Global military spending and aid figures for 2005
Today, 12 June 2006, the Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute reported its findings for military expenditure last year. [<http://yearbook2006.sipri.org/sipri-yb06-release.pdf
The figures show once again that it is not a shortage of resources preventing the richer nations from addressing climate change and poverty, which, apart from being problems deserving attention in their own right, are probably the greatest contributors to future insecurity and conflict [Source: Oxford Research Group - <http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefings/globalthreats.pdf].
SIPRI's figures estimate that global military expenditure rose in 2005 to $1,118 billion ($1.1 trillion) in current US dollars.
Using constant 2003 prices, military spending rose $26bn from $975bn in 2004 to $1001bn in 2005 - an increase of 2.7%. (Using 2003 prices is a useful way to compare expenditures over time but it is more meaningful to quote current military spending using current prices - ie $1,118bn for 2005).
In 2005, the United States spent $478.2bn on the military at 2003 prices ($534.1bn in current US dollars). In 2004, the US accounted for 47% of the world total - in 2005 its share had risen to 48%. This is equivalent to $1,791 per head of population in the US.
The second largest military spender in the world is the UK, at $53.6bn in current US$ (c.£29bn), or $904 (c.£490) per capita. This is despite the UK government's view that: 'There is no direct military threat to the United Kingdom or Western Europe. Nor do we foresee the re-emergence of such a threat...' [Source: Strategic Defence Review, 1998 - this policy was reiterated in the Defence White Paper of 2003 <http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/051AF365-0A97-4550-99C0-4D87D7C95DED/0/cm6041I_whitepaper2003.pdf].
France, Japan and China complete the top five military spenders.
SIPRI also found that the top 100 arms companies' sales rose by 15% in 2005.
Military spending towers above commitments to tackle the systemic causes of future global insecurity such as the gap between rich and poor, the impact of climate change and resource shortages, and militarism itself.
Spending on overseas aid has increased in recent years but still falls well short of the estimated requirement for achieving the Millennium Development Goals for poverty alleviation. The World Bank estimated in 2002 that the world needed to be spending $100-130bn each year to 2015 in order to achieve the goals. The latest figures for aid spending are from 2004, when the world spent $87.3bn on aid (in current US$). The world currently spends over 12 times as much on the military as on overseas aid. [Source: World Bank - <http://devdata.worldbank.org/external/CPProfile.asp?PTYPE=CP&CCODE=WLD]
There are no official estimates of the resources being committed globally to tackling climate change. One careful estimate of the cost of implementing the Kyoto Protocol (including theoretical US participation) is in the order of $118 billion per annum over the next 50 years. The cost of stabilising CO2 concentrations at 550ppm by 2100 - regarded by many as the realistic long-term goal - range up to $661bn per annum over the next 50 years. Both figures are well within current military spending. [Source: R. Watson et al. 'Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report', (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), Figure 7.3, cited in House of Lords Committee on Economic Affairs, 'The Economics of Climate Change', 2005, p. 43 - <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/12i.pdf]
Also today, 12 June, the Oxford Research Group published 'Global Responses to Global Threats: Sustainable Security for the 21st Century' - their assessment of the major systemic threats to future peace and security, together with an agenda for change. To quote from the Executive Summary of the report:
'This new approach to global security can be characterised as a "sustainable security paradigm". The main difference between this and the "control paradigm" is that this approach does not attempt to unilaterally control threats through the use of force ("attack the symptoms"), but rather it aims to cooperatively resolve the root causes of those threats using the most effective means available ("cure the disease"). For example, a sustainable security approach prioritises renewable energy as the key solution to climate change; energy efficiency as a response to resource competition; poverty reduction as a means to address marginalisation; and the halting and reversal of WMD development and proliferation as a main component of checking global militarisation. These approaches provide the best chance of averting global disaster, as well as addressing some of the root causes of terrorism.' [<http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefings/globalthreats.pdf]
Finally, the web site <http:www.milspend.org has been updated with the latest SIPRI data and now includes new features, including the facility to embed the real time counter easily in your own web site, and the option of viewing the counter in £ or $. Please link to it!
Email from Quaker Peace & Social Witness
W: http://www.quaker.org.uk/qpsw and http://www.peaceexchange.org.uk
Thought for June: 'The Army is after all a killing machine. It seems to me in a sense that society is trying to pretend that it isn't, when it watches it on parade.' Army Major (cited in 'Soldier Soldier' by Tony Parker).