Blessed are the Peace Makers

I am really quite tired of being bombarded with propaganda set on defining for me the realms of civilisation. We want “civil” in that word to refer to courtesy and politeness, but we know that it doesn’t. Instead, our dictionaries describe civilisation as an advanced stage or system of human social development. Of course, for us, politeness is a characteristic of advanced human social development, as is honesty, sincerity, kindness and generosity. Yet what it actually means in practice is something quite different. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, uses it to describe that same group of nations which make up the G8. Thus that constant bombardment of ideas.

But I am troubled. Why are the civilised nations spending so much on weapons? The United States of America’s Department of Defence alone – excluding research, maintenance and production – had a budget of $437.111 Billion in 2004. While it is true that US expenditure accounts for only 4% of Gross Domestic Product, as compared to Saudi Arabia’s 10% as the world’s ninth largest spender, its 2005 military budget was still greater than the combined total of the next 27. Interestingly, the United Kingdom – tiny beside the US, China and Russia – spends almost as much as Japan and only slightly less than Russia and China: something like $50 billion. The joint expenditure of these self-described civilised nations is 57 times greater than the combined total of Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, and contributes to two thirds of the total expenditure of the entire planet. In the case of the US, these figures exclude their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan which are funded outside the Federal Budget.

Why are the civilised nations spending billions on killing machines, on developing the most hideous weapons ever conceived? Consider the BLU-82B/C-130 weapon system, nicknamed Commando Vault in Vietnam and Daisy Cutter in Afghanistan. This is a 15,000 pound bomb based on explosive sludge which is dropped from high altitude, producing a massive flash visible from long distances and intense boom on impact, destroying an area between 300 and 900 feet radius. Or consider Fuel-Air Explosives which disperse an aerosol cloud of fuel which is ignited by an embedded detonator to produce an explosion, causing high overpressure. And I am not even mentioning nuclear weapons. What kind of mind could conceive of such weapons, and what sort of nation would fund them?

Blessed are the peace makers, says the Bible, for they shall inherit the earth. A time comes when we must realise that the labels assigned by those around us are worthless. Spending $500 billion – even $50 billion – on a war machine is not indicative of advanced human social development. Far from it. Let the primitive nations rejoice. Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall inherit the earth.

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