What is War For
Humans spend $1 trillion a year on war. If you earned
$10,000 a day (the going rate for Claudia Schiffer), it would take you
almost 300,000 years to make that much money. Governments say military
spending is an investment in the future. What could that possibly mean?
An international arms fair is a little like street bazaar. Top military
brass from around the world wander from stall to stall, admiring the
goods and haggling with salespeople eager to unload their costly
hardware. More than 100 of these fairs take place each year.
Who is doing the selling? The USA, the UK, Russia, China and
France are the world's biggest suppliers, the US controlling 48% of the
world market. You may already be aqcuainted with the thousands of
manufacturers, including Texas Instruments, makers of pocket calculators
and laser-guided bombs, and Mitsubishi, makers of compact cars and
Who's buying? Developing countries. Seven of them including
India and Egypt. The third world annually spends US$125 billion on
defence (just 10% of which could pay for universal health care in those
countries). With such big money involved, dealers don't much care who
their customers are. Even a genocide is a business opportunity. France
allegedly sold arms to Rwanda during the 1994 massacres; the USA sells
arms to Turkey, which uses them against the Kurds, and the UK sells
attack planes to Indonesia, which uses them against East Timore.
Future Markets The UN could curb the arms trade through
international law and sanctions. But it probably won't. The world's
five buggest arms dealers are also the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council, in charge of maintaining world peace and security.
Ask yourself, "what is war to you?".
(Image appropriated from Sergio Feraria and Alain Evrard and text from