“Fostering an arms race will inevitably lead to more violence and war.” This is the diagnosis issued by the Coordinator of Organizations for Development, which brings together 75 organizations and social platforms in Spain and which, a few days before the NATO summit is held in Madrid, asks the Government to drastically reduce military spending and promote diplomacy to resolve conflicts.
The day Calvo Sotelo sat down with Reagan and Thatcher: 40 years since Spain joined NATO
In a statement released Wednesday, this coordinator of social humanitarian organizations or organizations in defense of human rights attacks the announcement by the President of the Executive, Pedro Sánchez, to increase the budget of the Ministry of Defense to 2% of GDP, one of the commitments requested by the Atlantic Treaty Organization North (NATO) to its members, and demands instead that this money be allocated “to cooperation policies and human rights, which barely reaches 0.25%”.
To defend this commitment, Sánchez emphasized at the end of May that “the cost of sitting idly by is higher”: “It is essential to strengthen our deterrence capacity and that can only be obtained by increasing defense spending, but I also know that it is something that we have to transmit to Spanish society”.
According to this platform of organizations, however, a military escalation is, on the contrary, a “risk to the security of the population.” “Without having overcome the serious social crisis caused by the pandemic, the increase in military spending and the arms race are presented as an unavoidable option that is beyond question and that is becoming normalized in public discourse,” he argues. The coordinator is made up of NGOs such as Action Against Hunger, Oxfam, Children’s Villages, the Spanish Red Cross, Manos Unidas, Cáritas or Doctors of the World. UN organizations such as Acnur or Unicef are also associated.
These entities recall that the summit of the Atlantic Alliance, to be held in Madrid on June 29 and 30, takes place “in a very worrying global context”, with the war in Ukraine in the background and 30 other active conflicts that, they point out, “They are one more indicator of the civilizing crisis, the rise of authoritarianism and eco-social collapse.” “10% of world GDP goes to military spending, which is $2,117 per person. A figure that is increasing and that represents 12.4% more than last year”, they detail.
This meeting of allied countries will bring together 40 heads of state in Madrid next week, four decades after Spain’s accession to NATO. Among the attendees will be the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, the 30 allied countries, four invited countries and four other members of the European Union. During the two days of the event, among other issues, the war in Ukraine and the possible accession of Finland and Sweden will be addressed, as well as a new strategic security plan for the next ten years in which the organization is working.
“Meetings like the one taking place these days in Madrid add fuel to the fire to a situation that is already suffocating,” denounces the coordinator, who believes that “the warmongering drift we are witnessing will have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people ; it will also be a blow to the environment and the balance of ecosystems; and it will fuel the maelstrom of fighting between blocs and confrontations between ‘one’ and ‘the other’”.
In this context, social organizations demand from the Government a “radical turn in foreign policy”, specified in a series of demands. Namely, the curb on military budgets; accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; the prioritization of diplomacy for conflict resolution; the development of comprehensive reception policies; the modification or elimination of the Gag Law, “in order to protect freedom of expression and assembly in Spain and the holding of mobilizations in favor of peace.”
“We also ask citizens not to get carried away by this warmongering climate, denounce it and join the various initiatives that are being promoted from pacifism,” ask the organizations, which consider that these warmongering speeches contribute to the “militarization of minds” and a “dangerous instrumentalization of people”, with the explanation of complex realities as a “simple confrontation between one and the other”.
The NGOs close their statement with a call for diplomacy and “pacifism”. “Asking for, naming, building peace is not naïve or utopian or hippie or cowardly: it is the only acceptable option to guarantee life on the planet and avoid war for future generations,” they settle.