Much as I like to tub-thump occasionally about civil liberties being the first casualty of the war on terror among the western democracies, there are equally disturbing social consequences of defence spending in the ‘new’ security environment. The Guardian writes of the UK that:
Almost a third of all public spending on research is funded by the Ministry of Defence - far more than is spent on research by the National Health Service.
British universities are caught up in a new wave of military partnerships, and young researchers have switched to high-technology weapons-based research in a dangerous atmosphere of commercialisation and secrecy.
The fact that the secretive arms trade remains a principal British export is of real concern, especially given its potential for increasing conflict and instability – in direct opposition to Tony Blair’s ostensible foreign policy priority of acting to prevent grave human rights abuses.
It’s also concerning that more is spent in the UK on weapons research than health. The fact that health and other socially important research should suffer for the sake of government-subsidies to the arms industry is, at best, repugnant.