From Defence to Development: Redirecting Military Resources in South Africa
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those that hunger and are not fed, are cold and are not clothed."
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
Remember the global peace dividend — the budget surpluses that were supposed to result from the raising of the Iron Curtain and the end of the arms race? As war-torn societies in the Middle East, Latin America, and parts of Africa found peace and began building democratic societies, governments were supposed to use the money they once spent on the military to better meet basic human needs. But has it happened?
In South Africa, this process has been underway since the early 1990s, but it has been uneven and fragile, with contradictory outcomes such as an increased emphasis on arms export and a rise in banditry and criminal gangs. From Defence to Development argues that South Africa must go beyond a narrow conception of the process and focus instead on the redirection of military resources, both human and material, toward sustainable development and environmental restoration. Such a focus would require
- Redefining the notion of security to take into account the threats to peace caused by poverty and social dislocation;
- Converting the defence industry to civilian production;
- Reallocating defence expenditure;
- Redeploying troops and retraining ex-combatants in development projects and for environmental protection; and
- Redistributing land previously used as military bases.
For this to happen, there must be extensive public debate on defence and security issues and greater access to information and alternative perspectives. It is in this context that From Defence to Development seeks to make a real and lively contribution.
Jacklyn Cock is Professor of Sociology at the University of Witwatersrand,Johannesburg, South Africa. She was a founder of the Group for Environmental Monitoring (GEM) and leader of the IDRC-funded project "Militarization and the Ecology of Southern Africa."
Penny Mckenzie currently coordinates the "Defence and Development" project of the Group for Environmental Monitoring (GEM, South Africa). She also coordinated the IDRC-funded project "Militarization and the Ecology of Southern Africa."