If you want evidence that humanity is failing you need look no further than a report issued yesterday by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) which found that in 2023 there was more warfare than at any time since the Second World War.

Liberalism, the propaganda wing of global capitalism, regularly reminds us that the institutions they have developed, including the arms industry, keep us safe. They celebrate on D-Day and Remembrance Sunday the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for our values. Values, it appears, that include unending warfare.

Three conflicts were at the forefront of the global march to death. Gaza which is hardly a conflict at all given it is so one-sided. Ukraine, a conflict in which a heavily armed nuclear power was goaded into a war with the ill-equipped NATO puppets Ukraine. And, the ongoing civil war in Ethiopia, another of the forgotten wars as far as most people in the west are concerned.

In the midst of yet another election campaign there is no discussion on how to end the misery and suffering that is warfare. But, rather, prospective Prime Ministers compete for how willing they are to bring nuclear Armageddon just that bit closer.

At the same time they are ignoring the climate emergency which is hastened by the environmental destruction wreaked by warfare and, in its turn, is providing the impetus for more wars by increasing the pressure on resources like arable land and water.

We might ask how it has come to this. Didn’t we have the war to end all wars over a hundred years ago? Didn’t we all agree ‘never again’ in 1945? Yet here we are as battlefield deaths increase year on year.  Professor Rustad, the author of the report says “it is a continuous worry that we see new extremely violent conflicts emerging more often than previously.”

Those of us advocating for peace seem to be in a minority even when polls tell us we are the majority. It is easy to think the human race is addicted to self-destruction as nobody ever asks where the money to fund warfare is coming from? Yet, if we want better schools, hospitals or decent benefits and pensions we are told these things cannot be afforded. 

The Stockholm Peace Research Institute estimated in 2021 that the global arms trade was worth $127 billion. That is three times what the United Nations estimates it would cost to end world hunger. Since 2019 the number of people in hunger has increased by 42 million. But the arms trade is only part of the story. Most arms production is not for sale. Total military spending has increased to $2,443 billion in 2023. Whilst, the top 100 arms companies saw increased profits in 2022 to $134 billion, a rise of 3%. Why is this not treated as an international scandal? Why are we not diverting arms manufacturers toward socially useful products and prioritising human life over the manufacture of death?

Ending hunger is not a priority because stopping people from starving does not attract the returns that can be made from manufacturing weapons. But this is not just a financial decision it is a moral one. War degrades us all, it victimises the non-combatants, especially children, caught in its orbit. It brutalises those who are sent to fight.

That we have not moved away from a world dominated by war is not only a sign that humanity is failing but that the system we have constructed is failing. Whilst so many people look around for ‘others’ to blame for their own degraded lives, and think it is acceptable to blow the limbs off children to pursue their ends, then we will not see an end to war.

Second rate politicians promote hatred and warfare for their own narrow ends. It is surely time we said “No!” No to war. No to destruction. No to the arms manufacturers. We can start with Gaza, but we must not forget the other 33 countries currently at war or the millions of innocent victims of this murderous trade.

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