9 May 2007


The recent commemoration of Anzac Day perhaps provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the full cost of war. The human cost in terms of lives cut short or permanently damaged, the emotional toll on families and loved ones left to try and cope and the loss of a whole generation of many of the best and brightest as occurred in World War I, cannot be truly measured.

The economic and environmental cost of waging war or preparing for war can be more easily measured.

In recent weeks the Australian government has decided to spend $16,000,000,000 on the purchase of a fleet of F-35 Fighter planes, (despite widespread reservations in defence circles about the wisdom of such a decision), and a further $6,000,000,000 on a fleet of Super Hornets in a move described by a senior defence analyst as "a needless and expensive decision" that "makes no operational sense and … no sense in terms of value for money". A technical discussion about the decision to purchase can be found here

Such decisions give pause for concern about our priorities in a world where 11,000,000 children die each year from preventable causes and when about one fiftieth of Australia’s latest defence purchase would Close the Gap in health levels between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

Australia’s defence expenditure amounts to $55,000,000 per day. A significant part of that expenditure this year will also be on Operation Talisman Sabre a military exercise that next month will involve nearly 14,000 US troops and over 12,000 Australian personnel at a variety of Australian military locations including Shoalwater Bay in Queensland and Bradshaw and Delamere Range in the Northern Territory.

Peace Convergence is a coalition of those promoting non-violence and opposed to the Talisman Sabre exercise. Information about the exercise, including concerns about the environmental impact and the possible use of depleted uranium can be found at the above website.

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