Friday, September 17, 2010

$100 Billion, Putting the Puzzle Together

Just one week before the UN meets for an assessment of the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that 100 billion dollars will be needed over the next five years to meet the goals. In 2011, 26 billion dollars would be needed in the poorest 49 countries, with another 42 billion needed by 2015, the target date for full implementation. Despite these large figures, he is optimistic about the ability of the international community to meet its goals, set in 2000. Why would Ki-moon be so optimistic?

Let's put the 100 billion figure into perspective with another news article this week, this time from the New York Times. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has received praise and criticism in the past few years for attempts to make defense spending more efficient. He set out a goal "to save $100 billion over the next several years and use that money to continue the Pentagon's modernization programs, including the design of a new nuclear missile submarine and long-range aerial strike systems." The U.S. military has a half-trillion-dollar military budget (not counting the cost of the wars).

Despite recently admitting in a recent Foreign Policy Magazine profile that the U.S. needed to shift military spending away from big, Cold War-esque purchases, it appears that this is exactly what is happening. Why spend billions on nuclear submarines (the U.S. has over 20 already), when many people agree that this kind of weapons spending will not be useful for the security of the U.S. in the future?

In a time when U.S. National Security emphasizes the importance of development to global security, government spending does not reflect this. The $100 billion needed to achieve the MDGs in the next several years can easily come, at least in part, from planned cuts in military spending. This is not only in the interest of the U.S. but also saves and improves the lives of billions globally.


-Erica Stetz