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Editorial

Cut the military! That's the message of this issue - and not for the first time. As cuts on social spending continue to be dramatically enforced in many countries, there is one area that has been more protected than the rest. It's no surprise that this is the area of military spending.

In 2011 world military spending reached an all-time record of $1,738 billion. It is true that in the last year military spending has not grown much or at all in some cases, but it has not suffered the severe cuts as many other crucial areas, especially related to social benefits.

One of the common arguments in favour of military spending is the number jobs it creates. Even if we leave aside other issues about sustainable economics in the 21st century, it has been true since at least the Second World War that military investment is not very efficient at creating employment. A 2011 report studying the employment effects in the US of devoting USD$1 billion to the military versus the same amount of money spent on clean energy, health care, or education, concluded that: a) $1 billion spent on each of the domestic spending priorities would create substantially more jobs within the US economy than would the same $1 billion spent on the military; b) investments in clean energy, health care and education create a larger number of jobs in both lower and higher pay ranges.

As this absurdity becomes increasingly clear, more and more groups are confronting war profiteering - our Campaign of the Month is on a campaign in Spain called Cut the Military. At the same time, the main story in this issue, is about the upcoming Global Day of Action on Military Spending, on 15 April.

This is the third annual Global Day and there are signs that again more groups will be taking action and in more countries. The main message is 'disarm for development', highlighting the contradictions between military spending and the limited resources for development, with a special focus on the role of governments. This message is not to endorse existing government programmes of economic aid, and indeed in previous issues of War Profiteers News we have criticised various projects with military implications that are funded in part by 'development aid'.

At the same time, our message on military spending cannot ignore the impact of 'austerity' measures in our own societies. The streets of most European capital cities have seen big demonstrations against cuts on social spending. Behind the scenes, however, the arms lobby - the military-industrial complex - operates stealthily and effectively, spreading corruption in the service of their death-dealing industry.

To cut through the smokescreen of deceit and pretence, we need to speak plainly. From Spain, we see AA-MOC demonstrating that the price of deploying each Spanish soldier to Afghanstian is equal to employing 11 secondary school teachers.

The latest military intervention - that led by France in Mali - has been created by misguided policies and will further the spread of military conflict. Behind it, however, there is more than humanitarian concern: France is defending geostrategic interests. France for years has asserted its power over this region, rich in, minerals, phosphate, gas and oil. As Pere Ortega puts it: "[France] biggest interest is not in northern Mali itself but in neighbouring countries, where several phosphate mines are located. Of these, the most important is in Niger, 180 km from the border of Mali where you find major uranium deposits. Niger is the third largest producer and exporter of uranium. This mineral is extracted by two companies controlled by French nuclear energy giant Areva, which extracts 40% of uranium which supplies the 59 nuclear reactors in France".

In this newsletter we include a press statement of the European Network Against Arms Trade, calling on the EU not to amend their embargo on the supply of arms to Syria. The Syrian uprising began as a strongly nonviolent movement, and as government forces acted with increasingly brutaility, tens of thousands of soldiers defected. The United Kingdom has proposed lifting the arms embargo in order to support a faction of the Syrian opposition. But what about the people still trying to struggle without arms? A few of weeks ago a conference of the nonviolent Syrian opposition took place in Geneva. Before the conference 66 members of the Syrian opposition - 57 from inside Syria - had visa applications rejected by the Swiss government, with no other goal but to sabotage the conference. At WRI we well know that military is never a solution, and as more and more voices coming from Syria itself confirm that there is no military solution we say: No arms to Syria! Yes to Nonviolent Resistance!

Javier Gárate