Military spending, development and climate change in numbers
Annual Global Military spending is higher now than at peak of the cold war. $1.7 trillion in 2017. At $610 billion, the USA spends more on its military than the next seven highest-spending countries combined. (SIPRI)
The P5+1 accounts for 80% arms export (by volume) between 2013-2017. The 10 largest importers alone (all in the global south, except Australia) accounts for 52% of global arms imports during the same period. 32% of global arms sales went to the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia and UAE, fuelling conflicts in the Middle East and resulting refugee movements of a scale not witnessed since WW1. (SIPRI)
In terms of value sold, the UK is the 2nd largest exporter of military products and services, with exports of $120bn between 2007 & 2016, according to UK government’s own figures.
The Iraq war was responsible for 141m tonnes of carbon releases in its first four years, according to an Oil Change International report. On an annual basis, this was more than the emissions from 139 countries in this period, or about the same as putting an extra 25m cars on to US roads for a year.
UK military spending was around £48.7 billion during 2016/17 (HM Treasury). The UK’s defence budget is the 5th biggest in the world; in terms of spend per person, it is also the third highest in NATO. Defence is the 4 largest government department by expenditure, behind Work and Pensions, Health and Education only.
Diverting only 10% of world military spending would be enough to achieve major progress on key SDGs:
Over 900 million people in the world are hungry; 1.5 billion people subsist on less than US$1.25 per day. Furthermore, over 40% of people in the world live on less than US$2 per day. And this is not just confined to the global south – 40 million Americans are on food stamps (US Census Bureau). A 2015 report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization suggests that eliminating extreme poverty and hunger sustainably by 2030 (SDGs 1 and 2) would require an estimated additional $265 billion a year on average (2013 prices). This amounts to 16% of global military spending in 2015 (SIPRI).
The 2015 Education for All Global Monitoring Report found that providing universal primary and early secondary education of adequate quality by 2030 (SDG 4) would require an additional $239 billion a year in spending (2012 prices). This is 14% of global military spending in 2015 (SIPRI).
A 2015 report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network found that achieving the SDGs in health, education, agriculture and food security, access to modern energy, water supply and sanitation, telecommunications and transport infrastructure, ecosystems, and emergency response and humanitarian work (SDGs 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14 and 15), including additional sums to allow for climate change mitigation and adaptation, would require further spending from public sources of $760–$885 billion a year between 2015–30 (2013 prices). This amounts to 46–54% of world military spending in 2015 (SIPRI).
80% of the world’s 20 poorest countries have suffered a major war in the past 15 years. Nine of the 10 countries with the world’s highest child mortality rates have suffered from conflict in recent years. (War on Want: Banking on Bloodshed 2009)
Military Kit vs People (Share The World’s Resources): One aircraft carrier ($5 billion) = reforesting an area three times the size of Costa Rica in the Amazon ($300 per hectare). One battle tank ($780,000) = 26,000 people could be treated for malaria ($30 per person). One B-2 Stealth Bomber @ $1,000,000,000 = 1,150,510 Clean Water Wells OR 31,466,331 Child Immunisations OR 713,318 Houses for family’s currently living in cramped, unsanitary and dangerous conditions OR 270,196 Schools Furnished with desks, chairs, tables, blackboards.
Syria and Yemen
Thirteen civilian casualties a day in Yemen conflict. The UN has put the death toll (since March 2015 and up to August 2016) at more than 10,000, with 3,799 of them being civilians. At least 7.6 million people, including three million women and children, are currently suffering from malnutrition and at least three million people have been forced to flee their homes.
Just under half of Yemen’s population is under 18 and at least 1,339 children are among the dead, according to the UN children’s fund (Unicef).
19 million people were in need of some form of humanitarian or protection assistance. Almost 14.4 million people in Yemen are food insecure. This includes more than seven million people in desperate need of food assistance; that is one in five of the country’s population. Yemen has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world and now an estimated 1 in 5 people are “severely food insecure” and in urgent need of food assistance. About 3.3 million children and pregnant or breast-feeding women are acutely malnourished, including 462,000 children under five who face severe acute malnutrition. That represents a 63% increase since late 2015 and threatens the lives and life-long prospects of those affected, according to the UN.
The conflict has also forced some 560,000 out of school, raising the total number of school-age children out of school in Yemen to 2.2 million. During the 2015/2016 school year, UNICEF reported 1,600 school closures across the country.
The Saudi-led coalition bombing of Yemen has been condemned by the UN for carrying out “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets in violation of international law.
Britain, along with France, remains one of the biggest suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia. UK has licensed over £3.3bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015, including £2.2bn on aircraft, helicopters and drones, £1.1bn on grenades, bombs, missiles and countermeasures, and £430,000 in armoured vehicles and tanks. Fifty-eight Eurofighter jets and 2,400 500lb Pathway-IV guided missiles have been sold by Britain to Saudi Arabia in 2015. The Saudi government has admitted it has used UK-manufactured cluster bombs against Houthi rebels, while Britain’s foreign office admits that UK typhoons have been used in Yemen.
Yemen usually imports more than 90% of staple food. But a naval embargo imposed by the Saudi-led coalition have severely reduced imports since 2015. A lack of fuel, coupled with insecurity and damage to markets and roads, have also prevented supplies from being distributed. The poverty rate has doubled to 62%, with public sector salaries – on which about 30% of the population depend – paid only irregularly.
An estimated 14.8 million people lack access to basic healthcare, with 8.8 million living in severely affected areas. Only 45% of the 3,507 health facilities surveyed by the World Health Organization in November were fully functioning, and even they faced severe medicine, equipment and staff shortages. As of October 2016, at least 274 health facilities had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict.
Since the onset of the crisis in 2011, at least 400000 people have been killed.
13.5 million people in Syria are in urgent need of humanitarian support, protection and livelihoods, including 5.8 million children. Of these, 6.3 million people have been uprooted from their homes and forced to relocate, while close to 5 million have fled the country, so in total 11 million people have been left homeless.
More than 75 percent of Syrian refugees are women and children.
Since 2011, 50 Syrian families have been displaced every hour of every day. The pace of displacement remains relentless.
Three out of four Syrians live in poverty.
Nearly 7000 airstrikes since a US-led campagin began in September 2014.
The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria has killed at least 300 civilians in airstrikes. Russian raids have killed at least 3,600 civilians in just over a year. (2016)
In 2016 alone, the United Stataes dropped at least 26171 bombs, approximately 12000 bombs of which was in Syria.
The Russian air force in Syria has conducted 19,160 sorties, delivering over 71,000 strikes since the start of an anti-terrorist operation on Sept. 30, 2015, said Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff.
In one year alone (2015), USA sold $33 Billion in Weapons to Gulf Cooperation Council states—that’s Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Where munitions are concerned, the twin bombing campaigns against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and against Houthi rebels in Yemen are driving sales of precision weapons and “dumb” bombs alike. In 2015, the U.S. delivered 4,500 precision guided munitions to GCC states, including 1,500 taken from the U.S. military’s own inventories.
Bombs makers like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and General Dynamics all stand to benefit from the uptick in overseas sales. Lockheed alone has already received $18 million to bump its Hellfire missile production from 500 to 650 missiles per month. Lockheed has also quadrupled production of Paveway II laser-guided bombs, a favorite of the Saudi Royal Air Force. All that’s on top of the $1.8 billion the Pentagon is asking for in its fiscal 2017 budget request to fund the production of 45,000 smart bombs to replenish its own stores.
Germany delivered nearly 13 million euros in weapons to Syria between 2002 and 2013 – mainly tanks, chemical agents and small arms. In 2014, Germany also delivered 8,000 Heckler & Koch G36 and G3 assault rifles to Peshmerga fighters in Syria.
The Kremlin said it spent almost $500m on its military operation in Syria from 09/15 to 03/16. But Moscow could earn a lot more after the world saw Russia-made weapons, old and new, battle-tested by the Russian air force and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military on the ground.The Kommersant daily said in 2016, quoting Kremlin insiders and military analysts, that the “marketing effect” of the Syrian conflict will boost Russia’s arms sales by up to $7bn. In 2015, Russian arms exports hit a record $14.5bn because of their “reliability and high effectiveness”, President Putin said in late March. The figure was higher than expected, and foreign orders for Russian weapons exceeded $56bn, Putin added, addressing a meeting of defence officials.
More: Syria and Yemen Stats
Winners & losers in the global military spending relationship – citizens and environment vs governments and defence industries
- The Top Ten vs ‘Rogue States’
- More on Defence than Education
- Weapons vs Want
- Military Kit vs People
- The Military, War and Climate Change
- Share Price, Profits, Tax Havens
- Arms Sales
- The United States
- Nuclear Weapons: USA $5.5 Trillion Spend 1940-96; Global Annual Spend $100 Billion
- Countries whose military spending is more than $1 billion in 2010
- Top Military Spender (per Capita) in 2010
1. The Top Ten vs ‘Rogue States’
The top spenders are responsible for 75% of global military spending $1.7trillion (2011). The USA accounts for 41%. NATO countries (the US, Europe and the UK) accounted for 70 per cent of the global military expenditure. Europe has 7% of the world’s population and 20 per cent of global military expenditure (TNI). The Permanent Five nations on the Security Council (USA, Russia, China, UK and France) and Germany account for approximately 80% arms sales – all this while their role on the Security Council is to keep the peace.
Top 10: The United States ($711 billion); China ($146 bn), Russia ($78 bn), UK ($60 bn), France ($63 bn) Japan ($60 bn) India ($50 bn) Saudi Arabia ($49bn) Germany ($48 bn) Brazil ($37 bn). (SIPRI, 2013)
All rogue states, the so-called perceived enemies of the West ie North Korea, Iran, Sudan,Syria, Cuba and Libya, reportedly spent less than 1% of the total global military spending in 2009 (Canadian based Centre for Research on Globalization)
2. More on Defence than Education
On average, industrialized countries spend 3 times as much on defence as on education; in particular, the ratio is 6:1 rather than 3:1 in USA. Many of the world’s poorest countries and fastest growing economies (both measured in terms of GDP per capita) spend much more on defence than either on education or on health. (Unicef)
Money spent on the $1.7trillion defence sector equals $4.7 billion a day or $249 per person. (IPB 2012)
3. Weapons vs Want.
5% of this $1.7trillion (2011) would be needed each year to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 according to the World Bank and the Office of Disarmament Affairs (ODA). (IPB 2012)
In 2002 the World Bank had estimated that an additional $ 40-60bn were required annually in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015
80% of the world’s 20 poorest countries have suffered a major war in the past 15 years, and the human legacy continues long after. Nine of the 10 countries with the world’s highest child mortality rates have suffered from conflict in recent years. (War on Want: Banking on Bloodshed 2009)
Over 900 million people in the world are hungry; 1.5 billion people subsist on less than US$1.25 per day. Furthermore, over 40% of people in the world live on less than US$2 per day. And this is not just confined to the global south – 40 million Americans are on food stamps in 2012.
4. Military Kit vs People
One aircraft carrier ($5 billion) = reforesting an area three times the size of Costa Rica in the Amazon ($300 per hectare).
One battle tank ($780,000) = 26,000 people could be treated for malaria ($30 per person)
One B-2 Stealth Bomber @ $1,000,000,000 = 1,150,510 Clean Water Wells OR 31,466,331 Child Immunisations. OR 713,318 Houses for family’s currently living in cramped, unsanitary and dangerous conditions OR 270,196 Schools Furnished with desks, chairs, tables, blackboards – vital things children need to build a foundation for learning OR 89,126,560 Fishing Nets. OR 89,126,560 training courses for a health worker. (Share The World’s Resources)
EU military expenditure totalled €194 billion in 2010, equivalent to the annual deficits of Greece, Italy and Spain combined . Frank Slijper, Transnational Institute, April 2013
The General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that US forces had expended around six billion bullets between 2002 and 2005, that is at least 250,000 bullets for every insurgent killed in the ‘war on terror’
Just in a three-week period of conflict alone in Iraq during 2003 it was estimated that nearly 2000 tons of depleted uranium (DU) munitions were used. Paul Brown, The Guardian, April 2013
A recent estimation by Professor Linda Bilmes, who co-authored the book ‘The Three Trillion Dollar War’ with Nobel-laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, calculated that the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now likely to reach astronomical $6 trillion for the US government alone
7. The Military, War and Climate Change
Official accounts put US military usage at 320,000 barrels of oil a day. The US military is a major contributor of carbon dioxide. The Iraq war was responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) from March 2003 through December 2007. That war emits more than 60 percent that of all countries. (Steve Kretzmann, Oil Change International)
The F-4 Phantom Fighter burns more than 1,600 gallons of jet fuel per hour (just three hours of flight uses as much fuel as the average driver does in one year of driving) and peaks at 14,400 gallons per hour at supersonic speeds.
If the USA Department of Defense were a country, it would rank 58th in the world, using slightly less than Denmark and slightly more than Syria (CIA World Factbook, 2006)
The projected full costs of the Iraq war (estimated $3 trillion) would cover “all of the global investments in renewable power generation” needed between now and 2030 to reverse global warming trends. ( Oil Change International 2011)
8. Share Price, Profits, Tax Havens
Between 2008-2010, the combined defence and aerospace sector in the USA made profits of $71.6 billion in total and paid an effective tax rate of only 17%. Boeing made a large profit of $9.7 billion in this period, yet it received a tax rebate of $178m. (Citizens for Tax Justice)
Boeing has 38 subsidiaries in foreign tax haven jurisdiction, as of February 2011. (USA based Institute for Policy Studies)
Share prices at $27 or $28 in March 2003 went to $100 plus after 18 months in Iraq (Colonel Lawrecen Wilkerson, Chief Staff Colin Powell)
In 2002, the combined profits of the five largest U.S.-based defense contractors were $2.4 billion (adjusted for inflation); by 2011, that figure had increased by 450 percent to $13.4 billion
9. Arms Sales
In its latest arms sales report (Feb 2013), SIPRI calculates that arms sales for 2011 totalled $410bn –
US arms giant Lockheed Martin tops the list, selling $35.7bn worth of arms in 2010; the second biggest is the British company BAE Systems – it sold $32.9bn of arms, which is around 95 percent of the company’s total revenue that year; Boeing is third with $31.4bn, which is around half of its total sales for the company most famous for its commercial airliners. Northrop Grumman, the world’s largest builder of naval vessels, is fourth with $28.2bn; General Dynamics is fifth with $23.9bn.
Furthermore, 60% of global arms sales are from rich countries, eg G8 nations, to developing countries, with USA and Russia alone responsible for two-thirds (The Economist 2012)
10. The United States
The USA military budget is now higher now than at peak of cold war
US citizens pays 29% of their income tax purely for the military
Overseas Bases: US military is deployed in more than 150 countries with 196,248 of its 1,414,149 active-duty personnel serving outside the U.S. and its territories (2011)
11. Nuclear Weapons: USA $5.5 Trillion Spend 1940-96; Global Annual Spend $100 Billion
In 1998, the Brookings Institute carried out an ‘atomic audit’ of the US nuclear weapons programme from 1940 to 1996. The estimated total costs are $5.5 trillion.
Similar studies about the nuclear spending of the rest of the world are unfortunately lacking, but the International Peace Bureau estimates the global annual total is around $90 billion.
The nine nuclear weapons countries collectively spend $100 billion dollars annually on their nuclear programs. This conservatively estimated expenditure represents about 9% of their total annual military spending. At this rate the nuclear-armed states will spend at least $1 trillion on nuclear weapons and their direct support systems over the next decade. It will likely go significantly higher as numerous modernization programs underway are ramped up. It would go higher still if the true intentions of many non-nuclear weapons countries could be divined and their secret weapons programs added to the total. (Global Zero$1 Trillion Per Decade 2011)
12. Countries whose military spending is more than $1 billion in 2010
Country ($ billions)
- USA (687.0)
- China (114.3)
- Russia (61.0)
- France (57.4)
- UK (55.6)
- Japan (54.4)
- Saudi Arabia (46.8)
- India (44.9)
- Germany (38.2)
- Italy (34.8)
- Brazil (28.1)
- South Korea (24.3)
- Canada (20.2)
- Australia (19.8)
- Spain (15.8)
- United Arab Emirates (15.7)
- Turkey (15.6)
- Israel (13.0)
- Netherlands (11.6)
- Greece (9.4)
- Colombia (9.2)
- Taiwan (8.5)
- Poland (8.4)
- Singapore (7.7)
- Iran (7.0)
- Norway (6.30)
- Chile (6.2)
- Indonesia (6.0)
- Algeria (5.6)
- Belgium (5.4)
- Sweden (5.3)
- Portugal (5.2)
- Pakistan (5.2)
- Mexico (4.9)
- Iraq (4.7)
- Denmark (4.6)
- Kuwait (4.4)
- Switzerland (4.4)
- Thailand (4.3)
- Oman (4.0)
- Egypt (3.9)
- Angola (3.8)
- South Africa (3.7)
- Finland (3.7)
- Austria (3.5)
- Ukraine (3.4)
- Malaysia (3.3)
- Morocco (3.3)
- Argentina (3.2)
- Venezuela (3.1)
- Czech Republic (2.5)
- Vietnam (2.4)
- Syria (2.2)
- Romania (2.2)
- Peru (2.0)
- Sudan (2.0)
- Nigeria (1.7)
- Lebanon (1.6)
- Philippines (1.5)
- Azerbaijan (1.4)
- Jordan (1.4)
- New Zealand (1.4)
- Ireland (1.4)
- Hungary (1.3)
- Sri Lanka (1.3)
- Kazakhstan (1.2)
- Yemen (1.2)
- Bangladesh (1.1)
- Libya (1.1)
- Croatia (1.1)
- Slovakia (1.0)
13. Top Military Spender (per Capita) in 2010
Country (Military Expenditure per Capita, $)
- United Arab Emirates (3340)
- USA (2163)
- Saudi Arabia (1786)
- Israel (1781)
- Singapore (1604)
- Kuwait (1419)
- Oman (1379)
- Norway (1286)
- Australia (921)
- France (917)
- Bahrain (913)
- UK (898)
- Greece (839)
- Denmark (836)
- Brunei (825)
- Finland (702)
- Netherlands (695)
- Luxembourg (600)
- Canada (596)
- Italy (579)
- Switzerland (579)
- Cyprus (567)
- Sweden (565)
- Belgium (505)
- South Korea (501)
- Portugal (487)
- Germany (465)
- Russia (434)
- Japan (428)
- Austria (411)
- China (84)
- India (37)
- Brazil (144)
- South Africa (74)
- Iran (93)
Data sources: SIPRI; UNFPA
What If? The 5% Formula
If the top military spenders in the world had adopted the 5% threshold rule since 2002, their total military expenditure would have been reduced to $730 billion by 2010, rather than actually increased to £1.3 trillions