Divert. Transform. Sustain
- An international campaign to deliver deep sustainable cuts to excessive global military spending (and by extension carbon emissions) in order to redirect savings to global wants and needs.
- Via a feasible two-stage ‘5%’ formula applicable by civil society across the globe
- Delivering a new ‘structural’ campaign to expose the winners & losers in the global military spending relationship: governments & defence industries; citizens & environment.
WHY WE NEED TO ADDRESS TO RUNAWAY MILITARY SPENDING
The Five Percent campaign proposal makes the case that excessive military spending is a global development issue and that current (and increasing) levels of military spending – especially on the global scale- has been ignored for far too long.
The Five Percent proposal offers a ‘road-map’ for cuts to military spending (and by extension carbon emissions) as we fast approach $2trillion p/a on global military spending. This figure excludes the actual ‘costs’ of war (ie veterans, environmental and infrastructure costs etc). It is doubly scandalous in times of pandemic coming on the heels of austerity that nations are increasing military budgets while public services are being cut.
Our proposal argues that we need to place excessive global military spending alongside other established international development ‘structural’ campaigns in order to divert taxpayers money to better use, whether that be international ‘development’ focused or in support of the global green economy, and, as a result of a more intense spotlight on it, become more widely integrated into civil society dialogue and activism.
By joining the ranks of debt cancellation and tax justice, military spending savings could be regarded as yet one more significant ‘new’ revenue stream, redirecting the funds captured to serving the needs of the global community. Inevitably, increased debate around what we mean by ‘defence’ and, central to this, the question of whose interests are really served by the ever increasing global military expenditure, would be at the heart of this effort.
Ultimately, this brings us back to the fundamental need to see military spending as every bit as central to understanding power, poverty, economic collapse, unjust distribution of resources as other structural campaigns like debt, trade, tax, climate change and most recently the so-called ‘war on drugs’. It is not an adjunct to any of these issues – it is implicated in each and every one of them.
Moreover, cuts to excessive global military spending do not undermine defence nor do they amount to ‘no defence’. On the contrary, they promote debate about definitions of ‘sensible’ defence; the drivers of insecurity; and how best to address the whole notion of what defence means in the 21st century.
As leading activist and author of Shadow World Andrew Feinstein has said, ‘neoliberalism needs the war machine’. And as we see ever greater movement of peoples due to conflict and climate change, this is doubly true as the movement of peoples creates an opportunity for an even greater military ‘security’ presence.
THE 5% FORMULA: WHAT IS IT?
The 5% Formula is a TWO-PART mechanism to achieve major, year-on-year cuts to global military spending over 10 years and beyond. It is a long-term, sustainable campaign, with a top-line demand that works for civil society groups in every country where there is a perceived value in challenging policies concerning military spending.
The first decade calls on the top 20 spenders (who account for 85% of $1.9 trillion world spending) to cut their military spending by 5% each year for decade. This would see annual global military spending cut by 40% after the first decade, back to mid 1990s spending levels ie $1 trillion dollars, the lowest in recent history (‘lowest’ still being far too high). This would deliver an estimated $700 billion to be redirected to core urgent human and environmental needs.
After the first 10 years, we call upon all nations to adopt the 5% threshold rule to sustainably restrain the global military spending – no country allows any increase in military spending to outstrip economic growth. Most economies grow less than 3% annually; this effectively translates as 2% annual reduction to their military spending.
0% economic growth = 5% cut to annual military spend
2% growth = 3% cut to annual military spend
5% growth = no increase
7% growth = only 2% increase on annual military spend.
WHY RUNAWAY GLOBAL MILITARY SPENDING MUST BE CHALLENGED, REDUCED AND REDIRECTED
- The ‘business’ of the defence industry does not advance or respect notions of ‘sensible defence’ spending when so much profit is to be gained from contracts and/or war. Its close relationship with governments around the world is central to this.
- This has consequences for development across the global south. It is reflected in the carnage of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other developing nations where profits are made from conflict while societies are destroyed. Selling arms with one hand and delivering aid with the other, is governmental hypocrisy.
- That we spend $2trillion p/a on military while SDGS and climate mitigation, disaster risk reduction and peacekeeping all struggle to be funded is unacceptable. Add to this now pandemic and an underfunded WHO. Moreover, increased inequality undermines local, national and international security. Poverty is a driver of conflict. Over 800 million people in the world are hungry; 24% of people in the world live on less than US$3.2 per day.
- Oil as a driver for conflict linked to increased military spending is clear; climate change induced conflict is a development issue (ie water wars) as is the increasing role of military planning linked to climate refugee flows from global south to north.
- Nuclear weapons are often misguidedly overlooked by wider civil society yet they comprise a huge element of military spending; are the ultimate un-useable lethal weapon sucking money from domestic needs; and they are also increasingly are part of the developing world agenda.
All these factors conspire to escalate military spending and crucially undermine international development goals. Development NGOs and their partners in the global south can play a leading role in driving a ground-breaking campaign to:
- expose and reduce the malign power and influence of the defence industry over governments and society, in the global north and global south so as to
- reduce military spending and divert savings into a transformative funding stream delivering social justice and meaningful investment in conflict prevention and peacekeeping
- reduce military spending and divert savings to deliver a sustainable, non-fossil fuel, green economy that addresses the many dimensions of climate (in)justice.