justification to increase military spending. But only in Switzerland do people have a direct say in their country’s military policy. And the signal that the Swiss people sent out last Sunday was very clear: Buying expensive weapons systems is not a priority.
In a national referendum, 53.4% of the voters rejected the purchase of 22 Swedish JAS Gripen E fighter jets. The deal was worth £2 billion immediately and £6.6 billion including operations and maintenance over the next few years. The government had proposed the procurement to replace the ageing F-5 Tiger fleet that will be put out of operation next year.
We are writing with respect to the National Security Strategy (NSS) review and the Defence and Security Review (DSR), both of which are scheduled to be published following the 2015 General Election. We do so in light of the report of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee (DC), Towards the Next Defence and Security Review, (HC 197), published on 7 January, to which several of us submitted evidence, and the Government’s response, published on 26 March. We understand that the recommendations of this report will be the subject of a parliamentary debate in the coming months.
We urge you to ensure that the NSS and DSR processes help to shape the UK’s strategy in the world in a coherent manner. In summary, we believe:
At this time of flux, there is a need to address some fundamental questions that have been neglected in the past, in particular the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and threats to security.
There is a need to be honest about the UK’s capability to contribute to tackling security challenges, and the Government needs to be prepared to change its approach, not simply focusing on dealing with the symptoms of insecurity.
This discussion needs to be frank, inclusive and (as far as possible) take place in the public realm.
The DSR needs to sit clearly and transparently within the NSS, with its decisions justified by reference to the NSS.
The latest world military expenditure figures show that spending is an enormous $1.75 trillion. One of the nations continuing to spend the most is the UK, which plans to spend £38 billion in 2014/15. This shows the backwards priorities of a government that is protecting its overblown military budget, at the same time as it is subjecting vital public services to drastic spending cuts.
For too long we have lived with the myth that high military spending maintains peace, creates jobs and combats terrorism. This myth is promoted by governments and the multinational arms companies that benefit from the global arms trade politically and economically.
“Social reforms which involve expenditure are at a standstill; we are making drastic cuts in the supplies for education and for housing; our hospitals are seriously embarrassed; our industries are crippled; our unemployed number more than 1,500,000, and yet in the last financial year we spent more than 23 million upon armaments. No wonder the taxpayer grumbles and the financiers shakes their heads.”
– Major General Sir Frederick (Barton) Maurice in 1921 (1)