In the last 10 years, just 22 countries of the world have spent 14.7 trillion US$ on direct military expenses and indirect spending is much larger than the above number. The below table is an excerpt from “SIPRI - Military Expenditure Database” *1 showing the military spending of each of those countries per year, in billions of US dollars.
The stacked area chart, below, shows the combined expenditures of the top seven countries, among which, US military spending is larger than the other six countries combined. This trend of US military expenditures is very similar for the last 30 years and can be tracked as much as the SIPRI database data can show, all the way to 1988.
Just in the last year, those same countries combined spent US $ 1,435,630,000,000.
I admit, for me, the number is hard to process, especially keeping in mind that your salary will end up somewhere in red part.
To put things in perspective, let’s take an average 2 bedroom flat in Manchester United Kingdom with the cost of £100,000 *2 which is roughly US $150,000. Now, by dividing with $1.4 trillion we can find out that we could buy 9,560,000 flats. Keeping in mind that 2 bedroom flats are often enough for a family of four, we can conclude that the military expenses of just 22 countries of the world, for one year, are enough to purchase accommodations for 38 million people (the entire population of Poland). Now, take the total military expenditures for the last 10 years and you would be able to purchase enough space to accommodate the entire population of the United States of America.
As Bernie Sanders once said in his speech from 1997:
“Can’t quite figure out, why we have to spend 262 billion dollars, this year for the military, and that’s only part of it. Then you have the intelligence budget, you have nuclear power, we are talking about 300 billion dollars a year on a military... who is the enemy? Can’t be China, because we just voted for most favored nation status with China. I didn’t vote for it, but Gingrich *4 did, Clinton wants that, corporate America is investing tens of billions dollars in China — it can’t be China. It’s not Russia, corporate America is investing huge amounts of money in Russia. Is it really 300 billion dollars against Cuba? Maybe that is a little bit of an overkill, maybe... maybe...
Why don’t we cut military spending when we have highest rate of child poverty in the industrial world, 22% of our kids?
Why don’t we cut military spending or the CIA budget? I lead the effort to try to do that, when you have millions of American families that cannot afford to send their kids to college…
Why don’t we do that?
Well, we do not discuss that too much... ” *3
Ask yourself, why do we spend such large amounts of money on military?
Who is the enemy?
It seems that fears, paranoia and desire to dominate are still fueling the arms race. It seems that all sides still think they can win the next world war. Or maybe they think that if they stop their military investment, the other side will somehow get strategic advantage.
I still remember my confusion when I first found out that the full name for nuclear weapons is “strategic nuclear weapons”. To this day, I am still puzzled by why the word “strategic” is used?!
What exactly is strategic about it? We will fire our warheads, they will fire their warheads and then both sides will have 30 minutes to say our prayers, before 200,000 years of homo sapiens evolution will be erased, like it never existed.
President Ronald Reagan once said that he often thought about the possibility of an alien invasion and how that event could become a catalyst for world unity.
The above military expenditure numbers are showing the opposite. They are showing a very sad state of our civilization in the 21st century. If we ever encounter an alien invasion, they just need to park their spaceships in outer space and wait. We will do the rest.
If that ever happens, we would most likely behave in an exactly opposite way then what is depicted in our sci-fi alien invasion movies. In real life, all sides would be so paranoid thinking that the other side is using new advanced aircraft technology; there is high probability that all sides in possession of nukes would launch immediate “counter/retaliatory” attacks.
We do not need aliens to test this premise, as we already have a mutual enemy. Climate change is showing us each day (droughts in California, floods in Germany and France, strange weather patterns...) that it is a much more dangerous foe than anything we have encountered in our recorded history. And, yet again, we are in denial. We still dedicate more resources to military spending than what are the biggest challenges of our time.
If we are to unite, we need to put all our planetary efforts toward mitigating the challenges of our future planning for long term civilization survival.
Notes & References:
1. SIPRI Military Expenditure Database (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/research/armaments/milex/research/armaments/milex/milex_database
2. UK, Manchester, Cheshire, 2 bedroom flathttp://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-42035184.html
3. Bernie Sanders: An Uplifting Take on Delivering Political and Social Justice (1997)https://youtu.be/TzZE7fo2TGo?t=35m31s