Military Spending Panel report.
Ross Gwyther (IPAN, Australia)
I am sure Colin will be writing up a report from our panel discussion, so I have just written up a short summary of my presentation as part of the panel. I did feel the discussion was a valuable one which gave us some new pointers to building campaigns.
Our IPAN presentation on military spending gave a short background to the establishment of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network by more than 30 community peace and social just organisations in 2011 in response to the joint US-Australian announcement of stationing of US troops in Darwin, Australia as part of the US military “pivot to Asia”. Also a short description of the history of Australian people’s struggles against conscription, against war, and against nuclear weapns and foreign military bases for more than a hundred years.
The IPAN presentation then described how our experience has led us to consider the following as important in building an effective popular campaign around military spending:
- The importance of connecting with social movements, whether large political movements or ones with a more specific focus, by taking the focus of these movements into account and developing common goals with people involved in these groups
- The importance of analysing the details of military spending – eg defensive versus offensive military equipment, the amount spent on military “promotion”, the amount spent by arms manufacturers in schools, etc
- We also need to analyse in detail the various aspects of the “cost”of military spending – ie financial, social, psychological etc
- We need to be strategic about the aims of our campaigns – intermediate versus long term, broad (ie engaging with a wide cross section of people), versus narrow, take account of the current attitudes and thinking of the people, and make sure that campaigns are embedded in ordinary people’s lives rather than just focussed on “protests”… our campaign should be an “iceberg of change” (ie mostly unseen activity in everyday life cf prominent protest activity
- An example IPAN is developing is around posing , as an alternative to military offensive hardware, a broad public campaign to improve and increase health spending, based on people’s ordinary involvement with health professionals, ie doctors, nurses, physiotherapy, etc.