Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Why The 'War On Whatever' Will Never End

Weapons spending tops $1 trillion
Spending on weapons around the world topped $1 trillion (£560bn) for the first time in 2004, a new report says.

A study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) found that countries around the world spent $162 on weapons for each person alive.

The US alone accounted for 47% of the global total, mainly because of soaring spending on its "global war on terror".

Arms companies were benefiting from the demand, with sales at the top 100 firms up 25% in 2003 on the year before.
Want more info? Click here for the BBC piece I have been quoting, or ... check out the AP article published in Toronto's Globe And Mail, which includes the following additional details:
Stockholm — For the first time since the Cold War, global military spending exceeded $1-trillion (U.S.) in 2004, nearly half of it by the United States, a prominent European think tank said Tuesday.

As military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism continue, the world spent $1.035-trillion on military goods during the year, corresponding to 2.6 per cent of global gross domestic product, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.

The United States accounted for 47 per cent of all military expenditures, while Britain and France each made up 5 per cent. In all, 15 countries accounted for 82 per cent of the world's total military spending.
Besides its regular defence budget, the United States has allocated $238-billion since 2003 to fight terrorism, according to the report.
The arms trade also grew sharply, with the top 100 makers of weapons increasing their combined sales by 25 per cent between 2002 and 2003, the report said. Those companies sold weapons and arms worth $236-billion worldwide in 2003, compared with $188-billion a year earlier. The United States accounted for 63 per cent of all arms sales in 2003, the report said.
You can see the highlights of the SIPRI report here, although I don't mind including a few here. In the the section headed "Security and conflicts" you will see that
• In 2004 it became obvious that maintaining control over Iraqi territory would require capabilities other than high-intensity warfare and more manpower than in the technology-intensive phase of the war.

• Many of the conflicts that continue to produce the greatest number of deaths, casualties and suffering are wars of long duration. Far from soliciting more attention, their long-standing and recurrent nature tend to make them less visible internationally. Although the current international emphasis on the prevention of violent conflict is a positive development, it is worth considering whether the emphasis of policy and research should be directed at addressing the resolution of the world’s longest-standing major armed conflicts.

• Much of the current discussion of peace-building is focused on the macro level. What current operational experiences appear to illustrate, however, is that peace-building fails most often at the micro level, in the content and delivery of specific security, rule-of-law, economic, social and political reforms.

• Nationally led ‘coalitions of the willing’ of the kind that undertook the military actions in Afghanistan (2002) and Iraq (2003) pose special challenges for parliamentary oversight, since the interstate component of decision making is not carried out through an established, transparent multilateral institutional process.

• Military expenditure by states in the Middle East is high and shows a rising trend since 1996. Conventional arms races are unconstrained, but developments related to weapons of mass destruction are the ones that receive international attention.

• Since the 1980s, the introduction of a more open economic model in most states of the Latin American and Caribbean region has been accompanied by the growth of new regional structures, the dying out of interstate conflicts and a reduction in intra-state conflicts.

• A number of official inquiries into the handling of intelligence concerning Iraq’s weapon programmes, including how it had been interpreted or presented, published reports in 2004. The inquiries found a common theme that pre-war assessments were inaccurate and unsupported by the available evidence.
This is only a small sample; there are more highlights here. And if you really want more information, visit the SIPRI website at

Special thanks to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute for keeping tabs on this for us.