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World can’t quit guns during a pandemic

A new report found that military spending around the world got a boost last year despite floundering economies due to COVID-19.

Reporting | Military Industrial Complex

Despite the fact that the global gross domestic product fell by nearly 5 percent because of the COVID-19 pandemic, military spending worldwide increased by almost 3 percent, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

SIPRI’s annual assessment released on Monday once again found the United States to be the world’s biggest spender, accounting for nearly 40 percent of overall expenditures. U.S. military spending in 2020 increased by 4.4 percent from 2019.

“The recent increases in U.S. military spending can be primarily attributed to heavy investment in research and development, and several long-term projects such as modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal and large-scale arms procurement,” said SIPRI’s Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher with its Arms and Military Expenditure Program. “This reflects growing concerns over perceived threats from strategic competitors such as China and Russia, as well as the Trump administration’s drive to bolster what it saw as a depleted U.S. military.”

Marksteiner’s statement is illustrative of the flimsy arguments used in Washington to justify increasing the U.S. defense budget. 

For one thing, the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal does not have to come anywhere close to the proposed $1.3 trillion over the next 30 years. Part of that plan involves spending nearly $300 billion on nuclear armed missiles, or ICBMs, that we don’t even need (and may even make nuclear war more likely). 

And these “perceived threats” that Marksteiner refers to are just that: perceived — perceived by those who have an interest in creating threats and then selling weapons to counter them with. 

Image: Gorodenkoff via
Reporting | Military Industrial Complex
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A woman holds a sign as the families and supporters of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas gather to raise awareness and demand their immediate release in Tel Aviv, Israel November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Shir Torem

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Middle East

The agreement reached today between Israel and Hamas — and brokered by Qatar and Egypt — is an important first step that will hopefully give all sides an opportunity to step back from the precipice of a larger regional conflagration, and to consider options for ending this war other than by the military destruction of one another.

The return of the hostages to Israel in exchange for the return of Palestinian prisoners is welcome news and hopefully will proceed through subsequent cycles until all the hostages have been returned. The exchange proves that solutions can only be found through diplomacy through the help of actors in the region who can talk to all sides, in this case, Qatar and Egypt.

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Photo credit: Marines disembark from a V-22 Osprey at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq in 2018 (Cpl. Jered T. Stone/ Marine Corps)

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The United States has conducted two retaliatory airstrikes against Iraqi militias this week after ballistic missile attacks against America’s Al Asad Air Base, the latest in a troubling tit-for-tat between the U.S. and Iran-backed militias in the region that was triggered by the Israel-Hamas conflict.

CENTCOM appears to believe that the status quo of attack and reprisal with Iraqi militias is sustainable. There’s an assumption that Washington, Iran, and Iraq’s militias understand each other’s red lines. However, this assumption comes with a lot of risks.

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Credit: Mídia NINJA / Creative Commons9m

Argentinian President-Elect Javier Milei

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The shock election of a self-proclaimed “libertarian liberal," the chainsaw-wielding eccentric Javier Milei as Argentina’s president has attracted a flurry of attention globally.

Most of it was focused on the radicalism of Milei’s economic proposals to cure Argentina’s chronic ills — chief among them an annual inflation at the rate of 143% and the poverty that has engulfed over 40% of Argentines, and all that with an outstanding debt of $43 billion owed to the International Monetary Fund.

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