Countries arm themselves even in peace times, economic crises
MUSTAFA SÖNMEZ Hürriyet Daily News
In a world where chemical weapons and all other MDWs are so developed, no country is able to avoid buying those arms, despite so much poverty. AFP photoMany countries might have been able to avoid entering big and contagious wars, but that has not stopped them from arming themselves, despite the latest global economic crisis.
Other than some of the worst economic performers in the eurozone economically, Italy and Spain, there is almost no country that has reduced its military budget.
Although some people have claimed that a military intervention in Syria was just a matter of time, such an intervention, which was supposed to be led by the United States, has not happened. Opposing countries, including Russia, China and Iran, have ensured that the finger is no longer on the trigger, enabling the whole world to feel relieved, at least for now. In such a world where chemical weapons and all other mass destruction weapon technologies are so developed, no country is able to avoid buying those arms, despite so much poverty. We are, however, very aware of how heavy their price may be.
The available data, unfortunately, shows that many countries have not ceased to arm themselves with heavy weapons during the economic crisis era. Even though countries were expected to cut their military expense budgets during the crisis, they have done the opposite, as the data has shown.
According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the world paid $17.2 trillion to acquire military equipment from 2003 to 2012.
On average, each country allocated 3 or 4 percent of their national income to military expenditure. Almost half of the amount was used to acquire weapons and other military equipment. By taking into consideration that some of the production and the sale of weapon activities are informally made, the real expenditure is much higher.
The richer a country becomes, the higher its military expenditures are. The U.S. annually spends an average of $700 billion for military purposes, which is almost equal to Turkey’s GDP; thus, it has maintained its “empire” by accounting for 40.4 percent of the world’s military expenditure in the last decade.
Middle East largest customers
The U.S. feeds military industries, enlivening some of its economic activities by using those death machines. There is no country in the world that can come close to the military might and expense budget of the U.S. The country’s military companies’ largest customers are the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries and some Asian nations. These countries pay billions of dollars to buy military supplies from the U.S. in some sort of bribe, even when they do not have any intention of using the materiel. To be sure, the U.S. observes and controls the whole process.
Although China’s GDP has risen close enough to match the U.S.’s GDP. In volume, however, its income per capita is much lower, and the share of its military expenditure in GDP is no higher than 7 percent due to its high population. The share of the military expenditure in the total GDP of Russia is not over 4.2 percent; in France, Britain, Japan and even Germany, it is around 4 percent, with each paying $65 billion to 70 billion annually.
According to the SIPRI data, Turkey has spent $187 billion for military purposes in the last decade. This represents 3 percent of the country’s GDP, and $19 billion annually. Turkey has appeared to surpass Israel in terms of military expenditure.
The countries didn’t draw back from procuring armaments even during the global crisis. They cut spending in education, health and social aid, and they avoided spending on unemployment and poverty, but not on arms.
The countries, including Turkey, that expended the most on their military budget cut spending in almost every field during the global crisis, according to SIPRI’s data. Moreover, they raised their military expenditure by around 9 percent between 2009 and 2012.
Despite the growth rate of the U.S., which accounted for 40 percent of total military expenditures in the world, falling from 3 to 1 percent during the crisis, the country didn’t adjust their military budgets; conversely, it raised its annual spending to $700 billion, a $50 billion increase.
Turkey increases its military expenditures
The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), which transformed the crisis into an opportunity and formed a new pole, increased their military spending rapidly. China realized the fastest increase among them and raised its military expenditure to $142 billion, a 33 percent increase.
In the European Union, while the United Kingdom didn’t make considerable savings, Germany raised its military spending by 3 percent.
Italy, which is one of the “sick” members of the eurozone, didn’t make any radical reductions to its military spending, despite its budget problems, dropping its spending by only 7 percent, according to SIPRI data. As for Spain, it took more steps and reduced its military budget by 20 percent.
The SIPRI data shows that Turkey raised its military budget to around $18 billion with almost a 9 percent increase in the crisis period when compared to 2008. Approximately half of this budget was expended on arms and imports.
US-Russia competition in arm markets
The war or military industry, which employs hundreds of thousands of persons, creates new demands by operating like clockwork, despite the economic crisis.
The war industry, which is composed of sub-sectors such as chemistry, electronic, machine, metallurgy, aerospace and informatics, has high profits and it is a field that is benefited by the developed Western countries in the international division of labor. This is an industrial arm that is indispensable for giant global companies, which sell arms to everyone; their own countries, other developed countries and less developed countries in poverty. Sure, the main actor is the United States as manufacturer and user.
The U.S. made 30 percent of total arm exports in the world worth $160 billion between 2007 and 2012, while Russia made 25 percent. Germany took an 8 percent share in arms exports and France took 7 percent, according to SIPRI data. China is now in its infancy stages by way of arms exports but it is ahead of the United Kingdom.
India became the largest arms importer by constituting 11 percent of the total imports in the same period. China is also an importer, as well as being an exporter, and its arm imports are worth more than $1.5 billion. South Korea is the third largest importer, followed by Pakistan, Singapore and Australia. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the oil producers, are the other important arms buyers.