Global military spending surges amid war, rising tensions and insecurity

Video: Peter Boyle/Green Left

A media conference in Sydney/Gadigal land on 24th April 2024 discussed alarming new figures released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) which showed that world military expenditure increased for the ninth consecutive year to an all-time high of $2,443 billion. For the first time since 2009, military expenditure went up in all five of the geographical regions defined by SIPRI, with particularly large increases recorded in Europe, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East. 

SIPRI’s latest research also found that world military expenditure was highly concentrated among a relatively small group of states. The two largest spenders, the United States and China, accounted for around half of global military spending in 2023. It was noted that together, the top 10 spenders in 2023 accounted for almost three quarters (74 per cent) of the world total, or $1799 billion, which was $105 billion more than world military expenditure in 2022.

SIPRI’s analysis revealed that US military spending was $916 billion in 2023, which was 2.3 per cent more than in 2022 and 9.9 per cent more than in 2014. The US remained by far the largest spender in the world, allocating 3.1 times more to the military than the second largest spender, China.

With respect to all US military spending categories in 2023, the largest percentage increase was for ‘research, development, test and evaluation’ (RDT&E). The US spent 9.4 per cent more in real terms on RDT&E than in 2022.

According to SIPRI, the US has prioritized RDT&E spending, in relative terms, over all other military spending categories since around 2014. This corresponds with its decision to shift its focus away from counterinsurgency operations and asymmetric warfare to developing new weapon systems that could be used in a potential conflict involving adversaries with advanced military capabilities.

Refer to the video above featuring Greens Senator David Shoebridge and anti-war activist Pip Hinman who spoke about the dangerous consequences of these trends in military expenditure and Australia’s role in the new arms race.

Further information
SIPRI Fact Sheet, Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2023, Apr 2023.
SIPRI, ‘Global military spending surges amid war, rising tensions and insecurity’, 22 Apr 2023.
SIPRI, Arms Transfers Database, updated 11 Mar 2024.

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