The Guardian • Issue #2097

World military spending explodes

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2097

Photo: matthrkac.com.au – flickr.com (CC BY 2.0).

World spending on the military in 2023 reached an astronomical $2.44 trillion, according to research just released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This is an increase of 6.8 per cent compared to last year.

“In 2023 $2.4 trillion of public money from countries across the world was spent on new and novel ways to kill each other. That must be a wake up call for governments across the world to reverse this trend and redirect that money into things that will make us a more secure place,” Senator David Shoebridge said in launching the SIPRI research in Sydney.

“This starts with climate action by all countries, in Australia it also involves critical action on housing and the cost of living crisis … . Imagine if $2.4 trillion was spent on public health, public education, and finally the climate crisis, imagine how much more secure we would be!”

In his address to the National Press Club on 17 April, Defence Minister Richard Marles indicated that Australia will spend an extra $50 billion on the military over the next decade, with the military budget rising to a whopping 2.4 per cent of GDP, up from the current 1.9 per cent.

Marles blamed an alleged threat from China for this rise, but SIPRI shows that China is responsible for 12 per cent of world military expenditure, less than one third of the US budget which stands at 37 per cent. The biggest threat to peace is US imperialism and its allies.

The SIPRI figures indicate that on a per capita basis Australia spends twice as much as Russia on the military, twice as much as Taiwan.

Australia is 13th in the world among the big spenders on the military, more than countries like Canada, Spain, and Brazil.

Bob Carr has pointed out that: “We can’t keep playing trade games with China and war games with the US.”

The winners in this massive increase in military spending is the small group of war profiteers or arms corporations. The top ten have offices in Australia and include such well known merchants of death as Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, and BAE Systems.

These companies have former Australian military officers and politicians on their boards in the ever-revolving door between the private arms companies and politicians and public servants.

Former Senator Rex Patrick has commented:

  • “Those in Defence bureaucracy guiding our politicians will be happy, uproariously happy, because they’ll personally benefit from the arrangement.
  • “They’ve cemented their position in an alliance arrangement that involves important meetings and conferences, important decisions, trips overseas, and, for some, exchange postings. For them, they’ve got ringside seats and the opportunity to be occasional players in the big league.”
  • Such spending cannot be maintained without raiding other parts of the budget.

In 2022 a survey gave voters the choice of which government service to cut age care, NDIS, health, education, or the military. The majority of both the ALP and LNP voters opted to cut the military budget.

The Australian people will have to campaign hard to reduce the Labor government’s exorbitant military spending and to win a large reduction in military spending.

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