Awful global military spending!

Industrialization led to active militarization of major countries in order to protect the so-called national interest. In recent years militarization cum weaponization process has escalated beyond imagination. Most countries keep spending more and more scarce resources on the terror goods- the military equipment. No country wants to reveal the amount its spends on weaponry and whatever they inform the public may not be genuine.

The global military spending database, an annual report compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) provides details of military spending by most important countries. Each of these countries is actively attempting to coerce and bully its neighboring nations, and they all pose high to severe threats to the world and genuine human interests.

What the headlines usually miss is that U.S. defense spending is going down while global military spending is going up. The fact that the USA still spends more on defense than any other individual nation dramatically misses the point.

For the first time since 2011, global military spending rose in 2015 to touch nearly $1.7 trillion driven mainly by conflicts, including the ‘war on terror’ and ‘against ISIS’, the Saudi-led action in Yemen and Chinese expansion in South China Sea even as India’s expenditure on arms remained ahead of countries like France, Germany and Japan. Indian Union Minister for Finance, Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 2.47 lakh crore (equivalent to USD $40 bn) for the development in the army forces marking an raise of around 7 per cent from the last fiscal.

A combination of high oil prices and new oil discoveries and exploitation has contributed to a surge in military spending in many countries in the past decade.

The United States dominates global spending on defence, with a budget more than double that of the next biggest spender, China. It spends around $569bn a year on defence – the majority of which goes on operations, maintenance and personnel. This has decreased from $587bn in 2014, according to data provided by IHS, which takes into account international exchange rates.

While the USA’s defence spending is declining, China’s is increasing. Its budget stood at $191bn in 2015 – up from $176bn in 2014.

The $619 billion military expenditure in the USA nearly outpaced the combined spending of every other country on this list in 2013. At the start of 2013, the U.S. had nearly 8,000 nuclear warheads in reserve. Since 2001, U.S. military spending has risen from $287 billion to $530 billion. In recent years, however, U.S. military outlays fell from 4.8% of GDP in 2009 to 3.8% in 2013. Reduction in military expenditures was due to a greater emphasis on fiscal austerity and the winding down of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, military expenditure fell nearly 6% in 2012, followed by a 7.8% reduction in 2013. Despite efforts to curtail the size of the military, the U.S. supplied nearly $6.2 billion in arms to foreign allies, a figure second only to Russia. The U.S. was also a large arms importer, bringing in $759 million worth of arms, among the higher rates world-wide.

The United Kingdom, Russia and France are the next biggest spenders on defence. All of which are dwarfed, however, by America’s spending. As well as the United States, Japan and Brazil had the biggest falls in defence spending between 2014 and 2015. South Korea, the United Kingdom and China had the largest increases – with China boosting its defence budget by $14.7bn in a year. Of the 25 largest defenses in the world, 13 were Asian – with a total defence spending of $840bn. There are several different estimations of defence spending from a variety of sources. The IHS has standardized all budgets into USD. Consequently, Russia’s budget is lower due to the depreciation of the rouble against the dollar.

US strategic party keeps talking about “the growing threats against US vital interests”. They argue that China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are driving the details of the Pentagon’s latest defense budget proposal. In the 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength, China, Russia, and Iran were assessed as being particularly aggressive against the interests of the United States, while North Korea was rated as downright hostile. They also argue that a big part of why the U.S. maintains a large military is because we have learned that major conflict in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia can be devastating to our economy.

The Pentagon seeks more money saying that fifteen years of conflict and years of tight budgets have taken a grave toll, worsened by these budget cuts.

Russia leads the rest of the world in military exports, with more than $8 billion worth last year, well above the U.S.’s $6.2 billion in exports. While total military spending in Russia remains a fraction of what it was in the late 1980s, it has been on the rise in recent years as a result of Russia’s involvement in various regional conflicts. With the more recent ongoing Crimean crisis, this spending trend may likely continue. The country’s military expenditure was roughly $85 billion last year compared with just $64.5 billion in 2009. Russia now spends 4.1% of its GDP on its military, exceeding that of the U.S. for the first time in over a decade. The dramatic increase is likely due in part to Russia’s stated plans to invest more than $700 billion to modernize its weapons system by 2020. According to some onlookers, making these improvements may be difficult given Russia’s low birthrates, poverty and lingering soviet-era corruption problems.

Military spending often mirrors economic growth, and this is especially true in China where military spending has increased in each of the past five years roughly in line with economic growth. Military expenditure grew 7.4% last year alone, far more than any other country in the region, and among the larger annual growths world-wide. The value of China’s military exports trails only the U.S. and Russia, at around $1.8 billion last year. Unlike most other countries, China imported nearly as much in military goods as it exported, at $1.5 billion last year. A combination of increased Chinese military spending and rising regional tensions have encouraged higher military expenditures among neighboring countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.

From 2011 to 2015, the US defense budget went down by 21 percent while China increased its military budget by 38 percent and Russia increased its military budget by 40 percent.

Putting these changes in regional context is even more striking. In the past 10 years, Russian forces have moved across their border to invade neighboring countries, most recently annexing Crimea from Ukraine and actively assisting a separatist force in destabilizing the eastern half of Ukraine.

China continues to assert its claims by force in the South China Sea, creating islands in long disputed international waters, then militarizing them, and intimidating other countries from freely using the seas and airspace around them. Iran is more active than ever, testing ballistic missiles, helping to fuel the turmoil being felt throughout the Middle East, and even seizing U.S. sailors. To make matters worse, North Korea continues to test nuclear weapons and missiles, in addition to issuing threats of a pre-emptive nuclear attack.

The new budget data shows that military spending is increasing dramatically in Eastern Europe and Asia. Russia and China are driving these increases, but their neighbors are taking note and increasing their budgets as well.

The study by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) noted that Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support to Ukrainian separatists also accounted for the spending having gone up by one per cent in real terms as compared to 2014. “World military expenditure rose by 1% in 2015. The first increase in military spending since 2011, it reflects continuing growth in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe, and some Middle Eastern states,” the institute said. It added that the US remained by far the world’s largest spender in 2015 despite its defence expenditure falling by 2.4% to $596 billion.

China’s expenditure rose by 7.4% to $215 billion while Saudi Arabia’s grew by 5.7% to $87.2 billion, making it the world’s third largest spender. Russia’s spending increased by 7.5% to $66.4 billion. India’s share was 3.1%, ahead of France (3%), Japan (2.4%) and Israel (1%). Incidentally, India is in talks with all three countries for acquiring new military platforms running into billions of dollars.  However, the crash in oil prices that started in 2014 has begun to reverse this trend in many oil revenue-dependent countries. Further cuts in spending are expected in 2016, the report said.

Military spending in Asia and Oceania rose by 5.4% in 2015 and was heavily influenced by China. “Heightening tensions between China and various countries in the region contributed to substantial increases in expenditure by Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam and triggered the start of a reversal of the long-term downward trend in Japan’s military spending,” it said.

The headline estimate for total world military spending for 2015 amounts to $1.676 billion, or about 2.3 per cent of total world gross domestic product (GDP) often referred to as the ‘military burden’. SIPRI said it is a sum that many people would consider to be too high.

Successful disarmament and denuclearization could lead to peaceful atmosphere globally, needing less money for terror goods.

Dr Abdul Ruff

Prolific writer, Educationist; Independent Analyst; Investigative journalist, Columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics; Expert on Mideast affairs, Chronicler of foreign occupations & freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.) Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); Commentator on world affairs & sport fixings, Former university teacher; Author of eBooks/books; *Editor: International Opinion, Foreign Policy; Palestine Times: website: email;Phone*: 91-7293435028 *Thanks the remuneration if sent to my State Bank of India - Account No: **62310377429 Bank Code: **SBIN0020731 *(Earlier it was State bank of Hyderabad)

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