Now here is the military story over the last thirty years.
How has military spending trended since the end of the Cold War? Unsurprisingly, spending fell by 40% until 1999. The following 20 years witnessed a regular increase in military capacity. Again this is unsurprising, given that the 2000’s saw the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Comfort that a new arms race is not imperilling world peace comes from global military spending’s apparent plateau from 2008 to 2016.
Global military spending, however, has rocketed since 2016 to the $1.92 trillion spent globally in 2019. The United States led the globe in military spending in 2019. China ranked second, as it has done since 2008. With military outlays totaling $732 billion, the US spent about 38 percent of the total globalmilitary spending last year. In 2019, United States military expenditure amounted to 3.4 percent of US GDP, placing the U.S. lower in nationalmilitary expenditure as a percentage of GDP to Russia, which spent 3.9 percent of its GDP, and Saudi Arabia, which spent 8.0 percent of its GDP.
However, all is not what it seems. China’s military expenditure is often underestimated. The figures for recent years are on average about 1.36 times larger than the official national defence budget. Global Firepower estimates a $179 billion 2019 budget. Whereas SIPRI believes a $240 billion figure is closer to the truth.
Also hidden within these figures is the relative distribution of that military spending. And here there is clear cause for concern.