This post examines regional patterns in global military spending.* The charts below indicate that defense expenditures have been going up in every region of the world except for three: North America, Western and Central Europe, and Oceania—namely, the West.
While it is true that the United States remains the world’s predominant military power, responsible for 37 percent of global military spending in 2013, trend-lines are important. Consider this: Between 2004 and 2013, as the US fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the net increase in American military spending was 12 percent. During the same period, China’s defence expenditures rose by 170 percent, while Russia’s rose by 108 percent. If these investment patterns continue, Western militaries will eventually lose the technological advantage that they have long relied upon for their effectiveness. This is one of the challenges now facing NATO.
* Note: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the source of these figures, lumps together Russia and Eastern Europe in its regional data.