April 16, 2014

Military Spendings on the Rise in East Asia

According to the latest report ("Trends in World Military Expenditure") from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the global military spending has gone down 1.9% from the previous year, yet it is still a staggering figure of $1.74 trillion.

The spending by the U.S. has decreased due to its internal cuts in military spending, but the U.S. remains as the top spender with $640 billion. This amounts to whopping 37% of the total global military spending, equaling the combined spending of the next 14 nations after the U.S.  Despite worries expressed over the rising military power of China (second in military spending, 11% of global spending) and Russia (third in spending, 5% of global spending), the U.S. remains as the undisputed sole global military superpower, pouring huge sums of money in military spending despite domestic economic problems and the growing federal budget deficit.  Despite its proclaimed self-defense military, Japan is 8th in global military spending.

With the exception of North America, Western Europe and Oceania, all regions of the world have seen dramatic increase in military spending, reflecting ongoing military tensions and political volatility. Southeast Asia saw 5% increase and Northeast Asia got 4.7% jump in military spending.

South Korea's spending increased to $33.9 billion, jumping from 12th place to 10th place in the global scale. This amounts to 2.8% of South Korea's GDP and 15% of government's budget. Despite portrayal of North Korea's military threat, Pyongyang's military spending amounts to $6 billion (25% of state budget), a mere 18% of South Korea's military spending. The continued tensions in the Korean Peninsula diverts much needed funds away from South Korea's domestic social program spending and North Korea's economic development.

Globally, there is a need to drastically cut down on military spending, freeing funds that can go towards programs aimed to curtail poverty, economic disparities, and environmental degradation.

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