Tag Archives: Dwight Eisenhower

a voice of experience

Those that have never experienced the horror of war are most often those that are war’s loudest advocates. Once you have experienced the senseless brutality and unbelievable violence of war your view of war and of the world is never the same.

Most veterans do not talk willingly of their combat experience. Some things are best left unspoken, and forgotten as much as possible.

Stealing from the hungry

President Dwight D Eisenhower’s justly famous quote has never been more appropriate. The truth of his words are reflected in the SIPRI’s 2013 report. For those who might not remember, Eisenhower said:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

Here is a brief summary of how our rampant militarism is contributing to global poverty and hunger. Imagine the difference even a small portion of these resources could make in ending the suffering of  millions of our hungry family.

This summary is from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s Year Book 2013 summary on military expenditure:

  • World military expenditure in 2012 is estimated to have reached $1.756 trillion;
  • This is a 0.4 per cent decrease in real terms than in 2011 — the first fall since 1998;
  • The total is still higher than in any year between the end of World War II and 2010;
  • This corresponds to 2.5 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP), or approximately $249 for each person in the world;

The USA with its massive spending budget, has long been the principal determinant of the current world trend, often accounting for close to half of all the world’s military expenditure. The effects of global financial crisis and the post-Iraq/Afghanistan military operations have seen a decline in its spending, now accounting for 39% of spending in 2012.

SIPRI has commented in the past on the increasing concentration of military expenditure, i.e. that a small number of countries spend the largest sums. This trend carries on into 2012 spending. For example,

  • The 15 countries with the highest spending account for over 81% of the total;
  • The USA is responsible for 39 per cent of the world total, distantly followed by the China (9.5% of world share), Russia (5.2%), UK (3.5%) and Japan (3.4%)

Military spending is concentrated in North America, Europe, and increasingly, Asia:

hanging from a cross of iron

Ending global hunger in our lifetime is possible. But in order for that vision to become reality we have to embrace a world where governments–all governments–are held responsible for being far more responsive to basic human needs. This is especially true for the governments of developing countries.

Ending hunger in our lifetime also calls for a new understanding of how we deal with our differences. We have to develop an accepted methodology of dealing with nationalistic differences without the rapid and almost immediate rush to violence. Of course, the same holds true for our religious and ethnic conflicts, as well.

We simply cannot continue to promote violence as the preferred method of dealing with differences. We will never achieve a world without hunger while we remain continuously at war.

Conflict and hunger are handmaidens. Ending hunger in our lifetime requires that we work for peaceful resolutions to conflict at every level, but this is especially true in those regions of the world where hunger holds the greatest number of our family hostage.

The words of President Dwight Eisenhower come to mind:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.