According to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter”What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity,” The above image ‘Live Long And Prosper’ by Tom Estes , was shown at a satellite event during The Venice Biennale, the 56th international art exhibition entitled “All The World’s Futures”. His work is a digital map of all the known galaxies in the universe, projected onto the artist’s hand. The hand is held in a salute which first appeared in popular culture through the television series Star Trek. But this salute has much older origins. It turns out it is an ancient priestly blessing that forms the Hebrew letter Shin.
Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said Monday that the world is at a “turning point in history” and governments must choose policies of peace and human rights over war and human suffering. Carter’s remarks opened a forum of human rights workers hosted by The Carter Center in Atlanta, attended by more than 60 global activists.
Carter, 91, said military actions, human rights violations and restrictions on freedom have inspired the spread of violent extremist groups. He said even the peace-focused mission of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights adopted by the UN in 1948 “have been abandoned by the world.”
“What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity,” Carter said.
“The United States is a world superpower, and we’re likely to maintain the strongest military and also an influential culture as well as one of the dominant economies,” Carter said. “My prayer is that we also, the United States, become the undisputed champion of peace.”
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has excellent data on military spending by nation. Military spending as percentage of GDP is interesting as the US clocks in at 3.5%, China at an estimated 2.06%, and Oman at a whopping 11.6%. Of course, the GDP numbers are misleading as the US far outspends every other nation for its military, at over $500 billion, with China coming second at over $200 billion. As with any government spending, these dollars have an impact.
Capital is finite, and capital going into one spending category means that there is less money for another. This fact gets more interesting when we consider that any government spending exceeding revenues results in a deficit that is added to the national debt. The ballooning national debt has an economic impact on everyone, and military spending is one of many contributing factors. As the U.S. national debt grows, the interest expense of the debt grows and the cost of borrowing subtly increases due to the risk that increased debt represents. In theory, the increased debt will also drag on economic growth and eventually a driver towards higher taxes.
As of now, however, the US in particular has enjoyed generous debt terms from domestic and international lenders, so the role that military spending plays in increasing the debt is generally not focused on. Some advocates for decreased military spending have tied it to a certain percentage increase in the mortgage rates people pay, given the relationship between treasury yields and commercial lending. This reasoning holds and military spending does sit as a large percentage of discretionary spending. However, it is as much the mandatory spending on social programs and health in the budget that drive the deficits as it is the non-discretionary, so military spending alone is not at fault.
Global leaders must decrease the use of what Carter called “state-sanctioned violence,” he said, from drone attacks to the development or upgrading of nuclear weapons. The death penalty allows government to use violence as a punishment for crime, he said. Carter also specifically criticized the use of religion and culture to justify violence against women and girls or exclusion of women from leadership of government or religions. The issue is a frequent concern for Carter, whose 2014 book “A Call to Action” focused on the subject.
La Biennale di Venezia has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. The 56th International Art Exhibition entitled All The World’s Futures, was curated by Okwui Enwezor and organized by La Biennale di Venezia and chaired by Paolo Baratta. Tom Estes’ Venice Residency took place in the heart of the historic city of Venice — an “open-air” museum with a cultural and artistic heritage of inestimable value.
Carter later referenced a Martin Luther King Jr. speech on the civil rights leader’s opposition to the Vietnam War. King argued that he must speak against all violence to continue urging nonviolence in the civil rights movement, Carter said.
“He called on us to reject violence and its cycle of destruction,” Carter said. “The world needs to heed his call today.”
The group meeting at The Carter Center plans to develop a document calling for governments worldwide to recommit to human rights. Carter said he will deliver copies to President Barack Obama, congressional leaders and U.S. presidential candidates. He urged others to do the same in their home countries.
He said the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran and normalized relations with Cuba are “hopeful examples” to celebrate. But he called the U.S. “complicit” in government oppression by providing financial support in Egypt, Honduras and other places.
Jimmy Carter, now 91,opened a forum of human rights workers hosted by The Carter Center in Atlanta, and attended by more than 60 global activists. Carter said governments cannot end terrorism and other violence without reducing “excessive state violence.”