Since 2008 the world has been hit hard by the economic and financial crisis. Government expenditures are being severely cut on a global scale with harsh social consequences. Notwithstanding the smaller official budgets the military spending is hardly concerned by the cuts.
The world spent 1,74 trillion dollar on military and defense in 2011. This sum is unacceptably high and stands in sharp contrast to the worldwide spending on development aid, which is not even a tenth of this amount.
Although we live in times of crisis, the Belgian government still finds 242 million euro in the budget year 2012 to invest in military equipment. For the year to come the Minister of Defense, Pieter De Crem, assigns 212 million euro to his investment plan.
The Palestinian National Committee on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions launched in the summer of 2010 a call for an international campaign which should lead to a military embargo against Israel.
(extract of an) interview with professor Ruddy Doom (Third World Studies, Ghent University) by Ludo De Brabander (Vrede) en Danny Claes (Intal) for the Flemish bimonthly “Vrede”.
The fiascos of intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq discredited the notion of humanitarian militarism. The recent war in Libya has, however, put wind back into the sails of those who advocate military intervention in pursuit of liberal or humanitarian objectives. Calls for military action in Syria are getting louder, and Iran is also increasingly being viewed through the crosshairs.
May 20 and 21 the NATO-circus calls at Chicago for the biggest summit in NATO's history, according to its secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Stakes are high, Rasmussen said, for very important decisions are to be made about NATO's future. Three headlines pop up: Afghanistan, capacities and resources, and reinforcing the network with international partners.
The Belgian chief of staff, M. Delcour, resigned on March 29 not just because of some row over appointments or linguistic disputes. The discussion with his minister of defense, Pieter De Crem, dealt with the new role of the Belgian army within NATO. The New Strategic Concept of Lisbon 2010 foresees a profound transformation of the military in all of the allied countries.
Belgian former prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt is today the leader of ALDE group, the liberal faction in European Parliament. Mid February 2012 he launched a plea for humanitarian intervention in Syria. He favors material and financial support for the opposition, eventually including weapons.
Was NATO's war in Libya really a humanitarian intervention? Can a military operation be humanitarian at all? In 2005 the UN agreed upon the principle that states have a responsibility to protect (R2P) civilians in case of severe human rights violations. Sovereignty of states is thus not unlimited. A principle that seems to look nice at first sight.
February 20, 2012, a delegation of the Belgian peace movement (French speaking umbrella organisation CNAPD and the Flemish movements Vredesactie and Vrede vzw) had a meeting at the cabinet of the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, to talk about the Belgian position on nuclear weapons.
I travelled as a tourist to Syria, had no trouble to stroll around in Damascus and went on my own to Hama. After a short stay (third week of January 2012) I came home with a nuanced story over a complex situation.
It took 541 days to put the new Belgian government together as a coalition with six parties. As peace movement we looked forward to see what the chapters in the government declaration on foreign affairs and defense would bring us.
Jean Verstappen (Rencontres pour la paix)
The theatrical pose of the US and Israel on the Palestinian initiatives to apply for membership of the United Nations Organization first and then of UNESCO - the UN agency for education, science and culture - is unprecedented and grew to absurd proportions.
With the ice-cap melting, a competition between the northern countries has started over the Arctic zone. At stake is its potential mineral wealth that is nearing its point of exploitation thanks to the warming up of the earth. Diplomatic rivalry is underpinned by military developments.
NATO plans for a phased deployment of a European anti-missile defense system are moving forward, with Turkey and Romania having signed deals to host crucial elements of the system.
The US and Turkey signed a memorandum on Wednesday on the deployment of an American radar station in the east of the country as part of the NATO-backed missile defense system (AMD).
Libya too got confronted with the popular strive for more political rights and freedoms. Although the Libyan people's standard of living is among the top in Africa, and although life expectancy is somewhat equal to Belgium, the Qadhafi regime in these four decades showed to be very authoritarian, sometimes with some clownish aspects.