Hey Big Spender! Well, that’s what Shirley Bassey warbled out in 1967 when apparently the ‘minute you walked into the joint’ it was possible to see you ‘were a man of distinction’. It would seem, therefore, that a man is judged neither on the clothes he wears, nor on his manners these days. Not for a long time. These days, what counts is the amount of money that you spend. You don’t have to have it, you just need to flaunt it and brashly show it off to the rest of the world. It’s only dirty books that gather no dust, isn’t it? It’s only a dirty man that is able to do what he pleases; dirty being here the way the rich arms dealers are playing their tiresome game of I produce, I sell, you wage war, we tell everyone it’s bad and the kids will believe it. A man of distinction in today’s world is a man that throws his money in military monkey business, the shenanigans that our wealthiest nations excel at.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) carries out research on military spending around the world and measures how it changes. Most of the world’s armed countries are included in the study. Although, what country exactly isn’t armed these days? Any guesses? A French statesman, Georges Clemenceau, once said that “war is too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military”. That’s why the government always looks after it. One thing that he forgot to say also was that it was far too lucrative a business to let it out of the hands of the politicians. So, there are very few countries in the world that have no military force. Where are they and have you heard of all of them? Here’s the list (in alphabetical order):
Countries with NO Military Force
The principality in the Pyrenees mountain range has no military and even declared war on Germany in 1914 despite this fact. There were 10 men in the army that went to war in World War I as representatives of this small state. After the Great War the 10-man army was replaced by a 240-strong police force. France and Spain provide protection of the principality.
2. Costa Rica
After the Costa Rican Civil War and on December 1st 1948 President José Figueres Ferrer abolished the military. Today the only force in the country is the Fuerza Pública providing ground law enforcement and border controls. Only under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (1947) would Costa Rica be protected if attacked. 21 countries including the USA and Cuba, for example would come to its assistance.
There has been no army in this country since the US-led invasion took place in 1983 under the name Operation Urgent Fury. There is only the Royal Grenada Police Force. It is the Regional Security System that ensures that countries such as Antigua, Barbados and the Grenadines provide assistance in the event of a threat on the country.
This country abolished its army in 1868 following the Austro-Prussian War. Apparently, the country did not have enough money at the time in order to be able to afford an army. The police force is known as the Principality of Lichtenstein National Police Force. In the event of war it would be the European Union that would ensure its protection.
5. Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands have been granted the status of a sovereign nation since 1983 under the Compact of Free Association. The US acts as a protectorate and as such the Marshall Islands has no military force. There is, however, the Marshall Islands Police force that carries out every day duties in the country in order to ensure security.
This is the smallest country in the world and it measures just 8.1 square miles. It has no standing army or military force. There is a Nauru Police Force but oddly there is no capital in the country. The last time that Nauru was attacked was by Nazi Germany in 1940 and at the time, as today if it were to be attacked, it was Australia that stepped in to provide assistance.
There exists a Palau National Police force but there is no military as such. Palau would obtain assistance from the USA since under the Compact of Free Association Palau is to all intents and purposes a protectorate of the USA.
There is no military force in this country and it would have to rely on other countries to ensure its own defense. It has a treaty for such a purpose with New Zealand which undertook its protection as from 1962.
9. Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands was a British protectorate as from 1893 and there was very little military force on the thousands of islands that make up the country. When the Solomon Islands created a government in 1976, it remained in relative stability, but with no military force until 1998. At that date until 2006, the country was rife with crime and ethnic conflicts and peace was restored only when New Zealand and Australia stepped in. However, there is no military and only a Solomon Islands Police Force today.
There is no legal military present in the Vatican City. In the past the Noble Guard and the Palatine Guard were created to protect the Pope. However, these were abolished in 1970 by Pope Paul VI. Today there are only the Pontifical Swiss Guards. They are there to protect the pope and the Vatican Palace, but they are not legally speaking considered to be an army or a military force. The Gendarmerie Corps deal with traffic and keeping order as well as criminal investigations. Rome is responsible for the protection of the Vatican City.
Obviously if there are so few that have banished, outlawed and abolished their military force, then there must be some reason behind wanting to do. It can’t be that there is just some overriding need to have some means of protecting yourself from that nasty neighbor that so longingly wants to invade you and to take from you what you never had but just made him believe you were hiding under the mattress.
The top ten countries that spend the most on military are as follows and these are in ascending order. Wonder who’s at the top of the roost? Any guesses?
Top 10 Military Spenders in the World
Military Expenditure stands at $36.2 billion per year and it represents 1.4% of Gross Domestic Product in the country. In one year it has reduced its military spending by 3.9%. It imports $254 million and exports $36 million. Military spending increased rapidly during the 2000s, mainly due oil revenues increasing. It decreased by 4% in 2013. It is the military force that maintains order within the country and not just the police force.
India’s military spending for the latest available figures (2014) stands at $49.1 billion per annum, meaning a 2.5% share of GDP. Spending only decreased by 0.7% by comparison with 2013 and total imports represent a value of $5.6 billion (which is the highest figure in the word). Exports stand at a value of $10 billion. India is one of the highest spenders in the world on its military force. This is more than likely for its need to show outwardly that it is wealthy enough and capable enough of providing protection against Pakistan.
Military expenditure in this country is worth 1.4% of GDP and works out to $49.3 billion per year. There was no change by comparison with 2013 and total exports stand at $972 million, making it the world’s 6th largest arms exporter. It is 36th highest importer only in the world of arms, worth a value of $129 million. Since World War II Germany has being passive in world conflicts and its main role today is arms seller. Whereas the majority of countries in the world dropped their military spending when the financial crisis hit, Germany increased it by 2% as from 2008, until 2013.
7. United Kingdom
The UK spends $56.2 billion, representing 2.3% of GDP. As a percentage of GDP this is the 34thhighest country in the world. Between 2013 and 2014 there was a 2.6% drop in military spending due to the consequences of the financial crisis still and austerity measures. It exports are to the value of $1.4 billion and it is the 5th highest arms seller in the world. It imports $438 million in military equipment and that means it is the 15th highest importer in the world.
Japan spends 1% of its GDP on military and it is worth $59.44 billion. It imports $145 million-worth of military equipment today. Territorial disputes have led the country to arm itself more in case of need for defense against China.
France spends $62.3 billion on military and it stands at 2.2% of GDP, making it the 39th highest country in the world. Spending decreased from 2013 by 2.3%. It exports a total of $1.5 billion and is currently the 4th largest exporter of military equipment in the world.
4. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia spends $62.8 billion on arms and the military and it represents a total of 9.3% of GDP (the 2nd highest figure in the world). Between 2013 and 2014 it increased military spending by 14.3%. There is the overriding worry in the country that political turmoil and terrorism will overflow into the country from neighboring Yemen and Iraq.
Military expenditure stands at $84.9 billion per year in this country and it represents 4.1% of GDP making it the 10th highest in the world. It exports $8.3 billion per year and this is the world’s number one arms seller. By comparison it is the 33rd highest arms importer only.
Military expenditure here is worth $171.4 billion, and it is worth 2% of GDP. It increased spending by 7.4% between 2013 and 2014. Military spending is representative of economic growth usually. The better the economy, the higher the spending. Or is it the spending on the military that fuels the economy?
The USA spends $618.7 billion on the military and that is the 14th highest percentage of GDP (3.8%). It saw its military budget decrease between 2013 and 2014 by 7.8%. It is the 2nd highest exporter in the world and its market is worth $6.2 billion. It is the 8th highest importer in the world and imports to the tune of $759 million. Military spending was cut due to austerity measures as well as the withdrawing of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to J. K. Galbraith: “All candid economists concede the role of military expenditures in sustaining the modern economy. Some have held that expenditures for civilian purposes would do as well. The transition would be rather easy … [But] there is the problem of magnitude. For the price of a smallish fleet of manned supersonic bombers, a modern mass transit system could be built in virtually every city large enough to have a serious bus line. What would be built then?” That’s certainly food for thought. The views of Chomsky are that the ‘Pentagon System’ means that the military spending keeps the economy ticking over sweetly. The demand for arms in the word is a myth, a created, fake demand that is driven by business and economics.
Big Spender, the song immortalized by Bassey, ends with ‘How’s about a few laughs? Laughs?’. Who’s laughing at the race to military success these days? Only the top countries make, sell, arm others and then create wars between countries, while they teach their children that they are doing it all in the name of democracy. Since when did producing and selling arms prevent warfare? Since when did arms dealing become so lucrative that everybody would be willing to start a war to get in on the act? Is that laughable? Ask Shirley! She’s about the only one that might have the answer!
What’s your opinion of arms dealing today in the world?