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The Economics of Killing: How the West Fuels War and Poverty in the Developing World [Hardcover]

Vijay Mehta
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Feb 2012
Globalisation has created an interconnected world, but has not diminished violence, militarism and inequality. The Economics of Killing describes how the power of global elites, entrenched under globalisation, has created a deadly cycle of violence.

In this groundbreaking work, Vijay Mehta shows how attempts at peaceful national development are routinely blocked by Western powers. He locates the 2008 financial crisis in US attempts to block China's model of development. He shows how Europe and the US conspire with regional dictators to prevent countries from developing advanced industries, and how this system has fed terrorism.

Mehta argues that a different world is possible, based on policies of disarmament, demilitarisation and sustainable development. This original and thought-provoking book will be of great interest to anyone concerned about the consequences of endless war fuelled by the West.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (13 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745332250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745332253
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 14.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,047,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


We live in a rich world and yet increasingly people are getting caught in the poverty trap and facing real hardship and pain. Vijay Mehta's excellent book sets out the problems and solutions, and challenges us all to create the spiritual and political will to implement policies which will bring about real change and give hope to humanity. (Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1976. Founder, Peace People, Belfast, Northern Ireland)

The Economics of Killing brilliantly links the deepening economic crisis facing the West with the dynamics of militarism that is wreaking havoc on the planet. Everyone who cares about the future must read this groundbreaking book. (Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for the Palestinian Territories, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, USA)

Vijay Mehta’s book shines a timely light on the role that Western Governments play in perpetuating conflict around the world. It is particularly welcome in that it does not just identify and detail the problem – it puts forward an alternative, and one which anyone genuinely committed to peace, justice and equality cannot afford to ignore. (Caroline Lucas, MP and Leader, Green Party, UK)

It is about time someone exposed the nefarious activities of the military-industrial complex that is destroying the foundations of civilized human existence. It has made killing a proifitable industry. This book is a must read for all peace-seekers. (Arun Gandhi, Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, President, Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, Rochester, NY, USA)

The book depicts ways in which the western powers can restructure their economies away from the reliance on the military industrial complex towards making the 21st century an era of soft power for a more peaceful and sustainable future. (Deepak Chopra, Best-selling Author, “Peace is the Way”. California, USA)

The Charter of the United Nations starts in this way: “We, the Peoples… have resolved to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war”… But instead of better sharing and building peace through social justice and economy guided by the “democratic principles” –so well enshrined in the UNESCO’s Constitution- and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the sinister proverb “if you wish peace prepare war” has been secularly applied by male rulers. And plutocratic (G7, G8 ) groups have taken over the functions of the United Nations, and have placed the market in the very core of the world governance… The result is a profound financial crisis that hides the most urgent planetary challenges as access to food and health of all human beings, the environmental progressive degradation; the lack of horizons of the humanity worldwide. The net balance is $4 billion per day in military expenditures while 70,000 persons die of hunger… The book of Vijay Mehta is extremely timely and provides –what is extremely important and must be underlined- not only excellent diagnosis but also appropriate treatments. And the first is to reduce the power of the military industrial complex. (Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Former Director-General UNESCO, President, Foundation Culture of Peace, Madrid, Spain)

Congratulations to Vijay Mehta on having grappled with this complex and too often sinister issue. The latest technology, with the clinically remote killing process of drones and the like, makes it all the more urgent and compelling. We are all involved. The subsidies by taxpayers to the arms industry are immense. Were that industry exposed to the full rigours of the market economy, it would be in deep trouble. It is a challenge to us all. Vijay Mehta helps us to face up to it. (Lord Frank Judd, Minister for Overseas Development (1976-1977), Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1977-1979), Director of Oxfam (1985-91) London, UK)

This important book identifies the real crisis ahead for the world which is not narrowly environmental but the fact that with rising population we will not have enough food or oil or water to survive. That is the real reason that this book, pointing to the waste in military expenditure, offers the real alternative to starvation, which is cooperation to meet our needs. (Tony Benn, former MP and Cabinet Minister, President, Stop the War Coalition, London, UK)

The book exposes the reader to the vicious Northern military-industrial complex, and roles of the media and energy sectors, plus the corrupting role of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in the profits of endless poverty. As power is shifting to the new emerging powers of the South, this book provides hope that the Northern centuries-old model of brutal human exploitation and blatant use of warfare will be uprooted and changed to support socio economic well being, equal opportunity and sustainable prosperity. (Denis Halliday, UN Assistant Secretary General (1994-1998) and Former Coordinator of the UN Humanitarian Program in Iraq)

In his book, ''The Economics of Killing: How the West Fuels War and Poverty in the Developing World” Vijay Mehta lifts the curtain on a truth which many would prefer concealed. If we were to become instruments of peace instead of war and redirect some of the global trillion and a half dollars spent annually on war and weapons to real human needs there would be no need to create Millennium Development Goals. All those supporting humanitarian NGOs should read Mehta’s book and act on it. (Bruce Kent, Vice President, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Movement for the Abolition of War. London, UK)

About the Author

Vijay Mehta is an author and peace activist. He is Chair of Uniting for Peace and founding trustee of the Fortune Forum charity. His books include The Fortune Forum Code: For a Sustainable Future (2006), Arms No More (2005), and The United Nations and Its Future in the 21st Century (2005).

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good title - Great book 16 Aug 2012
By AnneR
This book couldn't have come my way at a more opportune time. The scales have fallen from my eyes following events in Syria and the Middle East, a decade of war and its aftermath in Iran and Afghanistan, not to mention the disproportionate military operations in Gaza and Palestine, the shameful disregard for the lives and rights of ordinary civilians by so many ruling elites around the world and the interventionist policies of Western powers on the pretext of bringing peace, security and stability to "us". The book gives a superb handle on the current state of global economic politics, starting with the trade imbalance between China and the USA - the underlying reason, Mehta argues, why the economic bubble burst in 2008 - showing that "in its present form, the American economy cannot survive without permitting unfettered sales of arms and dual-use items, even to its enemies". It also gives an interesting and detailed analysis of spending on arms manufacturing in the USA, which has become a "deadweight around the necks of productive and progressive economic forces", and of the use of tax revenue to fund arms manufacturers, so that "while smaller American companies have to endure capitalism, Lockheed can purchase socialism". Mehta casts an incisive eye over every cultural, social, psychological and economic aspect of militarism, including the reverence reserved for the military, criticism of which is portrayed as "unpatriotic" and "disastrous for anyone seeking election", the exploitation of public sympathy for soldiers by the officer class to protect its own privileges, and the absence of media discussion of the "necessity of war in general or of the many trillions spent each year prosecuting conflict and maintaining military hardware and personnel". Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Economics of Killing' - a must read 14 Aug 2012
War - `The Economics of Killing'

`In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious...'
These words of Leo Tolstoy are as true today as when they were uttered.
Citizens do not want war and they do not want their wealth expended by governments on killing in foreign lands.

Yet the world expenditure on the military stands at 1.7 trillion dollars a year.
The British government spends around 36 billion pounds every year on the armed forces. It gives huge support to the UK arms manufacturers using citizens' money and is incurring the massive costs of fighting gratuitous foreign wars at a time when the security of the nation is at no significant threat from external forces.
At the end of 2011 the US Congress authorized $725 billion for the following year's defence budget (The US had already spent at least a trillion dollars in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in spite of being 14 trillion dollars in debt). By the end of 2012 the Pentagon will have spent well over $2,000 that year alone for every citizens of the US.
The only way to stop the killing is for citizens to insist that their government stop their wars and their reckless militarism. In the UK it is particularly monstrous that all this killing-cost is being incurred at a time when the government is closing community centres, libraries and post offices and selling off children's playgrounds under the banner of lack of funds.

And so there could hardly be a more timely book than `The Economics of Killing' by Vijay Mehta. (2012, Pluto Press). The author has been a dedicated and effective peace activist for many years and is well qualified to expose `...
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4.0 out of 5 stars A cancer in the body of the planet 14 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an exhaustive analysis of the military-industrial system which, like the tentacles of an octopus, has come to spread over the whole world. It is supported and perpetuated by the most powerful nations to their own advantage and to the detriment of the nations of the developing world. Few people are aware of the nature and ramifications of this system, the enormous sums of money spent on weapons and the purchase of weapons and the fact that while giving aid to poorer countries, the richest ones are contributing to their impoverishment and actually inhibiting their development. It is an alarming and timely wake-up call to concerned citizens who wish to see a better, more equitable world come into being, no longer polluted by a system ostensibly designed for defence, yet which acts like a cancer on the body of the planet and is responsible for immense human suffering.

Anne Baring, psychotherapist and author
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A main topic of Vijay Mehta's book is the United States' huge military-industrial complex and how this financial weight is affecting its economy and fuelling war and poverty in the developing world. Other inter-related topics include Arms sales of the West to trouble spots; oil and other sought after rare mineral resources in developing countries; terrorism, and the role of the media, including the internet.
In this well researched book Vijay details a fantastic amount of facts and figures to back his arguments and opens a deeply serious and alarming debate about the future path the world has the choice to take at this crucial crossroads.
Comparing the US's $700 billion Defence budget in 2010 to China's $120 billion, he argues that; apart from the cost of its overseas operations the biggest item on the US military expenditure is its manpower; salaries and benefits paid to its servicemen which is more than what China pays to its 2.3 million members of the People's Liberation Army; America's reliance on US manufacturers makes its military hardware much more expensive than weapons sourced from Russia or China; that the US is geographically distant from parts of the world it needs to influence and as a result has to spend more to overcome this distance.
But he adds that this `need' to influence unstable areas, which in many cases have been destabilised by US intervention or by political systems supported by the US military power and arms sales, drags the US into conflicts of others, provokes hostility, and encourages arms proliferation. This is particularly true in the Middle East, and the arming of both India and Pakistan.
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