Military Spending: Permanent Stimulus for Decaying Empires

54%, that is the US of the world’s military spending, according to SIPRI.

“Military spending rose across the world last year.

At a time when governments across the world have been borrowing heavily in order to spend, it seems the defence industry has benefited more than most.

Worldwide military expenditure reached $1,531bn (£1,040bn) last year, a 5.9% rise in real terms from 2008, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

But growth in defence spending is not a new phenomenon.

Last year, while deficits ballooned in many countries, the world spent almost 50% more on arms and military operations than it did in 2000, Sipri’s yearbook reveals.

Rather than curbing spending on arms, it seems many governments have deemed it dangerous to risk job cuts in the defence sector at a time of recession.

“Many countries were increasing public spending generally in 2009, as a way of boosting demand to combat the recession,” according to Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of the military expenditure project at Sipri.

“Although military spending wasn’t usually a major part of the economic stimulus packages, it wasn’t cut either.”

“For major or intermediate powers such as the USA, China, Russia, India and Brazil, military spending represents a long-term strategic choice which they are willing to make even in hard economic times.”

Smaller countries in central and eastern Europe, meanwhile, cut military spending in line with severe budget cuts across the board as they struggled to reduce their large deficits.”

When one reads books on the current crisis, an argument that is often made is that capital has to find places to go, thereby creating bubbles. I would argue that the same holds for military spending. All that military “stuff” has to be “spent” somewhere either directly, through direct military action, or indirectly, through the massive sale or provision of military equipment and training to other countries. Economic and political instability go hand in hand.

3 thoughts on “Military Spending: Permanent Stimulus for Decaying Empires

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  2. Every time I hear the insane figures for military spending I’m reminded of Eisenhower’s 1953 “Cross of Iron” speech and its implications for the future of humanity.

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

    This world in arms in not spending money alone.

    It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

    The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

    It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

    It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

    It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

    We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

    We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

    This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

    This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

    It makes me think of a song by the Police, “Driven to Tears.”

    “Hide my face in my hands, shame wells in my throat.
    My comfortable existence is reduced
    To a shallow, meaningless party.
    Seems that when some innocents die
    All we can offer them is a page in a some magazine.
    Too many cameras and not enough food
    ‘Cause this is what we’ve seen
    Driven to tears
    Driven to tears
    Driven to tears.”

    That’s what I am… driven to tears.

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