Military spending in North America saw its first annual increase since 2010, while spending in Western Europe grew for the second consecutive year.
World military expenditure rose for a second consecutive year to a total of $1686 billion in 2016—the first consecutive annual increase since 2011 when spending reached its peak of $1699 billion.* Trends and patterns in military expenditure vary considerably between regions. Spending continued to grow in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe and North Africa. By contrast, spending fell in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East (based on countries for which data is available), South America and sub-Saharan Africa.
US was responsible for 82% of all $188 billion in global weapons exports (by value, in 2014 dollars).
Top weapons exporters by value:
EU states: $15B
State Dept WMEAT, Table III
The Pentagon repeatedly denied that launch-on-warning was American policy, claiming that it was simply one of many options for the President to consider. A recent memoir, “Uncommon Cause,” written by General George Lee Butler, reveals that the Pentagon was not telling the truth. Butler was the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, responsible for all of America’s nuclear weapons, during the Administration of President George H. W. Bush.
According to Butler and Franklin Miller, a former director of strategic-forces policy at the Pentagon, launch-on-warning was an essential part of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (siop), the nation’s nuclear-war plan. Land-based missiles like the Minuteman III were aimed at some of the most important targets in the Soviet Union, including its anti-aircraft sites. If the Minuteman missiles were destroyed before liftoff, the siop would go awry, and American bombers might be shot down before reaching their targets. In order to prevail in a nuclear war, the siop had become dependent on getting Minuteman missiles off the ground immediately. Butler’s immersion in the details of the nuclear command-and-control system left him dismayed. “With the possible exception of the Soviet nuclear war plan, [the siop] was the single most absurd and irresponsible document I had ever reviewed in my life,” Butler concluded. “We escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.” The siop called for the destruction of twelve thousand targets within the Soviet Union. Moscow would be struck by four hundred nuclear weapons; Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, by about forty.
I don’t think there’s much question about it. Even if they think it’s unlikely, Russia thinks war is possible enough that steps are required.
Citing routine drills, Russia has even moved missiles within striking range of NATO targets, into the Kaliningrad enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania.
Meanwhile, CNN informs us that:
“Moscow abruptly left a nuclear security pact, citing U.S. aggression, and moved nuclear-capable Iskandar missiles to the edge of NATO territory in Europe. Its officials have openly raised the possible use of nuclear weapons.”
Retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, a vice president at L-3 Communications, the seventh largest U.S. defense contractor, explained to shareholders in December that the industry was faced with a historic opportunity. Following the end of the Cold War, Cody said, peace had “pretty much broken out all over the world,” with Russia in decline and NATO nations celebrating. “The Wall came down,” he said, and “all defense budgets went south.”
Now, Cody argued, Russia “is resurgent” around the world, putting pressure on U.S. allies. “Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. “We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it.”
An extraordinary demarche came at the weekend from the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. In an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, he accused Nato – an alliance, lest we forget, of which Germany is a member – of “sabre-rattling and war-mongering” by staging military manoeuvres close to Russia’s borders. This, he said, was not the way to treat Russia; it was time to restart dialogue.
At the start of 2016 nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—possessed approximately 4,120 operationally deployed nuclear weapons. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possessed a total of approximately 15,395 nuclear weapons compared with 15,850 in early 2015 (see table 1).