If anyone needed further proof that high weapons spending creates and propagates social problems, one need not look to the United States (the most preposterous example) or Great Britain. Look to Israel: a nation defined in the international spotlight by its commitment to war, weapons, and building walls as a means to solving disputes. The cost of the IDF amounts to almost 7% of Israeli GDP, far more than most other nations. Israel’s economy is bent toward weapons development: The IDF uses several technologies developed in Israel, many of them made specifically to match the IDF’s needs, such as the Merkava main battle tank, the Iron Dome, Trophy countermeasure, and the Galil and Tavor assault rifles. But — as we well know — spending on guns, bombs, walls and military technology is money, time and effort that is not spent on agriculture, energy, housing, medicine etc. From the Guardian:
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday night in Israel’s biggest ever demonstration to demand social justice, a lower cost of living and a clear government response to the concerns of an increasingly squeezed middle class.
About 430,000 people took part in marches and rallies across the country, according to police. The biggest march was in Tel Aviv, where up to 300,000 took part. There was an unprecedented 50,000-strong protest in Jerusalem, and 40,000 marched in Haifa. There were smaller protests in dozens of other towns and cities.
No doubt, some will say that if Israel did not spend such high amounts then they would be destroyed by their neighbours. And some will say that no matter how much time, money, effort and energy Israel spends on diplomacy, and conflict resolution that this will never satisfy Hamas. But I think they fail to see the problem with Israel — Israel’s character as a majority-Jewish state is not only extremely fractious as a global and political regional issue, in that it deprives a large chunk of the population of Eretz Israel, namely the Palestinian Arabs, of citizenship. Israel’s character as a majority-Jewish state is extremely expensive, and deprives Israel’s Jewish and Arab residents of needed spending on social programs, infrastructure, energy, and agriculture.
And the same is true for Hamas and the Arab militant organisations — every gun, every bomb, every life lost is a step backward — both in terms of the reaction from Israel (sanctions, retaliation, checkpoints, curfews), and in terms of the wasted labour, capital and productivity.
And in some form or another, that is what you get when your economy is tilted toward warfare. It would be far more economical to end the war immediately by producing a one-state-solution, with a secular framework, equal rights for all citizens, and a free market economy. To stop the fighting and concentrate on development.
But that is ideologically untenable for leaders on both sides. So in the end, everyone — even the “winners” of the wars — loses.