Singapore’s one-time Permanent Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Ministry Bilahari Kausikan has slammed current Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s comments on a “peace dividend” as “unhistorical nonsense” and “profoundly misleading”.
Mr Bilahari, a former Ambassador-at-Large who has served as ambassador to Russia and Permanent Representative to the United Nations during his career as a diplomat, was commenting on an interview which Dr Vivian had with news agency Bloomberg.
During that interview, Dr Vivian said growing defence spending, including by China and across Asia, is evidence a “peace dividend” after World War II that fuelled global economic growth is largely over.
“The last seven, eight decades of the peace dividend after the Second World War is over, and you’re going to see increased defence expenditure literally all over the world.”
“Certainly, in the case of Europe, (and) America still spends more than anyone else, several times more than even China. So even after China’s (defence budget) increase, it is still a fraction of the United States… My sense is yes, I see increased defence expenditures all around. I see this merely as an index of the fact that the post-World War Two peace and prosperity that we almost took for granted is over.”
Responding in a Facebook post, Mr Bilahari said:
“This is unhistorical nonsense and profoundly misleading — after WWII, there were such things as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, several wars in the Middle East, numerous wars in the Third World many of which were Cold War proxy wars and huge defence expenditures by the two camps. The so-called ‘peace dividend’ is a fashionable myth. If there ever was one, it was for a very brief post-Cold War period.”
The term “peace dividend” was most frequently used at the end of the Cold War, referring to a period where many countries, in particular Western nations, cut military spending to spend public funds on other sectors such as education and social welfare.