Recent trends in military expenditure
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
World military expenditure is estimated to have been $1464 billion in 2008—a real-terms increase of 4 per cent over 2007 and of 45 per cent since 1999. This corresponded to 2.4 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP) and $217 for each person in the world.
The subregion with the most rapid growth in military expenditure over the 10-year period 1999-2008 was Eastern Europe, at 174 per cent. The bulk of this growth (87 per cent) is accounted for by the Russian Federation. The other subregions with the largest increases since 1999 are North Africa (94 per cent), North America (66 per cent), East Asia (56 per cent), and the Middle East (56 per cent). The subregion with the lowest growth in military spending over the past 10 years was Western and Central Europe (5 per cent).
The USA’s military spending accounted for 41.5 per cent of the world total in 2008, followed by China with 5.8 per cent, and then France and the UK with 4.5 per cent each. During the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, US military expenditure increased to the highest level in real terms since World War II, mostly due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and contributed to soaring budget deficits. These conflicts have been funded primarily through emergency supplemental appropriations outside the regular budgetary process, raising concerns regarding transparency and Congressional oversight, and have been financed primarily through borrowing. They will continue to require major budgetary resources in the near future, even supposing early withdrawals of US troops from Iraq.
China for the first time became the world’s second largest military spender in 2008, having increased its military spending almost threefold in real terms during the past decade. However, due to its rapid economic growth, the economic burden of military spending is still moderate, at 2.1 per cent of GDP.
In Western and Central Europe spending remained fairly flat in 2008. In Eastern Europe, Russia continued to increase spending, and is maintaining plans for further increases despite severe economic problems. Spending increased across most of Asia, with China, India, South Korea and Taiwan accounting for the bulk of the increase. Algeria’s spending increased by 18 per cent in real terms to $5.2 billion, the highest in Africa, driven by strong economic growth and a growing insurgency. In South America, Brazil continued to increase spending as it seeks greater regional power status
Military spending in the Middle East fell slightly in 2008, although this is probably temporary, with many countries in the region planning major arms purchases. In contrast, there was a large rise in Iraq, whose 2008 military budget was 133 per cent higher in real terms than their 2007 spending. While previously most funding for the Iraqi security forces came from the US, this has been increasingly replaced by domestic funding.
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