The Economics of Killing: How the West Fuels War and Poverty in the Developing World, Vijay Mehta, Pluto Press, Pp 237, £ 45.00
HERE is a book that highlights not only the current global crisis and the interrelated socio-political consequences of militarisation, but also the role that the Western nations play in perpetrating conflicts and hardships in the developing world. As if this is not enough, the developed world displays the hypocrisy of preaching human rights and development while promoting militarism and chaos and while doing all this, the military expenditure and the aid agenda are closely interrelated.
In 2008, when Western capitalism collapsed, Ben Bernarke, the most powerful economist in the world, called for urgent action to prevent such a catastrophe from recurring, without linking the financial crisis to the real economy, the 14 trillion dollar debt of the US, the bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costing another trillion dollars or the trading relationships maintained through arms sales and repression or how the local democracies collude with dictators to share the spoils of mineral wealth and cash crops of the developing nations. Vijay Mehta adds, “These kleptocrats grant military access to the West, which turns a blind eye to internal repression.”
He argues that poor countries fail to develop because the leaders, due to rampant corruption, stack away billions of dollars in their own coffers. The real cause is that the Western countries do not wish poor nations to develop because they fear that it would tilt the terms of trade against Euro-American national interests. This becomes evident on looking at China’s growth which, despite being highly corrupt, achieved 10 per cent growth every year for over 30 years and this is did without succumbing to any pressure from the West. Here the author draws comparison of China with Saudi Arabia where the latter is in the good books of the West because it toes the line propounded by the West while China does not. Countries which transfer their raw materials to the West are welcomed with open arms. Moreover China is too big to be coerced while the small nations are dependent on military-industrial grants from the West.
Vijay suggests a new model of trade as an alternative in event of a financial, economic or military disaster. By breaking the cycle of arms sales and the co-option of local officials by Western multinationals and by promoting broader economic ways in countries that only produced commodities, the gap between the rich and the poor can be reduced. He explores the underlying need for disarmament to create a peace dividend for sustainable development, international peace and security. He shows why the West opposes China’s successful development model and how Europe and the US conspire with local dictators to prevent their countries from advancing and how this has given rise to a global terrorist threat. In other words, the author’s effort is to show how the military-industrial model can be replaced by adopting equitable policies for disarmament, demilitarisation and working for sustainable development, thus ending the cycle of violence and poverty.
(Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA; www.plutobooks.com)