The problem of militarism
Militarism means heavy reliance on the military to solve problems. When this becomes excessive we all pay a high price.
The human costs of militarism are many: widespread suffering through war, a climate of mistrust that makes the world more insecure, a costly diversion of resources from humanity's most pressing needs, and a lost opportunity to build the kind of world we would all want to live in.
The main culprits
Countries that spent most on the military in 2009 were, in order:
These five are the five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council,
which is supposed to take 'primary responsibility for the maintenance of
international peace and security' on behalf of all the nations of the
world (see www.un.org). Yet between them, these five countries account for 60% of the world's military expenditure and 80% of arms exports (see www.sipri.org and www.globalissues.org)
It doesn't have to be this way
Over time, the world could reduce the amount spent on war each
year and tackle the real contributors to future insecurity. These
are likely to be growing poverty and marginalisation of the poorest,
climate change leading to mass migrations; and militarism itself.
For less than half of what the world spends on the military each year, we could:
- Prevent runaway climate change (cost: $606 billion per year [1% of global GDP] according to the Stern Review)
- Achieve the Millennium Development Goals for poverty alleviation
and social and economic development (cost: $20-40 billion per year according to the World Bank)
- Stop widespread death from malaria, which is one of the world's greatest killers (cost: $5 billion per year according to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership)
...and we'd still have £880 billion left over, which is equivalent to $338 per year for each of the 2.6 billion people who live on less than $2 a day.
Be part of the solution! Try some of these to find out how...
Note: The military spending data used in this website are taken from the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute, widely considered
the foremost independent authority on world military expenditure.