Exceeding Cold War Levels: U.S. Pushes New Phase Of Arms Race
Voice of Russia
August 28, 2012
US pushes for a new phase of arms race
After Russia refused to support the UN Security Council resolution on Syria the US Congress forbade the Pentagon to deal with Russia’s arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport until Moscow stops supplying weapons to Damascus. Russia was quickly tagged as a country which supplies weapons to evil dictatorial regimes.
In reality, however, it’s the United States that is the largest supplier of weapons on the global marketplace, including countries with authoritarian rule.
Of course, some of the deliveries are made indirectly, through a large network of intermediaries. Curiously enough, in the Lord of War movie the main hero who illegally sells arms to dictatorial regimes plainly states that he deals with those regimes which the US government would like to deal with but must avoid in order to keep their hands clean. So at present it is the United States that stands behind the ongoing arms race, being the leading death merchant in the global marketplace. On the average, the US earns $25 billion in annual arms sales. Over the last five years the US accounted for nearly 30% of the world’s arms deals.
Legally and illegally, arms are delivered to countries engulfed in civil war. For instance, in July 2012 US President Barak Obama declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally, which means that the Arms Export Control Act no longer applies there. It means a sharp growth in US arms deliveries to that country. The US is a leading exporter to developing countries: in 2010 alone it earned $14.9 billion in arms sales, and this is just the official figure.
It should be kept in mind that enormous money is spent on weapons production for the US military; the Army then actively uses those weapons in a large number of military conflicts. According to Yearbook 2012 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, the US share in the world’s arms spending is 41%. In 2011 US arms spending was US$ 711 billion (4,7% of GDP), which is 5 times greater than in China, which is the second largest arms spender (US$ 143 billion).
According to the US Department of Defense, military spending in 2001 was $ 687 billion, slightly less than indicated by SIPRI. Even this figure, however, is incredible. It should be compared to Russia’s military spending ($71.9 billion) in order to realize who is really behind the world’s bloodiest conflicts. Even the budgets of four of the world’s five leading countries taken together ($340,1 billion) are shy of half the US budget. Over nearly the last ten years (2002 to 2011) US military spending went up 59%.
The US spends enormous wealth on developing cutting edge weapons such as F-35 fighters and a number of other expensive programs. Over the last ten years a total of $66 billion has been spent on the F-35 fifth-generation jet fighter. For 2013 alone the Pentagon requested $179 billion for weapons upgrades. The US has 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and can conduct naval operations throughout the world.
The February 2011 budget request sent by the Department of Defense to the US Congress also asked for $118 billion to conduct military operations abroad: $110 billion to wage the war in Afghanistan and $16 billion to maintain the US presence in Iraq. In financial years 2010 and 2011 war costs were estimated at $130 billion and $160 billion, respectively. During the presidency of George Bush Jr. as much as $180 billion was spent on those wars annually.
US-based companies retain top rankings on SIPRI’s Top-100 and are responsible for more than 60% of the world’s arms sales. 44 out of the 100 top arms dealers are US-based companies. 30 companies are based throughout Western Europe, 12 are based in other OECD countries and only 8 are in Russia.
The US has the highest ranking among nuclear states. The total number of nuclear warheads is approximately 8,500.
According to the US Department of Defense, current arms spending in “peaceful” times is even greater than during the Cold War era.