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War - What is it good for?
Causes of war
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Injury or death
War breaks up families
Painful memories
Child soldiers
A shattered land
Weapons vs welfare
Stages of conflict
Case study: Rwanda - Part 1










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Weapons vs welfare
What if the costs of war were turned into benefits?
What would be the long term benefits if money spent on war and preparation for war was spent on human development needs instead?

In 1995, world-wide military spending was approximately US$800 billion. If this money had been used to save lives instead of destroy them, the world could have basic health care, literacy training, adequate food and shelter for all, as well as significant improvements in major environmental problems.

Global military spending has declined sharply, beginning in 1987. This is an encouraging trend. However developed countries today still spend more money on the military, than they do on foreign aid. They gain economically as the principle suppliers of arms. The money spent by developing countries on weapons is money that can not be spent on the welfare needs of the people.



Arms recipients in the developing world by region (%)

Country
1987-90
1991-94
1995-98
Middle East
53.12
63.74
48.21
Asia
29.38
27.99
42.39
Latin America
8.16
5.06
5.94
Africa
9.34
3.2
1 3.46

Source: Project Ploughshares, Armed Conflict Report, 2003.

Here’s a quote from Dwight Eisenhower, who was President of the United States of America from 1953-1961, when memories of the Second World War were still fresh:


‘Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone – it is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the houses of its children.’

     Number crunching

Here is a table of major human concerns in the world today and the approximate annual cost of effectively dealing with those needs. To complete the third column in the table, calculate the percentage of military spending required to make significant progress on each humanitarian needs based on the total of US$800 billion world-wide military spending.

Humanitarian Need
Approx. Cost per year US$ 1995
Cost as a % of 1995 Military Spending
Eliminate Illiteracy
$6 billion


Provide Health Care
$17 billion


Provide Shelter
$24 billion


Pay off Developing Nations’ National Debts
$35 billion


Eliminate Starvation and Malnourishment
$22 billion


Provide Safe, Clean Water
$58 billion


Other Environmental Concerns
$60 billion


Provide Clean, Safe Energy
$58 billion



Using the information in your table, graphically compare the costs of war with the costs of peace. Choose a style of graph which best portrays your message.