Or ‘swords into ploughshares’.
Mr. Cameron’s commendable commitment to 0.7% of GDP going to the UK Aid budget has been diluted by his recent suggestion that some of that budget might be ‘moved’ to ‘Defence’ since security is essential for aid to work. Personally I’m delighted to hear Mr Cameron make this suggestion, not because I agree with him, but because the logic works better the other way round. If someone can explain to me how our interventions in ‘international peacekeeping’ over the past 20-30 years have made the world and UK a safer place I’d be fascinated to hear. Practically everywhere I travel today I see men in uniforms wearing or carrying guns. It wasn’t so 30 years ago.
Nearly two years ago I proposed that the two new aircraft carriers we are building and for which ‘suitable’ aircraft may not be immediately available, be built as part of an international provision of hospital and disaster recovery vessels. Both Defence and Medicine are high technology and it is arguable that the latter protects us better than weapons. (The alternative argument is simply a global version of the NRA stance on guns, i.e. the ‘good guy’ is the one with the biggest and best guns: really?).
So, instead of using the development budget to fund ‘security operations’ which seem to have a habit of spreading indiscriminately, I suggest that we use the defence budget to supplement the ‘aid’ budget. The two vessels under construction, staffed by military but under e.g. International Red Cross control, would make an evident contribution to peace. And we’d invite USA, Russia, China, France, Germany, Brazil and India to pitch in with a ship each.
What’s not to like?