An article by Mr. Imran Bajwa published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: The world spends more than four billion dollars per day on its military

And that does not include world’s largest army of China, six declared rogue states and a host of other non-state & undocumented actors.

The total global defence spending was USD 1563 Billion in 2009 compared to USD 1050 Billion in year 2000. That is roughly 50% growth. For the first time, this figure has even crossed the figure of USD 1550 which the whole world spent at the height of Cold-War in 1988 when regular armies of dozens of countries falling into the two antagonistic camps of the USSR and USA were faced with real military threats from each other.

The US, Europe & UK spend around 70% of the above amount with nearly half of the total global military spending by America.

All rogue states, the so-called perceived enemies of the west, i.e North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Cuba & Libya and finally Al-Qaeda reportedly spent less than 1% of total global military spending i.e. USD 16 Billion in 2009.

Even if we factor in Chinese defence spending ( USD 70 Billion in 2009) and Russian ( USD 47 billion in 2009) then the total defence spending of all these states ( potentially hostile to the USA and NATO), came to USD 133 billion which is just about 9% of the global defence industry. That makes more than TEN times the firepower against the enemy (real or potential) in favour of the USA and NATO and their clients around the world.

The maths is quite straight forward; let us examine how it is all happening.

If we look closely at how this money is spent then it becomes clearer as to the intent of this huge military spending including global trade in arms and ammunitions.

Geographically, all major regions of the world have seen more than 100% growth, in real terms, in their military spending during the last twenty years i.e. after the cold war, except surprisingly, Western Europe (which remained almost unchanged at around 310 Billion Dollars a year) while Eastern & Central Europe reduced their total defence spending by up to 80% from 1988 till 2009.

Besides that, Africa, North& South America, East & South Asia & Middle East all registered growths in their defence spending by + 98%, +27%, + 129%, +43% & + 275%. (see the attached table for details by Sipri Sweden).

The most interesting fact worth looking at is the total global military spending which has gone down by over 30% from 1515 Billion US Dollars in 1988 to 1073 Billion US dollars in 2001 before it rose back to USD 1563 Billion in 2009. Everything came back to square one mostly on hoax alarms.

Put simply, the USSR and its allies of the cold war era have been more then covered by Iran, N. Korea and Al-Qaeda. A potent, equally equipped and ideologically singular enemy in the shape of the USSR has been replaced by some fractured, ideologically divergent and least equipped enemy, i.e. Iran, N. korea and Al-Qaeda.

Now let’s examine closely as to who is actually benefitting from these developments on the global scale and the motives behind it.

The global spending on its military machine is essentially separated in three Heads. The upkeep of Human Soldiers, their peace time logistics and finally procuring the tools of wars i.e. Arms & Ammunition.

Generally, the USA, NATO typically spent around 40% on Arms and Ammunition and their research while the remaining 60% for the provisions/salaries of Soldiers, their logistics and Up-Keep.

During final years of the Cold War, the total strength of global armies stood at 28 million soldiers of which 16 million were only in Europe (9.4 million), America (2.25 million) and the USSR (4 million) in 1985. .That means roughly two out of every three soldiers were from the USA, USSR and Europe while the rest of the world was guarding its frontiers with the remaining third soldier.

Then came the disintegration of USSR and the former eastern block resulting in the reduction of the all white armies to exactly half of their previous levels i.e. around eight million in 2000 while the collective strengths of the armies of the rest of the world remained constant at roughly 10 million in 2009 as twenty years ago in 1988.

With militaries in Europe and America shrinking after the end of Cold War, the global military spending also came down proportionately with up to 40% reduction in New Arms Deals in 1990’s. This dealt a serious blow to the American & European Arms Industries which started privatizing and consolidating amongst themselves through Mergers and Acquisitions in a huge way in 1990’s. This global defence industry stabilised around 1996 and onward to about 6% annualized growth. 9/11 added hugely to fueling the fire and Iraq was the real bounty. America spent twice as much in Iraq as it has in Afghanistan so far.

This finally brought the sensitive Defence Production Industry more close to other privatized and regular industries of the world and the business of arms contracts started going into the hands of a Strong Defence Lobbies mainly in the USA & UK and parliamentary oversight and approvals just turned out to be a rubber stamp. No wonder Secretary Hillary Clinton admitted before a panel of Pakistani journalists on prime time TV in 2009 before starting the strategic dialogue with Pakistan that the easiest bills to pass thru US congress are the defence and Arms export bills, while the Foreign civilian Aid Bills are the most difficult to get thru.

Resultantly, the US and European Arms industries consolidated into a few dozen players in the 1990’s from hundreds of manufacturers before 1988. The volume of business further condensed into less than two dozen international defence manufacturers mostly stationed in the USA with 73% market share of Global Arms sales of USD 385 Billion in 2008. That makes more then One billion Dollars of Arms Sales EVERYDAY. 19 out of 26 largest Arms and Ammunition manufacturers are US companies while the remaining seven are British & European.

The world produced USD 385 billion worth of arms and armaments in 2008 out of which more than a quarter i.e. around USD 100 billion have been sold to different countries of the world. The export trends for last 20 years are similar. This figure is at least going to double to over USD 200 Billion in 2010 when the recent sales of USD 100 Billion to Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar & Oman are booked on file. These recent sales in two years i.e. 2010-2011 would be almost equal to the total Arms & Ammunition sold to Gulf & Muslim countries by Global Arms & Ammunition Industry since the last 58 years ( from 1950-2008). It appears to be a hugely growth oriented business and adds a new feather to the West’s control on global finances, commodities, media, entertainment, tobacco and other industries.

Muslim countries historically accounted for almost 36% of these Global Arms Exports from the USA with Saudi Arabia leading the charts with USD 66 Billion ( from 1950-2008) while another USD 100 Billion Orders booked for just 2009-2011.UAE which just imported USD 2.5 billion worth of American Arms during the last 58 years from USA has booked orders worth USD 35 Bill during 2009-2011. (Bimonthly The Middle East Aug/Sept 2010 issue). It is more then 150% growth for Saudi Arabia and over 1400% growth by UAE. ( Sipri, Daily Financial Times & bi-monthly Foreign Affairs).

Interestingly, Eastern and Central Europe, Canada and most of South America is out of this crazy arms race for the time being, while India has emerged as a new client for Global Arms players with around 3.5 Billion worth of initial Orders planned for this year on Obama’s upcoming visit.

Pakistan, on the other hand has doubled its armoury of US weapons from around USD 3 Billion (from 1950-1998) to around USD 8 billion by 2010. That is a bounty for the Afghan War and also a ploy for prompting India to match the act. South Asia, particularly India, is going to be next big Client.

During 1950-2008, the US government waived USD 101 Billion to different countries of the world from payments due for these arms sales and the only countries which fully payed in cash were Saudi Arabia Japan, Korea, Thailand Etc. while in Near East and South Asia (where most of the Muslim world and Israel falls) over 82% of the amounts due for armament purchases had been waived off completely meaning free weapons spilled across two dozen, mostly Muslim countries and Israel. USD 94 Billion from a total waiver of USD 101 Billion were in Near East and South Asia (Foreign Military Finance, State Dept. USA).

Pakistan falls in the middle and perhaps the only country in the world which paid by cash for almost half of its defence procurements from the USA.

How did it all happen?

Fifty Two Private Defence Contractors hired 2,435 retired American generals and admirals and gave them important contracting and acquisitions positions. Moreover, the Pentagon directly contracted 158 retired Generals as advisors. Eighty percent of these generals had direct financial ties to private Defence contractors, as per Government Accountability Office GAO of USA in 2006.

These generals were obviously hired for their links to former colleagues and subordinates and to facilitate business.

Moreover, 7.5% of total workforce of Washington State and 39% of the total workforce of Pentagon, were working in the Pentagon as civilians in 2008, as per Secretary of Defence Robert Gates. They were working mainly in Defence Contracting (around 20,000 persons).

Pentagon’s own regular Defence Contracting staffs were reduced to around 9000 from 26,000 previously since 9/11. This was a huge personnel substitution from Pentagon Regulars to private contractors.

Consequently, the defence & security issues including procurement of weapons, Defence Contract awards, Defence Analytic studies and even war-Doctrine were entrusted to these American civilians mostly from Defence Industry.

Companies like Halliburton, DynCorp, CACI and Blackwater emerged the biggest winners. At the moment personnel strength of these private Defence contractors outnumber regular American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Finally, the Consolidated Global Armament industry started charging exorbitant prices for their Products.

USD 20 Million for the Howitzer Gun, USD 2 Billion for one B-2 Bomber and up to USD 6 Billion for a Naval Destroyer became collector’s items.

War is a clearly a business now and will remain for some time to come and the Middle East seems to be the stage.

Do not weigh in concerns for ensuring the smooth supplies of world petroleum exports as the USA with three Middle East wars (Iran-Iraq war, Desert Storm, Kuwait & the Iraq War) already up its sleeve is quite capable of a fourth one, after a pause, of course.


The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

About the Author:
Mr. Imran Bajwa is senior researcher and executive editor of Ham Shehri, Lahore. Email address:

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Document ID :AHRC-ETC-033-2010
Countries : Pakistan
Date : 15-10-2010