A Call to Arms Control

June 17th, 2008 - by admin

Bates Gill & Petter Stålenheim, Catalina Perdomo and Elisabeth Sköns / SIPRI – 2008-06-17 22:55:48


Introduction. A Call to Arms Control
Bates Gill

The next one to two years will see far more high-level discussion and debate on the merits of arms control and disarmament. This emerges from a broadening consensus around the world that more serious and effective arms control and disarmament measures should be implemented. Two trends have converged in ways that raise the arms control policy debate to new and interesting levels.

One points to increasing concerns about, threats to and the potential collapse of long-standing arms control and non-proliferation agreements and understandings. The other points to new and emergent opportunities for more effective arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament steps.

There are a number of reasons to see a widening window of opportunity for important gains in arms control. Disarmament and related confidence- and security-building measures by the two principal nuclear weapon powers—Russia and the USA—will be especially important, and these two states should take a number of critical steps forward in the near term.

A broader, global effort will also be needed which reaches beyond these two countries, which pulls in both nuclear and nonnuclear weapon states, and which firmly stakes out common ground across political divides.

Three caveats are in order which should cast a more realistic light on coming prospects for arms control. First, the priorities of the next US Administration will have a critical role in shaping the progress for arms control.

Second, while progress on existing and potentially new multilateral treaties might garner most international attention, these approaches should not overshadow other mechanisms which hold out good prospects for concrete progress in arms control and disarmament.

Finally, arms control and disarmament cannot solve all the world’s problems. For ‘arms control’ to have greater relevance, the traditional meaning of the term should undergo some broadening to encompass non-treaty- and nonstate- based approaches to security building. These approaches can also effectively lower the threat of unnecessary and indiscriminate violence while building confidence among security actors at the international, national and sub-state levels.

Voices from across the political spectrum are coming to recognize again the value of arms control in the face of looming threats to humankind. While moving ahead faces tremendous obstacles, in the coming years a new window of opportunity will open even wider to realize constructive progress on arms control and disarmament. It is clearly in the interest of citizens and governments alike to take pragmatic and positive steps in the right direction.

5. Military Expenditure
Petter Stålenheim, Catalina Perdomo and Elisabeth Sköns

World military expenditure is estimated to have been $1339 billion in 2007—a real-terms increase of 6 per cent over 2006 and of 45 per cent since 1998. This corresponded to 2.5 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP) and $202 for each person in the world.

The subregion with the highest increase in military expenditure over the 10-year period 1998–2007 was Eastern Europe, at 162 per cent. It was also the region with the highest increase in 2007, at 15 per cent. Russia, with a 13 per cent increase in 2007, accounted for 86 per cent of this regional increase.

Other subregions with 10-year growth rates exceeding 50 per cent are North America (65 per cent), the Middle East (62 per cent), South Asia (57 per cent), Africa and East Asia (both 51 per cent). The subregions with the lowest growth in military spending over the past 10 years were Western Europe (6 per cent) and Central America (14 per cent).

The USA’s military spending accounted for 45 per cent of the world total in 2007, followed by the UK, China, France and Japan, with 4–5 per cent each. Since 2001 US military expenditure has increased by 59 per cent in real terms, principally because of massive spending on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also because of increases in the ‘base’ defence budget. By 2007, US spending was higher than at any time since World War II.

However, because of the growth of the US economy and of total US Government spending, the economic and financial burden of military spending (i.e. its share of GDP and of total US Government outlays) is lower now than during previous peak spending years in the post- World War II period.

China has increased its military spending threefold in real terms during the past decade. However, due to its rapid economic growth, the economic burden of military spending is still moderate, at 2.1 per cent of GDP.

Military spending is rising rapidly in the South Caucasus—Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia—largely due to the region’s three ‘frozen’ conflicts and the involvement of external actors. The rises have been made possible by economic upswings largely based on oil and gas revenues.

The number of countries that increased their military spending in 2007 was higher than in recent years. The factors driving increases in world military spending include countries’ foreign policy objectives, real or perceived threats, armed conflict and policies to contribute to multilateral peacekeeping operations, combined with the availability of economic resources.

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