The United States is spending billions of dollars on building arsenals every year. With 610 billion dollars military expenditure in 2017 it spends more than the next top seven countries combined as per the figures provided by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). China and Russia also squandered $228 billion and $66.3 billion on armaments in the same year respectively. A staggering $1.74 trillion dollars were allocated throughout the world to augment weaponry that year. High defence budget serves two purposes. First, it is considered as a matter of international prestige and crucial for deterrence. Every power feels threatened when the others develop advance munitions as a result provoking each other to focus more on their security in a vicious cycle. Second, it is essential from the economic point of view as it increases their arms clients.

India, Saudi Arabia, and UAE are some of the top arms importers in the world. Both UAE and Saudi Arabia feel insecure owing to tense relations with Iran while India makes no secret of its frustrated ambition to become a world power. Its animosity with Pakistan further adds to its appetite for killing machines with $63.9 billion military-spending in 2017. Pakistan also imports high-tech weapons from different countries including China and its defence outlay has crossed a trillion rupees mark.

Why so much craving for lethality? Is the volume of nuclear arsenals and munitions manufactured till now not enough to wipe life off the face of the earth? Certainly, it is. It’s time to preserve sanity. This arms race needs to be halted. An impression that some psychopaths are running governments in certain parts of the world must be done away with. The absurd notion of new cold war ought to be dispelled forthwith. Longing for more armaments should come to a full stop and that not for the survival of humanity (except if complete nuclear disarmament happens by any chance) but for their transitory welfare.

The Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which was signed in1968 makes it incumbent upon nuclear powers that they would gradually disarm themselves of nuclear weapons in its entirety. On this account no other state could have aspire to join their ranks. Global zero was the aim. But obligations of the treaty were not carried out in true spirit. In fact quite the opposite is being observed in case of particularly Russia, the USA, and China. It is imperative that non-nuclear members of NPT put an enormous pressure on these powers for showing conformity with the principles of the treaty. Otherwise one of the three main pillars of the treaty will be good for nothing making global nuclear disarmament only a dream.

Moreover, the recent pursuit of unilateralism by the United States under Donald Trump administration has made matters worse. Unilateralism, per se, incites nations to invest in advance weaponry and sophisticated arms. To one’s no surprise, the US flagrantly announced last October that it would pull out of cold war era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) which required the two super powers to eliminate nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles. INF, signed in 1987, was regarded as a landmark for limiting the arms race between the two powers. Its termination would lead to unfettered activities in defence industries of the both cold war enemies. Pursuant to the US’ declaration regarding withdrawal from INF, Russia successfully tested strategic missile which can fly 27 times faster than the speed of sound making air defence systems useless. Warmongers must be on cloud nine while pacifists down in the dumps.

The UN General Assembly passes 50 to 60 resolutions unanimously or by a majority vote every year for restricting the arms race but only to fall on deaf ears. Presume, what kind of place the world would have been only if the money being thrown away on arms production had been channeled into schemes designed for the welfare of people. More than a trillion dollars have been spent on the Afghan war so far. This amount could have changed the fate of this war-torn country and converted it into a wonderland. Serenity and harmony would have been the order of the day if the capital invested in wars owing to international disputes had been spent on efforts to settle these. But no hopeful activism for resolution of issues which potentially threaten peace on the global level is seen. On the contrary the concept of arms control has been abandoned. The race for developing Artificial Intelligence weapons is in full vigour. The UN must launch a fresh peace initiative urging nations to invest in peace rather than in war before it’s too late.

In a world where over 1.7 trillion dollars are exhausted on bolstering arsenals annually, almost a billion people suffer from chronic undernourishment and millions of children die of hunger and malnutrition every year. Poverty is rampant in Asia and Africa. Countries can only keep away from arms race in a utopian world society. However, this menace could be confined in the real world. There is indeed a need of introspection on the part of world powers.

 

The writer is a freelance contributor.