The times they are changing...following the reference to Bob Dylan's Masters of War at the Barcelona seminar now what about times they are changing? Is all the social movement militancy we are seeing this year a sign that the times are indeed changing? The Arab spring, the indignad@s/occupy movement, and many others - are they really a statement that the 99% have just had enough? Surely so many different expressions bring hope, especially when people talk not just about making change but wanting "to be the change".
These movement are clear in what is the problem: an economic model benefiting very few, based on greed, obsessed with growth and profit, and a political system incapable of debating - let alone changing - what really matters.
For those of us who campaign against war profiteers and war profiteering, this is a great opportunity to expose the role that militarism plays in the world economy. The very banks that have caused financial chaos are the ones that invest in major arms producers. And while the neoliberal recipe is, as always, cuts in spending in social, health and educational needs, in the last year (2010) global military spending has risen to US $1,620,000,000,000 (1.62 trillion USD). Just think what we could do with that amount of money - or also simply if the money was not spent at all. In the state of Spain, Alternativa Antimilitarista-MOC have produced a series of posters "We are not ammunition for your crisis", showing the cost of various military products in terms of the number of hospitals, nurses, schools and teachers who could be funded instead of spending in military arsenal. Even more revealing is that Spain's per capita military spending is equivalent to paying one month of social benefits to somebody unemployed. The link between militarism and this economic system could not be clearer. It is our job to make these connections, specifically with the indignad@s/occupy movements where these specific examples can help focus their general attitudes.
In this issue we also include a report on the international seminar: War Profiteering and Peace Movement Responses, which was held in Barcelona earlier this month. The seminar was an important opportunity for people working in this field to meet and many interesting ideas for new projects came out of the event.
At WRI we continue to believe in the importance of face to face meetings where we can get to know each other. Even though technology makes communication much easier, there is nothing like being able to meet the people in person. We look forward to more cooperation among the different organisations present in Barcelona and beyond.
Finally, you will notice that this issue has a strong South Korea focus. This is because we are very lucky to have Jungmin Choi as an intern in the WRI office. She has co-edited this issue, writing about the campaign in Jeju Island which urgently needs support and also about a certain famous Korean electronics company which also happens to be one of the country's biggest war profiteers. None other than Samsung - the boycott of Samsung starts here!