Thursday, May 04, 2006

A President Against War

This piece is an edited and reordered version of Nine New's David Brent's account of an interview with the President of Costa Rica, a country with no army and, according to Brent, " one of the highest levels of literacy and healthcare in the world. There is much more to read here- I edited only to emphasise certain points, endeavouring nott to change the piece's sentiment.

Australia and the world could soon be hearing a lot more from Oscar Arias because he says he'll intensify his fight against nations increasing their defence budgets when he is inaugurated as his country's president next week.

"This is about doing what is right. While we have countries continuing to spend on wars, it will be impossible to eradicate poverty," he says.

In an interview, he explains that to the country he'll soon be caretaker of again, people are more important than arms. "All the money that would have gone to maintaining an army, which we have not had since 1949, is spent on education and health. When we talk about national security in our country, we talk about public health. That is the essence of security."

Oscar Arias says it's also important to look at the big picture because the 'war on terrorism' should be put in the context of human security. "War is not just an evil act of destruction, it is a missed opportunity for humanitarian investment. It is a crime against every child who calls out for good rather than for guns. Military spending represents the single most significant perversion of global priorities known today, claiming more than 780 billion dollars. If we channelled just five percent of that figure over the next 10 years into anti-poverty programs, all of the world's population would enjoy basic social services. Another five percent, or 40 billion dollars, over 10 years would provide all the people on this planet with an income above the poverty line for their country."

He is now 65 and only a bit greyer than when he won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for brokering a plan which brought an end to wars raging throughout Central America, including civil war in Nicaragua. At the time he was president of Costa Rica and won peace through dialogue, not weapons.

Fourteen countries have now followed Costa Rica's example and demilitarised through constitutional amendments. Twenty-eight nations now have no armies. When presented with our defence and education figures, Oscar Arias isn't impressed.


Post a Comment

<< Home