Global military spending has topped $2 trillion for the first time, according to new data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Last year was the seventh consecutive year that global military spending increased; total expenditures have almost doubled during this century.
Economic competition between capitalists – for profits, control of markets, access to resources and geopolitical advantages – underlies growing military competition between states, which is driving increased spending.
The biggest military spenders cited in the SIPRI report are the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia.
The United States, with just over 4% of the world’s population, accounts for almost 40% of all global military spending. In an attempt to preserve a technological advantage over competitors, this US funding for military research and development has increased dramatically, the SIPRI report notes.
China’s economic rise from a predominantly rural society in the 1970s to a powerhouse of the global economy today has been accompanied by a rapid expansion of its military capabilities. Last year, the Chinese government allocated about US$293 billion to its military. After increasing spending for 27 consecutive years, it now accounts for 14% of global spending.
Russia tried to strengthen its position within the imperialist order. SIPRI report highlights that Russia increased its military spending by 2.9% in 2021 to $65.9 billion, the third consecutive year of growth, as it built up its forces along the Ukrainian border before his invasion of the country in February.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has shown that growing imperialist rivalries are also an opportunity for the United States to reassert its global dominance. This has included the strengthening of US-built alliances such as NATO, eight member states of which have met the organization’s goal of spending 2% or more of GDP on their armed forces by 2021 (one less than in 2020 but compared to two in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea). In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany has now committed to meeting NATO’s 2% target (from 1.3% of GDP in 2021).
The strengthening of the Australian state’s imperialist interests in the Indo-Pacific region – such as the AUKUS military alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom and the growing tensions with China around the Solomon Islands – must also be understood. as part of a growing interdependence. imperialist rivalry.
This includes a 4.1% increase in military spending to A$44.6 billion in 2021; the 2022-2023 budget promises a 7.4% increase to $48.6 billion. “The only way to keep peace is to prepare for war,” Defense Minister Peter Dutton said in an Anzac Day interview. This reflects the general consensus within Australian ruling circles, including the PLA, that more needs to be spent preparing for a possible war with China.
This rising tide of military spending must be fought. This is a huge waste of human resources that could otherwise be used for hospitals, schools, housing and combating the threat posed to all human life by rapidly worsening climate change.
Ultimately, this means fighting for a world that eliminates competition and war and is run on the basis of international cooperation.