It has never been more important to campaign to defund the military

A Trident submarine
Jasmine Norden

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is calling for action to defund the military, after a report found the UK has increased its military spending.

26 April is the Global Day of Action Against Military Spending and CAAT has urged campaigners to get in touch with their local media to raise awareness about the increase and call for alternatives.

This comes after the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) annual figures on global military spending, which found an increase both in the UK and worldwide.

CAAT said:

Today is the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. All around the world, campaigners are challenging the myth that spending ever more money on warfare will make us safer. Today, we come together to say: defund the military. Defend people and planet.

Communities know what makes them feel safe, and it’s not increasing nuclear warheads or building killer robots. It’s things like secure housing, decent work, tackling the climate crisis, pandemic preparedness and ending institutional racism. Together, we can build a movement for change, from the ground up.

Global increase

According to SIPRI, world military spending increased to almost $2tn in 2020, a 2.6% increase on the previous year.

Within the global increase, the UK has increased its own military spending by 2.9% since 2019. This increase makes the UK the fifth largest military spender in the world, behind only the US, China, India and Russia.

On top of this year’s increase, the UK government has already committed to a four year £16.5bn rise in defence spending. The extra money is to be spent on space technology, more nuclear warheads, drones and hackers, in a decision experts said will be the largest real-term increase since Margaret Thatcher’s times.

Making priorities known

As the UK boosts its defence budget, it has cut the amount of foreign aid it gives. Human rights groups and charities have criticised the decision to cut foreign aid, saying it left Yemen and many Middle Eastern and African countries in need.

Meanwhile, CAAT called for military spending to be redirected to the climate crisis in particular, alongside housing, employment, tackling racism and the fallout of the pandemic.

Writing for the Guardian when the increase in the defence budget became known, Mary Kaldor, director of the conflict and civil society research unit at the London School of Economics, said that:

the dangers we face as a nation aren’t traditional wars: they’re global crises such as pandemics, the climate crisis and rising inequality, as well as security threats associated with terrorism and organised crime. Rather than spending on old-fashioned military defence, the UK’s focus should be on “human security”, a version of security that begins at the level of individuals rather than nation states and considers existential threats of all kinds – from poverty to ill health.

She added:

There is a powerful case for increasing our spending on human security issues, especially in the context of the pandemic. This has to include both climate change action and development assistance. But Johnson’s motivation seems to be more about returning us to an era of gunboat diplomacy than preventing and ending violent conflict.

Featured image via Flickr/Defence Images

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