World Military Spending Continues Unabated

October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

A press release by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) notes that total world military spending in 2009 was US$1563 billion. This is contrasted with the total for 2000, which was US$1050 billion – a roughly FIFTY PERCENT increase in just nine years! What is even more telling is that the 2009 total is higher than the previous record of US$1550 billion, established in 1988 at the height of the Cold War when the world was supposedly at its most tense and violent. Any illusions of a post-Cold War peace dividend have long been shattered but this latest statistic really brings the current global reality of warfare and violence home.

The U.S., U.K., and the rest of Europe account for about 70% of the total (the U.S. alone accounts for almost half!). By contrast, the countries regularly identified as “rogue states” and enemies of the West – North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Cuba, and Libya – account for only about 1% of the total.

Pakistan is one of the most enthusiastic consumers of defense products from the West (especially the U.S.). It has more than doubled its stock of U.S. weaponry from US$3 billion by the end of 1998 to about US$8 billion by 2009. We seem to be continuing on this spiral towards madness as the Government of Pakistan recently announced that it would increase next year’s military budget by more than US$ 1 billion (a roughly 15% increase) – and this at the same time as it has slashed its education and health budgets. Interestingly, the AHRC notes that Pakistan is rather unique in the world as it pays for most of its military purchases with cash.

One cannot help but be repulsed at the vulgarity of this behavior by our government, dictated to of course by the Army. We spend ever-more-lavishly on arms purchases, and keep decreasing our social welfare budgets. And the main beneficiaries of this spiraling expenditure are the Pakistani Army generals, the elites who are directly or indirectly involved in arms deals (including many civilian politicians), U.S. defense contractors and arms manufacturers, and the culture of militarism that Pakistan has been gripped in for many decades now. All the while, it is common people who suffer – reeling from one disaster to the next, they have no support and no hope for a better day. At least Marie Antoinette had a smidgen of sympathy when she suggested that the masses eat cake; Pakistani elites don’t even grant our masses the right to eat at all.

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