NATO’s main enemy is supposed to be Russia. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures are about 6-7 % of NATO’s total expenditures (29 countries). It doesn’t matter that NATO’s technical quality is superior. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures are falling year-by-year – decreased to US $ 64 billion in 2018 from US $ 66 billion in 2017. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures averaged only US $ 45 billion from 1992 until 2018. And it doesn’t matter that the old Warsaw Pact budget were some 65-75% of NATO’s during the first Cold War and we were told back then that some kind of balance was good for stability and peace. Today we are told that the more superiority NATO has, the better it is for world peace.
In short, reality doesn’t matter anymore to NATO. And this is where the 2 per cent of GNP comes into play and reveals just how deep NATO’s crisis is. But have you seen anybody questioning this 2 per cent goal as the philosophical nonsense – or forgery – it is?
It resembles the Theatre of the Absurd to tie military expenditures to the economic performance of a country. Imagine a person sets off 10 % of her/his income to buy food. Sudden he or she wins in a lottery or is catapulted into a job that yields a 5 times higher income. Should that person then also begin to eat 5 times more?
The 2 per cent goal is an absurdity, an indicator of defence illiteracy. People who take it serious – in politics, media and academia – obviously have never read a basic book about theories and concepts in the field of defence and security. Or about how one makes a professional analysis of what threatens a country.
If military expenditures are meant to secure a country’s future, do the threats that this country faces also vary according to its own GNP? Of course not! It is a bizarre assumption.
Decent knowledge-based defence policies should be decided on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of threats and contain dimensions such as:
What threatens our nation, our society now and along various time horizons? Which threats that we can imagine are so big that we can do nothing to meet them? Which are such that it is meaningful to set off this or that sum to feel reasonably safe? What threats seem so small or unlikely that we can ignore them?
What threats are most likely to go from latent to manifest? How do we prioritize among scarce resources when we have other needs and goals than feeling secure such as developing our economy, education, health, culture, etc.?
And, most importantly, two more consideration: What threats can be met with predominantly military means and which require basically civilian means? And how do we act today to prevent the perceived threats from becoming a reality that we have to face – how do we, within our means, prevent violence and reduce risks as much as possible?.
All these questions should be possible to answer with the new mantra: Just always give the military 2 per cent of the GNP and everything will be fine?
Read it carefully: NATO’s military expenditure increase 2016-2020 is US $ 130 billion – that is twice as much as Russia’s total annual budget!
There is only two words for it: Madness and irrationality. Madness in and of itself and madness when seen in the perspective of all the other problems humanity must urgently find funds to solve.
The total regular UN budget for the year 2016-17 was US $ 5.6 billion. That is, NATO countries spend 185 times more on the military than all the world does on the UN.
Do you find that sane and in accordance with the problems humanity need to solve? This author does not. I stand by the word madness. There exists no rational academic, empirical analysis and no theory that can explain NATO’s military expenditures as rational or in service of the common good of humankind.
The world’s strongest, nuclear alliance is a castle built on intellectual sinking sand. It’s a political, moral, legal and intellectual Titanic.
The only armament NATO needs is legal, moral and intellectual. And unless it now moves in this direction, it deserves to be dissolved. The inverse proportion between its destructive power and its moral-intellectual power is – beyond any doubt – the largest single threat to humanity’s future.
This challenge is at least as serious and as urgent as is climate change.
Perhaps it is time to stop keeping NATO alive by taxpayers’ money and start a tax boycott in all NATO countries until it is dissolved or at least comes down to – say – one-tenth of its present wasteful military level ! Not to speak of its bootprint destruction of the environment…
Jan Oberg, december 2019
Humanity is facing a biodiversity crisis. To solve environmental problems, we bring people from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority to the same table. Conservation efforts are beneficial for all communities and facilitate constructive dialog across divides in conflict zones. This pleads for the integration of nature conservation into peacebuilding interventions.
In the Middle East, the essence of the project ‘Birds Know No Boundaries’ is threefold: a) to convince individuals and communities to protect their environment in their own country; (b) to favor communication between countries to foster experience; and (c) to use the project to raise awareness about environmental and peacebuilding issues. The intensive use of agricultural pesticides throughout the Middle East poses a grave threat to the environment and its biological diversity.
The Jordan Valley, located at the junction of Europe, Asia, and Africa, is an important diversity hotspot and is an important bottleneck on the world’s principle bird migration routes [Bruderer, B. and Liechti, F. ,1995). To protect birds migrating from Europe and Asia from poisoning, we developed a project to replace pesticides with biological pest control agents in agricultural fields. Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian farmers participate in this joint integrative pest management project with the ultimate aim of promoting more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming habits. Barn owls (Tyto alba) and kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) are common throughout Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority, especially in agricultural areas. Each pair of barn owls produces up to 11 offspring, which eat between 2000 and 6000 rodents per year, making them an efficient alternative to pesticides for the farmers.
How Wars of the Future May Be Fought Just to Run the Machines That Fight Them
Sixteen gallons of oil. That's how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis -- either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone.
Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That's greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million -- and yet it's a gross underestimate of the Pentagon's wartime consumption.
Such numbers cannot do full justice to the extraordinary gas-guzzling expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, for every soldier stationed "in theater," there are two more in transit, in training, or otherwise in line for eventual deployment to the war zone -- soldiers who also consume enormous amounts of oil, even if less than their compatriots overseas. Moreover, to sustain an "expeditionary" army located halfway around the world, the Department of Defense must move millions of tons of arms, ammunition, food, fuel, and equipment every year by plane or ship, consuming additional tanker-loads of petroleum. Add this to the tally and the Pentagon's war-related oil budget jumps appreciably, though exactly how much we have no real way of knowing.
And foreign wars, sad to say, account for but a small fraction of the Pentagon's total petroleum consumption. Possessing the world's largest fleet of modern aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles, and support systems -- virtually all powered by oil -- the Department of Defense (DoD) is, in fact, the world's leading consumer of petroleum. It can be difficult to obtain precise details on the DoD's daily oil hit, but an April 2007 report by a defense contractor, LMI Government Consulting suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.
Not "Guns v. Butter," but "Guns v. Oil"
For anyone who drives a motor vehicle these days, this has ominous implications. With the price of gasoline now 75 cents to a dollar more than it was just six months ago, it's obvious that the Pentagon is facing a potentially serious budgetary crunch. Just like any ordinary American family, the DoD has to make some hard choices: It can use its normal amount of petroleum and pay more at the Pentagon's equivalent of the pump, while cutting back on other basic expenses; or it can cut back on its gas use in order to protect favored weapons systems under development. Of course, the DoD has a third option: It can go before Congress and plead for yet another supplemental budget hike, but this is sure to provoke renewed calls for a timetable for an American troop withdrawal from Iraq, and so is an unlikely prospect at this time.
The U.S. Armed Forces response isn’t to immediately cut its carbon emissions in order to curb climate change. Rather it is to determine how best to defend against the instability and chaos that climate change may bring to the international community, as well as the threat it poses to U.S. military bases and operations around the globe.
What’s absent is any discussion of the carbon emissions of the U.S. military and plans to change the role that it plays in fueling climate change.
Tamara Lorincz explains:
The U.S. military itself acknowledges that it is the largest institutional consumer of oil.
And the burning of fossil fuels, the burning of petroleum products, oil, is causing the climate crisis. And the U.S. military spends approximately $17 billion on oil, and it needs this oil to fuel its fighter jets, its vehicles, and to power its military bases domestically and internationally. The problem, though, is that the U.S. military emissions and, actually, the military emissions of all countries’ militaries outside their borders are not included in the national greenhouse gas reporting for countries.
A.Woronczuk: Why is that?
Tamara Lorincz: It’s something called international aviation and bunker fuels. This is the fuel that’s used by fighter jets and by warships, for example, outside of state borders. So those military emissions are not included in the national greenhouse gas inventory reporting(*). And the reason why those emissions are not included is because of the lobbying of the United States in the mid-1990s around the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. delegation at the Kyoto negotiations was able to secure an exemption for military emissions, these international aviation and bunker fuels, and it was also able to secure, under UN Framework Convention on Climate Change guidelines, a confidentiality clause so that it actually doesn’t need to report all of its emissions and it doesn’t have to disaggregate its emissions.
So right now, countries need to abide by the UN Framework Convention guidelines on reporting for greenhouse gases in all different types of sectors, so for transportation, for energy, for buildings, etc. But the military is not a separate category, and the military has these exemptions.
It is required to report its energy use in fuel use domestically, but not internationally. And the United States military is operating all over the world, and all of those greenhouse gas emissions that it’s emitting around the world in its wars overseas, in its thousand bases overseas, those emissions are exempt from its reporting.
A.Woronczuk : And I imagine, then, that if all these are exempt from the national tally, that this must have a significant effect on the figures that are used to make things like emission targets.
Tamara Lorincz : Absolutely. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the three working group assessment reports that have just been released over the last ten months, none of those three documents refer to military emissions. And the calculations and the analysis that the IPCC is using, it exempts these emissions. So it’s not a full analysis of the emissions and the projections of the IPCC going forward, the kind of reductions that we need for greenhouse gases. They are not including the military emissions.
So the forward projections for the IPCC are not adequate, because they’re not including a big bulk of the emissions that are coming right now from the military. It’s not just the U.S. military. It’s–all countries’ militaries have these exemptions. And so the kind of reductions that we need to see for the future are even deeper than what the IPCC is saying. We need to–the military needs to be a sector that the IPCC is considering and is considering as it’s part of its decarbonization pathways. And right now it’s not. And it must be, because we will not be on track to stabilize the climate, to limit the increase in global mean temperatures by two degrees if we don’t include the military. The military emissions, if they continue to be exempt, will keep us off track, and we will not be able to stabilize the climate.
A.Woronczuk: Yeah, and this is an important point to make, because from the climate scientists that we’ve interviewed on The Real News, (TRNN), they’ve all–have basically said that the IPCC reports are conservative in nature; but the point being, do you think that this issue of military emissions being left off of the national tallies, do you think it will be brought up at COP 21 summit in Paris
Tamara Lorincz: For the last ten years there’s evidence that nongovernmental organizations, that civil society organizations, have tried to push the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat. They have tried to push the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists to [include] military emissions in the work that they’re doing in the analysis in these 'Conference of the party' negotiations. There has been effort by civil society to get the international community to confront military emissions, but they have not been successful. And we do not expect that at the COP 20 meeting in Peru (2014) or at the COP 21 meeting in Paris, (2015) we do not expect that the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change will put on their official agenda the issue of military emissions. It's going to be up to global civil society to mobilize, to unify together, and to force the Secretariat and to force the IPCC to confront this issue. And State governments must confront this issue. We can no longer allow military emissions to be exempted anymore, because we will never be able to get the stabilization of the climate if we continue with these exemptions.
A Woronczuk: In an imaginary world, let’s say you could advise Chuck Hagel on this matter of the military’s carbon emissions. What policy recommendations would you make to him?
Tamara Lorincz: It was Chuck Hagel as Senator in the mid 1990s that led the Senate campaign to prevent Congress from ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. He was working at the time with the defense community, with the foreign affairs community, to kill the Kyoto Protocol for the U.S., in the U.S. has never ratified it. And, actually, even 16 years ago, Hagel in many speeches and in many documents, denied the veracity of the science of climate change. So he has prevented progress from being made on the climate crisis and he has been the one that has undermined efforts to have collaborate internationally on dealing with the climate crisis. (…)
In terms of policy recommendations now, the U.S. government, the international community, has to face the fact that if we are going to be serious about climate change mitigation and adaptation, we must at the same time be serious about peace and disarmament.
We must demilitarize foreign policy, because we will not be able to stay within the carbon budget that has been identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We simply are not going to be able to maintain a military, this huge military of the United States and all of these wars, and still protect the climate. It’s just not going to be possible. So, the U.S. government and the Secretary of Defense, if they really are concerned about the climate crisis or if they’re concerned about future generations, they’re going to have to get serious about demilitarization.
Senior researcher with the International Peace Bureau, a Rotary International world peace fellow from 2013 to 2014. She serves on the board of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. Extracts from interview with The Real News Network (TRNN) producer Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.
(*) The vast majority, around 75% of DoD’s energy consumption occurs not at facilities but in operations – think hundreds of globetrotting aircraft, ships and vehicles. This very big slice of the military’s energy pie is not subject to DoD’s renewable goals.
The “Green Book on Defence” or Livre Vert de la Défense is a French policy paper on environmental security published in February 2014. The project was directed by Senator Leila Aïchi, Vice President of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Commission of the French Senate.
The paper represents a response to the near complete neglect of environmental security issues in the Livre Blanc de la Défense et la Sécurité Nationale, made public by former French President F. Hollande in April 2013. The “Livre Blanc de la Défense et la Sécurité Nationale” or ‘White Book on Defence and National Security’ is the French equivalent to the U.S. National Security Strategy, setting the general guidelines of national foreign and defence policy. Placing environmental security at the heart of military strategic planning.
The Livre Vert proposes first of all to place environmental security issues at the heart of military planning and defence, as environmental issues are still too often neglected in national security and military strategies. It points to the near complete lack of consideration for environmental security in the 2013 French Livre Blanc, where it occupies only half a page due to the fact that scientific uncertainties remain about the real impact of climate change. This neglect stands in contrast to the approach of other powers, such as the United States, the United Kingdom or Germany. For example, the 2010 U.S. Quadrennial Defence Review devotes an entire section to matters of environmental security.
The Livre Vert underlines that France is lagging behind on environmental security, and proposes several strategies that would allow France to become a model for “green defence”. France would need to create an institution for dialogue and consultation between the defence/military establishment and the environmental party. This could take the form of a ministry entirely devoted to environmental security that would be linked to the ministry of defence, a far-reaching proposal. It also recommends the commissioning of a parliamentary report on how to develop and apply the concept of “green defence” in the context of the French military.
The Livre Vert acknowledges that the concept of environmental security has been developing over the last decade, but argues that other analyses do not go far enough. For instance, even in countries such as the UK and the US where environmental threats are taken more seriously, they are still not an integral part of military reports and school curricula. The Livre Vert proposes both to create specialised “green defence” training in military academies, as well as to systematically integrate a section on environmental security in military strategic planning documents. At the European level, the Livre Vert underlines that the European Security Strategy still does not place environmental security on the same level as issues such as terrorism or cybersecurity, even if more consideration was given in the 2008 update. Thus, it proposes the elaboration of a “Livre Vert Européen de la Défense”, to be written in collaboration between member states, the Commission, the European Parliament and the External Action Service. This would help position environmental security at the heart of the EU’s “Common Security and Defence Policy”.
At the international level, progress has been made with the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a resolution in June 2009 explicitly recognising that climate change has security implications. Nevertheless, the Livre Vert argues that UN institutions still do not take environmental security seriously enough. Many countries continue to consider environmental issues to be economic and social matters, and reject the idea of associating them with international security. Hence, the Livre Vert recommends that France and other EU member states use their influence within the UN system to push for a new resolution by the General Assembly that identifies environmental degradation linked to climate change as one of the main threats to international security Greater use of preventive action to tackle the root causes of environmental degradation.
The Livre Vert focuses on preventive action and diplomacy to forestall environmental conflicts before they emerge. Like many current policy analyses, this policy paper is critical of international interventions post-Cold War, underlining that excessive military action has shown its limits. (cf. Seybolt T. B. (2008), Humanitarian Military Interventions: The Conditions for Success and Failure, Oxford University Press).
As a result, the Livre Vert argues for more diplomacy and preventive action to resolve the root causes of conflicts before they emerge, thus averting the need for intervention later on. This is especially true for environmental threats, whose origins are often linked to conflicts over the sharing of resources, which should be addressed through diplomacy and dialogue.
The Livre Vert outlines several proposals for reinforcing preventive action at the national level.
First, it recommends strengthening Parliamentary oversight over defence. It criticizes current procedures in countries such as France or the United States, where the executive does not need Parliamentary approval for launching a military operation abroad. The Livre Vert argues that this often leads to abuse and lack of transparency, as was the case with the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Stronger Parliamentary supervision over defence would help to contain the risk of unilateral military intervention, reinforcing preventive action and diplomacy. Second, the Livre Vert proposes to create a section entirely devoted to conflict prevention within the ministry for environmental security described above that would work in close cooperation with the Ministry of Defence.
At the European level, the Livre Vert recognises that the European External Action Service (EEAS) has been active in preventive diplomacy. However, it is critical of what it terms insufficient preventive action for environmental crises, arguing that the EU has tended to focus instead on diplomacy for high profile tension points such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Iran’s nuclear program. The Livre Vert proposes to create an office entirely dedicated to preventive action for environmental security issues within the EEAS, and relies on the fact that preventive action enjoys a strong legal base in the EU Treaties.32 Moreover, as with the national level, the Livre Vert argues that reinforcing the European Parliament’s powers of oversight over EU external relations can strengthen preventive action. For example, it proposes to transform the current Sub-Committee on Security and Defence into a full standing committee in the European Parliament.
At the international level, the Livre Vert welcomes the progress that has been made over the last two decades in reinforcing preventive action within the UN system, for example the creation in 2005 of a new UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). Nevertheless, it argues that such initiatives are also insufficient because they do not focus enough on issues of environmental security. Thus, the Livre Vert recommends that France, together with other EU member states, submit a resolution to the UN General Assembly for creating new categories under international law such as a “State facing acute environmental challenges” or the notion of “environmental refuge” to reinforce the legal base for global preventive action. Second, it suggests the creation of a specialized U.N. Agency on matters of environmental security (particularly for climate refugees) that would rely on preventive action to address the root causes of environmental problems.
However, it should be noted that the Livre Vert does not rule out the use of force as a last resort if all other options have failed. Preventive action cannot always succeed, and environmental degradation and resource scarcity are likely to enhance tensions that may result in civil or inter-state conflict. The main difference between the Livre Vert and other policy papers is that the strategic focus of “green defence” is on preventive action, whereas it represents just one policy option amongst others in the 2013 French Livre Blanc or the 2010 U.S. National Security Strategy, for example.
5 Key Recommendations to the French government:
Create a Ministry entirely devoted to environmental security.
Create specialised “green defence” training in military academies, and systematically integrate a section on environmental security in military strategic planning.
Reinforce Parliamentary control over foreign military interventions and over matters relating to defence in general.
Create permanent units within national militaries entirely dedicated to and specifically trained for civilian rescue missions in areas hit by natural disasters, both at home and abroad.
Broaden the concept of national security and embrace a transnational, possibly even a supranational, strategic framework, given that climate change is a quintessentially global threat
5 Key Recommendations to the European Union:
Prepare a European “Green Book on Defence” in cooperation between national member states and EU institutions.
Create an office entirely dedicated to preventive action for environmental security issues within the EEAS and transform the current Sub-Committee on Security and Defence (SCSD) into a full standing committee in the European Parliament.
Create a rapid reaction corps fully integrated into the CSDP and specialized in civilian rescue missions following natural disasters, both on the European territory and abroad, fully coordinated and managed by the EEAS.
Over the short run, reinforce bilateral and multilateral cooperation between EU member states on matters of defence, including common training centres for soldiers, a common maritime surveillance policy, closer coordination of air defence and space policies, greater cooperation on cybersecurity, and more integration of European industries and markets for security and military equipment. Such initiatives can later be fully integrated into the CSDP.
Over the long run, environmental threats linked to climate change render it urgent to engage in a “federal leap forward”. This would involve transforming the European External Action Service into a federal European ministry of foreign affairs and defence, placed above national ministries and with the power to set the agenda for the EU as a whole, and creating a federal European army under the authority of the EEAS, capable of being deployed in operations around the world.
A.B. - (extracts of Executive Summary compiled by Arnault Barichella, Research Intern for Senator Leila Aïchi, who also contributed to the drafting of the Livre Vert)