Global Military Spending Down; First Time Since 1998

Unfortunately, it's not because governments are getting along with each other: Deep cuts in American and European spending were balanced out by spending increases in China and Russia.

What's the Latest Development?

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, military spending around the world totaled $1.75 trillion in 2012, a 0.5 percent drop from the previous year. Although small, it represents the first real decrease since 1998, and it was largely due to two trends that canceled each other out: The US and its European allies cut expenditures significantly and scaled back their Iraq and Afghanistan operations, while China and Russia increased their spending by 7.8 and 16 percent respectively.

What's the Big Idea?

SIPRI executive Sam Perlo-Freeman puts it simply: "We are seeing what may be the beginning of a shift in the balance of world military spending from the rich Western countries to emerging regions." For the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, the amount of American spending as a portion of the total fell below 40 percent. Meanwhile, China's spending has risen 175 percent since 2003, and despite reassurances from its government, other Asian nations are concerned about their increased capabilities. Spending is also up in the Middle East and North Africa, largely because of the Arab Spring uprisings and the ongoing civil war in Syria.

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