March 20, 2012
International military analysts have recently pointed out that military spending in Asia has increased to 262 billion euros in 2012. The amount could overtake the EU’s own military spending in the near future, possibly as early as next year. Smaller military budgets, however, are consistent with the EU’s new focus on soft power and diplomacy, as opposed to investment in new weapons systems and more ‘boots on the ground’. Moreover, European countries have had an insignificant military presence in the Middle East or Asia, its former role being filled over the past sixty years by the United States. Naturally, the financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures are also considered responsible for the anaemic military spending by EU members.
In 2012 the US will spend an estimated 739 billion dollars, which, combined with the EU’s own 270 billion euros in military spending, will secure NATO’s position as the world’s most powerful military alliance. The refocusing of the US’ military strategy on Asia, which includes a new base in Australia and more American warships in Singapore, has been recently decried by Middle Eastern kingdoms feeling somewhat abandoned to their fate. Accordingly, they have increased their own military purchases and are intensifying diplomatic pressure on the US to remain engaged in their region. For Arab leaders, these lobbying efforts could not have been undertaken at a worst time, as the Obama administration plans to further reduce military spending to an estimated 500 billion USD per year.
Russia has recently announced that it would spend 775 billion dollars until 2022 for a much-needed refurbishment of its armed forces’ equipment, and for making its troops more professional.
China’s military will receive an estimated 89 billion dollars in 2012. In recent times, the Chinese military expenditure has shown a tendency to double every five years or so. Worries about Chinese hegemony in Asia have prompted other Asian nations, including India, to increase their military spending this year, which is good news for European weapons manufacturers. Fortunately – according to most analysts – the danger of a confrontation between major powers is rather remote at this point in time, as the Chinese military’s might will match America’s only in 15 or 20 years from now. (sources: www.sipri.org, Le Monde, International Institute for Security Studies, Reuters)Florian Pantazi