NATO’s main enemy is supposed to be Russia. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures are about 6-7 % of NATO’s total expenditures (29 countries). It doesn’t matter that NATO’s technical quality is superior. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures are falling year-by-year – decreased to US $ 64 billion in 2018 from US $ 66 billion in 2017. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures averaged only US $ 45 billion from 1992 until 2018. And it doesn’t matter that the old Warsaw Pact budget were some 65-75% of NATO’s during the first Cold War and we were told back then that some kind of balance was good for stability and peace. Today we are told that the more superiority NATO has, the better it is for world peace.
In short, reality doesn’t matter anymore to NATO. And this is where the 2 per cent of GNP comes into play and reveals just how deep NATO’s crisis is. But have you seen anybody questioning this 2 per cent goal as the philosophical nonsense – or forgery – it is?
It resembles the Theatre of the Absurd to tie military expenditures to the economic performance of a country. Imagine a person sets off 10 % of her/his income to buy food. Sudden he or she wins in a lottery or is catapulted into a job that yields a 5 times higher income. Should that person then also begin to eat 5 times more?
The 2 per cent goal is an absurdity, an indicator of defence illiteracy. People who take it serious – in politics, media and academia – obviously have never read a basic book about theories and concepts in the field of defence and security. Or about how one makes a professional analysis of what threatens a country.
If military expenditures are meant to secure a country’s future, do the threats that this country faces also vary according to its own GNP? Of course not! It is a bizarre assumption.
Decent knowledge-based defence policies should be decided on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of threats and contain dimensions such as:
What threatens our nation, our society now and along various time horizons? Which threats that we can imagine are so big that we can do nothing to meet them? Which are such that it is meaningful to set off this or that sum to feel reasonably safe? What threats seem so small or unlikely that we can ignore them?
What threats are most likely to go from latent to manifest? How do we prioritize among scarce resources when we have other needs and goals than feeling secure such as developing our economy, education, health, culture, etc.?
And, most importantly, two more consideration: What threats can be met with predominantly military means and which require basically civilian means? And how do we act today to prevent the perceived threats from becoming a reality that we have to face – how do we, within our means, prevent violence and reduce risks as much as possible?.
All these questions should be possible to answer with the new mantra: Just always give the military 2 per cent of the GNP and everything will be fine?
Read it carefully: NATO’s military expenditure increase 2016-2020 is US $ 130 billion – that is twice as much as Russia’s total annual budget!
There is only two words for it: Madness and irrationality. Madness in and of itself and madness when seen in the perspective of all the other problems humanity must urgently find funds to solve.
The total regular UN budget for the year 2016-17 was US $ 5.6 billion. That is, NATO countries spend 185 times more on the military than all the world does on the UN.
Do you find that sane and in accordance with the problems humanity need to solve? This author does not. I stand by the word madness. There exists no rational academic, empirical analysis and no theory that can explain NATO’s military expenditures as rational or in service of the common good of humankind.
The world’s strongest, nuclear alliance is a castle built on intellectual sinking sand. It’s a political, moral, legal and intellectual Titanic.
The only armament NATO needs is legal, moral and intellectual. And unless it now moves in this direction, it deserves to be dissolved. The inverse proportion between its destructive power and its moral-intellectual power is – beyond any doubt – the largest single threat to humanity’s future.
This challenge is at least as serious and as urgent as is climate change.
Perhaps it is time to stop keeping NATO alive by taxpayers’ money and start a tax boycott in all NATO countries until it is dissolved or at least comes down to – say – one-tenth of its present wasteful military level ! Not to speak of its bootprint destruction of the environment…
Jan Oberg, december 2019
Humanity is facing a biodiversity crisis. To solve environmental problems, we bring people from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority to the same table. Conservation efforts are beneficial for all communities and facilitate constructive dialog across divides in conflict zones. This pleads for the integration of nature conservation into peacebuilding interventions.
In the Middle East, the essence of the project ‘Birds Know No Boundaries’ is threefold: a) to convince individuals and communities to protect their environment in their own country; (b) to favor communication between countries to foster experience; and (c) to use the project to raise awareness about environmental and peacebuilding issues. The intensive use of agricultural pesticides throughout the Middle East poses a grave threat to the environment and its biological diversity.
The Jordan Valley, located at the junction of Europe, Asia, and Africa, is an important diversity hotspot and is an important bottleneck on the world’s principle bird migration routes [Bruderer, B. and Liechti, F. ,1995). To protect birds migrating from Europe and Asia from poisoning, we developed a project to replace pesticides with biological pest control agents in agricultural fields. Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian farmers participate in this joint integrative pest management project with the ultimate aim of promoting more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming habits. Barn owls (Tyto alba) and kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) are common throughout Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority, especially in agricultural areas. Each pair of barn owls produces up to 11 offspring, which eat between 2000 and 6000 rodents per year, making them an efficient alternative to pesticides for the farmers.
How Wars of the Future May Be Fought Just to Run the Machines That Fight Them
Sixteen gallons of oil. That's how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis -- either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone.
Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That's greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million -- and yet it's a gross underestimate of the Pentagon's wartime consumption.
Such numbers cannot do full justice to the extraordinary gas-guzzling expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, for every soldier stationed "in theater," there are two more in transit, in training, or otherwise in line for eventual deployment to the war zone -- soldiers who also consume enormous amounts of oil, even if less than their compatriots overseas. Moreover, to sustain an "expeditionary" army located halfway around the world, the Department of Defense must move millions of tons of arms, ammunition, food, fuel, and equipment every year by plane or ship, consuming additional tanker-loads of petroleum. Add this to the tally and the Pentagon's war-related oil budget jumps appreciably, though exactly how much we have no real way of knowing.
And foreign wars, sad to say, account for but a small fraction of the Pentagon's total petroleum consumption. Possessing the world's largest fleet of modern aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles, and support systems -- virtually all powered by oil -- the Department of Defense (DoD) is, in fact, the world's leading consumer of petroleum. It can be difficult to obtain precise details on the DoD's daily oil hit, but an April 2007 report by a defense contractor, LMI Government Consulting suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.
Not "Guns v. Butter," but "Guns v. Oil"
For anyone who drives a motor vehicle these days, this has ominous implications. With the price of gasoline now 75 cents to a dollar more than it was just six months ago, it's obvious that the Pentagon is facing a potentially serious budgetary crunch. Just like any ordinary American family, the DoD has to make some hard choices: It can use its normal amount of petroleum and pay more at the Pentagon's equivalent of the pump, while cutting back on other basic expenses; or it can cut back on its gas use in order to protect favored weapons systems under development. Of course, the DoD has a third option: It can go before Congress and plead for yet another supplemental budget hike, but this is sure to provoke renewed calls for a timetable for an American troop withdrawal from Iraq, and so is an unlikely prospect at this time.
The U.S. Armed Forces response isn’t to immediately cut its carbon emissions in order to curb climate change. Rather it is to determine how best to defend against the instability and chaos that climate change may bring to the international community, as well as the threat it poses to U.S. military bases and operations around the globe.
What’s absent is any discussion of the carbon emissions of the U.S. military and plans to change the role that it plays in fueling climate change.
Tamara Lorincz explains:
The U.S. military itself acknowledges that it is the largest institutional consumer of oil.
And the burning of fossil fuels, the burning of petroleum products, oil, is causing the climate crisis. And the U.S. military spends approximately $17 billion on oil, and it needs this oil to fuel its fighter jets, its vehicles, and to power its military bases domestically and internationally. The problem, though, is that the U.S. military emissions and, actually, the military emissions of all countries’ militaries outside their borders are not included in the national greenhouse gas reporting for countries.
A.Woronczuk: Why is that?
Tamara Lorincz: It’s something called international aviation and bunker fuels. This is the fuel that’s used by fighter jets and by warships, for example, outside of state borders. So those military emissions are not included in the national greenhouse gas inventory reporting(*). And the reason why those emissions are not included is because of the lobbying of the United States in the mid-1990s around the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. delegation at the Kyoto negotiations was able to secure an exemption for military emissions, these international aviation and bunker fuels, and it was also able to secure, under UN Framework Convention on Climate Change guidelines, a confidentiality clause so that it actually doesn’t need to report all of its emissions and it doesn’t have to disaggregate its emissions.
So right now, countries need to abide by the UN Framework Convention guidelines on reporting for greenhouse gases in all different types of sectors, so for transportation, for energy, for buildings, etc. But the military is not a separate category, and the military has these exemptions.
The “Green Book on Defence” or Livre Vert de la Défense is a French policy paper on environmental security published in February 2014. The project was directed by Senator Leila Aïchi, Vice President of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Commission of the French Senate.
The paper represents a response to the near complete neglect of environmental security issues in the Livre Blanc de la Défense et la Sécurité Nationale, made public by former French President F. Hollande in April 2013. The “Livre Blanc de la Défense et la Sécurité Nationale” or ‘White Book on Defence and National Security’ is the French equivalent to the U.S. National Security Strategy, setting the general guidelines of national foreign and defence policy. Placing environmental security at the heart of military strategic planning.
The Livre Vert proposes first of all to place environmental security issues at the heart of military planning and defence, as environmental issues are still too often neglected in national security and military strategies. It points to the near complete lack of consideration for environmental security in the 2013 French Livre Blanc, where it occupies only half a page due to the fact that scientific uncertainties remain (would remain) about the real impact of climate change.