World military spending falls, but China, Russia’s spending rises, says SIPRI
an article by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (abridged)
World military expenditure totaled $1.75 trillion
in 2012, a fall of 0.5 per cent in real terms
since 2011, according to figures released today by
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
(SIPRI). The comprehensive annual update of the
SIPRI Military Expenditure Database is accessible
World military expenditure by region, 2012 (from SIPRI website)
click on photo to enlarge
The fall—the first since 1998—was driven by major
spending cuts in the USA and Western and Central
Europe, as well as in Australia, Canada and Japan.
The reductions were, however, substantially offset
by increased spending in Asia, Eastern Europe, the
Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America.
China, the second largest spender in 2012,
increased its expenditure by 7.8 per cent ($11.5
billion). Russia, the third largest spender,
increased its expenditure by 16 per cent ($12.3
Despite the drop, the global total was still higher
in real terms than the peak near the end of the cold
‘We are seeing what may be the beginning of a
shift in the balance of world military spending
from the rich Western countries to emerging
regions, as austerity policies and the drawdown in
Afghanistan reduce spending in the former, while
economic growth funds continuing increases
elsewhere,’ said Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, Director of
SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production
Programme. ‘However, the USA and its allies are
still responsible for the great majority of world
military spending. The NATO members together spent
a trillion dollars.
In 2012 the USA’s share of world military spending
went below 40 per cent for the first time since
the collapse of the Soviet Union. A declining
trend that began in 2011 accelerated in 2012, with
a drop in US military spending of 6 per cent in
real terms to $682 billion.
The decline is mostly the result of reduced war
spending, which fell from $159 billion in FY 2011 to
$115 billion in FY 2012, and is set to continue its
downward course, with only $87 billion requested for
US military spending in 2012 was also projected to
be $15 billion lower than previously planned as a
result of cuts to the Department of Defense linked
to the 2011 Budget Control Act. The bulk of cuts
under this legislation will begin in 2013.
Austerity policies also caused falls in military
spending in most of Europe in 2012. Since the 2008
global financial crisis, 18 of the 31 countries in
the European Union or European NATO have cut
military spending by more than 10 per cent in real
Even in those parts of the world where spending
has increased, the effects of the economic crisis
can still be seen: slowing economic growth in
emerging regions has led to slower rates of growth
in military spending. Only the Middle East and
North Africa increased their rate of military
spending between 2003–2009 and 2009–2012. . . .
* All percentage increases and decreases are
expressed in real terms (constant 2011 prices).
Question(s) related to this article:
Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?,
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Latest reader comment:
I think it was Marx who said that military spending is like throwing money into the sea, since it does not produce anything of value for people.
We could saw this previously in the case of the Soviet Union that was driven into bankruptcy by the arms race, which was a deliberate and successful strategy of NATO.
But now, if we look clearly, we can see it is now the case for the United States which produces very little for export and imports enormously (especially from China), while it spends most of its wealth on arms production.
Arms production is hidden in the official government budget of the United States. First, the government adds in social security which does not come from taxes, but which is simply a form of saving by those who pay into the system. Then it hides much of military spending in other budgets (for example nuclear production is hidden under energy). And finally, it fails to mention that most of the enormous budget item of debt payment is actually the payment for previous wars and arms production.
According to the careful research of the War Resisters League (available at their website, almost half of the federal budget of the United States is for present and past military expenses. This amounts to over 1.3 trillion dollars a year!