“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.