George W. Bush is obsessed with the war on terrorism, especially with the military response to terrorism. American foreign policy reflects that obsession. This year, the US will spend around $450 billion for the military, including the costs of the Iraq War, while it will spend no more than $15 billion to overcome global poverty, global environmental degradation, and global diseases. In other words, US foreign policy spending is thirty times more focused on the military than on building global prosperity, global public health, and a sustainable environment.
Throughout 2003, the world lived with Bush's obsession. Debate over Iraq dominated international diplomacy, and took up almost the entire UN agenda. The war in Iraq cost countless innocent lives, such as when the UN headquarters in Baghdad was bombed. At the same time, Bush's emphasis on a one-dimensional, militarized approach to global problems has fueled unrest and instability throughout the Islamic world, leading to increased terrorism in Turkey, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Southeast Asia.
The nature of suffering around the world hardly justifies this narrow strategy. Focusing on terrorism to the exclusion of other issues, and emphasizing the military response to it, will not bring prosperity and peace, or even a significant reduction in the number of attacks. While 3,000 innocent people died in the US on September 11, 2001, in Africa 8,000 innocent children die every day from malaria.
Yet malaria is preventable and treatable. The problem is that most of Africa is too poor to mobilize the methods of prevention (bed nets) and treatments (anti-malarial medicines) that could save millions of children every year. The US spends more on Iraq each day than it does on Africa's malaria in a year.