by Editor (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 2, Sha'ban, 1442)
Wars are raging in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This is not surprising given that the global military expenditure for 2019 reached the dizzying figure of $1.92 trillion. Yes, that is trillion with a ‘T’. It was the largest annual increase in a decade, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) that tracks global military spending. It was up 3.6% over 2018 and the largest annual growth in spending since 2010.
The World Bank reported that “global extreme poverty rate fell to 9.2 percent in 2017, from 10.1 percent in 2015. That is equivalent to 689 million people living on less than $1.90 a day.” If these 689 million people were provided double this amount ($3.80 a day), it would amount to $1,309 billion. That would still spare $610 billion from global military expenditure.
In the first 20 years of 2021, more than 32 million Muslims were murdered by the US and its allies, according to Dr Gideon Polya, the Australian academic. At $732 billion, America has by far the largest annual military budget in the world. If figures for other agencies such as the CIA that also wages its own wars, are added, the US expenditure would exceed $1 trillion.
Even at $732 billion, the US accounts for 38% of all global military spending. It also maintains more than 800 military bases worldwide and yet it claims—quite hypocritically—that it faces threats from countries like Islamic Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and even tiny Cuba!
America’s nearest competitor in military spending—China—spends $261 billion. This is about one-third of the US expenditure yet the Washington warlords have declared China the ‘biggest threat’ to the US! Other big spenders in 2019 were India ($71.1 billion), Russia ($65.1 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($61.9 billion). The Saudis were the top weapons importers in the world between 2016-2020 beating even India, according to a report published by SIPRI on March 15.
Since the US wages wars by mobilizing its NATO allies, the total NATO countries’ military spending added to $1,035 billion. Among the top NATO spenders were: France ($50.1 billion), Germany ($49.3 billion) and Britain ($48.7 billion).
Not only do these regimes spend huge sums on their militaries and weapons purchases targeting innocent civilians in distant lands, they are also the biggest exporters of weapons. “The US remains the largest arms exporter,” according to SIPRI. Supplying arms to 96 countries, far more than any other supplier, the US also increased its global share of arms exports from 32 to 37% between 2011–15 and 2016–20.
What is equally worrying is, almost half (47%) of US arms supplies went to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia alone accounted for 24% of total US arms exports, making the medieval kingdom the largest importer of weapons in the world. The time period is important. On March 26, 2015, the Saudi regime launched a vicious war on Yemen that is still raging. It has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, massive destruction to Yemen’s infrastructure and caused near-famine conditions for the 24 million people. Worse, a million children are suffering from cholera. The UN describes the situation in Yemen the “worst humanitarian disaster” in the world.
Two regimes in particular are responsible for this catastrophe: the US and Saudi Arabia. America’s role is not confined to supplying weapons. It is also involved in logistical support to the grossly incompetent Saudis as well as providing intelligence data. Further, the US and several of its European allies are also involved in imposing a tight siege of Yemen preventing it from importing food and desperately-needed medicines. Not surprisingly, the UN said these may constitute war crimes.
If the Middle East region is in so much turmoil, it is not difficult to figure out why. The illegitimate regimes there accounted for the biggest growth in arms imports in the period 2016-2020. They imported 25% more major arms in 2016–20 than they did in 2011–15.
Again, the increase in arms imports by these regimes would provide a clearer picture. Saudi Arabia—the world’s largest arms importer—increased its arms imports by 61% while Qatar by a massive 361%. In 2017, the Saudis and their fellow Arabian travellers imposed a siege on Qatar to bring it to its knees. They failed in forcing the Qataris to surrender to Saudi demands but it resulted in Doha going on massive arms acquisition spree. This was precisely the purpose for which then US President Donald Trump had given the greenlight to Saudi Arabia to target Qatar.
Despite such massive purchases that make arms manufacturers in North America and Europe extremely rich, these countries are incapable of defending themselves. Instead, they continue to oppress their own populations. Two regimes in particular lead the pack of tyrants: Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The two were close allies but they have had a falling out recently because basket-case Egypt wants more money that the Saudis refuse to fork out. The war on Yemen has drained Saudi coffers.
Pity the people that live under such oppressive conditions and lorded over by the most corrupt rulers the world has known.