Worldwide Military Spending To Exceed $1.7 Trillion — But Western Countries Curtail Their Expenses On Arms

Global military spending could easily exceed $1.7 trillion this year. The marked increase in procurement of defense equipment across the world is contradicted by the West, where it actually decreased, albeit marginally.

The world collectively spent about $1.7 trillion last year on augmenting their military strength. All over the world, countries have significantly increased their military expenditure, with the only exception being the United States. Interestingly, even if the U.S. marginally reduced its expenditure, it still managed to retain the top spot. The increase in military spending is being attributed to the rapid and persistent escalation of conflict involving the ISIS, fears about Iran’s intentions, and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Countries neighboring China are concerned about the escalation of activities in the South China Sea, as well as Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support of Ukrainian separatists. Interestingly, the world doesn’t seem much bothered about continuous threats from North Korea, as well as the routine nuclear tests that the country appears to conduct.

The study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) indicated the global military expenditure rose to nearly $1.7 trillion in 2015. The growth was markedly observed in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe, and some Middle Eastern states. In realistic terms, the growth is just by a single percent, but it is the first increase in several years, which paints a rather grim picture.

“The increase reflects continuing growth in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe, and some Middle Eastern states. The decline in spending in the West is also leveling off. At the same time, spending decreased in Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, the global military expenditure picture is mixed.”

Despite falling by 2.6 percent, at $596 billion, the United States still remains the world’s largest military spender. Its closest competitor, China, is nowhere near the U.S. However, after spending an estimated $215 billion, China led all countries in 2015, noted the annual SIPRI report. The Asian country’s expenditure rose by 4.2 percent. Saudi Arabia ranked third by spending $87.2 billion, rising 5.7 percent. But, the country’s pace increased rapidly as Saudi Arabia’s military spending was half that amount in 2006. Though exact numbers are difficult to come by, Russia’s spending is estimated to have risen by 7.5 percent. The country reportedly spent just $66.5 billion on bolstering its military.

Despite spending just $13.1 billion, Iraq’s pace is the fastest. Within a span of just 10 years, Iraq’s military spending has jumped 500 percent, reported Fox News. Iraq’s spending can be attributed to the U.S. withdrawal and rise of the Islamic State group, which forced it to rapidly rebuild its armed forces, noted the SIPRI.

European countries have been spending less on military augmentation. However, the countries closer to Russia are expected to spend more on defense equipment. Countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia have been gearing up, perhaps fearing Russian aggression and possible attempts at annexation, reported UPI.

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Interestingly, the plummeting oil prices has had a strong impact on the countries producing the crude and in extension, their military spending, indicated the report. Venezuela’s military expenses plummeted by 64 percent, while Angola had to scale back by 42 percent, reported News Week.

Overall, the report offers very contradictory and uncertain future about the expenditure on defense observed across the globe, indicated Dr. Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of SIPRI’s military expenditure project.

“Military spending in 2015 presents contrasting trends. On the one hand, spending trends reflect the escalating conflict and tension in many parts of the world; on the other hand, they show a clear break from the oil-fueled surge in military spending of the past decade. This volatile economic and political situation creates an uncertain picture for the years to come.”

[Photo by Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images]