Well, I’m in favour of a ban on women taking on front-line combat roles.
In fact, I want to go further. I want men to be banned from combat also.
Well – why not?
During the 20th Century the world saw dozens of wars, with two of those involving almost the entire globe. Some 230 million people were killed, with countless millions maimed and injured.
At the beginning of that century approximately one in eleven of those deaths were civilians. However, by the final decade of the century, that ratio had totally reversed so that of all deaths in violent conflict, 90% were civilians. By then the terrain of warfare had also changed. No longer were wars primarily between states, conflicts were now within states.
The final decade of the century also saw a decline in world expenditure on the military mostly due to the collapse of communism and the subsequent reduction in expenditure by the former Warsaw Pact nations. But the sanity didn’t last. The first decade of the 21st Century has seen world military spending soar to shameful levels.
World military spending in 2011 was US$1.63 trillion, up 50% on what it had been just ten years earlier, at the start of the century.
The problem with war and people (men or women) being placed into combat roles is not simply that war is a killing machine. Conflict and militarism; robs from the poor, steals from those without access to clean, fresh water, diverts funds from the education of millions of children, and displaces people from their homes, families and lands.
UNICEF has estimated that just 5% of the world’s spending on the military would be sufficient to meet basic human needs for everyone on earth. That’s less than three weeks.
What is further disappointing is that men and women in combat roles are men and women unable to apply their knowledge, skills and human resources to helping to solve these needs and the issues that give rise to conflict and violence in the first place.
Albert Einstein succinctly noted this many years ago when he said that:
“You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”If we are to reduce poverty, provide clean, safe access to water, offer education for all and also look to solving some of our most pressing global issues then we must stop wasting money on the military and ban men and women from conflict roles.
1. Canada (but not submarine duties), Denmark, France (but not submarine or riot control duties), Germany, Israel, New Zealand and Norway.