The world is becoming more dangerous than ever before. That’s the type of statement you may read in the newspaper or hear a presidential candidate say. But how to do you prove that it is true? One trend that gives us a good indication is military spending.
In 2011, the world was spending more on its military than in all of history. We have remained around that historic peak in the years since, although military expenditures have shrunk slightly each year. The world is still spending more than during the Cold War, World War ii or any other time.
The reason this indicates the danger in today’s world is not just as simple as saying, the more money spent on weapons, the more dangerous the world is. It matters who’s spending on it. And when you look at those facts, the picture is even more disturbing.
Last year, Russia increased its defense budget by 8 percent; this year, it has said it wants to increase its budget by 15 percent. This move by Russia has prompted some dramatic jumps in European military spending.
Lithuania is increasing its spending by 50 percent. Latvia is boosting its by 15 percent; Estonia, 7 percent. Ukraine is expected to double its military spending this year.
Further West, the increases, though not quite as extreme, are still pretty dramatic. Poland pledge to spend an extra $33 billion between 2012 and 2002. This year, France promised a $6.1 billion increase by 2019, Sweden an extra billion. Norway and the Netherlands both announced increases in the hundreds of millions.
Last year, several news outlets including the Trumpet noted that some German leaders were talking about increasing the defense budget. Just the fact that people were talking this way was news—for years it has been all about cutting the budget.
At first, former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was one of the only high-profile people calling for an increase in military spending. “It is appalling that Germany recently decided to cut military spending by about €800 million (us$1.05 billion) in 2015,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal in September 2014.
We see the same trend in the Middle East.
The main driver of this increase is Iran. In this year’s budget, Iran increased its defense spending by 30 percent, and the recently concluded nuclear deal could open the door to even bigger increases. The U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote:
The limits to Iran’s military expenditures have been a matter of necessity more than intent, and this necessity has resulted from international pressure and sanctions as the limits imposed by Iran’s gdp and its need to support a large native population. Iran has been subject to expanding and crippling sanctions, leading to a devalued currency, significant reductions in oil exports, trade disruptions, higher inflation, and a shrinking economy.
In other words, Iran wants to spend even more on its military, and the main thing holding it back has been the sanctions. Once those are gone, we’ll see that spending rise even more. The American Action Forum crunched some numbers and concluded that extra income made available to Iran by the deal would mean that its defense budget would increase $10 billion to $15 billion—though they also note, “Nothing in the deal would prevent Iran from spending more than that to fund their military or terrorist organizations and authoritarian regimes throughout the Middle East.”
This jump is having a big impact across the region, most dramatically in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis are set to increase their defense budget by another 27 percent over the next five years, according to ihs Jane’s Aerospace, Defense and Security. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar are also planning to up their spending—Qatar quite substantially. Qatari officials announced $23 blliion worth of potential deals last year, in what ihs Jane’s called “unprecedented increase in investment in the military.”
Related to this region is Africa, with North Africa closely connected to events in the Middle East. Here, in 2014, military spending was up 6 percent—with Algeria and Angola leading that increase.
In Asia, military spending has gone through some major shifts in the past few decades. Since 2005, its risen 62 percent. From 2013 to 2014, it rose 5 percent.
This is the picture we get of our world today. An Eastern European arms race. A Middle Eastern arms race. An Asian arms race.
But all this raises an important question: Why? Why now? Why is Saudi Arabia buying up arms out of fear of Iran at exactly the same time that Poland is buying up arms out of fear of Russia? At first glance, all these arms races are unconnected.
The answer to this question emerges as we look at the one major power not looked at so far: the United States.
Here is the big exception to the increased spending trend. In 2014, America cut its spending, by 6.5 percent. From 2010 to 2014, America’s defense spending fell 20 percent. By the end of this year, it is expected to have fallen even further.
This is the common cause in the jump in arms spending everywhere else. America is retreating. Its allies don’t trust it. More aggressive nations around the world are being emboldened.
Take Europe. Russia has been acting aggressively for some time. In 2008 it invaded Georgia, but this invasion didn’t prompt the same explosion in defense spending from other nations. Eastern Europe was still scared, but instead of spending more, they turn to America for help. They asked America to station missiles on their territory. These permanent bases would help guarantee that America would come to their aid if they were attacked.
But America has backed away from those missile bases. It has consistently refused to stand up to Russia. Russia got the message that America won’t stop it. So it is spending more and becoming more aggressive. Europe got the message that it can’t depend on America. So after Russia invaded Ukraine, European nations are not trusting in America for help; they are looking to themselves.
It’s the same story in the Middle East. America has never done enough to prevent Iran from getting the bomb; but by signing the nuclear deal, it essentially made a public declaration that it would never stand up to Iran. Thus, Iran has become more aggressive, and Saudi Arabia and other states have concluded that they can’t trust America.
The storyline is also true in Asia. The Chinese have watched how America dealt with Russia and with Iran and concluded that if they act aggressively, America won’t stand up to them. And the other Asian nations are concluding that they can’t rely on America.
These three global arms races and the instability they are bringing are all directly caused by America’s retreat from the world.
Historically, the rise of Britain and America led to a lengthy era of relative peace. That era, however, is coming to an end. To understand why, read our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. ▪
Full article: A New Global Arms Race (The Trumpet)