The Armed Temptations of the Western World

Who is fighting whom and what are the underlying causes and costs?
Representational picture
Representational pictureFile/ GK


The armed escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict worsened the situation as the world struggled to recover from the COVID-19 shock, which set off an unprecedented-scale global economic crisis. Ongoing bellicosity and sanguinary conflicts like war in Afghanistan, Yemen, Mali, Ethiopia and Sudan, conflicts between India-Pakistan, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea crisis, tensions in the South China Sea, confrontation with Iran and conflict in Syria are the continuously resonating events in the news and often portrayed as portentous concerns. But who created them?

Who is fighting whom and what are the underlying causes and costs? Is this the only dimension humans should be worried of or even more desperate situations related to the destruction of environment and climate should now be bothering us enough to change our stance and what if wars continue to ruin our precious wealth and energy and ultimately posing threats to our existence and our mother planet earth ‘the lonely habitat of human survival’.

Conflicts: an overview

Well, an economic outlook of the devastation caused by conflicts and violence is more than $14.4 trillion a year in 2019 that is nearly equivalent to $5 (411 rupees) a day for every person on planet, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) report. So as the value indicates, arms manufacturing and sale is one of the booming industries in the modern conflict driven era and false narratives propagated through media legitimises the arms race. The big corporates exploit the sense of insecurity out of current geopolitical disputes and utilises friction points between the nations as potential market strategy to push for wealthy arms sale, the victims mostly are the third world developing countries. The high-profile government-corporate nexus masks the wealth plundered in the name of political support from smaller nations and big brother approach justifying stand against so called ‘aggressors’ or ‘common enemy’. Twelve billion bullets are produced every year and the amount is almost sufficient to kill everyone on earth twice. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the United States alone remains the world’s largest arms exporter responsible for 38.6 percent of international arms sale between 2017 to 2021. The invasion of Afghanistan by the US and a long haul of twenty years with its allied partner NATO to achieve peace in the region remain suspicious as revealed by some analysts to be a high-profile nexus of selling arms to allied forces; moreover it provided an estimated worth of $83 billion to Afghan forces which fell into the hands of Taliban. The US superiority in the field of research and development (R&D) and active influence on top world forums make it the superpower and a genuine player to sell arms, if for mass destruction as well. Rest is controlled by media and creating the narrative as it wants. In the same period between 2017-2021, it supplied arms to more than 100 countries. Other emerging players in the arena of arms export and sale are China, France, Germany while others follow the footsteps of these arms producing nations.

Show of legitimacy

Ever since the rise of the western civilisation as colonial power it maintained its global dominance with industrial, scientific and technological hegemony. Modern confrontations and conflicts are also more or less the extension of same old tactics and war theory orchestrated by the western policy makers. After the scourge of two consecutive world wars, the fever of west’s ‘Superior Race’ was not over and the inception of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) in 1949 paved by way for new military alliance formation and legitimised the alliance as counter initiative to defend the ‘civilised’ white nations from other uncivilised people. Now the astonishing fact of the 21st century is to find the real impetus that led to the formation of NATO. Companies based in NATO member states continue to dominate global arms sale and according to new data released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) companies like Lockheed Martin headquartered in the US and Western Europe based companies have dominated SIPRI’s list of top 100 arms-producing and military services companies since 2002. As per the same report, only for 2015: the sales reached $305.4 billion and the companies based in the USA and Western Europe accounted for 82.4 per cent of the top 200 arms sale.

US claim of being the guardian of world peace, arms exports remain a key element of their foreign policy and it prioritises the sales through legal regime to fulfil the national interests. Despite global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) imposing stringent rules to regulate international arms transfer, the largest arms exporters like the US and Russia have not ratified it. Arms trading is flourishing and continues to pose largescale violation of human rights abuses. For example, U.S arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have constantly flouted human rights and international peace but the gross human rights violations are shadowed by media’s propagated false narrative of religious terrorism. As United States invaded or fought 84 of the 193 countries recognized by the United Nations and has been militarily involved with 191 of 193 countries but it legitimises easily whatever it wants and the recent controversial visit to the Taiwan by U.S House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest U.S official to travel the island to further aggravate China and subsequent approval of $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan is the same piece of a larger puzzle.

Evitable vs inevitable

A man can only ignite a conflict but cannot control or predict the outcome. As whole world is baffled to release the interconnected cascade of repercussions first by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, taking heavy toll on human lives, global economic slowdown and now the dreadful ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict created more worrisome energy crisis and significantly disrupted the global supply chain.

As modern world cannot sustain its technological growth without having sufficient supply of energy, the global oil and gas cartels hugely benefitted from Russia-Ukraine conflict and earned record profits. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres slammed the “grotesque greed” of gas and oil companies and urged governments globally to “tax these excessive profits” to support the most vulnerable people. The two largest United States oil companies- Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp -plus British-based Shell and France’s Total Energies combined earned nearly $51bn in the most recent quarter. The whole scenario of Sanctions imposed on Russia by the US in support of Ukraine’s defence and supply of arms and ammunition with the help of European nations to keep pot boiling and in response, the Russia’s counter claim of the growing military threat by the NATO expansion eastwards and historical territorial claims on Ukrainian land to grappled the whole world side-lining the chances of mitigation through diplomatic talks and negotiations thus making armed confrontation reluctantly inevitable.

Unfortunately, the consequences make humans to pay a double whammy by first indirectly paying taxes for arms purchase and then through the destruction of human lives and property. Ultimately, the ugliest form of conflict results in the refugee crisis and according to UNHCR report: the Ukraine war and other conflicts caused the number of people compelled to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution over the staggering milestone of 100 million for the first time on record. Amidst all the tug of war, the third world countries are suffering as the mute spectators trying to withstand the global economic inflation and shrinking markets and supply chain. On the other hand, the inevitable part of human existence is to face the natural calamities but with growing influence of technology how serious we are in our current efforts globally to shun “war anxiety” and to boost our international cooperation on climate change.

“The number of weather, climate and water extremes are increasing and will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change,” says WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas. According to the World Meteorological Organisation’s Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate, and Water Extremes (1970-2019), there were over 11000 documented disasters related to these hazards worldwide, resulting in slightly over 2 million deaths and US$ 3.46 trillion in losses.

A pathway to follow

May be the direct spill over of armed conflicts will not be witnessed on every region of the globe but the humanity’s common enemy that is global warning and rise in world temperature by the rapid emission of greenhouses gases wherein US remains the top most carbon emitter of the 20th century, dangerous loss of biodiversity by accelerated climate change, natural calamities, deforestation, unbearable levels of air, water, thermal and noise pollution, drinking water scarcity (40% of global population facing water crisis), outbreak of viral diseases, rising sea level and looming catastrophe of global food crisis or even chances of alien or meteorite attack on the earth needs to be efficiently acknowledged by the various governments and concerned agencies of the world and to frame a methodology to tackled any undesired natural apocalypse with collective global efforts diverting lion’s share funds to mitigate the onslaught on environment and natural resources.

Few official estimates suggest that somewhere between US$ 103 billion and $895 billion a year is the amount of fund currently needed to “bend the curve” on global nature loss. As more and more concerned global citizens are standing for a change with campaigners and academics striving hard to convince governments and the private sector that the current loss of nature as dubbed by scientists the “sixth mass extinction”, poses a grave threat not just to species and ecosystems, but also to economies thus a dawn of global awakening on its way.

Aaqib Javid Dar, Student of MSc Bioinformatics, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir