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Humanity on a cross of iron

Humanity on a cross of iron

  • Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
  • 07
    2022
    Aug
    10:59 am

A surge is underway in military spending and arms sales, fueled by the war in Ukraine and the confrontation over Taiwan. Global demand for advanced weaponry is unprecedented. The White House has approved sales of missile systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates priced $3 billion and $2.245 billion, respectively (CNN, 8/2). 

Israel’s arms firms are doing especially well — even though the Israeli government has told them not to supply arms to Russia or Ukraine. Arms exports are rapidly rising from a baseline of $7 billion in 2020 and $11.3 billion in 2021 (Ha’aretz, 8/5). The top defense ministry official has visited 14 countries in just three months. Israel specializes in high-tech products like satellites, drones and precision munitions.

In 1953 President Eisenhower declared:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals… We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron… Is there no other way the world may live?

President Dwight Eisenhower

Nearly 70 years have passed since Eisenhower made that speech. And humanity is still hanging from that cross of iron, under the cloud of threatening – and actual — war. 

Now, however, there are other equations to add to those offered by Eisenhower. For example, the Patriot missile system that the US is selling to Saudi Arabia costs the same as it would cost to restore 5,400 square kilometers (over 2,000 square miles) of tropical forest. The theft is, as before, from the unfed, the unhoused, the neglected sick, but now the theft is also from human survival on this planet.