Militarism is the most deadly sickness known to humanity. Some 25 million human beings have died as a result of warfare since 1945, and countless others have been maimed, tortured, starved, or otherwise stricken by this scourge. And despite all the talk of detente and interdependence during the past decade, militarism is more virulent than ever.
It is a scourge that threatens us all. The effects of militarism on the industrial societies are profound: high rates of military spending requiring cutbacks in social and educational programs; maintenance of a permanent military establishment with control over a disproportionate share of the nation's wealth and resources; cultivation of jingoism, suspicion, and xenophobia in order to justify a permanent state of war "preparedness." But the ravages of this scourge are even more brutal in Third World societies, which have fewer defenses against its effects.
Consider: Military spending by Third World countries in 1980 reached an estimated $100 billion--far more than the combined gross national product of the world's 50 poorest nations. Such spending, moreover, is expected to surge much higher in the years ahead as ambitious Third World governments proceed with multibillion-dollar plans to acquire complete arsenals of modern arms. Iran alone spent some $30 billion on imported arms during the reign of the shah, and comparable amounts are being allocated by several other Middle Eastern governments. Arms spending of this sort now exceeds by a large margin all the funds provided by the advanced nations for Third World economic development and consumes scarce resources needed for internal economic development. At the same time, it helps sustain the trend toward military government that is sweeping through the Third World with such devastating consequences.