Being the greatest superpower in the world was never likely to be an inexpensive business but new figures reveal just how costly the battle for international war and peace can be.
Military spending in Europe has fallen by 2.8 per cent in the last year as governments tighten their belts in the search for economic recovery.
But for the U.S., international conflict and peacekeeping has become staggeringly expensive, with $698 billion spent in 2010.
The figure is a 2.8 per increase from the previous year and around six times the expenditure as China, America’s nearest rival when it comes to military spending.
Incredibly, U.S. military spending has almost doubled in the last ten years as operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on – last year’s outlay represented an 81 per cent increase on the 2001 figure.
The U.S. spending figures are not matched worldwide, however, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.
Global military spending hit an all-time high of $1.6 trillion in 2010, but spending increased by 1.3 per cent in real terms, a steep drop from a 5.9 per cent drop the previous year.
The biggest defence budget cuts came in small central and Eastern European economies, as well as financially troubled nations like Greece.
‘In many cases, the falls or slower increases represent a delayed reaction to the global financial and economic crisis that broke in 2008’ the institute said in a statement.
‘Further cuts are expected in most of Europe in 2011 and subsequent years, although these are likely to remain relatively modest in the major spending countries.'
The US, however, ‘continues to be exceptional in terms of its military spending’, SIPRI said.
Its defence expenditure comprised 42.8 per cent of world military spending in 2010 – the second biggest spender, China, had just a 7.3 per cent share.
The UK had the third highest spending, with France and Russia narrowly behind.
The institute also revealed that spending in South America increased by six per cent to $63billion, buoyed by the strength of Peruvian and Colombian insurgents, while African expenditure rose by five per cent.