According to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, “the world spends more on the military in one month than it does in development in one year.” Every year, trillions of US dollars are spent by countries, groups, and individuals around the world acquiring and accumulating different categories of weapons. The Secretary General states that, “the world is over-armed and peace is under-funded.” Records show that there is already enough weaponry in the hands of both state and non-state actors to destroy the entire world more than ten times over. On daily display in the United Nations building is the world-wide military expenditure. A screen displays second by second every day, the total military expenditure world-wide, starting at midnight. The last time I observed the screen, the world had spent the staggering sum of over $2.3 trillion.
Proponents of arms and weapons acquisition cite security as the justification for amassing arms. Many of the supporters of arms acquisition are of the opinion that the more arms or weapons they possess, the more secure they will be. Ironically, the opposite is the case. With so much arms and weapons already in the hands of not only states but also that of individuals and groups, could it be that we are actually less safe today than we were fifty years ago?
In his speech at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, California, in January 2013, Ban Ki-moon urged governments to adhere to responsible standards in the legal trade of conventional weapons and to engage with others in combating illicit international trade in small arms and light weapons. He further laments:
“Every day we at the United Nations see the human toll of an absence of regulations or lax controls on the arms trade. We see it in the suffering of populations caught up in armed conflict or victimized by pervasive crime. We see it in the killing and wounding of civilians – including children in schools. We see it in the massive displacement of people and through grave violations of international law.”
I recently attended a presentation on the possible threat of nuclear weapons to the human race, animals and plants, and would like to share this excerpt from a paper we received which I felt was quite thought-provoking. The excerpt is from an article written by Alan Robock and Owen Brien Tood titled “Self-Assured Destruction: The Climate Impacts of Nuclear War.” The excerpt reads:
“An increasing mass of scientific evidence shows that the devastation caused by nuclear war would not end with the horrific death toll from blast, fire and radiation. Smoke and soot from burning cities and industrial centers would linger in the upper atmospheres, blocking sunlight and causing a drastic drop in temperature, with disastrous effects on world agriculture.
Even limited nuclear war, e.g., a regional war between India and Pakistan, with each side using about 50 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs, would cause massive crop failures, putting a billion people at risk of famine.
A broader nuclear exchange, using even a fraction of the current US and Russian arsenals, would cause the “nuclear winter” effect of the smoke to linger for a decade or more, producing temperatures not seen since the last ice age, and a general collapse of world agriculture, and threatening the survival of the human species.”
Why are human beings choosing this path to self-destruction? It can be argued that the arms trade is about money and power. Powerful countries and companies make billions of dollars annually from the production and sale of these “lethal toys.” In order to keep in business, those with vested interest argue for increases in arms and weapons as the ultimate means for state and individual security. Let us not be fooled, because we are sitting on a time bomb! Ban Ki-moon concluded his speech at the Monterey Institute with a quote from President John F. Kennedy which I will also like to reiterate: “Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, and hanging by the slenderest of thread, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.” I will also add that this sentiment should be extended to include small arms in the hands of individuals and groups in order to promote security within the sphere of civil society. “There are no right hands for wrong weapons…”