By Steve Plenert, MCC Manitoba Peace Programs Coordinator
Fighter jets are in the news again.
Department of Defense experts, budget experts, military experts, and politicians are weighing in on what the real costs of the fighter jets are.
But are they actually discussing the real costs – the costs that can’t
necessarily be counted in dollars? Ten billion dollars in discrepancy alone is a phenomenal sum. But I think that there are a host of other costs that are being missed out in the conversation:
- What is the cost of being a people who say that the single biggest military expenditure in our government’s history is for sophisticated machines whose purpose is to kill?
- What is the cost of allocating so much money to war fighting rather than dedicating a similar level of funding to peace building?
- What is the cost of not noticing that almost all conflicts are concluded with negotiated settlements rather than through military surrender?
- What is the cost of not acknowledging that the number of armed conflicts in the world has been steadily on the decline for the past twelve years?
- What is the cost of handing over a huge proportion of our international relations budget to the military industry rather than putting it into the hands of those who can imagine and have experience in non-lethal ways of bringing about change in the world?
The costs of not noticing, of not challenging “business as usual” will be measured in lives of hundreds and thousands of soldiers that are spent in conflicts such as the one in Afghanistan and the dubiously motivated war in Iraq.
The cost will be measured in the lost lives of thousands of innocent civilians of countries who are invaded in unnecessary wars.
The cost will be measured in unrealized educational, cultural, social and economic potential because so many billions are being spent to satisfy the insatiable thirst of the war machine.
The cost will be measured in ongoing distrust between nations. How can we consider another country as a friend if we are spending a disproportionate amount of our wealth on weapons that are pointed at our global neighbours?
It is clear that Canada’s current flock of warplanes is not going to last forever. It is clear that the F-35 is the replacement plane of choice.
What’s not clear is why such military resources continue to be necessary. The presence of similar weaponry did not prevent the 9-11 attacks. A “response” to the terrorists of 9-11 could have been managed without fighting the kind of war that they did. Libya could have been transformed without the need for warplane support. Are we to believe that our “security” is dependent on the ongoing expenditure of fabulous sums on equipment like the F-35?
Not only have Canadians been left without adequate accounting for the financial costs, we have been left without any adequate explanation for the rest of the costs that will be incurred by not looking at alternative options to using military force to resolve conflicts in our world.
It is time for some accountability for all of the costs and a re-articulation of a vision for a strong, peace-building Canada in the world.