The Blog

Guns or Roses: When Comes Real Shift In Global Arms Trade?

If weapons would actually bring safety for people in general the USA, the country with the most weapons per capita, would be the safest country of the world.

During the last two weeks some media wrote about a 'shift in global arms trade'. Without serious fact checking even some peace activists announced the dawn of a new era. Is it really time to party? This month the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its Yearbook 2012, which includes information about the Top 100 of weapon producing companies. In 2011 these companies sold $410 billion worth weaponry and yes, that is 1,1 billion less then in 2010. But it is only 0.3% down so there is no reason at all for cheering. Especially taking into consideration that in the last decade 'the Top 100' increased their sales with 60%. SIPRI: "The world military expenditure in 2011 is estimated to have been $1738 billion. Compared to the total in 2010, military spending has remained virtually unchanged in real terms. However, it is still too early to say whether this means that world military expenditure has finally peaked."

If weapons would actually bring safety for people in general the USA, the country with the most weapons per capita, would be the safest country of the world. Quod non. On the contrary I strongly believe that if this 1738 billion US Dollars ($249 for each person) would be spent on food or education it would surely bring more sustainable safety. Bob Marley sung it loud and clear: a hungry man is an angry man...

Let's have a look to the new republic of South Sudan. In many villages people hardly get the food, medicines or education they require, but nevertheless the government has decided to spend half of its budget to buy new weaponry. And sooner or later these weapons will be used in a new armed conflict. And the weapons sold to Assad in Syria are now being used against his own civilians and the weapons once sold to Kadafi in Libya were looted from his depots by Islamists and used in Mali to suppress and kill people in the northern part of that country. Some of these weapons also reached Niger, Chad and the Gaza. Automatic guns, rocket launchers, tanks and other heavy stuff fall in the wrong hands on a daily basis. Each minute someone dies as a result of armed conflict. Companies sell weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan knowing this 'has the potential to increase the risk of renewed conflict' between these two countries (SIPRI). Cars loaded with weapons travel in Africa from conflict area to conflict area and often sell to both parties.

When will the world finally wake up and say 'enough is enough' to this whole system of making money by producing, selling and exporting weapons all over the globe and by doing so fueling war and violence, directly or indirectly?

The only optimistic fact I see is that the world military expenditure has not grown any further for the first time since 1998 and if we can from now on decrease the weapon sales by a serious 5% per year then by 2025 we will be back at the level of 2000. This would directly and indirectly save the lives of many and bring reason for endless optimistic articles. Especially in full democratic countries as USA, Germany, UK and France - all in the Top 5 of countries with the highest weapon export and home to 51 of the Top 100 of weapon producing companies - people should demand their governments to yearly downscale the weapon export with 5%. Gradually we should transform this lethal business into sustainable business.

Some say we can't because we'll lose too many jobs, but that's nonsense. Take the transformation of the German Ruhr area as an example. Within 30 years they have transformed the economy based on environmental unfriendly businesses to an economy based on sustainable high tech. World leaders, business leaders, you; don't forget to be awesome and start that other future right now and here. If not we all have to flee to Iceland. According to the Global Peace Index, also released by SIPRI in their Yearbook, Iceland is the most peaceful country of the world...