In the debate over Canada’s plans to purchase new fighter-bomber jets, the crucial point is usually missed: militarism is a deadly threat to the future of our planet. An estimated one trillion dollars is spent every year by governments to expand armed forces, rather than to educate children, provide clean drinking water to a billion people, or improve social programs. Just as shocking, armed forces are one of the biggest generators of carbon emissions which cause global warming, environmental change, famines – and armed conflicts over access to resources. In short, militarism does not solve international crises, it fuels them.
Meanwhile, Canada’s military budget increased from $14.5 billion in 2006 to $20.1 billion in 2014-15. Annual increases for military spending will grow from 2% to 3% starting in 2017, adding almost $12 billion over the next decade. Justin Trudeau campaigned on a popular promise to withdraw Ottawa’s commitment to spend $30 billion to purchase 63 F-35 Joint Strike fighter-bomber jets. But now, Trudeau is on the verge of buying smaller numbers of Boeing’s Super Hornet fighter. Why? Supposedly because (in the words of Defense Minister Sajjan) “in the 2020s, we can foresee a growing capability gap… it’s one thing that we plan to fix.”
The bizarre debate over which costly death machine “suits our defense needs” is a complete distraction. Canada faces no foreseeable military threat, except in the propaganda of those who seek to revive the Cold War. Contributing fighter-bombers to various U.S.-led wars in Asia and Africa does nothing to improve Canada’s security; the opposite is true. The most significant factor in the rise of fundamentalist anti-Western movements has been the sordid record of occupations and interventions by the imperialist countries including Canada.
The planet cannot afford the militarist gravy train. It’s time to get off, and slash “defense spending”.