For Immediate Release
Despite Economic Slump, Global Defense Spending Soars
Key Countries Modernize Militaries, Increase Expenditures
WASHINGTON - Despite the damaged state
of the global economy, governments around the world are planning to
pump billions of dollars into their militaries this year, an analyst at
the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation said today.
The United States is a case in point. Last month, the Obama
administration released a budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year
that included $534 billion for the Department of Defense, as well as
$130 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At $534 billion,
President Barack Obama's Pentagon budget is $9 billion, or 1.7 percent,
greater than the previous year's budget after adjusting for inflation.
While the Obama administration has made clear that it plans to shift
resources toward U.S. troops and away from high-priced weapons systems,
its first budget nevertheless perpetuates the decade-long uptick in
Pentagon spending, which has increased by approximately 40 percent
The United States remains far and away the global leader in overall
defense spending. Consider that in 2007, the most recent year for which
accurate data is available, the United States spent more on defense
than the next 14 highest spending countries combined; accounted for 43
percent of the world's total defense spending; and spent five times
more on defense than China, eight times more than Russia, 85 times more
than Iran, and 100 times more than North Korea.
This year, China also announced it would increase its defense budget,
up 15 percent over last year's level. India said its increase would be
a staggering 34 percent. France plans to double its domestic arms
purchases to $26 billion in 2009. And Russia plans to spend $111
billion on military modernization by 2011, at which point President
Dmitry Medvedev said even more accelerated "large-scale rearming" would
"During a severe economic downturn, countries might be expected to
focus on fixing their economies and repairing their financial
infrastructure," said Travis Sharp, military policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. "But the global recession does not seem to have redirected money away from defense spending at all."
The ongoing surge in international military spending may be explained
by the more prominent international roles played by both previously
inward-focused countries, such as China and India, and non-state
actors, such as Al Qaeda.
"As countries survey the security environment today, they see more sources of potential danger than ever before," remarked Sharp. "This
fear is easy to act upon in the globalized international defense
market, where armaments can be obtained from various state and private
Will global defense spending slow down if economic conditions do not improve?
"Even if other types of spending, such as for infrastructure or
education, are ultimately more effective ways to create long-term
economic growth, the 2009 defense budgets already released suggest that
the overall growth in global military expenditures is unlikely to cease
anytime soon," added Sharp.
For more information, see:
Travis Sharp, "U.S. Defense Spending vs. Global Defense Spending," Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation (February 26, 2009)
Travis Sharp, "The Worst Kind of Stimulus," ForeignPolicy.com (March 2009)
The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to enhancing international peace and security in the 21st century. The Center is funded by grants from private foundations and the generosity of thousands of individual donors.