Christians criticize UK military budget increase
As the cost of the Iraq war is seen to have risen to nearly £4 billion pounds following the setting aside of more special reserve funds by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, a UK-based Christian peace organisation has said that it will not bring more security.
In his annual pre-budget report on Monday, Mr Brown allocated an additional £580 million for military operations overseas, taking the cost of foreign wars and peace-keeping missions in 2005 to £980 million. The figure was £1.1 billion in 2004.
The Chancellor also allocated a further £135 million to the security and intelligence services for counter-terrorism measures, which have increased significantly since the 9/11 attacks in the US and bombing elsewhere in the world, including London.
But the general secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in England, part of an international movement of religious non-violence associated with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who currently have four members abducted in Iraq, said that pouring money into the military was not the answer.
'Currently the UK has the third largest military expenditure in the world as a percentage of GDP', FoR's Chris Cole told Ekklesia. 'The further increased military expenditure on Iraq announced on Monday will not bring peace, security or justice to the region - probably just the opposite.'
Cole went on: 'If we want to build real security in the Middle East, security
that meets the needs of the entire region's people, we need to be investing in conflict prevention and non-violent ways to solve political conflicts.'
According to the Financial Times newspaper, a total of £4.9 billion has now been spent by Britain on military operations since 2002, when the build-up for the Iraq war began and the bulk of military spending in Afghanistan occurred.
An extra £50 million is being made available for ring-fenced operations, and £85 million is being set aside to help finance an ongoing recruitment drive for officers, agents and analysts.
Introducing his statement, Mr Brown said, 'defending our country is the first duty of government.' But many analysts question whether the money is being spent in the right way and whether the US-influenced regional policy is making things worse rather than better.
[Also on Ekklesia: Iraq war brings unity for black Baptists; Church says those who supported Iraq invasion must be held to account; Bishops call for post-9/11 rethink on force and freedom; 89 year old begins prison sentence after peace protest; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life; Christian peace activists go on trial over Iraq action; Bush criticised for claiming God made him go to war]