Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Doing Without an Army

I'm not a huge fan of Facebook or indeed social media in general but I will concede that it's a way of keeping track of what old friends are up to. Having, over the years, reconnected with old classmates at school reunions I was interested in a posting by one friend on the subject of not having an army.

Graham, who is a Quaker, wrote, "Just discovered that on 1st December 1948 Costa Rica abolished its military! What a great thing! And when I researched it further I found there are 21 countries that have done the same thing. Lietchenstein abolished its army in 1869 because it was too expensive. If one can do, so can all! Imagine the good that could be done in the world with all the money we spend on armed forces!"

In fact fifteen countries have no armed forces:-

Costa Rica
Marshall Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Solomon Islands
Vatican City

While six nations have no standing army, but do have limited military forces. They are:-


1 comment:

  1. In the latest edition of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics there is a very relevant article by Damian Keown.

    He argues that the early Buddhist tradition was not against armies as a form of deterrence. That view cuts across the precept to undertake the training not to kill, and cuts across the pacifist attitude of most western Buddhists. The difference seems to be that most people automaticaly consider Buddhism to be methodologically individualistic (change in ethical relations between individuals is thought to be cumulatively sufficient to change the world). But sometimes, in Buddhism in practice, there can be a pragmatic or tacit acceptance of methodological holism (the world won't change without change to institutions as well as to individuals). Under holism, social institutions such as playgroups, or armies, or sanghas, are better not wished away without some prior understanding of all the functions they fulfil. Without that, there may be unintended consequences. For instance, a small nation such as Costa Rica or Lichtenstein might be safer without an army, but only because they shelter under the protection of a larger entity, such as the U.S. or NATO The decision to dispense with an army may not yet be sensible for a middle-sized or larger nation, in the current unfortunate absence of a wheel-turning king (cakkavartin) or a properly-constituted world democratic institution. The UN neeeds reform if it is to fit that bill.

    Best wishes,
    Andrew Kennedy