Thursday, June 14, 2007

Global Arms Sales Hit More Than $1 Trillion In 2006

2007 Total To Be Even Higher

China, US, UK, Russia, France Are All Planning To Update Nuclear Arsenals

Not since the most intense and paranoid days of the Cold War has the world's nations spent so much money arming themselves, and each other.

The United States spent more than $528 billion dollars, and even Australia, with a population of some 21 million, spent more than $16 billion on defence, with more than $21 billion allotted for 2007-2008.

From UPI :
Worldwide military spending in 2006 reached levels unseen since the Cold War, with nearly half of all money spent by the United States, and China coming in at the No. 4 spot for the first time, according to a report compiled by a Sweden-based peace research institute.

Last year some $1.204 trillion was spent on military matters all over the world, according to a report released Monday by the independent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

That's a 37 percent increase in the last decade and the highest amount since 1988 -- a time when the Berlin Wall was an impossible hurdle for millions of East Germans and nuclear war was just a button push away.

The United States accounted for $528.7 billion, nearly half all money spent, SIPRI said, followed by Britain ($59 billion) and France ($53 billion).

The increase in U.S. military spending is mainly rooted in the costly missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing war on terrorism, but those are not the only reasons, observers say.

"The United States has a global leadership demand, and the military expenditures reflect that," Sascha Lange, military expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, told United Press International Tuesday in a telephone interview. "The American arms industry, with its many big firms responsible for a large amount of jobs, not only carries security importance, but also economic importance."

Some 40 U.S. firms accounted for 63 percent of the Top 100 arms sales worth a combined $290 billion in 2005.

"Parts of the U.S. arms industry have benefited substantially" from the policy decisions taken since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Elisabeth Skons and Eamon Surry concluded in their analysis of the arms production market.

Yes, that's why when the American stock markets opened five days after 9/11, the hottest stocks were anything related to defence or the military. And it wasn't just Raytheon and Haliburton that saw their stocks surge. Even companies that packaged ready-to-eat meals for deployed troops saw their value increase dramatically.

The defence industry knew the scale of the wars to come even before the twin towers imploded.

...for some observers, the most alarming military expenditure growth didn't happen in the United States or Europe, but in Asia.

Based on SIPRI's best estimates, China last year for the first time overtook Japan as Asia's biggest military spender and the world's fourth-biggest, with a budget of $50 billion. India ranked No. 3 in Asia, with $24 billion, and Russia spent an estimated $35 billion.

"The United States and the European Union countries continue to supply vast quantities of arms to the Middle East, despite the knowledge that it is a highly volatile region," SIPRI arms transfers expert Siemon Wezeman said.

All these weapons aren't just going to sit there. You have to use some of them up so there is a reason to make more. Nothing like a full scale global conflict to clean out the warehouses.

But the money isn't just being spent on stealth bombers and Humvees and joint striker fighters.

Incredibly, France, the UK, China, the US and Russia still hold more than 26,000 nuclear warheads between them, and according to the UPI story, all five are planning major new programs to update their arsenals.

Read The Full Story Here