With multiple crises affecting our world – global economy, climate change, resource depletion – we must urgently redirect the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on preparing for war. The United States is far and away the largest military spender, accounting for nearly 50% of all global military expenditures. Together, the United States, Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea spent nearly $1 trillion in 2008 on the military. And despite the current financial crisis, military spending and arms exports are on the rise.
Yet, for about one-tenth of this near-trillion dollar amount – about $90 billion a year – we can achieve more genuine security by eliminating global starvation and malnutrition, educating every child on earth, making clean water and sanitation accessible for all, and reversing the global spread of AIDS and malaria.
It is time for the G-20 to take a stand on military spending. It is time for the richest countries of the world, beginning with the United States, to take the lead in shifting military spending to human needs. The world can’t wait.