This question could be seen as incredibly complex or head-slappingly simple depending on your point of view. So let’s get the easy part out of the way; morally the answer is obvious: of course governments should stop building arms; poverty is terrible and so is war. A great solution would be to stop building weapons and feed the poor, but inevitably human nature compromises our moral responsibilities.
To answer the question ‘which should be more important?’. War is hugely important for a nation: war provides global economic structure, builds technologies, advances politics and gives nations the opportunity to acquire power. However, how can you balance a nation’s benefits from war with the importance of providing people with basic human rights?
To help gain perspective on this problem I found out how the U.S. and U.K. Governments split their budgets between Military funding and Welfare funding:
UK budget for 2012:
- Total military spend £47.2 billion.
- Total welfare spend £58.3 billion.
US budget for 2012:
- Total military spend $1 trillion.
- Total welfare spend $500 billion (Chantrill 2011).
America does consider military hardware to be more important, but the U.K. favours a more even split, giving the bigger piece of the budget cake to the Welfare system. There is doubt to whether funding an over-inflated welfare system is the most viable way to stop poverty. It can be argued that a nanny-state welfare system creates citizens dependent on government money, but when the budget is cut back we are left with people who have never held a job in their lives.