Wednesday, April 6, 2011

4.12 Global Day of Action on Military Spending (4月12日:軍事予算を考える世界アクションデイ)

More than 100 endorsers have planned 90 events in 35 countries (including Okinawa) for the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) coming up on April 12, 2011.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), global military spending (arms and operations) skyrocketed to $1,531 billion in 2009 (a 5.9% rise in real terms from 2008) — despite worldwide economic decline, rising unemployment, poverty, and hunger rates. Moreover, military spending has been on a steady upward curve for the past decade: national governments spent nearly 50% more in 2010 on arms and military operations than they did in 2000.

The U.S. and Japanese governments, both indebted, continue to borrow heavily to cover increased military spending every year. Recently the U.S. national debt passed $14 trillion for the first time in history. This represents about 93% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). The U.S. government's leading creditor is China, considered a military "threat," thus Washington is borrowing from a "threat" to arm itself against the same "threat." (Beijing's military budget is only one-sixth of Washington's military spending (half of global military expenditures.) The Japanese national government debt now stands about US$11.35 trillion (9.25 trillion yen. This represents approximately 220% of Japan's GDP.

In 2010, Washington's total military spending catapulted to over $1 trillion annually. Besides the Department of Defense’s yearly budget, ($550 billion (which Obama increased to $708 billion in 2011), the U.S. also spent $160 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; $122 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs; $65.3 billion for defense-related international affairs;; $43.6 billion for the Department of Homeland Security; $26 billion on defense-related expenses by the Department of the Treasury; nearly $19 billion spent by the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons; $7.6 billion on miscellaneous accounts related to the common defense; and $53.4 billion for interest on the Pentagon’s healthcare fund and defense portion of the national debt. The U.S. military, the world's largest purchaser and consumer of oil, spent $13.4 billion on fuel last year. The Pentagon spent $4.7 billion on public relations and media (employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department) in 2009.

In 2009, Tokyo's military budget was 4.774 trillion yen. Japanese taxpayers provides financial support 75% of the costs of 130 U.S. military facilities employing 40,000 soldiers throughout Japan in its host-country support budget (formerly known as omoiyari yosan ("sympathy budget")). The sympathy budget pays for base construction; base renovations; salaries of the Japanese employees working in the bases (including at golf courses, bowling alleys and other entertainment facilities); heating, electricity and water; and even dry-cleaning charges of military families.

American and Japanese taxpayers can't afford this level of ever-increasing national debt to pay for ever-increasing military spending. They are paying the price, along with citizens worldwide, in deteriorating national infrastructures and a plummeting quality of life. The Global Day of Action on Military Spending is about raising awareness on military spending and fostering public dialogue about priorities and how we want to co-create our future.

(Locations of worldwide GDAMS events)
GDAMS: Military Spending vs. Millennium Development Goals:

With less than one fifth of global military spending, we can: 世界の軍事支出の5分の1以下の予算で国連の「ミレニウム開発目標」(MDGs)の予算を賄うことができます。(下記のグラフ参照:4月12日、世界の軍事予算を考えるアクション・デイのウェブサイトより)4月12日のアクションへの案内の日本語訳も下方をご覧ください。

• Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty 極度の貧困と飢餓の撲滅

• Achieve universal primary education & promote equality and empower women 普遍的な初等教育の達成、ジェンダーの平等の推進と女性の地位向上

• Reduce child mortality and improve maternal health 幼児死亡率の引き下げ

• Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases 妊産婦の健康状態の改善

• Ensure environmental sustainability HIV/エイズ、マラリア、その他の疾病の蔓延防止

• Develop global partnership for development 開発のためのグローバル・パートナーシップの構築

The following graphs demonstrate the extent to which military spending eclipses all other global priorities. The estimated cost of compliance with all eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals – eradicating hunger, universal primary education, child mortality reduction, disease prevention, environmental sustainability, and global development – are all eclipsed by yearly military spending figures.

In fact, all eight MDGs combined cost less than a fifth of yearly military spending.

In 2009, global military spending surged to an all-time high of US $1.53 trillion. Given the numerous crises facing the planet — economic, environmental, health, diplomatic — it is imperative that we create a global movement to shift this money to human needs. We know that there are thousands of organizations and millions of individuals who support this point of view – what is needed is to begin a serious mobilizing effort to make it visible.

As part of this campaign, we propose a Global Day of Action on Military Spending for April 12, 2011 to coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s annual report, which will include new figures on military expenditures. On this day, people all over the world will join together in joint actions to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities. Such events will help us to build the international network around this issue.

While each location will craft its own approach, we hope there will be a common focus on calling attention to the overall size of global military spending. This would need in most cases to be linked to a related national (or local) issue, such as the Afghanistan war, anti-bases efforts, arms trade deals, work against small arms, resources for nonviolent conflict resolution, Article 9 campaign etc. We very much hope that peace groups will use this as an opportunity to connect up with anti-poverty, environmental, pro-democracy organizations and others who share our perspective.

As for types of actions: a whole range is possible! — from street theatre/demonstrations and erecting banners to seminars, signature collection and much more. Many slogans come to mind: What Would You Do With $1.5 Trillion? $1.5 Trillion Is Insane! Trillions for War or Trillions for Peace? etc. We plan to issue a Toolkit before long to assist organizers. A key aspect is the visual side. By generating some captivating images, we plan to attract widespread media coverage and make available photos of our rallies and events. We will compile an album of pictures from around the world and post them online to document the global movement and to use to accompany stories about the SIPRI report and our own actions.

We have commitments from organizations in the United States (in Washington, New York, Boston, Western Massachusetts, the Bay Area, Maine and Honolulu) as well as South Korea, Switzerland, South Africa, Lebanon, the Philippines, and Greece. Can we add you to our list?

To find out more, Global Action Day on Military Spending













John Feffer ジョン・フェファー
Institute for Policy Studies
Washington, DC

Colin Archer コリン・アーチャー
International Peace Bureau

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