GCOMS at the Asia Europe People’s Forum
Last September 29-30, the Asia Europe People’s Forum made visible the forces undermining participatory democracy, peoples’ rights and fundamental freedoms across Asia and Europe, trying to think on how to create opportunities to build solidarity across countries, cultures, struggles, issues and sectors; come up with collective strategies and actions to reclaim peoples’ rights and freedoms, and rebuild more participatory democracies.
At the Forum, Jordi Calvo observed that Governments don’t work on the Human Security framework because the security they prioritize is the security of States, meaning in most of the cases not to question political, social or economical status quo, and elites refusing the possibility of loosing privileges. The old idea of deterrence and security doctrines based on an increase of military capabilities as a way to get more security has been proven false.
Instead, militarization and armamentism have created an arms race in the world, having also decreased human security: It’s crystal clear that terrorist threats are much higher nowadays than when the Global War On Terror started, in 2001. Military budgets militarize relations between countries, and more militarization means bigger armies, easier to mobilize, to be sent anywhere in the world. High rates of military spending makes more likely the use of military instead of diplomacy. As a result, cooperation, multilateralism and preventive diplomacy are in risk of being totally ineffective.
According to Jordi Calvo, Military spending serves mainly to militarize societies and politics but also economics. Public military budgets are the only relevant source of incomes for military industry. Despite doubts of efficiency of military response to security threats, military companies are able to get from governments public contracts, grants for military research, and support from foreign affairs services of a country, from Ministry of Defence, and even from Heads of States. This is achieved because of the influence and lobby of the so-called military-industrial complex. Which includes not only arms businessmen, middlemen, but also militaries and politicians. It’s possible, thanks to a phenomenon known as “revolving doors” which allows an easy transition of key people from arms business to government high responsibilities in Defence and even militaries that become CEOs of military industries. In addition military companies have a complete network of think tanks and management organizations physically based close to the main centers of political decision-making. As an example we can mention hundreds of military lobbyists in Brussels, that “help”, “give support” and “help to reflect” on security matters European parliamentarians, members of the European Commission and civil servants, through publications, reports, conferences, congresses and recommendations about defense and security in Europe. We can explain one of the main successes of this lobby, which is related to securitization of refugees and all kinds of migrants’ arrivals to Europe. What should have been a humanitarian crisis that needs a humanitarian response, has become a security problem for Europe, and the reaction has been to increasing miltarisation of the Union that includes a new and costly military budget to help military companies to develop new weapons and military equipment to manage migrants movements. Securitization is not done only in relation to migration policies, but also to some of the main challenges for humanity, like climate change. If everything is placed under a securitization perspective, military responses will be more likely. Securitization, or what is the same, considers all social, human or environmental aspects as military threats and militarized solutions, which is definitely the best marketing for the arms industry.
The growing militarisation of international relations in the last few years are characteristic of an armed peace, which together with the rise of populist nationalisms all around the world is creating a dangerous prewar scenario. Changing this trend is a common responsibility. Regarding military and security, it seems we cannot rely in our governments; changes are not likely to come from the top. A strong social movement against Military Spending is needed to reduce militarization and armamentism worldwide. A strong movement is needed to avoid war and its preparation. GCOMS helps national campaigning on military spending creating dissemination materials such as infographics, selfie campaign for social networks, a handbook on campaigning about military spending, among other actions of coordination.