On the war path (8). Dutch cabinet formation and defence expenditure

The formation of a government in the Netherlands after the March elections is proceeding with so much difficulty because of concrete differences in position, as for instance on the issue of voluntary life termination. For D'66 (neoliberal), which has made itself the steady advocate of a deep restructuring of the Dutch economy and society, that should be made easier—for what in the end is the use of old people from a purely market perspective? The CU (Christian Union, Protestant fundamentalist) on the contrary maintains a presumably Biblical ethics.

Oddly enough both parties are in agreement when it comes to the INvoluntary termination of life that will be the consequence of a nuclear war. Like all other parties except for the smaller Left ones, both D'66 and CU are in favour of raising defence spending. That will be used to bolster the arms industry and in practice, for military posturing on the Russian border and to conduct high-risk air operations in Syria, where Moscow supports the government in the civil war. 

Since Russia is a nuclear power and has to count with ever shorter warning times now that the anti-missile batteries in Rumania have become operational (new ones have been agreed with Poland), the risk of a major east-west conflict is creeping closer. And if one of the combatants in such a conflict would find itself cornered, that would then become a war with atomic weapons.

Three months ago, the Dutch political parties went into the general election with the following proposals for increased defence spending (in euros, ranked by size of increase, and only the parties returned to parliament).

Forum for Democracy (Rightwing nationalist): 5.91 billion ("to minimally 2% of GNP")
SGP (Protestant fundamentalist): 3 billion
CU (Protestant fundamentalist): 2 billion
PVV (populist Far Right): 2 billion (both defence and police)
VVD (mainstream Right): 1.5 billion
D'66 (neoliberal): 0.5 billion
50Plus: 0.5 billion (for international fight against terrorism and intelligence services)
PvdA (mainstream Labour Party): 0.4 billion
Green Left: no rise
SP (Socialist Party): -1 billion (reduction)
Denk (Turkish immigrant party): -1.7 billion (reduction)
PvdD (animal rights party): no figures, probably a reduction.

According to official NATO figures of three months ago the Netherlands spent 9.127 billion dollar (8.163 billion euro) on defence in 2016. This was the equivalent of 1.16% of Gross Domestic Product. Hence to reach 2% of GDP the budget would have to be raised by 5.91 billion euro (calculated by Jan Schaake).

The Dutch populist daily, De Telegraaf, reported on 6 July, under the heading 'Air force wants more', that the different defence departments are already busy trying to claim the rise in spending. Thus the air force wants to purchase 68 instead of 37 Joint Strike Fighters, and the navy wants new submarines. 'According to calculations of the parties in the formation discussions, both claims can be met out of a rise of defence expenditure with 2 billion euros: both submarines and more Joint Strike Fighters'.

That is good news for the suppliers of these armaments, bad news for teachers, medical staff, and all others interested in a moderation of the policy of social desertification.

Here I just recapitulate that the threat we are facing, is completely imaginary once it is compared with ecological and humanitarian-democraphic catastrophes, as well as the austerity policies and the inequalities they are intimately connected to.

Below is military expenditure for 2016, according to SIPRI. 

And that was before Russia has implemented the reduction of its defence expenditure with 25 percent which it has been forced to announce.

Kees van der Pijl

(On the war path # 7 was about the war propaganda of the Dutch Protestant daily, Trouw, and not translated)

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