There was an article in the newspaper over here recently ( here's an English article with all the details
) concerning a pledge made by Vladimir Putin to expand Russia's defense budget by $770 billion over the next ten years. The article calls it "the Kremlin's biggest military spending spree since the Cold War". It's also about a hundred times what my country currently spends on defense. It's comparing apples and oranges, for sure, but it puts things into perspective, for me at least. But it's not Russia or Russia's spending I'm really curious about. It's just a nice lead-in.
I have two propositions for you to consider. The first one is relatively straight-forward, while the second one will require some more explanation.1.
If we're serious about the long-term survival of our species, spending ever more money on what we euphemistically refer to as defense is not the way to go. Or, put differently, standing armies and weapons of mass destruction must go.
I recognize that this view may be seen as naive and utopian. If that is the case - which I don't believe it is - then utopia is necessary, unless we want to leave our survival to chance, and simply hope that someone, at some point, doesn't decide to blow us all up. Furthermore, I realize that an armed force of a limited scope may be necessary, as, of course, there are those who don't play by the rules, and would exploit a world without weapons for its own benefit. But that, at least I hope, is quite different from having a standing army numbering in the hundreds of thousands or an arsenal of weapons that could annihilate the world many times over. Now, I'm not suggesting we should do this over-night. It's a goal to work toward.
The one major flaw I see with this - and it's not really a flaw, so much as a setback, or a means to an end - is that achieving this may require military intervention in places where people are concerned with surviving from day to day, and not in the long term.2.
In as few words and put as simply as possible, countries with militaries that serve no actual purpose, should absolish them entirely. This would include countries with no conceivable threats to its safety ( ones that might be countered by a military presence, anyway ), or with armies so small that even in the case of an actual war they wouldn't do much good.
There are a few problems with this proposition. One is that many countries today are parts of international organizations where their armed forces are just a part of a greater whole. Or it may be seen as being very isolationist, putting that country's own interests before the interests of the world. After all, a country that can abolish its armed forces without any negative consequence, is in a privileged position. It's also possible that, as smaller states give up their armed forces, others that might actually need their armies ( say, South Korea and its ally, the US, being perhaps the most obvious example ) would become even more of a "world police", and get a lot of power with potential for abuse.
There may very well be more, but these are the most obvious to me.
As I see it, there are quite compelling reasons not to rid ourselves of our militaries just yet. But, on the other hand, the most compelling reason of them all - our survival - weighs heavily against. There's a conflict here, and I can't seem to solve it. That is the reason I'm posting this. Perhaps I'm missing something important, or perhaps there's some alternative I can't quite see. The best I can come up with is that what we need is some sort of fundamental restructuring of the world's armed forces, but I don't know how.