Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Neutrality among the nations of the world

By Yang Chung-hsin 楊重信

On Aug. 14 last year, former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) announced the establishment of the “Taiwanese Alliance of Peace and Neutrality,” which champions a new nation of peace and neutrality and promotes permanent peace between itself and China.

In light of that spirit, this essay will shed some light on the situation the world would face if all nations were neutral states.

All forms of life depend on solar energy for survival. All natural resources on the planet belong to all humans and the other living organisms. All life is in the same boat — in good times and in bad — so humans should conduct themselves peacefully with one another in the circle of life.

However, societies “draw circles” and form what are called “nations.” Once a nation is formed, resources must be used limitlessly and endlessly for its protection; weapons are made to kill others. This is the height of stupidity.

Based on estimates provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world military expenditure in 2012 totaled US$1.735 trillion, about 2.5 percent of global GDP.

Taiwan’s national defense spending between 1960 and 2013 was US$10.15 trillion, as adjusted by the GDP deflator, making the average annual expenditure on weapons US$188 billion, between 1.92 and 9.56 percent of the nation’s annual GDP.

If all nations were neutral states, military spending could be considerably reduced and reallocated toward improving people’s welfare globally.

The UN has insisted on the idea that public outlays would be better used in health and education. According to a 1982 Thorsson report titled The Relationship Between Disarmament and Development, the arms race represents a waste of resources and hinders economic growth.

Much empirical research has also found that military expenditure has a crowding-out effect on productive investment, human capital investment, research and development investment, and public expenditure and consumption expenditure. As a result, economic growth has suffered. In other words, military expenditure comes at a high opportunity cost, because the arms race comes at the expense of public spending and productive investment.

If one day all nations became neutral states, all arms spending would greatly diminish. The result would be a greater improvement of welfare for all societies, as the “peace bonus” will be enormous.

Yang Chung-hsin is dean of Chinese Culture University’s College of Environmental Design.

Translated by Ethan Zhan

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