The economic cost of war
suggested humorously the other day that if we spent $900bn [a year] on
development, we probably wouldn't need to spend more than $50bn on
James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank in 2004, commenting on the fact that in reality these figures are reversed*
One-fifth of global military spending could halve extreme poverty throughout the world, ensure that all children complete primary education, reduce maternal and infant mortality by at least two-thirds, halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, and deliver clean drinking water and sanitation to 500 million people.*
A further one-fifth of global military spending would help speed the world’s transition to a sustainable energy base, avoiding the worst effects of global warming. The same amount again would go a long way towards solving the world’s major environmental problems.
In other words, an investment of $600 billion a year over the next 10 years could dramatically improve the lives of billions of people and lay the foundations for a sustainable global future. That would still leave $400 billion a year for military expenditure. But if we invested that much in peace, we might find we had little to fight about.