2   PART TWO: The Campaign – Why, What, How

2.1   Why

2.1.1   We Need Sensible Defence and Sustainable Security

2.1.2   What Is Just?   The (In)Security Paradox   Non-offensive Defence   Sustainable Security   Essential for Human Security   Oil: a Driver for Military Spending, Conflict and Insecurity

2.1.3   Ending Global Inequality ~ Diverting Excessive Military Spending   We All Know It’s Mad, so What Can We Do to Reverse the Situation?   Bombs and Bullets or Schools and Hospitals?   The Poorest are Hardest Hit   An Arms Trade Treaty

2.1.4   $2 Trillion and Counting: How They Spend Your Military Tax Dollars, Pounds And Euros   SIPRI’s Definition of Military Expenditure   Make War Not Peace – Peacekeeping Profoundly Underfunded   Nuclear Spending   Strategic Defence Initiative – USA And EU Wasting Money   Military Expansion into Space   Militarization of the Drug War   Latin America   Afghanistan   Excluded Expenditures -The ‘Bi-products’ of War   Excluded Military Related Expenditures (SIPRI)   The Arms Industry

2.1.5   The Influence of the Arms Trade   Arms Sales   The Work of Andrew Feinstein   War Is Good Return for the Defence Company Shareholder   New Business – Drones   And If You Have a Bank Account, You’re Involved

2.1.6   The Current Scale of Military Spending

2.1.7   Military Spending/War Spending Is Not Good for the Overall Economy   War Spending   The USA Is the Most Exposed as a Result of the Two Post 9/11 Conflicts   Greece – a Bailout with Arms Sales Built in   Better Value – Spend on Wider Society   How Government Allocates Your Taxes   USA   UK

2.1.8   Some Reasons Why Military Spending Is Not Yet a Structural Issue

2.1.9   Summary

2       PART TWO:   The Campaign  – Why, What, How

Why we need it; What it will achieve; How it might be implemented

2.1      Why

2.1.1     We Need Sensible Defence and Sustainable Security

Cuts to excessive global military spending do not undermine defence nor do they amount to ‘no defence’. On the contrary, they promote debate about definitions of ‘sensible’ defence; the drivers of insecurity; and how best to address the whole notion of what defence means in the 21st century.

The military industrial Congressional complex is a pillar of the national security state. Without it, you couldn’t have the state. When Lockheed Martin, the number one military contractor in America, indeed in the world – when its share price goes from somewhere around $27 or $28 in March of 2003 to $100 plus dollars a share after 18 months in Iraq, you have to believe that contractors like Lockheed Martin have an influence on the decision to go to war… You think these people have patriotic feelings or national feelings? They only feel for profit. They only feel for money.We just outstripped our previous record of arms sales in the world by a factor that just boggles the mind. Our recent high was about $26 billion. This last year, the total arms sales in the world were about $86 billion. We had $66 billion of that. And about two thirds of that was to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries because we have so scared them about the threat of Iran that they are buying hand over foot our armaments. And most of those armaments are coming from the big five defense contractors – Boeing, Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Dynamics.

Retired US Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff 2002-2005 to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, Interview with Corporate Crime Reporter, 01/10/2012

With global military spending at an all-time high – higher than at the peak of the Cold War – and this, at a time of global economic instability and austerity, there will never be a better opportunity to:-

  • challenge traditional notions of what we mean by defence
  • address the real underlying causes of conflict (foreign policy failures; poverty and inequality; commercial exploitation and resources wars)
  • look beyond defence spending as a way to protect a certain class of job and towards a policy of conversion from weapons related employment to jobs driven by a much needed growing green economy.

While the USA considers making cuts to defence spending and EU nations also, these cuts are nevertheless ‘relative’ – less than they might otherwise be due to the hugely increased budgets compared with those of recent times, such as the Clinton Presidency era.  As Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson suggests in his comments above, there are other forces at play which have served to inflate this expenditure in the USA – factors which have more to do with defence industry profit margins than genuine defence needs  and this, in turn,  has knock on effects on other G8 nations spending.

Meanwhile, there are other ways of looking at defence – so called ‘sensible’ defence, minimal deterrence as implemented by China regarding nuclear missiles; there is also a myriad of conflicts where the solutions lie in more economic and environmental justice; and a move away from the fossil fuel economy would also play a major role in making the world a less volatile and less militarily armed, place.

There is also a genuine and fundamental question that underpins the debate on military spending – how much is ‘enough’ for any given nation’s true security needs? And linked to that, when is conflict or war, if ever, justified?  While it is not the remit of this campaign proposal to spend much time exploring the ethics or otherwise of war,  some very basic ‘talking points’ help illustrate the nature of the present-day spending priorities of nations around the world – and by extension, the validity or otherwise of those spending priorities and defence decisions.  The box below is drawn from BBC Education materials and it prompts some thoughts in terms of a ‘back to basics’ framework for defence spending ie only spend on what is truly required and even then, interrogate the ethics of the reasons for such spending.

2.1.2     What Is Just?

The principles of a Just War originated with classical Greek and Roman philosophers like Plato and Cicero and were added to by Christian theologians like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

The aim of Just War Theory is to provide a guide to the right way for states to act in potential conflict situations. It only applies to states, and not to individuals (although an individual can use the theory to help them decide whether it is morally right to take part in a particular war).

Just Causes 

In modern times wars to defend the innocent are increasingly regarded as just (which fits with the idea in some religious literature that it is better to defend an innocent than to defend oneself).Self-defence:

  • invasion: The clearest example of a just cause is self-defence against an aggressor. For example when an enemy has crossed your borders and invaded your territory but an actual invasion is not required. The self-defence cases below are less obviously just causes for war – whether they are or not depends on how severe a particular case is:
    • assassination of a prominent person: – a monarch or president
    • attack on national honour: (eg burning the flag, attacking an embassy)
    • attack on state religion
    • economic attack:(trade embargo or sanctions)
    • attack on a neighbour or ally
    • pre-emptive strike: attacking the enemy to prevent an anticipated attack by them. Pre-emptive strikes may no longer be acceptable by UN members, since the Charter says that short of actual attack, “all Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means” (Article 2:3)
  • Assisting an invaded friendly nation.
  • Human rights violations: Another common example is putting right a violation of human rights so severe that force is the only sensible response.
  • To punish an act of aggression: This is not accepted by everyone. Some people would say that a war of punishment can never be a just war.


St. Augustine’s view  (354-430)

St. Augustine said there were three just causes:

  • defending against attack
  • recapturing things taken
  • punishing people who have done wrong

Each of these can be seen as an act of justice: they harm someone who deserves to be harmed because they have done wrong.

A modern definition

In 1993 the US Catholic Conference defined just cause as ‘force may be used only to correct a grave, public evil, i.e., aggression or massive violation of the basic rights of whole populations.’


There are three groups of people that might be in line for punishment:

  • The whole people of another country.
  • The leaders of another country.
  • Private individuals in another country.

A war of punishment would only be just if it was in proportion to the crime and was the only way to achieve the desired end.

BBC Ethics guide:  What is a ‘just cause’?    The (In)Security Paradox

USA military spending hugely influences overall global spending and so unpacking or debunking some key elements of USA military thinking is vital to the goals of the campaign. Moreover, to do this in partnership with US civil society is an exciting challenge as, together, we interrogate how US military thinking and spending connects or disconnects with the US public at large.  One of the myths to bust, is that the USA is an unsafe place.

In April 2012, the Chairman of the USA Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey spoke at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, Harvard University. In his presentation he talked about what he called a ‘security paradox’. Whereas some would say that our leaders often deliberately ‘talk up’ or exaggerate security threats (however that is defined) in order to more effectively engender fear and therefore the justification of war, or measures affecting civil liberties, General Dempsey argues that we are actually being complacent:

…I believe I’m chairman at a time that seems less dangerous but it’s actually more dangerous. That’s the essence of what I describe as a security paradox. Although geopolitical trends are ushering in greater levels of peace and stability worldwide, destructive technologies are available to a wider and more disparate pool of adversaries. Highly accurate ballistic missiles are prevalent in every theater. Bombs made out of fertilizer can defeat and destroy our toughest mine-resistant vehicles. A cyber-attack could stop this society in its tracks. And these are real threats that we face today. What truly concerns me as chairman is that these lethal and destructive technologies are proliferating in two directions. They’re proliferating horizontally across advanced militaries in the world, and they’re proliferating vertically, down to non-state actors, especially insurgents, terrorist groups and even transnational organized crime. As a result, more people have the ability to harm us or deny us the ability to act than at any point in my life. And that’s the security paradox.

On the other hand, Stephen M Walt, an American academic at Harvard, where he is the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Relations, re-positions this as the (In)Security paradox:

Most American global activism — particularly of the military sort — is justified by the claim that the security of the American homeland and the safety of U.S. citizens ultimately depends on controlling, shaping, influencing, deterring, compelling, dominating, destroying or in some way interfering with people in lots of far-away places. Yet the simple fact that we can do all those things in almost any corner of the world tells you two things that belie this justification.

Specifically: 1) the United States still has military capabilities that dwarf everyone else’s, and 2) we are so secure here at home that we don’t have to spend much time or effort worrying about defending our own soil. Even if another terrorist group got as lucky as al Qaeda did back on 9/11, it wouldn’t threaten our independence, long-term prosperity, or way of life unless we responded to such an attack in especially foolish ways (see under: Operation Iraqi Freedom).

Call this the (In)Security Paradox: The main reason Americans are able to gallivant all over the world and expend lots of ink and bytes and pixels debating whether to get involved in Syria, Mali, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the South China Sea, etc., etc., is because the United States is actually very secure. What happens in most of these places isn’t going to affect the safety or prosperity of the vast majority of Americans at all; U.S. citizens are much more likely to be harmed in an automobile accident, in a big storm, or in a household accident, than as a result of something happening in some distant land. We say we need to do these things to be secure; in reality, we are so secure that we have the luxury of intervening in wars of choice that ultimately don’t matter very much. Which is one reason why we do.    Non-offensive Defence

This is perhaps a term that needs more ‘oxygen of publicity’. As Dr Stephen Scholfield explains in his report ‘Oceans of Work: Arms Conversion Revisited’ (BASIC 2007):

A Non-Offensive Defence policy is one alternative that breaks with this subordinate relationship [with the USA]  and allows the UK to make an effective contribution both to new international security challenges and to international disarmament. The focus is on territorial defence and a contribution to an EU peacekeeping and reconstruction force that can carry out UN endorsed humanitarian interventions. Under this policy, major offensive platforms, including the follow-on Trident ballistic missile system, aircraft carriers and conventional nuclear submarines would be cancelled and the UK would be a leading proponent of a new international security architecture based on global disarmament. There would be the potential for major annual savings of between £3-4 billion on military expenditure by 2012, available for the ‘national needs’ programme of civil investment.    Sustainable Security

The most common sense – and essential –  definition of ‘security’ needs to be one of ‘sustainable’ security.  But while recognizing that many factors combine to create insecurity, ensuring that decision-makers shift their ‘security’ paradigm from the ‘old school’ military mindset to one which more sensibly reflects real world needs is the challenge we face.

The Oxford Research Group are developing and promoting their ‘Sustainability Security Framework’, bringing together the many inter-connected issues that combine to create insecurity – climate change, competition over resources, marginalization of the majority world and global militarization.

What is Sustainable Security? 

Current approaches to national and international security are dominated by the ‘control paradigm’: an approach based on the premise that insecurity can be controlled through military force or balance of power politics and containment, thus maintaining the status quo. The most obvious recent example of this approach has been the so-called ‘war on terror’, which essentially aims to ‘keep the lid’ on terrorism and insecurity, without addressing the root causes. Oxford Research Group (ORG) argues that such approaches to security are deeply flawed and are distracting the world’s politicians from developing realistic and sustainable solutions to the new threats facing the world in the 21st century.An alternative approach is needed: that of ‘sustainable security’. The central premise of sustainable security is that we cannot successfully control all the consequences of insecurity, but must work to resolve the causes. In other words, ‘fighting the symptoms’ will not work, we must instead ‘cure the disease’. Such a framework must be based on an integrated analysis of security threats and a preventative approach to responses.Sustainable security focuses on the interconnected, long-term drivers of insecurity, including:

Climate change: Loss of infrastructure, resource scarcity and the mass displacement of peoples, leading to civil unrest, inter-communal violence and international instability.

Competition over resources: Competition for increasingly scarce resources – including food, water and energy – especially from unstable parts of the world.

Marginalisation of the majority world: Increasing socio-economic divisions and the political, economic and cultural marginalisation of the vast majority of the world’s population.

Global militarisation: The increased use of military force as a security measure and the further spread of military technologies (including CBRN weapons).

Sustainable security makes a distinction between these trends and other security threats, which might instead be considered symptoms of the underlying causes and tend to be more localised and immediate (for example terrorism or organised crime). It promotes a comprehensive, systemic approach, taking into account the interaction of different trends which are generally analysed in isolation by others. It also places particular attention on how the current behaviour of international actors and western governments is contributing to, rather than reducing, insecurity.

Sustainable security goes beyond analysis of threats to the development of a framework for new security policies. It takes global justice and equity as the key requirements of any sustainable response, together with progress towards reform of the global systems of trade, aid and debt relief; a rapid move away from carbon-based economies; bold, visible and substantial steps towards nuclear disarmament (and the control of biological and chemical weapons); and a shift in defence spending to focus on the non-military elements of security. This takes into account the underlying structural problems in national and international systems, and the institutional changes that are needed to develop and implement effective solutions.

Professor Paul Rogers, writing in 2009 on the issue of climate change:

To move from conflict-control to conflict-prevention on an issue such as climate change is a huge step to contemplate. But there are at least are two trends which give some small measure of assurance that it can happen.

The first is that most of the well-resourced climate sceptics in the United States have migrated from the seats of power in Washington back to the right-wing think-tanks; and there is now in Washington an administration that would positively welcome some forward thinking from the military that is predicated on prevention. The second is that military analysts really do have the capacity to think long-term and imaginatively (“outside the box”, in management jargon). Some of their analysis of world trends could appear almost word-for-word in a Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth tract; the problem is that they are rarely able to escape from a narrow perspective on national security which sees it almost entirely in terms of the defence of their realm, rather than the common security of the wider world. If even a few of these analysts could rise above that and take a larger – and more truly realistic – view, the service they could do to the wider community could be hugely significant.    Essential for Human Security

In September 2009, Pax Christi International published The Elephant in the Room’ – an advocacy report which defined human security as including the following:

  • Economic security (basic income for individuals)
  • Food security (physical and economic access to a basic food)
  • Health security (protection from diseases)
  • Environmental security (protection from threats in nature)
  • Personal security (protection from physical violence)
  • Community security (protection from sectarian and ethnic violence)
  • Political security (protection of human rights)    Oil: a Driver for Military Spending, Conflict and Insecurity

The OPEC country list below would indicate that oil is indeed a driver for the interlinking of increased military spending, conflict and insecurity as most have experienced conflict in recent times with oil/gas resources playing a major contributing role in triggering conflict; it includes some of the highest per capita spending on military (Appendix 4.9); it also includes some of the biggest arms buying nations in the worlds (Appendix 4.12.4).

It is true to say that before the Iraq Invasion, the total military expenditure of OPEC countries declined but rose sharply afterwards, fueled by the instability in security introduced by the war, which in turn caused massive rise in oil price to fund the spending.

Included in the graph below is the ‘what if’ scenario – the hypothetical levels of military spending if the 5% threshold rule is applied to OPEC nations, (apart from the reference Year 2001). Actual spending growth (red bar in the graph) is the difference between the actual military spending in a given year and the hypothetical level of spending if the 5% threshold rule is followed.

What if OPECs

Figure 4. What if OPEC’s member countries followed the 5% threshold rule between 2001 and 2010

2.1.3     Ending Global Inequality ~ Diverting Excessive Military Spending    We All Know It’s Mad, so What Can We Do to Reverse the Situation?

Structural campaigns such as debt cancellation, trade justice, tax justice, climate justice seek to expose and rectify the underlying exploitation and inequalities between the rich world and the global south. Increasingly, post the financial crash, there are more and more connections being made to carry this thinking over to include the majority populations of the rich world.

Whilst the world gave $104 billion in development aid in 2006, world military expenditure in the same year was $1,158 billion

War is one of the chief causes of poverty. War can completely undermine a country’s development prospects, destroying schools and hospitals and putting agricultural land out of use for years to come…. Fully 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. The arms trade undermines development around the world, contributing to the poverty and suffering of millions….The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has named military expenditure by developing countries as a major barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Banking on Bloodshed, War on War, 2009

Excessive military spending – and those who promote it and benefit from it – should be much more fully folded into this debate as a way to both rein in excess spending while raising much needed resources to deliver social justice goals in terms of what the world needs and wants.

A recent report (2012) by Share The World’s Resources entitled ‘Financing the Global Sharing Economy’ detailed the human impact of our collective failure to redistribute income and wealth, both in the developed as well as developing world.  Some key points below from the report illustrate the scale of this, as symptoms of structural inequalities that must be dealt with.

  • Around 15 million people die every year largely due to a lack of access to nutritious food, basic healthcare services, or clean water for drinking and sanitation – equivalent to more than 40,000 preventable deaths every single day.
  • 300 million people are currently affected by global warming
  • 300,000 people lose their lives every year as a result of climate change.
  • Research by the New Economics Foundation suggested that economic growth benefits the richest 1% of the world’s population 120 times more than it benefits the poorest 10%, while levels of inequality in wealth, income and opportunities have rocketed across the world.
  • In terms of assets, the top 1% of the world’s population owns 40% of the world’s wealth. In comparison, 40% of the world’s population – almost three billion people – share a mere 1% of the world’s combined wealth. At the current rate of change, it would take more than 800 years for the ‘bottom billion’ of the world’s population to achieve 10% of global income.
  • In the US, for example, the richest 1% now control more than 40% of the country’s financial wealth, whereas the bottom 80% of the population own only 15% of all privately held wealth.
  • In late 2011 the Occupy Movement vividly captured the extreme inequality that persists across Europe and North America in their slogan ‘We are the 99%’, which has since refocused public debate on this perennial issue.

Now, more than ever, there is a growing awareness across global civil society of the scale of this inequality; how the ‘1%’ operate and how the ‘99%’ can respond – there is a growing a solidarity between citizens in rich nations and their fellow citizens in the global south as this understanding becomes more and more discussed.  Military spending can be folded into this ‘common cause’ and shared calls for action.

Excessive military spending – from the geo-political interests it seeks to protect, through to arms sales, through to war spending – has relevance in this general state of affairs. Whether as a new source of funding to meet the needs called for in the MDGs, now SDGs at one end, or as a driver for a more structural debate at the other, cuts to the global military spend should be central to any and all discussions on global inequality.   As ActionAid says in its report ‘Righting the MDGs’ (Sept 2012) ‘There is a widespread acceptance that the next global framework will have to be less reliant on traditional aid inputs….There is more space for new and more sustainable financing…

Duncan Green in his book ‘From Poverty to Power’ (second edition) writes that it would cost $66 billion annually to get everyone on the planet out of extreme poverty – 4% of global military spending.    Bombs and Bullets or Schools and Hospitals?

 ‘According to James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, there is a fundamental imbalance with the world spending US$900bn on defence; around US$325bn on agricultural subsidies and only US$50bn to US$60bn on aid.’

Guns or Growth? Assessing the impact of arms sales on sustainable development,
Control Arms: Amnesty International, IANSA, Oxfam, 2004

The military spending statistics are now considerably higher. The need to increase support for small to medium scale farmers around the world is as great now, if not greater, yet while millions of small scale farmers struggle to survive, those who are in the business of defence and arms manufacture and sales secure much higher levels of support.

“The amount of money spent on the defence sector equals $4.7 billion a day or $249 per person. According to the World Bank and the Office of Disarmament Affairs (ODA), only about 5% of this amount would be needed each year to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.”

International Peace Bureau (Nov 2012)

A high level of militarization of a state is also likely to hinder effective governance and encourage corruption. Time and again we see how powerful military interests influence political processes in order to favour their own positions or line individuals’ pockets. Moreover, over-militarization tends to fuel regional tensions which may lead to an arms race, hampering the sustainable development of both the country itself and its neighbours. A relevant indicator of such militarization would be the ratio of military spending totals to the amounts spent by governments on health and education.

Opportunity Costs: Military Spending and the UN’s Development Agenda
International Peace Bureau, November 2012

Despite the rhetoric of leaders of the industrialized countries, emphasising the importance of education in their government policies and the future of the nations, the reality is that on average the 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 (Table 2). 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; this has detrimental effects on their abilities to bring their people out of poverty, even with considerable economic growth (Table 3). And the continued regional instability in many of these countries almost certainly does not justify their long-term distorted emphasis on defence. Developing countries as a whole spend more than 2 times more on defence than on health. This imbalance of public spending between militarization and developmental areas, such as education and health is happening around the world and is an issue that cannot be ignored.

(G8) Country % of population below international poverty line of US$1.25 per day 2000-2009* GDP per capita average annual growth rate (%) 1990-2010 % of central government expenditure (2000–2009*) allocated to:
Health Education Defense
Canada 1.9 9 2 6
France 1.3
Germany 1.3 20 1 4
Italy 0.9 14 11 4
Japan 0.8 2 x 6 x 4 x
Russia 2.1 7 3 12
UK 2.1 15 x 4 x 7 x
USA 1.8 24 3 19
In­dustrialised countries   1.6 19 4 12

Table 2. Allocation of central government expenditure of G8 countries (2000-2009)
[Source: The State of the World’s Children 2012; The World Bank; International Monetary Fund]

– Data not available
* Data refer to the most recent year available during the period specified in the column heading.
x  Data refer to years or periods other than those specified in the column heading. Such data are not included in the calculation of regional and global averages.

Country % of population below international poverty line of US$1.25 per day 2000-2009 GDP per capita average annual growth rate (%) 1990-2010 % of central government expenditure (2000–2009*) allocated to:
Health Education Defense
Algeria 7 x 1.5 4 x 24 x 17 x
Burkina Faso 57 2.4 7 x 17 x 14 x
Burundi 81 -1.6 2 x 15 x 23 x
Cameroon 10 0.6 3 x 12 x 10 x
China 16 9.2 0 2 10
Colombia 16 1.5 9 x 20 x 13 x
Congo 54 0.7 4 4 10
Ethiopia 39 2.9 1 5 17
Georgia 15 2.7 5 7 17
India 42 4.9 2 3 13
Indonesia 19 2.6 1 4 7
Morocco 3 2.4 3 x 18 x 13 x
Pakistan 23 1.7 1 2 13
Paraguay 5 0.1 7 x 22 x 11 x
Sri Lanka 7 4.1 6 10 18
Syria 2 1.6 2 x 9 x 24 x
Tajikistan 22 -0.1 2 4 9
Turkey 3 2.3 3 10 8
Developing countries 26 4.8 3 8 10
World 25 2.6 15 5 11

Table 3. Allocation of central government expenditure of selected countries (2000-2009)
[Source: The State of the World’s Children 2012; The World Bank; International Monetary Fund]

* Data refer to the most recent year available during the period specified in the column heading.
x  Data refer to years or periods other than those specified in the column heading. Such data are not included in the calculation of regional and global averages.

SIPRI estimates that although the recession has affected global military spend, including those nations on the African continent,  African countries spent $32.2 billion on their military during the year 2011. Most of the regional increase of 8.6% was accounted for by a 44% ($2.5 billion) increase by Algeria – partly due to concerns over the conflict in Libya. While North Africa’s expenditure was $13.1 billion, sub-Sahara Africa’s was $19.1 billion.    The Poorest are Hardest Hit

Whether on the receiving end of Coalition bombing or drone attacks; caught up in complex conflicts over the extraction of natural and mineral resources; fighting vested interests for land rights; or struggling to avoid the gang-culture of the all-too-often poor inner city community – war, conflict, violence hits the poorest hardest.Fully 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

Armed violence kills around 750,000 people every year.  85% of all killings documented by Amnesty involve guns. 60% of all grave human rights abuses reported by Amnesty involve the use of arms.

                                                                                                                        Amnesty International

There are around 639 million small arms and light weapons in the world today. Eight million more are produced every year. By 2020, the number of deaths and injuries from war and violence will overtake the number of deaths caused by killer diseases such as malaria and measles. £4bn is spent on ammunition every year. The number of bullets produced by arms companies every year is estimated at 12bn, nearly enough to kill everyone on the planet twice over.

US citizens hold more than 40% of civilian owned guns in the world, that is around 270 million guns in USA alone: about 90 firearms for every 100 people, compared to one firearm or less per 100 citizens in countries like Ghana or South Korea.

Amnesty; Oxfam; Surviving Gun Violence    An Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is based on a simple principle: no transfers of weapons that are likely to be used for violations of international law, including human rights law. The treaty will establish common binding standards to assess international weapons transfers. These standards would be based on existing international law including International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, and the UN Charter. This would mark a breakthrough in delivering more control over the activities of the arms industry and pushing the fundamental belief that the priorities of the wider society trump its profit drive.

2.1.4     $2 Trillion and Counting: How They Spend Your Military Tax Dollars, Pounds And Euros

“The after-effects of the global economic crisis, especially deficit-reduction measures in the USA and Europe, have finally brought the decade-long rise in military spending to a halt—at least for now.”

Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of the SIPRI Military Expenditure Project

But that ‘halt’ is relative – spending levels are still way too high, and, as 9/11 showed, geopolitical events can also take a sharp turns and provide new rationale for vested interests to argue for increasing expenditure again.    SIPRI’s Definition of Military Expenditure

The vast majority of citizens have no idea – perhaps no inclination to know – how their nation’s military budget is spent. However, given that is often a disproportionally high budget item, the public ignorance of this only serves to sanction spending decisions that the wider society might otherwise challenge.

SIPRI define military expenditure to include all current and capital expenditure on:

  • the armed forces, including peace keeping forces
  • defence ministries and other government agencies engaged in defence projects
  • paramilitary forces when judged to be trained, equipped and available for military operations
  • military space activities

Such expenditures should include:

  • personnel:            all expenditures on current personnel, military and civil retirement pensions of military personnel social services for personnel and their families
  • operations and maintenance
  • procurement
  • military research and development
  • military construction
  • military aid (in the military expenditures of the donor country)


In NATO and USA the calculation includes additional war spending. For NATO it also includes nuclear expenditure. In the USA this does NOT include nuclear, homeland security and debt repayments (both significant sums) on monies borrowed to underwrite war/invasions.  Nuclear spending is held on the budget of Department of Energy. The omission of such data means that large sums are not taken into account. 

In the USA, the costs of veterans’ benefits and the military share of interest on the national debt amounts to 18% of government spending. We can conclude that the true overall costs of the military worldwide must be substantially higher than those quoted by SIPRI. However without detailed reporting on these additional costs in each country a complete global tally is impossible.    Make War Not Peace – Peacekeeping Profoundly Underfunded

Strengthening United Nations international peacekeeping efforts is another important way to reduce both conflict and military spending, especially in post-conflict situations. A cost-benefit analysis conducted for the Copenhagen Consensus Centre calculated that spending relatively small amounts each year on a peacekeeping intervention can significantly diminish the occurrence of further conflict, making it a highly cost effective way to reduce expenditure on further military activity. Given the massive costs associated with war, the study revealed that the greater the amount spent on peacekeeping initiatives the greater the reductions in global military spending. The authors suggest that if security forces are kept at optimal levels, the financial gains – in terms of preventing further conflict and promoting economic growth – could be up to 39 times more than the cost of peacekeeping.         

Financing the Global Sharing Economy, Share The World’s Resources, 15/10/2012    Nuclear Spending

Cuts to nuclear capacity have been undertaken by the leading nuclear weapons powers since the fall of the Soviet Union. However, tens of billions of dollars are still spent annually on nuclear weapons. (Appendix 4.11) Global Zero, in their $1 Trillion Per Decade report in 2011, found that:

The nine nuclear weapons countries passed a new milestone in 2011 by collectively spending approximately $100 billion dollars 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.

Total Military and Nuclear Weapons Spending 2010-2011

Figure 5. Total Military and Nuclear Weapons Spending 2010-2011 [1]

There are approximately 20,000 nuclear warheads on planet earth. To put just one country’s nuclear capacity in perspective, here is how the UK’s Trident programme breaks down – and how this is not just really a ‘national’ defence issue at all.

Each of the four UK Trident submarines can carry 16 Trident missiles, each of which can carry 12 warheads – a potential of 192 warheads. Since 1998, UK Trident submarines carry just 48 warheads, or an average of three warheads per missile. However, because of potential sub-strategic use, some missiles carry just one warhead. To put this in perspective, each warhead can deliver a destructive blast eight times that of the Hiroshima bomb…. Trident is not a ‘UK’ weapons system – this is another well-worn myth. Nearly all of the weapon parts are sourced or leased from the US, with few exceptions, such as the warhead, is manufactured in the UK based on the US W76 design. The software, targeting and weather data are all US-sourced. Even Aldermaston, the UK’s development facility, is part-managed by Lockheed-Martin Corporation while Devonport, the UK naval base in Plymouth, is part-managed by controversial US corporation Halliburton….. There is also extensive cooperation between Aldermaston and US nuclear laboratories like Los Alamos in New Mexico and both Sandia and Lawrence Livermore in California. Even UK testing was done in the US as the UK has no test zone for such manoeuvres.

In the firing line: An Investigation into the hidden cost of the Supercarrier Project and replacing Trident, Greenpeace UK, 2009

A new proposal seeks to offer up a way to advance nuclear (and conventional) disarmament.

The Strategic Concept for the Removal of Arms and Proliferation – “SCRAP” – proposal is a holistic approach to global disarmament proposing the adoption of an international legally binding agreement for complete and general disarmament.  It began as a provocation to those who believed that multilateral and comprehensive disarmament, both conventional and nuclear, was impossible. It contains draft negotiating text and an explanatory memorandum concerning the basic elements of an internationally legally-binding arrangement for general and complete disarmament within a ten year implementation period. It was developed from chapter 5 of Dan Plesch’s Beauty Queen’s Guide to World Peace (2004).


  • 1 Figures are in billions of US dollars. Core costs refer to researching, developing, procuring, testing, operating, maintaining, and upgrading the nuclear arsenal (weapons and their delivery vehicles) and its key nuclear command-control-communications and early warning infrastructure; full costs add unpaid/deferred environmental and health costs, missile defenses assigned to defend against nuclear weapons., nuclear threat reduction and incident management.   Not included are air defenses, anti-submarine warfare and nuclear-weapons related intelligence and surveillance expenses. Source: World Spending on Nuclear Weapons Surpasses $1 Trillion per Decade, Global Zero Technical Report, 2011    Strategic Defence Initiative – USA And EU Wasting Money

Despite widespread concern, not to mention cynicism, surrounding Reagan’s 1980s ‘Star Wars’ initiative, it seems it is a plan that refuses to die, finding ways to re-incarnate itself with each new administration. George W Bush gave it new impetus, adding ‘Biowatch’ (a missile detection system covering the USA to detect biological attack) to its function and in 2010 President Obama took the decision to deploy missile defenses in Europe by 2015 and improved interceptors by 2020.

Yet in April 2012, the US General Accountability Office (GAO) drew more worrying conclusions about the programme, flagging major concern about costs and lack of effectiveness.

  • The current U.S. missile defense effort, under way for a decade at a cost of $80 billion so far, has not conducted flight tests independently certified as representing real-world conditions.
  • The deployment of interceptors was “rushed”, first by the second Bush administration in 2004, and is being rushed again by the Obama administration to meet a deadline for working European missile defense by 2018.
  • A key radar for the planned European missile defense will interfere with broadband communications wherever it is deployed, a circumstance likely to provoke trouble in Romania and Poland.
  • Over the GAO’s opposition, the Pentagon has decided to proceed with simultaneous development and continued production of new interceptors, costing around $400 million, which failed in tests last year.

The Center for Public Integrity says of the GAO report

“(It) shows that the European missile defense program is now following the same ‘buy long before you fly’ approach that has resulted in our national missile defense system deploying interceptors that don’t work ,” said George Lewis, a missile defense specialist and senior research associate at Cornell University’s Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.Specific troubles are also lying in wait for the European defense effort, which is supposed to become fully operational in 2018 and is aimed primarily at shooting down any threatening rockets launched by Iran.A key component is an immense radar slated for installation in Romania by 2015, before it has been fully tested. The radar, erected inside what looks like a giant golf ball sitting atop a tee (called a deckhouse in missile defense vernacular), will use a portion of the radiofrequency spectrum that the Romanian government may want for some of its wireless broadband communications, the GAO notes. As a result, either the radio or the broadband devices will need modification.It’s not hard to imagine that, given a choice between giving their citizens wide access to the internet and helping to field an American missile defense system, Romania might easily become a less compliant ally. A solution is not in sight, prompting the GAO to warn that the frequency interference issue may be “a long-term challenge” not only in Romania but also later in Poland, where another golf ball-like radar dome is slated to be installed. Urban structures and wind farms in both countries are further obstructions, according to Pentagon documents cited by the GAO….

A related interceptor program, known as THAAD and meant to defend U.S. military bases and foreign cities from short-to-medium range missiles, has also seen costs rise by $40 million, and experienced delays and test problems.  One reason is that two initial operational systems were built before the design was stable and testing was complete. Even now, with testing still under way, the agency has ordered two more.

Missile defenses hobbled by uncertainties, R. J. Smith, The Center for Public Integrity, 26/04/2012    Military Expansion into Space

“It’s politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen. Some people don’t want to hear this, and it sure isn’t in vogue, but—absolutely—we’re going to fight in space. We’re going to fight from space and we’re going to fight into space. That’s why the US has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms. We will engage terrestrial targets someday—ships, airplanes, land targets—from space.”

Commander-in-Chief of US Space Command, Joseph W. Ashy,
Aviation Week and Space Technology, August 9, 1996,
quoted from Master of Space by Karl Grossman, Progressive Magazine, January 2000

The UNITED NATIONS Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to review the scope of international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters, and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space.

Since then space exploration for military purposes has continued apace – led by companies like Lockheed.  During his first (and second) terms, President Obama has been pushing for a treaty to ban the use of space based military weapons, with both Russia and China, the other two leading nations on this issue.  While we here on planet earth struggle with the fall out of war, climate change and profound global inequality, it is inconceivable that some are working on ways to expand their military reach into outer space.    Militarization of the drug war

The so-called ‘war on drugs’ incurs massive military spending costs for the USA (and by extension also for its ‘allies’ in this ‘war’). Billions of dollars are wasted globally on ineffective law enforcement, undermining international development and security, resulting from an enforcement-led approach that puts organised crime in control of the trade. The Global Commission on Drug Policy, including the former presidents of Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, along with a former U.N. Secretary General, a former U.S. Secretary of State, the prime minister of Greece and the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for the drug war to shift its focus from enforcement and interdiction to medical treatment and harm-reduction policies.   Latin America

According to a U.S. Senate report (2011), the Latin American war on drugs has ‘largely failed’. From 2005 to 2009, the majority of counternarcotics contracts in Latin America went to only five major defense contractors: DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT, and ARINC, who collectively received contracts worth over $1.8 billion; many of the contracts were awarded on a no-bid basis. The Department of Defense has spent $6.1 billion since 2005 to help detect planes and boats heading to the U.S. with drug payloads, as well as on surveillance and other intelligence operations.

CNTPO is “essentially planning on outsourcing a global counternarcotics and counterterrorism program over the next several years,” says Nick Schwellenbach, director of investigations for the Project on Government Oversight, “and it’s willing to spend billions to do so.”

For the vast majority of people who’ve never heard of CNTPO, the organization answers to the Pentagon’s Special Operations Low-Intensity Conflict Directorate, within the Counternarcotics and Global Threats portfolio. It’s tucked away so deep, bureaucratically speaking, that it doesn’t actually have an office at the Pentagon.

The organization, run by a civilian named Mike Strand, has been around since 1995. In 2007, it made a big push into contracting, hiring the Blackwater subsidiary U.S. Training Center as well as defense giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and ARINC for “a wide range of Defense counternarcotics activities.”

Pentagon’s War on Drugs Goes Mercenary, Spencer Ackerman, Wired, 22/11/2011

Through a technically-unknown Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office (it doesn’t even have an office in the Pentagon), the U.S. Department of Defense has been pursuing its plan for the privatization of military assistance and intelligence services and the U.S. secretive move to transfer tactics from the so called ‘war on terror’, to the ‘war on drugs.’ The list of recipients of CNTPO’s contracts reads like the who’s-who of top military contractors – in 2007, Academi (formerly known as Blackwater, and then Xe), Lockheed Martin, ARINC, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman were awarded a multiple award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity five-year up to $15 billion contract by CNTPO.

In 2009, a bureaucratic shift plucked the responsibility for training Afghanistan’s police out of the State Department’s hands. Suddenly, the contract — worth about $1 billion — landed with CNTPO. CNTPO quietly chose Blackwater for the contract, even though Blackwater guards in Afghanistan on a differentcontract stole hundreds of guns intended for those very Afghan cops.The incumbent holder of the contract, Blackwater competitor DynCorp, protested. It didn’t help that a powerful Senate committee discovered Blackwater’s gun-stealing antics. In December, DynCorp finally received the contract — administered by an Army office, not CNTPO.

The Pentagon’s $4 Billion Mercenary Unit for Fighting the Drug War, Adam Clark Estes, The Atlantic Wire, 22/11/2011

The militarisation and privatisation of the ‘war on drugs’ shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down anytime soon – in 2011, CNPTO announced its intention to issue a “follow-on procurement” to extend the aforementioned five-year $15 billion global counternarcotics programme. A  long overdue and fundamental re-evaluation of the war on drugs – a ‘war’ started under the Nixon administration – will inevitably have a knock-on effect on the global military spend and will especially impact on both the defence industry and the private military industry.   Afghanistan

Most of the worldwide production of illegal heroin, the drug refined from opium, comes from Afghanistan, and the then Prime Minister Tony Blair cited this as a reason for the war in 2001, calling the drugs trade a part of the Taliban regime that “we should seek to destroy”.

The UK took a lead role in counter-narcotics from the beginning, and sent troops to Helmand in 2006 partly because this was the largest area of poppy cultivation.

The UN report predicts that this year more than 75,000 hectares of land in Helmand is under cultivation for opium poppies, three times as much as in 2006 – and this is expected to increase.

Afghan farmers return to opium as other markets fail, David Loyn, BBC News, 15/04/2013

The ‘war on drugs’ is deeply intertwined with the ‘war on terror’; while the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan has cost the coalition hundreds of billions of dollars, Afghanistan has quickly became the world’s first true ‘narco-state.’ After just 5 years since 2001, Afghanistan’s production of opium jumped from a modest 185 tons to 8,200 tons, a remarkable 53 percent of the country’s GDP and 93 percent of global heroin supply. The UK took a lead role in counter-narcotics, and sent troops to Helmand which has been the biggest poppy cultivating province by far. Deployment in Helmand since 2006 has cost £15 million per day.[1] Despite this, the cultivation of opium in Helmand has tripled from 25,500 hectares of land in 2005 to 75,000 hectares in 2012. The drug problem is not going away, and the coalition’s presence continues to cost billions of dollars per year.


  • Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain’s Afghan War, Frank Ledwidge, 2013    Excluded Expenditures -The ‘Bi-products’ of War

Interestingly, some of the ‘excluded’ expenditures from national military budgets are – arguably – some of the more valuable uses to which we should allocate military expenditure eg the ‘mopping up’ after the calamity of war.  That is veterans benefits, demobilisation (especially vital in developing countries emerging from war as means to support, often young, men in post conflict regions where the temptation to return to arms is real); destruction of weapons and, indeed, the conversion of arms production facilities. Some if these items are currently profoundly underfunded and could be winners if we were to succeed in diverting some of the excess global military expenditure for better use.   Excluded Military Related Expenditures (SIPRI)
  • civil defence
  • current /expenditure for previous military activities
  • veterans benefits
  • demobilization
  • conversion of arms production facilities
  • destruction of weapons   The Arms Industry

The arms industry[1] supplies goods and services that have a crucial impact on relations between and within countries. It is therefore essential that the activities of the industry are subject to measures of regulation and control by governments and ultimately, to rules of public accountability. However, available information on the arms industry is generally very limited and certainly inadequate to support public accountability.[2]


  • 1 ARMAMENTS industry, WEAPONS industry, MILITARY industry, or DEFENCE industry
  • 2 SIPRI

2.1.5     The Influence of the Arms Trade    Arms Sales

“Look at what we just did. We just outstripped our previous record of arms sales in the world by a factor that just boggles the mind. Our recent high was about $26 billion. This last year, the total arms sales in the world were about $86 billion. We had $66 billion of that. And about two thirds of that was to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries because we have so scared them about the threat of Iran that they are buying hand over foot our armaments. And most of those armaments are coming from the big five defense contractors – Boeing, Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Dynamics.”

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, interview with Corporate Crime Reporter 2012 (Also see Appendix 4.12.1)

In its latest arms sales report (Feb 2013), SIPRI calculates that arms sales for 2011 totalled $410bn – this figure is focussed on the high tech end (not small arms, ammunition etc). It found that global arms sales from the top 100 companies went down by 5% – a decline for the first time since the mid-1990s due to postponement of weapons procurement. This reversed the trend in which sales had risen by almost 25 percent in the previous four-year period. The major increase was in sales to developing rather than the highly industrialised nations. Arms producing and military services companies headquartered in North America and Western Europe continued to dominate. Forty four US-based arms producers accounted for 60 percent, 30 companies based in Western Europe made up another 29 percent of the total. 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. (Appendix 4.14)

Figure 6. Top 10 Arms Exporters and Importers, 2007-2011 [1]

(See Appendix 4.12 for more information.)

In 2011 alone, the United States concluded arms sale agreement with Saudi Arabia to provide 84 new F-15SA fighter aircraft, the upgrading of 70 of the existing Saudi F-15S fleet, and a variety of associated weapons, ammunition, missiles, and long-term logistics support for more than $29 billion. (Appendix 4.12.1) Aircraft made up 62 per cent of the volume of US deliveries in 2008–12. Among these deliveries were 49 combat aircraft, including the first 2 F-35s (to the UK).

The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a development and acquisition program intended to replace a wide range of existing fighter, strike, and ground attack aircraft for the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, The Netherlands and their allies. After a competition between the Boeing X-32 and the Lockheed Martin X-35, a final design was chosen based on the X-35. This is the F-35 Lightning II. The projected average annual cost of this program is $12.5 billion with an estimated program life-cycle cost of $1.1 trillion.

The Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program was created in 1993. In November 1995, the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding to become a formal partner, and agreed to pay $200 million, or 10% of the concept demonstration phase. In 1997, Canada’s Department of National Defence signed on to the Concept Demonstration phase with an investment of US$10 million.


The Lockheed Martin F-35 is the most significant future US arms export programme. Orders placed include sale of 42 F-35 fighter aircraft to Japan at $10 billion, 60 F-35s to South Korea at $10.8 billion and 75 F-35s to Israel at $15.2 billionThe United States intend to buy nearly 2500 F-35s for an estimated $323 billion. Despite the financial crisis and austerity measures, United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey and Australia were planning to purchase around 100 F-35s each eventually.

The F-35 Folly: How Our Own Fighter Jets Are Killing UsThis is a story about political dysfunction in Washington. Say hello to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The F-35 joint strike jet fighter is one of the costliest weapons programs in human history, with each plane costing $90 million and the project taking more than a decade to complete. The price tag of the entire program has nearly doubled since 2001, coming in at a staggering $396 billion dollars. And, thanks to a number of production delays and safety concerns, that price tag is still rising. When you combine the price tag of the program with Government Accountability Office estimated operating and maintenance costs of the planes– the total cost of the program reaches over $1 trillion. And here’s the really tragic and absurd part of this story. Thanks to the decade of delays, the technology in the F-35, once thought to be the best of the best, is now outdated.The F-35 program is one of several in the current Pentagon budget that is stuck in the last century, and has failed to adapt to changes in modern day warfare. Yet, Pentagon officials, like current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, are still pressing for nearly 2,500 of these absurdly expensive and already-obsolete F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.Instead of taking healthcare away from millions of Americans, lawmakers in Washington should kill the zombie of the F-35.

Thom Hartmann, Truthout, 19/02/2013

UK receives first F-35 stealth fighter jet from US

It has been a long and expensive wait, but Britain has now been handed its first Joint Strike Fighter jet, also known as the F-35. Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond flew out in person to the searing heat of Fort Worth, Texas, for the official handover ceremony from its US manufacturer Lockheed Martin. He says it is “the best warplane money can buy”. But it is an eye-watering sum – the current cost of each jet is more than £100m. After watching Britain’s first F-35 take to the skies, Mr Hammond said “this is money well spent”. He said it would give the RAF and Royal Navy “a world class fighting capability” with the ability to “project power” off the two new aircraft carriers now under construction, anywhere in the world.

Winslow T Wheeler, at the US Center for Defense Information said it was a “gigantic performance disappointment”. Not as stealthy as the F-22 for example. He added: “It’s the counterintuitive problem of paying a huge amount of money thinking you’re getting a Lamborghini or Ferrari: You’re not, you’re getting a Yugo”. He was referring to the cheap, mass-produced cars made in the former Yugoslavia. That may sound extreme, but even a more measured report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted serious problems including the management and development of more than 24 million lines of software code in the aircraft and faults with the helmet-mounted displays. The GAO report warned that “most development flight testing, including the most challenging, still lies ahead”. The F35 – which will be called the “Lightning II” by the RAF and Royal Navy – is still a long way off from being battle ready. Though British pilots have already been involved in the test flying programme, they will not be flying the plane off UK bases or the two new aircraft carriers until 2018. And it is still not clear how many planes the UK will buy. The last Labour Government said the UK would buy 138 planes but Mr Hammond has so far committed to purchasing only 48. That number, over time, is likely to increase – not least because British industry is heavily involved in the project. The tail section of every plane is being made by BAE Systems. Overall the UK has a 15% share of the work, enough to sustain more than 20,000 jobs.

Jonathan Beale, BBC News, 20/07/2012


  • 1 Source: SIPRI. These rankings are based on SIPRI Trend Indicator Values (TIVs). TIVs represent the volume of arms transfers and not the financial value of the goods transferred. TIVs can be used to measure trends in international arms transfers, such as changes in the total flow of weapons and the geographic pattern of arms exports or imports. However, they are not comparable to official economic data such as gross domestic product or export/import figures.    The Work of Andrew Feinstein

Andrew Feinstein is a former ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa and is now an author, campaigner and co-founder of Corruption Watch. His latest book is The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade (2011).  To coincide with the publication of the book, he gave an insightful interview to the New Internationalist.

The arms trade drives the gargantuan amount spent on ‘defence’ every year – $1.6 trillion in 2010 alone: $235 for every person on the planet.

It accounts for almost 40 per cent of corruption in world trade. The very small number of people who decide on multibillion dollar contracts, the huge sums of money at stake and the veil of secrecy behind which transactions take place (in the interests of ‘national security’) ensure that the industry is hard-wired for corruption.I experienced this first hand as an ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa’s nascent democracy. At the time that our then President, Thabo Mbeki, claimed we did not have the resources to provide life-saving medication to the over five million people living with HIV/AIDS, we spent $10 billion on weapons we didn’t need and barely use today. About $300 million in bribes were paid to senior politicians, officials, go-betweens and the ANC itself.The British company BAE Systems contributed $180 million of the bribes and received the biggest contract, even though the jet it sold had not made an initial shortlist and was two and a half times more expensive than the plane desired by the air force. The Defence Minister at the time, a major recipient of bribes, decided to exclude cost as a criterion on this, the single biggest contract democratic South Africa had ever signed. Only 11 of the 24 jets have ever been operational.In the five and a half years after the deal was signed, 355,000 South Africans died avoidable deaths as a result of the government’s refusal to provide anti-retroviral drugs through the public health system. South Africa could have built close to two million houses with the money spent on the weapons or created 100,000 low-skill jobs a year for 10 years in a country with a formal unemployment rate of close to 30 per cent.Governments protect their country’s arms companies from meaningful scrutiny and the legal implications of their behaviour because of the symbiotic relationships between them. There is regular movement of senior people between jobs in governments, intelligence agencies and arms companies. The companies are seen not only as key components of their country’s manufacturing sectors but also as crucial to national defence, foreign policy and intelligence gathering.In the post 9/11 world, with its emphasis on national security, it has become increasingly difficult to criticize these assumptions. It is even ignored that for the cost of every job generated in the industry, between three and seven could be created in other sectors such as health, clean energy and education.During these economically difficult times, in which millions are losing their jobs and the public sector is being stripped bare, the weapons business displays few signs of belt-tightening. The US, which spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defence, is pressing ahead with the production the F-35, a jet fighter which will cost its taxpayers at least $380 billion and which, in the words of a former Pentagon aerospace designer, is ‘a total piece of crap’. But it is needed to ensure the continued prosperity of the domestic US weapons buying system in which Pentagon leaders approve these absurd projects because the vast majority of them want high-paying jobs with the weapons manufacturers when they leave government service. Politicians vote slavishly for them because they receive massive political campaign contributions from the companies and fear being labelled anti-jobs. Meanwhile, the companies themselves laugh all the way to the bank, often producing irrelevant or inadequate weapons years too late and for more than double the originally agreed cost.

The arms business, which fuels and perpetuates conflicts around the world, is less regulated and scrutinized than other ‘harmful’ industries such as tobacco and alcohol. In order to continue to operate, those who manufacture and trade in weapons must accept a far greater degree of regulation, transparency and accountability.

The time has come to lift the veil on this shadow world, to demand that our taxes are not used to develop another deadly weapon for the material benefit of a tiny self-serving élite, but are rather employed to enhance the lives of those who go hungry, who are without work or who suffer the deadly consequences of the trade in arms.

The shadow world: corruption in the arms trade, Andrew Feinstein, New Internationalist, 11/12/2011

Andrew Feinstein argues that the arms trade and American political classes are inextricably connected, whether it is multinational defence companies giving significant contributions to political campaigns or the fact that 84% of US generals who retired in 2010, went straight into senior executive positions at defence contract companies to whom they had awarded multiple contracts whilst in government.[1] Therefore, it is hard to see how defence interests do not influence broader economic policy decisions.


  • The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, Andrew Feinstein, 2011.    War Is Good Return for the Defence Company Shareholder

defence budget profits

Figure 7. Defense Budget, War Spending, and Profits

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with an increase in the Pentagon’s budget, have led to an increase in total military contracts to nearly $400 billion, their highest levels since World War II. Private contracting has grown to such a level that, by 2011, there were more private contract employees involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than uniformed military personnel. Pentagon contracts awarded in the 2000s have been concentrated in the hands of just five contractors- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics.  These five companies account for over one-third of all Pentagon contracts.

Growth of Corporate Power and Profiteering,
The Costs of War project

The last ten years have seen massive growth in profits of the so-called military-industrial complex, bolstered by increased military spending, with hundreds of billions of dollars going to private companies. The most devastating consequence of the wars and the associated bumper profits for the defence industry are their  direct impact on people: since the start of the ‘War on Terror’, hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions of people internally displaced in Afghanstan, Iraq and Parkistan. (Appendix 4.1) 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’. The demand was so large that American ammunition-makers could not keep up with demand, and the Pentagon had to rely at least in part on foreign commercial producers to meet its needs.

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 a whopping 450 percent to $13.4 billion, despite most Americans were hit hard by the financial crisis and the ensuing recession (Appendix 4.13). One company, Lockheed Martin, received $29 billion in Pentagon contracts in 2008 alone — more than the Environmental Protection Agency ($7.5 billion), the Department of Labor ($11.4 billion) or the Department of Transportation ($15.5 billion).

Putting inmates to work for Lockheed Martin 

Federal prison inmates in correctional institutions across America are making Patriot missile components. They are paid $0.23 an hour to start, and can work their way up to a maximum of $1.15 to manufacture electronics that go into the propulsion, guidance , and targeting systems of Lockheed Martin’s (LMT) PAC-3 guided missile, originally made famous in the first Persian Gulf conflict….For the record, federal prisoners are making more than missile components. Inmates also make cable assemblies for the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing (BA) F-15, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, Bell/Textron’s (TXT) Cobra helicopter, as well as electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s laser rangefinder.Despite repeated requests, Unicor would not disclose how many inmates are currently assigned to defense-related jobs, but public records show Unicor electronics factories located at no fewer than 14 federal correctional institutions.

Why are Prisoners Building Patriot Missiles?, Justin Rohrlich, Minyanville, 07/03/2011

Share prices of the largest two defense contractors in the world, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, increased by more than 200% and 100% respectively after 5 years in Iraq. If we consider the share prices since the start of War on Terror, the rise was even more shocking. Lockheed Martin, “positioned to profit from every level of the War on Terror from targeting to intervention, and from occupation to interrogation,” had its monthly average share price risen from $15.32 in January 2000 to $92.91 in January 2013, an almost sixfold increase.[1]

share prices boeing lockheed

Figure 8. Shares prices of Boeing and Lockheed Martin


  • The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, Andrew Feinstein, 2011. The figure updated to include the average ‘close’ price in January 2013 by using Google Finance.    New Business – Drones

The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) market is projected to total $89 billion worldwide over the next decade. The United States and Israel are the predominant exporters. (Appendix 4.15)

“I think that creating a legal structure, processes, with oversight checks on how we use unmanned weapons is going to be a challenge for me and my successors for some time to come—partly because that technology may evolve fairly rapidly for other countries as well, and there’s a remoteness to it that makes it tempting to think that somehow we can, without any mess on our hands, solve vexing security problems.”

President Barack Obama, quoted in Mark Bowden’s “The Finish”, 2012

“The UAV market will continue to be strong despite cuts in defense spending,” said Philip Finnegan, Teal Group’s director of corporate analysis and an author of the study. “UAVs have proved their value in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and will continue to be a high priority for militaries in the United States and worldwide.””The Teal Group study predicts that the US will account for 62% of the worldwide RDT&E spending on UAV technology over the next decade, and 55% of the procurement,” said Teal Group senior analyst Steve Zaloga, another author of the 574-page study.The study also includes a UAV Manufacturers Market Overview that reflects the worldwide UAV market “again continuing as one of the prime areas of growth for defense and aerospace companies,” said Finnegan.  The new study reflects the rapid growth of interest in the UAV business by increasing the number of companies covered to some 40 US, European, South African and Israeli companies, and reveals the fundamental reshaping of the industrial environment.

Teal Group, 2012

In 2012, Drone Wars UK published a report showing the UK Government has already spent over £2 billion purchasing, developing and researching drones and unmanned systems since 2007.    And If You Have a Bank Account, You’re Involved…

In their 2007 report, ‘Banking on Bloodshed’, War on Want exposed the extent of the UK banking industry’s complicity in the arms trade.

UK arms principal bankers

Figure 9. UK arms companies’ principal bankers in 2007

UK share holding in arms

Figure 10. Total value of shareholdings in UK arms companies as of June 2008

Databases uncovered by the organisation reveal for the first time the billions of pounds of customers’ money that high street banks use to finance the production of weapons. The arms industry sells products designed to maim or kill human beings or destroy a country’s assets and infrastructure. This industry fuels war and poverty and undermines development worldwide, contributing to the suffering of millions.Banks that claim to support sustainable development and human rights are financing the sale of arms, including cluster munitions and depleted uranium, which kill and maim innocent civilians. All top five UK high street banks invest in, provide banking services for and make loans to arms companies. The truth is that if you bank with Barclays, Halifax Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Lloyds TSB or Royal Bank of Scotland your money is directly supporting weapons production.The UK has exported $53 billion in arms in the past five years (2004-09). In 2007 it had the dubious honour of topping the list of global exporters with a record $19 billion in orders, the largest of which was a $8.4 billion order from Saudi Arabia for 72 Eurofighter/ Typhoon aircraft.This report reveals, for the first time, that all of the UK’s high street banks fund the arms industry through direct investment in shares, participation in loan syndicates and the provision of banking services.

Banking on Bloodshed, War on Want, 2009

2.1.6      The Current Scale of Military Spending

World military expenditure has risen steadily in recent years despite the global financial crisis of 2008 and the austerity and deficit-reduction measures implemented in the US and Europe.

Figure 11. Top 20 Spenders’ Share of Global Military Spending ($1.7 Trillion, 2012)

The world as a whole spent an estimated $1,741 billion on the military in 2011, an increase of over 50% since 2001 and equivalent to 2.5% of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – approximately $249 annually for each person in the world. The phenomenal rise in military spending over the past decade was largely fuelled by the United States, whose activities accounted for nearly half of all global military expenditure in 2010, and still 41% of the world total in 2011.

Although two-thirds of countries in Europe have cut military spending to some degree since 2008, other countries around the world have increased their spending considerably – especially China (7%  increase in real terms in 2011) and Russia (7% increase in 2011, making it the third highest global military spender – with further increases of around 50% planned up to 2014). Overall, military spending is significantly rising in the Middle East and Africa, and still modestly growing in most of Latin America, Asia and Oceania.

Total U.S. defense spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased so much over the past decade that it has reached levels not seen since World War II, when the United States had 12 million people under arms and waged wars on three continents. It has grown in real terms for an unprecedented 13 straight years, and it is now $100 billion above what the nation spent on average during the Cold War. And the ballooning defense budget played a significant role in turning the budget surplus projected a decade ago into a massive deficit that forces the U.S. government to borrow 43 cents of every dollar it spends.

2.1.7     Military Spending/War Spending Is Not Good for the Overall Economy

“When I walked into the Oval Office, I had more than a trillion-dollar deficit greeting me. And we know where it came from: two wars that were paid for on a credit card; two tax cuts that were not paid for; and a whole bunch of programs that were not paid for; and then a massive economic crisis.”

President Barack Obama, First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate, 03/10/2012    War Spending   The USA Is the Most Exposed as a Result of the Two Post 9/11 Conflicts.

For the USA, both Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts were paid for almost entirely by borrowing. According to the Costs of War report by the Eisenhower Study Group, “this borrowing has raised the U.S. budget deficit, increased the national debt, and had other macroeconomic effects, such as raising interest rates. The U.S. must also pay interest on the borrowed money. The interest paid on Pentagon spending alone, so far (from 2001 through FY 2011) is about $185.4 billion in constant dollars.”  Further $1 trillion interest payments are projected to be made up to 2020.

financial costs of wars

Figure 12. Economic Costs of Post 9/11 Wars to Date (2011)

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. Money that both authors argue would have been better spent on health and education – as well as not adding to the national debt.

Bilmes, who since 2008 has co-authored a number of analyses on war costs with the World Bank’s former chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz, noted that more than half of the more than 1.5 million troops who have been discharged from active duty since 9/11 have received medical treatment at veterans’ hospitals and have been granted benefits for the rest of their lives. More than 253,000 troops have suffered a traumatic brain injury.Additional costs include the replacement and repair of equipment — which wears out at an estimated six times the peace-time rate — and the accumulation of interest on money borrowed by the Treasury to finance the wars since the nearly two trillion dollars in war costs were not subject to the normal budgetary process.So far, Washington has paid some 260 billion dollars in interest charged on war-related borrowing, but the “potential interest cost of the U.S. war debt reaches into the trillions,” according to the report.“One of the most significant challenges to future U.S. national security policy will not originate from any external threat,” she wrote. “Rather it is simply coping with the legacy of the conflicts we have already fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.”…That most war-related costs are actually incurred after the wars are themselves concluded is not unusual in U.S. history, according to a recent investigation by the Associated Press (AP).After researching federal records, it reported last week that compensation for World War II veterans and their families only reached a high in 1991 – 46 years after the war ended.It also reported that, almost exactly 40 years after the last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam, the government is still paying veterans and their families or survivors more than 22 billion dollars a year in war-related claims, and that that figure is on the rise, as the beneficiary population ages. Similarly, payments to Gulf War veterans are also increasing….“Today as the country considers how to improve its balance sheet, it could have been hoped that the end of the wars would provide a peace dividend, such as the one during the Clinton administration that helped Americans to invest more in butter and less in guns,” it concluded.

“In short, there will be no peace dividend, and the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan wars will be costs that persist for decades.”…

To Miriam Pemberton, a national-security analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies, the new study should prompt a major re-assessment of the regular military budget (not including the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars), which grew by nearly 50 percent in real terms to more than half a trillion dollars – over the decade that followed 9/11.

“We need to bring that budget back to where it was when these wars began,” she told IPS. “Those savings need to be re-invested in the needs that have been neglected over the past decade, foremost among them, in my view, being the urgent need to address the climate crisis by investing in a transition to a clean energy and transportation economy.”

Report: Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Will Cost US $4-6 Trillion Dollars, Jim Lobe, Truthout, 30/03/2013 Greece – a Bailout with Arms Sales Built in
Over the last decade, Greece has been the largest importer of conventional military hardware in the European Union. Greek military spending as a percentage of GDP is more than any other EU member and tops even nations such as Pakistan, which is engaged in a variety of ongoing conflicts.Greece now has more than 1,200 battle tanks, 1,700 armoured personnel carriers, 300 fighter jets (including 156 F-16s), eight submarines and more than 40 frigates, gunboats and miscellaneous missile carriers. The bloated Greek military now has an air force similar in size to Germany’s — a front-line member of NATO with an economy 10 times larger than Greece and eight times as many people.And what country is so threatening to Greece that could possibly justify this level of spending by such a dangerously indebted country? Apparently their NATO partner, Turkey. Richer still is speculation from the CIA that the greatest peril to the Greek government is not a confrontation with Turkey, but a domestic military coup stemming from draconian cuts to the Greek public service and the predictable civic unrest that has ensued.So severe are Greek austerity measures that the United Nations has warned that basic human rights of Greek citizens are being violated. The Greek suicide rate has doubled since the bank-imposed austerity measures. Unemployment is over 16 per cent. Cutting more or faster without threatening revolution would likely be impossible since the Greek population has been pushed to the limits of human tolerance.It is no small irony that military spending, ostensibly aimed at making the world a safer place, could well trigger a banking contagion that might unhinge the global economy. The majority of Greek military equipment was also manufactured in Germany, France, Britain and the United States, creating an interesting conflict of interest.While the EU has repeatedly criticized Greece for its lack of fiscal restraint, some of the loudest voices, including Germany and France, have profited massively by loading up the sagging Greek economy with billions of dollars in their military exports. These purchases by Greece fully accounted for 15 per cent of German arms sales between 2006 and 2010.

Europe’s Own Arms Dealers and Loan Peddlers Took Down Greece, Mitchell Anderson,, 2011    Better Value – Spend on Wider Society

Edward Luce, writing for Financial Times, makes the point that – contrary to what most people think about the USA, including Americans themselves – their infrastructure is, in fact, crumbling.

… most Americans are unaware of how far behind the rest of the world their country has fallen. According to the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness report, US infrastructure ranks below 20th in most of the nine categories, and below 30 for quality of air transport and electricity supply. The US gave birth to the internet – the kind of decentralised network that the US power grid desperately needs. Yet according to the OECD club of mostly rich nations, average US internet speeds are barely a 10th of those in countries such as South Korea and Germany. In an age where the global IT superhighway is no longer a slogan, this is no joke. The budding US entrepreneur can survive gridlocked traffic. But a slow internet can be crippling.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers – Infrastructure in USA requires $1.6 trillion in repairs – and if nothing is done by the end of the decade, that number will grow to nearly $3 trillion. Decaying infrastructure is estimated to cost our economy 3.5 million jobs over the next decade.

“This is classic “weaponized Keynesianism” — the claim that government spending can’t create jobs unless the money goes to defense contractors, in which case it’s the lifeblood of the economy. And no, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning New Keynesian economist

A  University of Massachusetts Economic Research Institute study concluded that $1bn spent on sectors such as clean energy, healthcare and education will create significantly more jobs – and of better average quality and overall compensation –than would the same $1bn spent on the military. (Appendix 4.16.2)

We have shown what are the employment effects of spending on the military in contrast with five domestic spending categories. Specifically, we have shown that spending on personal consumption, health care, education, mass transit, and construction for home weatherization and infrastructure repair all create more jobs per $1 billon in expenditures relative to military spending….It is true that jobs generated by military spending tend to pay relatively well, which is part of the reason that fewer jobs are created per dollar of expenditure than through alternative spending targets. However, we have also seen that $1 billion in spending on education, on average, generates more than twice the number of jobs as does military spending, and higher-paying jobs. Spending on health care, mass transit, and home weatherization/infrastructure creates jobs at a lower average level of pay than military spending. But these three spending targets do create substantially more jobs than military spending, with an overall level of pay, combining all workers’ paychecks and benefits, higher than the military. Moreover, a substantial majority of the jobs generated through a health care, mass transit or construction expansion pay more than $32,000 per year, our rough threshold for a minimally decent income level. The majority of jobs pay between $32,000-$64,000, a rough middle-income pay range. Health care, mass transit, weatherization, and infrastructure repair are all also high priority areas for social spending. More spending in these areas could be combined with improving the average level of pay, while still creating more jobs per dollar of expenditure than the military.

The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities, Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier, University of Massachusetts, 10/2007

In 2007, the Center for Economic and Policy Research commissioned Global Insight, to project the impact of a sustained increase in defense spending equal to 1.0 percentage point of GDP. The projections show that increased military spending will lead to significant slower economic growth, less investment, higher trade deficits, and fewer jobs. (Appendix 4.16.1)

A study by the Institute for Economics and Peace also contradicts the enduring belief that war and its associated military spending has generated positive outcomes for the economy. By examining five major wars involving the United States over the past 70 years, it showed that higher levels of government spending associated with war did tend to generate some positive economic benefits in the short term, particularly through increases in economic growth, but negative unintended consequences harmed the US economy in the longer term, such as increased levels of public debt and taxation, decreased investment as a percentage of GDP, and increased inflation as a direct result of conflict.

Not only would we gain financially from the start of a long-haul campaign such as this, but we would be setting the global public on a learning curve about how to reassess how their military ‘dollars’ are spent – and how they play a role in preventing progress,  whether in the rich world or the global south.    How Government Allocates Your Taxes   USA

The U.S. Treasury divides the total federal government budget into three categories: mandatory spending, discretionary spending and interest on debt. Out of three, only the discretionary budget is directly set by the Congress through appropriations bills on an annual basis, and is usually around one-third of the total federal spending. Mandatory spending, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, on the other hand, is authorized by permanent laws. Spending levels in these areas are dictated by the number of people who sign up for these benefits, rather than by Congress.

It is therefore more informative to look into the composition of the discretionary budget, since it illustrates the priorities of the incumbent government. Military expenditure has consistently constituted more than 50% of the discretionary spending year after year. In contrast, the combined percentage of discretionary spending on health and education is just over 10%.[1] (Appendix 4.5 & 4.6)

For fiscal year 2012, the U.S. Federal government spent $3.5 trillion, funded partly by $2.5 trillion in tax revenue, 46% of which are income taxes. The $1 trillion budget deficit was funded by debt. Friends Committee on National Legislation looked into specifically how income taxes fund the spending, they found:[2] For each dollar of federal income tax an American pays in 2012, the U.S. government spends nearly 40 cents on military and wars. To put this in perspective, the equivalent level of spending on diplomacy, international assistance and war prevention is an insignificant 2 cents.


  • 1 Source: Office of Management and Budget, the White House
  • 2 Source: Where Do Our Income Tax Dollars Go?, This analysis covers the ‘federal fund’ budget, which is the spending supported by income taxes, estate taxes and other general revenues. Not included are ‘trust funds’, such as Social Security and Medicare, which are supported by dedicated revenues.   UK

how government spent your taxes

Figure 13. How British government spends taxes

According to this sample tax statement published by HM Revenue & Customs in 2012, for each pound of income tax and national insurance paid, 6 pence is spent by the British government on defence. It should be noted that there is no similar distinction of mandatory and discretionary spending by the British Treasury. In other words, since ‘mandatory’ spending, such as Pensions and National Health Service, typically dwarf other types of spending but are supported by dedicated revenues (other than general revenues, such as income taxes), the lack of American-style distinction may obscures the incumbent government’s real priorities.

2.1.8     Some Reasons Why Military Spending Is Not Yet a Structural Issue

There are a number of hurdles this campaign will face, both within the wider NGO community (especially the development sector) and the wider world.  Below are some key reasons why military spending has yet to be taken up as a cross-cutting, structural policy and campaigns issue for all but those in the peace and conflict prevention sector.

1)      The peace movement profile ‘waxes and wanes’ – appearing to be rooted in ‘moments’ – and not as mainstreamed as it should be

The impact and lasting legacy of the peace movement is very much rooted in high points, e.g. Aldermaston; Vietnam; Greenham Common; and the anti-Iraq war marches of 2003.

The peace movement comes to public attention in those moments where it – often very effectively – rises to the challenge of imminent conflict or to protest existing conflict. It has been highly effective in mobilising people and public opinion on a variety of issues over many decades. The 2003 protests were more complex – the movement was perceived as a failure for not stopping the Iraq Invasion – yet evidence now shows that its influence on Barack Obama being elected as the President of the United States in 2008, the Arab Spring in 2011 and subsequently the Occupy movement, was considerable. Yet peace movement organisations do not have the same level of day-to-day presence and profile in the wider public arena as do the human rights, environment or development sectors.

2)      The wider NGO community will be acutely aware of the issue (and many dealing with consequences of conflict – human and environmental) but are not tackling military spending as structural issue

Despite dwindling public money to fund development, climate change impact and other basic human needs and rights, an opportunity is lost by failing to address military spending savings as a significant ‘new’ revenue stream. While there is always the concern of over-stretching resources and capacity in the decision-making around campaigning (and taking on new ones), the issue of military spending is an ‘elephant in the room’ that needs addressing.

3)      The development sector specifically has so far failed to call for significant cuts to military spending for a variety of reasons – all of which need to be challenged

The development sector is hugely influential in setting agendas for discussion, both in the UK and the EU more widely. Therefore, it is a key player to engage in the effort to challenge runaway global military spending. There are many inter-linked issues that need to be explored:

    • There has been a primary focus on small arms and conflict/post-conflict work combined  in the belief that it’s ‘not their remit’ to go wider on military spending, despite much evidence that demonstrates the negative impact of excessive global military spending on development.
    • Critically, to take on global military spending means to be interrogating the role of the big defence corporations.  This is a major challenge in itself, but one that needs including in the wider development debate given its impact on transparency and accountability, justice and peace – all of which are central to the wider development / pro-poor agenda.
    • However, they may perceive a threat to their income and reputation if they speak out what they may perceive as the ‘controversial’ issue of the military-industrial complex influence on both domestic and international politics.
    • And while they may understand that excessive military spending is a, if not the, major factor hindering an emerging economy’s social and economic progress, they are yet to directly challenge the vested interest of their own (western) politicians and powerful defence industry lobby groups – ones that benefit greatly from runaway spending.
    • Moreover, by not challenging the interests of the politicians and powerful defence industry lobby groups in the developed world, civil society groups in emerging economies may feel doubly powerless to stop their governments (often under pressure) purchasing weaponry  without their civil society partners in the developed world bringing equal pressure to bear.

4)      All these factors combine to hinder the development of thinking around credible and winnable policy alternatives on military spending. As a result of all these factors, it’s an issue that inevitably lacks internal champions.

5)      Over time, the defence industries will mount a powerful campaign to challenge The Five Percent Campaign. As with the campaigns on unpayable poor country debt, trade, tax, and climate change, there will be inevitable resistance from those being called to account. However, a mark of success will be exactly this – resistance from the defence industry sector. The combination of thorough policy work and effective public campaigning will – over time – make headway with the media as well as decision-makers.

2.1.9     Summary

There is a massive conflict of interests between those for whom military spending is a boon and the need for global civil society to address insecurity, conflict and root causes.

We need much wider debate about what ‘sensible’ defence looks like, why this must take much greater account of global inequality and climate change. Hugely inflated military spending budgets must be challenged, reduced and redirected because:

  • the ‘business’ of the defence industry does not necessarily advance or respect notions of ‘sensible defence’ spending when so much profit is to be gained  from contracts and / or war.  Its close relationship with governments around the world is central to this and we need the wider public to share the concerns of civil society groups working on how our taxes are spent with regard to military. We also need to challenge the notion that defence spending de-facto good for jobs and the economy.
  • increased inequality around the world where the rich (individuals, businesses, nations) seek to consolidate their wealth while global poverty is widespread undermines local, national and international security and well-being.  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.
  • the connection between oil as a driver for  both conflict and increased military spending  is clear. The fossil fuel economy increases instability and likelihood of conflict and therefore increased military spending

These three factors (defence industries’ interests; global inequality; and oil) conspire to escalate military spending and therefore are central to the campaign’s outcomes

  • reducing the power and influence of the defence industry over governments and society.
  • diverting military spending into a transformative funding stream delivering social justice and meaningful investment in conflict prevention and peacekeeping
  • diverting military spending to deliver a sustainable, non-fossil fuel, green economy that addresses the many dimensions of climate (in)justice.

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PART ONE – Introduction to the Campaign

PART TWO: The Campaign – Why, What, How






Data and calculations