War and Peace in Our Time: On the Politics of Nuclear Systems

Ogunbadejo, Aye (2012-10-02)

Lecture

Today, I want to address myself to this important subject. In doing so, I am aware of the fact that aside from being overburdened by weapons of mass destruction, the world economy is also overburdened by poverty and debt. The logic of my decision can be visualized somewhat if we bear just five random points in mind. First, since 1960, world military expenditure has increased faster than the world's product (aggregate GNP) per capita. In other words, these military expenditures have outpaced the economic expansion on which a rapidly growing population depends for improved living conditions. Indeed, the gap between the pace of the arms buildup and the growth in GNP per capita has become more pronounced in the most recent years, to the detriment of human -welfare. Second, in 1960, world military expenditure of $344 billion (constant 1983 dollars) was 194 million times the world's average annual income per capita. By 1985, having climbed faster than per capita income, world military expenditure of $770 billion was equivalent to 266, million man-years of income. The burden of the world economy, measured in terms of the population required to support the arms race, had increased by 37 percent. Third, by 1986, the International Year of Peace, global military expenditure had reached a phenomenal figure of $900 billion. Fourth, at the cost of less than half an hour's world military outlay, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) destroyed a plague of locusts in Africa, saving enough grain to feed 1.2 million people for a year. And lastly, weapons of mass destruction now hold all of humanity hostage. Enough nuclear weapons are scattered over the globe to kill everyone on earth at least 12 times over. In considering the subject under focus, I intend inter alia, to zero in on four main issues: Nuclear balance; superpower interventionist policies, as a fillip to nuclear arms race; threats to the nuclear regime, and ways of reducing the risk of nuclear war in our time.

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