Just Security: Misconceptions and Recommendations

With its emphasis on military solutions, the Bush administration has insisted that we focus just on security. We must focus instead on a just security, because there can be no real security without justice.

Just Climate Policy

Misconceptions

  1. Climate change can be fixed with only minor tinkering.
  2. Technologies such as biofuels and tactics such as carbon trading can solve the crisis under the leadership of experts, dynamic corporations, and the World Bank.
  3. India and China are the key problem nations on climate change.
  4. U.S. citizens won’t give up unsustainable, unhealthy lifestyles in order to solve the problem of global warming.

Reality

Global warming is a clear and present danger that requires a profound reordering of priorities. If we act quickly, and with industrialized countries bearing their fair share of the costs, we can use existing technologies to reduce the emissions that cause climate change.

Just Security Alternative

  1. Give the poor control of their land, marine, and forest resources.
  2. Start a managed resource transfer from rich to poor countries through climate-friendly global justice, trade, and aid policies. This would involve a border fee on “dirty trade” that would help developing countries shift to clean energy.
  3. Governments and inter-governmental bodies will use regulation, carrots, and sticks to shift from supporting “dirty” energy to a transition to “clean” energy and energy efficiency.
  4. Carbon taxes can be invested in a “Climate and Energy Security Fund” that will support a rapidly expanding Green sector of the economy to produce new jobs at home and abroad.

Just Nuclear Disarmament

Misconceptions

  1. The United States is committed to reducing nuclear weapons.
  2. It is technically impossible and politically risky to eliminate nuclear weapons.
  3. Rogue states are the greatest proliferation threat.

Reality

There is overwhelming public support and key elite backing for nuclear disarmament. Moreover, disarmament is technically feasible. The chief obstacles are not rogue states but the largest nuclear powers.

Just Security Alternative

  1. Cancel U.S. plans to upgrade its nuclear arsenal and resume negotiations with Moscow over further reductions in strategic arsenals.
  2. Expand existing arms control mechanisms such as test bans and nuclear-free zones.
  3. Strengthen international institutions that can create the groundwork for disarmament.

Just Livelihoods

Misconceptions

  1. Current free trade and free market policies help the poor.
  2. Free trade policies promote democracy.
  3. The private sector always does it better.
  4. More aid is the panacea for poverty.
  5. If we simply spend money on medicine to treat disease, we will improve global health.
  6. Immigration concerns can be addressed through domestic policies rather than by tackling root causes.

Reality

As barriers to trade have fallen in the last two decades, the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer. Free-trade policies have pushed people off their land and across borders. Privatization has helped to widen the global divide further. Traditional development aid has not been effective in combating global inequality, nor has simply increasing spending on medicine improved global health.

Just Security Alternative

  1. Overhaul trade and investment policies to set a floor for basic labor and environmental standards, while also giving governments sufficient policy space to pursue their own national economic strategies.
  2. Expand debt cancellation deals to more impoverished countries, without onerous policy conditions. Further debt cancellation will allow governments to increase spending on basic services and fighting poverty and alleviate the pressure to attract foreign investment and boost exports by any means necessary.
  3. Shift foreign aid for health from fighting specific diseases to a far more comprehensive approach emphasizing preventive care, health infrastructure, and a large-scale, global plan to train four million new health workers.
  4. Make debt, trade, finance, and health reforms part of a broad agenda to address the root causes of immigration and strengthen developing country economies in ways that will benefit both their people and the people of the United States.

Just Counterterrorism

Misconceptions

  1. Terrorism is the major threat to U.S. and global interests.
  2. A “war” on terrorism is the only solution.
  3. Terrorists are attacking “our” way of life.

Reality

Although a serious problem, terrorism is not the greatest threat to either U.S. citizens or other people around the globe. Treating terrorism with military means plays into the hands of al-Qaeda, which is an organization of international criminals and not warriors.

Just Security Alternative

  1. Improve homeland security to protect the infrastructure and livelihoods of the U.S. population.
  2. Strengthen international legal systems to apprehend and prosecute terrorists.
  3. Promote democracy and human rights to address the oppressive political systems that give rise to terrorism.
  4. Address the socio-economic roots of terrorism by devoting resources to narrowing the gap between the global haves and have-nots.

Just Peace

Misconceptions

  1. The United States needs to spend over $600 billion to keep the peace internationally.
  2. U.S. weapons sales overseas are in the national interest.
  3. The United States has played an even-handed role in the Middle East.
  4. The United States has opposed Israel’s policy of occupation of Palestinian territory.
  5. U.S. policy in Africa focuses solely on peace and development.

Reality

U.S. military spending, global military presence, and international arms sales have increased global insecurity. U.S. military interventions, directly or through proxies, have thrown entire regions into a downward spiral of conflict. In the Middle East and Africa, in particular, the U.S. emphasis on military rather than diplomatic solutions has prevented regional peacemaking from moving forward.

Just Security Alternative

  1. Reduce the global U.S. garrison and redirect the money to more effective defense and human needs.
  2. Back the new Arms Trade Treaty to restrain the global sale and proliferation of armaments.
  3. Work with the international community to upgrade UN peacekeeping, which is woefully underfunded and ill-equipped.
  4. Shift funds away from a military approach to Africa and toward strengthening the capacities of communities to meet their own needs.
  5. Stop supporting Israeli occupation and instead support an international peace process under the auspices of the UN.

Just Security Budget

Misconceptions

  1. The United States needs to maintain Cold War levels of military spending.
  2. Spending on offense is the best defense.
  3. Our foreign military posture makes us more secure.

Reality

The United States can reduce the proposed military budget by one-third. With such a reduction, the United States would still retain the largest military in the world and would still spend over eight times more than any of the next largest militaries. U.S. military presence overseas has made America an international lightening rod for anger and resentment.

Just Security Alternative

  1. Reduce the 2008 fiscal year military budget by $213 billion. This figure includes $99.1 billion for the Iraq War, $45.9 billion for overseas bases and personnel stationed afloat, and $43.9 billion in unnecessary weaponry.
  2. Reallocate $15 billion to Homeland Security measures such as protecting transportation, safeguarding public health, and beefing up baggage and cargo screening.
  3. Reallocate $34.7 billion to preventive measures such as non-proliferation, peacekeeping, development assistance, and the promotion of clean energy alternatives.