Speach of SAMIR AMIN (Berlin, autumn 2016)
Our last speaker tonight is Samir Amin; welcome to us!
Thank you, good evening. I know that you are probably tired and you look forward to the dinner. So, I'll try to be as short as I can. My presentation is – and I recognise that – controversial; very controversial. Maybe I will need less time, than some who spoke in this room.
Now, my first point.
There are some figures from SIPRI – which I think is the most reliable source of information on armament and military expenditure. The US plus Europe alone represent 63% almost two third of the global expenditure. If you add to them Canada which is a NATO member, Australia which is a close friend, Israel of course, but also Japan, whose military expenditure is growing very fast with the support of the West and particularly of the US you come to more than 70%. And will be close to three quarter, 75% within 2 or 3 years. This means, that the first part of the sentence of Ban Ki Moon “the world is over-armed” is unfortunately incorrect. The WEST is over-armed! But these countries, which represent 15% of humankind, contribute to almost 75% of military expenditures.
Now, there are a lot of other points, which could be brought, such as Iran, for instance; an old and big nation in our region of the Middle East. Military expenditure: half of Israel’s! And look at what is continuously being said about the danger of Iran! But nothing about the menace which represents Israel, not only to the Palestinian people, but for all the people of the region. With respect to the other countries investing in military armament, all of them, but particularly from the Gulf countries, these imports of armament represent a good subsidy for the US and other country's armament industries. They buy at high prices, old armament, which they would never use against a neighbour in any case. Apart from dropping bombs on people like in Yemen from time to time, or to give arm to Al Nousra, Daesh or others in Syria.
Second point: This over-armament of the West – not of the world – is indeed already being used to conduct systematically aggressive wars. Decided by NATO, which means decided by the US establishment whether democratic or republican (it doesn't change anything) and accepted by the European Union with no discussion.
The U.S. has kept for itself the so-called right to initiate preventive wars against any country which could become a danger. I think that you are German and know that Hitler would not have said anything worse than that : Germany was menaced by Poland for instance – as a right to attack it! . But what does that means: “any country that could become a danger”? De facto it means any country which does not accept to be completely submitted to the unilateral rule over the whole planet by the U.S. and their subordinate allies - Europeans and others. Any country, which does not accept, no matter if its regime is good or bad (bad in most countries’ issues - but that's not the point!) is considered an eventual enemy.
Does NATO fight for democracy? The international community that we hear of constantly is constituted by the G7. That is NATO itself, plus the Democratic Republic of Saudi Arabia and the Democratic Republic of Qatar - and nobody else. Nobody else! A number of countries of Latin America are probably not models of democracy, but they are not terrible dictatorships in the in the present time, either. They are not members of the international community.
Does NATO fight terrorism? Well, let us remember that the former minister of foreign affairs of France Laurent Fabius said “Al Nousra is doing a good job in Syria”. We haven't heard Bashar al-Assad saying, that Al Nousra had done a good job in France, Belgium and Germany. Why do we imagine that they are fighting terrorism?! In fact, those terrorists ( and they are indeed terrorist regimes or organisations ) on the one hand, and NATO on the other are partners, not enemies. Each of them needs the other in order to give legitimacy to its own policy: the West against the terrorists in order to answer the so called question of security – the priority over all other questions including the tremendous social disaster of neoliberal policies. But that is secondary now. The main question is security. And of course the terrorists – such as Daesh, Al Nousra the Muslim brotherhood and others ; they are all the same. They need the apparent aggressions of Nato it in order to give legitimacy to their brutal and savage regime. The victims of which are first and foremost their own people, before being eventually others.
Moving towards the war is accompanied by systematic lies. Should we forget that the attack on Iraq was said to be justified (and it was repeated a thousand times) because Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was attacked not because it had such weapons but because it had NOT such weapons. (and considering that, I regret that it hadn't.) And this lie, which has been recognised now, is completely kept silence on. And we wait to see those who lied, which are the State Secretary and the President of the United States, to be in an international court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. We wait for that!
The third point is that: What are the targets of this geo-strategy and geo-policy based on aggression? I don't believe that the western people - and some people in my region say that but it is nonsense – are really the devil; that they are bad by nature,and want war. No, they are not worse than we are! They are as good or as bad as we are! All humankind is the same! It's certainly not for that reason. The target is to destroy –and I say destroy – not only the governments but the states and the societies of any country, which, with the definition of the U.S. could become a danger. Now, in our region we should remember that during the Bandung period - 1955 to the eighties- a period during which the countries of Asia and Africa made tremendous progress - even without democracy and with many problems of course. During that period Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Iraq played leading roles. Since, they are considered as being dangerous countries and their societies should be destroyed. What Mister Bremer has done in Iraq is to destroy the society and to create the conditions for a permanent civil war between the Shia and the Sunna, between the Arabs and the Kurds. Is that democracy? Is that war against terrorism? Or is this fascism and terrorism?! And that is the policy of the U.S.: Supporting fascism and terrorism systematically. Why such an aggressive choice? Again, not because - as it is being said in our region – they are the devil. No, not at all! But because of the western power's historical imperialism. The West, U.S. and Europe, have now no other means to maintain their unilateral and total and exclusive control of the whole planet other than that one: permanent war. And this is why what is on the agenda now in the US is the next war. Should we start it with Russia or should we start with China? That is the debate in the US establishment. Therefore, the condition for creating political conditions for possible peaceful policies of the various partners (whether these are democracies or ugly dictatorships) is to disband NATO. If we don't disband NATO, than all the speeches on peace are pure rhetoric,wishful thinking.
Now, when I come to the second part of the sentence of Ban Ki Moon that is "peace is underfinanced", I do not know what it means exactly. If it means, and that would be a normal understanding, that in order to create societies which are more conduced to want peace, we should spend more on education, health, social conditions, employment etc.then OK But this is exactly the opposite of what the neoliberal austerity policies is requesting from all governments. They cut education, health, social rights and so on. Therefore the sentence is meaningless unless we make clear that it cannot be implemented except if we move out of neoliberal policies and austerity.
But it can be understood in another way - I refer here to the sentence written on the front of UNESCO : “war starts in the minds of people”. This nice sentence
does not mean anything. It would mean that humankind is divided into two kinds of people: The devils who love war and the saints who love peace. And by preaching and converting the devils into saints we would have peace. I think this is at best naive. So naive that it is meaningless. No. War is a political choice! Usually that of the leaders or the ruling classes in certain circumstances. In other circumstances the same ruling classes could choose another policy. And we have therefore to discuss, ‘what are the real reasons for this choice of policies by the western powers’ and not continue to have a rhetoric and wishful thinking discourse on peace.