December 01, 2021
More weapons does not mean less conflict
Insight by Sara Manisera, FADA Collective
Even the pandemic has not stopped military spending. In 2020, global military spending increased by 2.6% to $1.98 trillion. The United States and China are the countries that have spent the most. Italy is in 11th place. According to the annual report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the five countries that have allocated the most economic resources to the defence sector are, in order: the United States, China, India, Russia and the United Kingdom. Their expenditure amounts to 62% of the total recorded worldwide. "We can say with certainty that the pandemic did not have a significant impact on global military spending in 2020", Diego Lopes da Silva, a researcher at SIPRI and one of the authors of the report, said in a note. Taking into account that the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined due to the health emergency, global military spending as a proportion of GDP increased from 2.2 per cent, recorded in 2019, to 2.4 per cent in 2020. This is the largest year-on-year increase in this figure since the 2009 financial crisis. What about Italy?
Italy is the eleventh largest country in the world for this type of investment and has spent 28.9 billion in 2020, an increase of 7.5% compared to 2019. However, if we compare the figure with that of 2011, the country has decreased its military budget by 3.3%. Rome spends 1.6% of GDP on defence and has not reached the 2% target set by NATO.
Do more weapons mean more peace? According to the Global Peace Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace, this is not the case at all. The levels of peace in the world, in fact, have decreased, with a worsening of two per cent since 2008. Militarisation, on the other hand, has been the only area of improvement. And while economic resources continue to be allocated to weapons and militarisation, only a tiny share of GDP is used for fire, landslide and flood prevention and environmental protection. As Greenpeace Italy points out: "We are in the midst of a global health and climate crisis: why continue to invest in wars and armaments? In Italy, more than 90 per cent of municipalities are at risk of landslides or floods, extreme events intensified by global warming".
A large part of the planet's damage is likely to lead to growing instability. SIPRI writes in its 2021 Ecological Threat Report. "Many ecological threats exist independently of climate change. However, the climate crisis will have an amplifying effect, causing further ecological degradation and pushing some countries towards violent tipping points". The scarcity of resources - water, arable land, energy - may cause future conflicts that weapons and violence will not solve but only exacerbate. To avoid this scenario, holistic solutions are needed. This means creating more harmonious social systems, allocating public resources to education, health, environment and landscape protection. But above all, it means changing the notion of 'security', which has been understood over the past decades as military force, and transforming it into its positive meaning, as social security.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that security cannot be achieved with military force. Security is achieved with hospitals and comprehensive, local health care accessible to all. It is achieved by investing in research and science. You have security when you have a trained, educated population, capable of grasping the complexity of the world in which we live. We are safe when we live in an area free of pollution and protected from hydrogeological disasters. Security means eating healthily and ethically. You have security when you have a decent job. This is true security. If you had to choose between buying a rifle and a pulmonary ventilation system or a scholarship, which security would you choose?