GDAMS 2.0 A MASSIVE WORLDWIDE SUCCESS

Through four months of fruitful outreach, fortifying and expanding the network of civil society groups that make up the Global Day on Military Spending (GDAMS) coalition, the second Global Day last Tuesday, 17 April, was a tremendous success worldwide. The International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) were able to convince SIPRI to release their data on the same day of the global action in order to send a stronger message on the outrageous military spending which according to a report by SIPRI, for the year 2011 totalled $1.74 trillion.

Over 130 different actions took place in 42 countries worldwide. Many actions took place in Western Europe, including a high-level summit at the United Nations in Geneva with the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. And there was a major increase in participation from groups in the Global South. In Africa, where military spending is on the rise amidst growing dissident people’s movements, events were held in Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In South Asia, with India rising to become the world’s leading arms importer, activists are organizing on a major scale as the arms race between India and Pakistan escalates. Over 30 actions took place in villages and cities throughout Pakistan, including major rallies in the cities of Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, eliciting participation from parliamentarians, and a hunger strike by noted activist Raja Jahangir Akhtar. In India there was also a mix of rural and urban activism to mark GDAMS, and in Bangladesh, activists met with a number of Members of Parliament, including the Deputy Speaker, to discuss disarmament both in the country and in the region.

In the US (country accounting for 41% of global spending) there were more than 50 actions. These actions stressed the key facts that: 1) 48% of all tax revenues go toward the military; 2) $1 billion spent on education, health care or green energy will create more jobs than $1 billion in military spending; and 3) the Aerospace and Defense industry pays on average less than half of the standard corporate tax rate. The Occupy movement joined in on the Global Day in Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Kansas City, Asheville, Raleigh and Greensboro, NC, New Paltz, NY, and Eugene, OR. Some of the actions included marches on defence contractors (“Occupy the Military-Industrial Complex”) in Washington, LA and Tucson, street theater in Montgomery, MD, rallies outside post offices in several cities, a large rally at City Hall in Philadelphia, and a massive march with over 1,000 participants from a broad network of groups in Boston.

“Almost every country with a military is on an insane path, spending more and more on missiles, aircraft, and guns, while the planet is in crisis,” said John Feffer, Co-Director of Foreign Policy In Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. “These countries should be confronting the real threats of climate change, hunger, disease, and oppression, not wasting taxpayers’ money on their military.” “We are not only talking about money”, added Colin Archer, Secretary-General of the International Peace Bureau. “The world is misusing some of its most brilliant brains, which are desperately needed to tackle issues like the energy crisis and the challenge of creating millions of new jobs”.

Let’s take this tremendous momentum and turn a global day into a global movement to demilitarize and fund human needs.
We’ll be campaigning around the Arms Trade Treaty, the Rio+20 Development Conference this June, and other major global initiatives to abandon the path of war and destruction and embrace peaceful development and environmental stewardship.

For reports of the actions please go to this link.

SIPRI Releases 2011 Numbers on Military Spending

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, has published its annual calculations of global military spending. This year there is some reason for hope, as the slight increase in military spending around the world marks a major slowdown compared to global trends since September 11, 2001. Nevertheless, spending did go up from 2010, and modest cuts will not be enough to free up the resources necessary to reach the millennium development goals, nor to mark a true reversal of priorities from militarism and corporate greed to human needs and environmental sustainability.

The Press Release — available in English, French, Spanish, and Swedish — states the following:

World military expenditure in 2011 totalled $1.74 trillion, almost unchanged since 2010 in real terms, according to figures released today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The comprehensive annual update of the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database is accessible from today at www.sipri.org.

The small rise of just 0.3 per cent in 2011 marks the end of a run of continuous increases in military spending between 1998 and 2010, including an annual average increase of 4.5 per cent between 2001 and 2009.

Six of the world’s top military spenders—Brazil, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States—made cuts in their military budgets in 2011, in most cases as part of attempts to reduce budget deficits. Meanwhile other states, notably China and Russia, increased their military spending markedly.

Check it out! And stay informed! Let’s keep up the pressure to demilitarize to fund human needs this year, and see 2012 as a year for a net DECREASE in global spending!

U.S. McClatchy Press Service Spreads Word on GDAMS

John Feffer’s recent article entitled “Death and Taxes” was distributed to the dozens of newspapers throughout the country that make up the McClatchy network of media outlets. After more than 50 actions took place across the US yesterday, this coverage is a great boost to the impact of the GDAMS message in the largest military spending country in the world.

Feffer writes:

The United States accounts for approximately 43 percent of all global military expenditures. The world now spends, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, more than $1.7 trillion on war and preparing to wage it. This total for 2011 marks a nearly $100 billion increase over 2010.

On Tuesday, people in 40 countries and more than 100 cities around the world participated in the second annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending. One of the demands of the people who took part was to treat weapons just like cigarettes and tax them as a social ill. This new death tax could both reduce the arms trade and generate revenue for critical human needs.

After all these years of paying taxes to support war, it’s time we used taxes to build peace. The stakes have never been higher. If we don’t get global military spending under control, it will be the death of us all.

Read the whole piece here.

VIDEO: Nobel Laureate Óscar Arias: GDAMS and the Power of Demilitarization

The former Costa Rican President and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner has done us the honor of putting together this video in honor of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending!

Without an army, Costa Rica has been able to invest public resources in the public interest – education, healthcare, development, humanity. Arias shares his thoughts on what might happen if the whole world shared the Costa Rican vision of a peaceful and just world – one with no armies, where human security is not measured in missiles.

Arms Down! John Feffer on GDAMS in World Beat

John Feffer from the Institute for Policy Studies published this piece on military spending and GDAMS in his weekly column, World Beat.

He focuses on the global interconnections in military spending, stating:

Any demilitarization plan must begin with the United States. As the number one military spender and arms exporter in the world, the United States is the heart that pumps the blood that keeps the military-industrial complex functioning worldwide. U.S. arms manufacturers have gamed the system to maintain their dominance. They have set up their manufacturing in as many states as possible in order to buy the support of Congress.

To break out of this zero-sum situation and create a virtuous circle of military reductions, we must pursue a three-prong strategy. The first addresses U.S. military spending, the second focuses on the global arms trade, and the third creates incentives for countries to reorient their budget priorities.

See the rest of this informative piece, wherein not only the challenges posed by military spending, but also the possible solutions to the Military Industrial Complex are explored in depth.