Historic arms spending

photo_camera gasto armamentistico

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) last year, the world spent 2.11 trillion dollars on military spending, which was another record figure - up 0.7% in real terms - and this in the absence of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and an imminent propensity towards rearmament as a response to war action.

If military spending had been rising for seven consecutive years, this year, 2022, will mark a significant jump because countries such as Germany have abandoned their traditional policy of moderate military spending, following the real threat that the Kremlin has a war campaign on its hands beyond Ukraine.

Last year the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia persisted with their behaviour of being the countries that spent the most on their war industry, accounting for 62% of the world's total.  But none more so than the United States, which in 2021, with its 800 billion dollars, endorsed its vocation for self-defence and also for continuing to act as a global policeman.

The fact that the priority continues to be armaments is very revealing of the current historical moment, because, to begin with, the pandemic is not abating and SARS-Cov-2 infections are proliferating, as are reinfections and there are people infected (vaccinated) who are also dying from complications derived from the coronavirus.

But the invasion, consummated on 24 February, with the days passing and more than two months of atrocities committed by Russian troops in their wartime occupation of Ukraine, has meant that the main priority of the rulers is to ensure the security and defence of their respective countries.

There is no doubt that we are living through a Cold War 2.0 that can no longer be concealed and in which the range of confrontations is not only that of the United States against the USSR as it was before 1990 and once the Second World War was over; no, now there are many geopolitical actors involved, some more or less powerful militarily speaking, but who intend to play a relevant role in the second half of the 21st century.

There is an accumulated bitterness, a resentment that has arisen on several fronts and that is hitting the West hard against several Asian countries in particular. It is not an ideological crisis, but a geo-strategic and geo-economic war in which, from time to time, freedom and democracy are also being wielded.

In 2022, we are already seeing the reaction of several countries to the Russian invasion, in the position of altering their traditional budget of spending no more than 1% of their GDP on military defence. They are finally stepping out of their comfort zone as the White House had been pushing for some time. In the end it has been achieved because of fear of Russia.

On the subject

In what is now the age of the drone, as it has proved its effectiveness and efficiency in the defence of Ukraine by bombing several columns of Russian military vehicles and tanks, investment in military research to obtain more equipment and cheap but potentially deadly techniques is experiencing its own particular boom.

In the Ukrainian war rampage, everything from Bayraktar drones to the dreaded Russian thermobaric weapons that destroy bunkers with their ability to annihilate all forms of life have been used. I find it shattering that destruction is making its way, making its way into countries' defence plans, because an inability to achieve lasting peace persists.

Instead, more money should be spent on reformulating the role of the UN, creating effective preventive and sanction mechanisms to avoid future invasions and other atrocities that could lead to a Third World War.

It is shattering that a majority of countries talk about arming Ukraine, but only a handful actually care about peace, about avoiding bloodshed.

And it is equally sad that with these historic military budgets, money is flowing for war and there is no more spending and investment to build more modern hospitals, well equipped with the latest techniques and with more doctors, nurses and beds.

At this rate, today's fear will eventually turn the world into a permanent war economy. The UN has already given up because it does not work to prevent a nuclear power from invading a weaker country.

On Tuesday 26 April, António Guterres, head of the United Nations, arrived in Moscow after two months of war, of massacres of civilians, of seeing that the dictator Vladimir Putin does not respect international bodies, laws, treaties or agreements. It is too late: Guterres talks of peace, but Putin talks of war, and so does the West, with the United Kingdom sending its Stormer tanks to support Kiev; with Washington also announcing more weapons, and even Germany has decided to join the arms party. At this rate, we will all end up in a big war and arms production will be the only way out, as if it were the only way out... the war industry meanwhile continues to make profits.