US military John Moore/Getty Images

From the CIA to the GFE

The US spends $1 billion per year on global education, and $900 billion on military-related programs. Unfortunately, it is not the only country where policymakers believe that sustainable development is best achieved through superior firepower.

NEW YORK – The United States needs to shift its spending from war to education, from CIA-backed regime change to a new Global Fund for Education (GFE). With hundreds of millions of children around the world not in school, or in schools with under-qualified teachers, a lack of computers, large class sizes, and no electricity, many parts of the world are headed for massive instability, joblessness, and poverty. The twenty-first century will belong to countries that properly educate their young people to participate productively in the global economy.

The current imbalance in US spending on global education and military-related programs is staggering: $1 billion per year on the former, and roughly $900 billion on the latter. Military-related programs include the Pentagon (around $600 billion), the CIA and related agencies (around $60 billion), Homeland Security (around $50 billion), nuclear weapons systems outside of the Pentagon (around $30 billion), and veterans’ programs (around $160 billion).

What US politicians and policymakers in their right minds could believe that US national security is properly pursued through a 900-to-1 ratio of military spending to global education spending? Of course, the US is not alone. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel are all squandering vast sums in an accelerating Middle East arms race, in which the US is the major financier and arms supplier. China and Russia are also sharply boosting military spending, despite their pressing domestic priorities. We are, it seems, courting a new arms race among major powers, at a time when what is really needed is a peaceful race to education and sustainable development.

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