Home » Blog » Humanity on a Cross of Iron

News, Technology, Work

Humanity on a Cross of Iron

Views: 1,309 A surge is underway in military spending and arms sales, fueled by the war in Ukraine and the confrontation over Taiwan. Global demand for advanced …

by Stephen Shenfield



1 min read

A surge is underway in military spending and arms sales, fueled by the war in Ukraine and the confrontation over Taiwan. Global demand for advanced weaponry is unprecedented. The White House has approved sales of missile systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates priced $3 billion and $2.245 billion, respectively (CNN, 8/2). 

Israel’s arms firms are doing especially well — even though the Israeli government has told them not to supply arms to Russia or Ukraine. Arms exports are rapidly rising from a baseline of $7 billion in 2020 and $11.3 billion in 2021 (Ha’aretz, 8/5). The top defense ministry official has visited 14 countries in just three months. Israel specializes in high-tech products like satellites, drones and precision munitions.

In 1953 President Eisenhower declared:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals… We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron… Is there no other way the world may live?

President Dwight Eisenhower

Nearly 70 years have passed since Eisenhower made that speech. And humanity is still hanging from that cross of iron, under the cloud of threatening – and actual — war. 

Now, however, there are other equations to add to those offered by Eisenhower. For example, the Patriot missile system that the US is selling to Saudi Arabia costs the same as it would cost to restore 5,400 square kilometers (over 2,000 square miles) of tropical forest. The theft is, as before, from the unfed, the unhoused, the neglected sick, but now the theft is also from human survival on this planet. 

Tags: arms trade

Photo of author
I grew up in Muswell Hill, north London, and joined the Socialist Party of Great Britain at age 16. After studying mathematics and statistics, I worked as a government statistician in the 1970s before entering Soviet Studies at the University of Birmingham. I was active in the nuclear disarmament movement. In 1989 I moved with my family to Providence, Rhode Island, USA to take up a position on the faculty of Brown University, where I taught International Relations. After leaving Brown in 2000, I worked mainly as a translator from Russian. I rejoined the World Socialist Movement about 2005 and am currently general secretary of the World Socialist Party of the United States. I have written two books: The Nuclear Predicament: Explorations in Soviet Ideology (Routledge, 1987) and Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements (M.E. Sharpe, 2001) and more articles, papers, and book chapters that I care to recall.

Related Articles

Notify of
This site uses User Verification plugin to reduce spam. See how your comment data is processed.
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments