By World BEYOND War, May 1, 2022
Perhaps this moment in which a war has been on television, and that coverage more serious — albeit one-sided — than in the past, is an opportunity for some additional people to take a look at war in general. There are wars in dozens of countries, and in each of them, as in Ukraine, the victims’ stories are horrifying, and the crimes committed — including the crime of war — the most extreme outrages.
World BEYOND War has just released the 2022 update of its Mapping Militarism resource. As we’ve now produced these maps for several years, many of them allow scrolling back through several years to view the changes. Those changes, including on the map of where wars are present, are not all positive.
U.S. bombing of Afghanistan and of Iraq/Syria in the year 2021 decreased significantly from past years, although certainly not to a level anyone would choose to live under — U.S. bombs having the same sort of impact on people that Russian and Ukrainian bombs do. The map of U.S. drone “strikes” in various countries has not been updated, not because barbarism has been overcome but because the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has ceased the invaluable service of reporting on what the U.S. government itself never told us.
But the map of how many troops each of the world’s nations has taking part in the occupation of Afghanistan has gone blank for a wonderful reason, the ending of that occupation (the U.S. government having moved on to starving Afghans through the seizure of funds).
In the United States, President Biden, of course, asked for an increase, and Congress provided an increase above what he asked for, with the portion of military spending that is compared by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute with that of other nations topping $800 billion. That’s about as much as the next 10 nations put together, 8 of those 10 being U.S. weapons customers pressured by the U.S. to spend more. Below those top 11 military spenders, do you know how many nations it takes to add up to the same level of spending as the U.S. engages in? It’s a trick question. You can add up the spending of the next 142 countries and not come anywhere close. The top 11 military spending countries account for 77% of all military spending. The top 25 military spending countries account for 89% of all military spending. Of those top 25, 22 are U.S. weapons customers or the U.S. itself. The top spenders all increased their spending in 2021, including Russia, which had decreased its spending in three of the previous five years.
Only in military spending per capita does the United States have any competition. In fact, as the maps show, Israel surpassed the United States, taking first place in 2020 (at least if we overlook how much of Israeli military spending is provided as a gift by the United States), and Qatar surpassed both Israel and the United States in 2021. The top 30 nations in military spending per capita are all U.S. weapons customers or the U.S. itself. There are no statistics for North Korea.
When we look at nations’ weapons exports we find a familiar pattern.
U.S. weapons exports match those of about the next five or six countries. The top seven countries account for 84% of weapons exports. The top 15 countries account for 97% of weapons exports. All but two of the world’s weapons exporters are U.S. weapons customers. Second place in international weapons dealing, held by Russia for the previous seven years, has been taken over by France. The only overlap between significant weapons dealing and where wars are present is in Ukraine and Russia — two countries impacted by a war widely recognized as outside the norm. In most years no nations with wars present are weapons dealers.
Here’s a map of where U.S. weapons are imported, and one of where U.S. weapons are being sent at U.S. expense out of the goodness of the heart of the U.S. government, for which weapons make up some 40% of what it calls “foreign aid.”
The map of who owns the nuclear weapons has changed little. Of course the U.S. weapons are not all in the U.S. as some are in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany. All of the maps allow zooming in or out. Please zoom in to see Israel before complaining to us that we’ve hidden Israel’s nukes!
Mapping Militarism continues to track U.S. empire, with an updated map of where U.S. military bases are around the world, and one of where U.S. troops are present in what numbers. Not included on that map are 14,908 troops that the U.S. government lists as being in “unknown” location(s).
A key section of Mapping Militarism contains maps of nations that have taken some steps toward peace. These include, maps of
- members of the International Criminal Court,
- parties to the Kellogg-Briand Pact,
- parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,
- parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,
- members of nuclear free zones, and
- nations in which at least one person has signed World BEYOND War’s Declaration of Peace, which can be signed here.