A loaded gun could fire

Andrejs Mamikins, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

In recent times we can see the epidemic of rising military spending spreading across the Western countries. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world military spending reaches 1 trillion and 650 billion dollars. More than half of this money is in NATO countries military budgets – 918 billion.

Yet for some politicians it is not enough. US President Donald Trump announced the increase in military spending by 54 billion dollars. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said recently that Germany will raise defense spending to 2 percent of GDP. A number of other European countries are also going to do the same.

The reason for an increase in military spending is called Russia. However, nobody said that Russian military budget in 2017 was reduced by 27 percent to 45 billion dollars. It is the same size as current German or France defense budgets and less than Great Britain’s. It is less than 5 percent of NATO countries total military spending.

Do politicians in these countries really believe that spending 20 times more than potential adversary is not enough for defense? The logical question arises: why NATO military forces are so weak that they need additional support and rising of budgets.

From my point of view, there are could be three possible explanations.

First, NATO countries military forces are very ineffective, comparing with Russians. It may be connected with weak administrative capacities, lack of cooperation and even, probably, high level of corruption.

Second, NATO states do not trust their allies. They do not believe that in case of potential conflict with Russia other NATO states will immediately provide military support to them. Thus, rising of spending and enlargement of their own forces is the policy of relying only on their own forces.

Third, this is a neat trick with which some lobbyists want to redistribute budget money from social and development objectives to the military ones. How can they persuade taxpayers to give their consent? To frighten them claiming that Russian leaders are mad, Russian troops are ready to assault in any time and their military forces are as strong as NATO military alliance forces or even stronger.

I think that the third variant is basic, although the elements of the two first also are relevant.

There is a big gap between reality and virtuality in the public politics nowadays. It could be very dangerous.

The famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov wrote: “If in the first act you have hung a loaded gun on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”

The arms race at present may lead to war in the future, even if the owners do not want it. Because they inevitably will become slaves of their myths and brave rhetoric.

Our predecessors in Europe a century ago understood it too late.

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