German peace researchers say Germany has not only steadily increased its defense budget over the past three years – it is also one of the world’s leading arms exporters.
The Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), one of Germany’s leading peace and conflict research institutes, on Thursday welcomed the new disarmament initiatives in the nuclear field, especially US President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
But the German peace researchers warned that conventional military spending continues unabated – in 2007, it amounted to a total of 1,339 trillion dollars.
Speaking at the presentation of the institute’s annual report, President Peter Croll said that this amounted to an increase of 45 percent since 1998 – and the US is at the top of the list:
“The United States’ military expenditure is unparalleled internationally. The figures in this area show no “change” in US policy, quite the opposite”, Croll reported.
With almost 580 billion dollars, the United States accounts for almost half of total worldwide military spending, the German institute says, and adds that the Pentagon’s approved base budget this year is the highest since the end of World War II.
According to the German study, the US is closely followed by China, Russia, India and the United Kingdom. The BICC is an independent, non-profit organization BICC is dedicated to promoting and facilitating peace and development.
Germany’s defense budget and arms exports have also reached a record high. Berlin’s defense budget, says Marc von Boemcken BICC project leader in the field of arms data, has increased steadily since 2006, and now amounts to about 31.2 billion euros.
“A large part of the military budget, about 5.3 billion euros, is intended for the purchase of new weapons systems,” von Boemcken says, “Investments to buy new weapons have risen by 25 percent since 2007.”
The project leader added that the budget is likely to expand further: following parliament’s approval of plans for more German troops in Afghanistan, the cost of military missions abroad is expected to increase.
According to the government’s latest Arms Export Report, the total value of approved licenses for German arms exports amounted to 8.7 billion euros in 2007 – an increase of one billion euros over 2006. At Thursday’s presentation, Marc von Boemcken criticzed that an increasing number of weapons are exported to countries that do not fulfill at least four of the EU’s criteria for arms exports.
Von Boemcken emphasized that the “most problematical recipient countries” include in particular Oman, Egypt and Angola. He also referred to alarming supplies of arms to Pakistan.
Finally, the BICC researchers expressed alarm at a widening divide between military expenditure and spending on development cooperation.
In 2007, they say, the 30 member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD, spent about 920 billion dollars on defense – but only about 100 billion dollars on development aid.
For the first time, BICC presented a Global Militarization Index (GMI) that deals with the significance of a state’s military sector in relation to society as a whole. Marc von Boemcken says that a high GMI rating can indicate serious deficiencies in government. Eritrea, for instance, is by the standards of all the criteria is the most militarized country in the world, since it spends more than 20 percent of its GDP on its armed forces compared with a mere 3.7 percent on public health.