March 03, 2010

Gates to Europe : War is peace, by Teymoor Nabili, The Americas Blog,, Feb 25, 2010
The Americas Blog

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates says Nato is in crisis because Europe isn't warlike enough.

"The demilitarization of Europe -- where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it -- has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st."

It's an interesting thesis, and one that will doubtless receive much support from the US foreign policy hawks.

But given that Europe and Washington don't even have enough money to bail themselves out of their financial straits, maybe now's a good time for a robust international debate on whether high tech weaponry is the best investment for the 21st century.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini is just one voice who's pretty certain it's not.

In fact, there's plenty of evidence to show that even conservatives would rather see more spending on schools, childcare and social services in preference to the military.

So it's worth pondering who exactly will benefit most from increased military spending, and what are the dangers that buying new toys for the generals will cause, rather than prevent, future conflict?

Juan Cole crunches some of the numbers, and wonders why cold war levels of military spending are necessary just to guard against "a couple thousand al-Qaeda operatives hiding out in caves in the Hadhramawt and Waziristan".

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