The following letter appeared in the Glasgow Herald ( 16/9/10 ) and for those who missed it we regard it as meriting a wider circulation.
“The UK ranks fourth in the list of countries with the highest defence expenditure ( 3.8% of world total expenditure), outranked by France (4.2%), China (6.6%)and the United States with 43% of world expenditure on defence. We spend about 2.5% of our GDP on defence.
In contrast most of our neighbour s spend much less – Germany 1.3%, Italy 1.7%, Spain 1.2% Netherlands 1.4%, Norway 1.3%, Sweden 1.3%, Belgium1.2%, Denmark1.4%, Portugal2.0%, Ireland 0.6%
. The UK, however, is right up there with the paranoid nations, where Eisenhower's forecast of the domination of the military/industrial complex has become a nightmare reality. We had not yet reached the dizzy heights of the US or Israel (7.0%), but were on our way until the financial crisis forced us to realise that we could not persist in faded dreams of empire and the UK as a world power any more.
Any society committed to a state of perpetual war as the operating principle of the state is fated to ultimately impoverish the ordinary people while enriching the minority. A commitment to the production of weapons of war and mass destruction as a job creation scheme and economic driver of the economy of a state can only be sustained by the creation of external threats to frighten the population into supporting such a strategy, allied to the pretty blatant threat/bribe offered to those employed by the armaments industry.
It also ignores the fact that this is not true productive economic activity – it has to be financed by a levy on the people, and at the sacrifice of the standard of living and them benefits of the many, while enriching a few.
Scotland, freed of the commitment of the defence needs of the UK delusional foreign policy would also be free to redirect effort and money into more life-enhancing and economically beneficial activities. The militarist state, with war as it's central policy, leads inevitably to fascism, even though it may last for many years under the cloak of democracy.
But politics is self-interest writ large, and the pressing task for real democrats is to show the electorate how they are being manipulated by powerful interest groups. We live in interesting times and, as we move into autumn and winter, they are set to become more interesting still. The trades unions with members in the defence industries are, unfortunately, caught up in a terrible paradox in pursuing their members interests.” Peter Curran.
As a postscript let me add, exactly one week before the above letter appeared, a motion was set before the Westminster Parliament calling for support for the deployment of UK troops in Afghanistan. Of the 310 M.P.'s ( less than half) who turned up, only 16 voted against of whom 2 were the Scottish Labour M.P.s -Katy Clark and Mark Lazarowicz.
Ron Mackay SSP Campsie Branch