“You can not hope for peace and prepare for war at the same time”
These were the words of Albert Einstein, arguably the smartest man to ever set foot on planet earth. Words, which if followed could have ensured global peace and tranquillity. But instead of working on this idea, we choose to live by a completely different set of ideas. We choose to live by the words of a fictional character (and perhaps our reflection) called Tony Stark who said: “Peace means having a bigger stick than the other guy.” It is in pursuit of this illusion of peace that countries across the world rushed into arming themselves and creating weapons, which if unleashed could wipe out the entire human race. A quest ultimately leading to the death of 200+ million people since the twentieth century alone. In the forefront of this hunt for peace has been the United States of America. With an annual defence budget of over 700 billion dollars, America spends more for peace than the next top seven peace lovers combined. America’s commitment to peace, however, is not limited to its geographical boundaries. It has also taken up the role of a global peacekeeper, a central power responsible for maintaining law and order across the globe.
How does it do it? Well, supplying a bigger sticks certainly does not seem like the right answer. However, a survey by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute seems to state the contrary. With a lions share in the 80+ billion dollar global arms trade, one can’t help but ask if the United Staes is ensuring peace or arming the world? It is difficult to believe that a country with a customer base of about 96 countries and a 33% share in the global arms trade, would want conflicts to die down and peace to prevail. To begin with, let us take a look at the Middle East, home to countries like Saudi Arabia which alone accounted for 20% of total US weapons export in 2016 and have purchased weapons worth more than $100 billion since 2009 from the US. The Middle East has long been the hotbed for weapon manufacturers across the world and over the past few decades, America alone has supplied weapons worth billions of dollars to this region. With such a steady flow of arms and ammunition, according to Tony Stark Middle East should be one the most peaceful regions on planet earth. Ground reality, however, begs to differ. The Middle East has become one of the most troubled and violent regions on Earth, home to multiple terrorist organisations and civil wars. In fact, Saudi Arabia and its other middle eastern allies: Americas biggest customer, have been blacklisted by the UN for war crimes and killing children during the ongoing Saudi Yemen war. If sources are to be believed then, these countries are also responsible for inciting violence and destabilizing the entire region. Yet, the steady flow of arms and ammunition to these countries continues in the name of maintaining the peace and stability of the region.
The situation in the Middle East should serve as a clear indication of how Peacekeeping is turning into warmongering. But some of my readers would beg to differ and like to state that the middle east is a troubled area and these were necessary measures. In that case, let us take a look at the how the North Korean crisis is panning out. North Korea has for long threatened to launch nuclear missiles on American territory and invade South Korea. While it may sound frightening these are mostly just empty threats. In fact, South Korea and Japan are accustomed to North’s frequent threats to attack. But the recent war of words between Washington and Pyongyang and all the talk about “fire and fury” has raised fears of a sudden clash along the world’s most militarised border dividing the two Koreas. A fear which has lead both Japan and South Korea to increase there military spending and deploy the controversial American made Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the area. Which has, in many ways, further worsened the situation. With the American president going on record to say that large Japanese orders for US-made military equipment will help it counter the threat from North Korean ballistic missiles. Along with phrases like: “One very important thing is that Prime Minister Abe is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should.” and “We make the best by far … it’s a lot of jobs for us, and a lot of safety for Japan.” we can not help but ask if this is not war profiteering than what is?
Be it supplying weapons to the Mujahidins on Afganistan to fend off the Russians and establish peace or arming “FRIENDLY” middle eastern regimes. It has been proven time and again that sending more weapons always leads to an increased chance of conflict, which in turn leads to a higher demand for weapons. While it may be a cause of concern for us, it is precisely what the weapon manufacturers want. Not only are they pushing for more sales of weapons to foreign countries but are also pushing America into spending more for its defence. All in the name of fighting a potential enemy and creating American Jobs. While America has indeed played a crucial role in ensuring that the 21st century becomes the most peaceful era in human history (Statistically speaking). Its approach towards the cause raises quite a few questions and forces us to ask if there is another way to ensure peace? Agreed that if America does not sell weapons to those who desire/need it someone else would fill its shoe, but is it not worth our time and effort to find and eliminate the root cause of this desire instead of fueling it?