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2009 World Military Budgets

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Above is a visualization of the biggest military budgets in 2009 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). (source: Russian Sphinx) The colors have no significance aside from making each country’s name more distinguishable. Remember, this is for 2009 only, and imagine the cumulative effect of this over decades.

Below are 2009 military expenditures per capita in U.S. dollars by country. (source: Wikipedia, deriving from SIPRI’s 2010 Yearbook) One way to look at this statistic is a form of security tax or safety insurance each person pays in their respective countries. I have refrained from analysis, because these facts stand on their own as references (especially since we talk a good deal about geopolitics and ‘democracy’).

Country Year USD
United Arab Emirates 2009 2,653
United States 2009 2,141
Israel 2009 1,882
Singapore 2008 1,593
Saudi Arabia 2009 1,524
Kuwait 2009 1,289
Norway 2009 1,245
Greece 2009 1,230
France 2009 977
United Kingdom 2009 940
Bahrain 2009 911.5
Australia 2009 893
Brunei 2009 866
Luxembourg 2009 809
Denmark 2009 804
Netherlands 2009 759
Finland 2009 702
Sweden 2009 657
Italy 2009 593
Canada 2009 560
Switzerland 2009 526
Germany 2009 558
Belgium 2009 525
South Korea 2009 493
Russia 2009 430
Japan 2009 401
Spain 2009 398
Poland 2009 285
Turkey 2009 244
Georgia 2009 151
Brazil 2009 142
South Africa 2009 78.7
China 2009 74.7
Argentina 2009 65
Mexico 2009 48.9
India 2009 30.7
Pakistan 2009 28.3

  1. tc
    April 2nd, 2011 at 07:50 | #1

    Might is Right. And we are talking about military might.
    Any other mights don’t count. They are not real ‘might’ anyway.
    We don’t spend huge sum for nothing. We want to be always right.

    India/China to be … what “power”? Keep dreaming for another 500 years.
    (majority of them don’t even have indoor plumbing. What power? Give me a break.)

  2. xian
    April 2nd, 2011 at 23:34 | #2

    An army that size is pointless unless in a state of total war. Let them have their money sink.

  3. silentvoice
    April 3rd, 2011 at 05:07 | #3

    Singapore’s high spending is partly due to our compulsory national service. Every male must serve 2 years, since ‘Great Leader’ Lee is worried that our neighbors might invade us.

  4. TonyP4
    April 4th, 2011 at 06:25 | #4

    From my memory, the current US military budget is over half a trillion, and it does not include the current two wars and the one billion or so spent in bombing Tripoli.

    Do we afford the wars and these budgets? NO!!! US is bankrupt by many standards and we cannot repay our debts too long without doing sth drastic. US does not have and cannot afford to be the world policeman. The politicians want to be be respected, and the citizens are paying the price. If it is about oil, shame on all US citizens who elect these stupid politicians.

    Why we need a carrier to be powered by TWO nuclear reactors? The recent two wars show us we cannot win a war by expensive weapons. The last phase of winning a war is in land that US has not found a solution.

    From a Chinese saying, the best wars are won without shooting an arrow. Let other countries fix their own problems internally. Their standards are not the same as ours.

    Is the Crusade still going on, wanting to be #1, or just plain oil?

    When we do not have internal plumbing (in rural areas), it will not hurt other global citizens. However, it does with our advanced weapons. We do not gain respect by showing other our shiny weapons, but how to resolve conflicts without using any weapon.

  5. April 4th, 2011 at 08:56 | #5

    US does not call it “crusades”, because the word brings back bad memories.

    But they are “crusades”, for the obvious reason that beyond oil and money, it is about “values” of “democracy” that US is seeking to spread.

    Right or wrong, it is about using military might to spread “values” of the West.

    It may be “morally right” according to the prevailing standards of the West, but it is also morally tenuous, because it implies that anyone has the right to use military force to “spread” whatever they think might be morally correct.

    “Crusades” invite “counter crusades”, boiling up to festering holy wars of moral/religious ideals.

  6. April 4th, 2011 at 15:14 | #6

    I think the bombings have nothing to do with values. It is about geopolitics and controlling for oil.

    The U.S. may also believe Qadhafi’s government is friendly or are sponsoring ‘terrorists,’ and therefore also believing taking the fight to Libya is the best way to avoid anything coming to the U.S.’s shores.

    I heard on NPR few days ago Libya’s intelligence chief had recently defected, and the U.S./U.K. believe he was behind the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie in 1988.

    The ‘values’ are effective propaganda. If there is real concern for Libyan citizens, then the right thing would have been to push resolution authorizing U.N. troops on the ground.

  7. xian
    April 4th, 2011 at 18:54 | #7

    I doubt they make enough oil money to cover for their war expenses, it’s more likely they want to get rid of an anti-West figure like Gadhafi and install a more pro-West government. It seems to me Americans only use the moral aspect to attack the other political party anyway. Why are you doing nothing while this happens, why should we interfere with their affairs, etc. It’s like the Bush wars, but switched around. And of course, actual politics has little to do with morals or values.

  8. Charles Liu
    April 5th, 2011 at 02:12 | #8


    Let’s do some math. The $100 per barrel crude price is spot market. It’ll be much less if a concession is made (around $10-20 per barrel on contract.)

    IMHO this is why China is trying to secure oil source in Africa. Getting rid of Kadafi will allow US/UK oil company back in on concession. over 20-30 years we are talking about an astronomical amount of money.

    The first thing that happened after 2nd Iraq war was Chevron and BP oil tankers docking at Basra. Saddam Hussein was denying US/UK oil concession and pushing for Euro-standard oil sales.

    Google “executive order 13303”.

  9. JC
    April 5th, 2011 at 02:14 | #9

    Your ignorance of these two rising Asian powers is so glaring for us to see. keep sleeping and dreaming!

  10. xian
    April 5th, 2011 at 03:11 | #10

    @Charles Liu
    Hmm, I see how that would be profitable over time. Thanks for pointing that out.


  11. TonyP4
    April 5th, 2011 at 05:49 | #11

    US has not enforced no-fly zone for at least two similar conflicts in Africa. The difference between the other countries and Libya is oil.

    Oil could be the cause for the war with Iraq. US would even send troops for not trading oil in USD. US wants to ensure USD as the reserve currency, so she can print as much as she wants.

    We should conserve and wake up from the cheap oil in 50-60s. Using military to enforce oil trade is similar to the Brits using battle ships to enforce opium trade 250 years ago. When we do not learn from history, history will repeat itself.

  12. April 5th, 2011 at 07:40 | #12


    You know the old quote, the West wants “slaves” and be worshipped/admired.

    Of course, there is a value factor in these crusades. Colonialism is all about the twin exploitations they bring, the Merchants and the Priests.

  13. April 6th, 2011 at 02:35 | #13

    I bet that China square becomes considerably larger in the next few years.

  14. TonyP4
    April 6th, 2011 at 05:34 | #14

    First it is hard to trust the figures from China. Second, the purchasing power is higher in China. Many exclusions can lower the numbers easily.

  15. April 8th, 2011 at 09:14 | #15

    Back in the day, Eisenhower warned about the Military Industrial (Congressional) Complex, MIC. The US military budget benifits MIC and has grown like a cancer. There are many ancillary “reasons” why the US engages in endless war. Here are some of them…1. Pork, that is, spending goes to certain states and results in emplowment. Imagine what unemployment in US would look like if we cut the military budget in half? 2. Banksters, this is big business, big finance, and big speculation, big timw; world stage. 4. Military careers. Nearing retirement, older officers want promotions. 5. Arms designers want to test out their new designs real time. (not kidding).

    It all adds up to hegimony. But, in the end this cancer will shrivel up and die, because the host will be sucked to a husk.

  16. April 9th, 2011 at 10:09 | #16

    Eisenhower indeed shared similar concerns.

  17. jxie
    April 11th, 2011 at 09:12 | #17

    SIPRI puts China’s defense spending at 2.2% of GDP, compared to the official 1.5% of GDP. It contends other than the 1.5% of GDP under direct DoD control understates the total military spending. By the same token, the US military spending of 4.7% of GDP doesn’t include expenditures such as VA pension/benefits, NASA/DoE military-related spending, etc., which altogether some put it a bit over $900 billion (6.2% of GDP).

  18. pug_ster
    April 25th, 2011 at 06:57 | #18


    Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said “In order to maintain the right balance in our relationship with China, we need to also solidify the ties between Japan, the US and South Korea.” Sounds like containment to me.

  19. April 25th, 2011 at 07:33 | #19


    I think Japan has to hedge. One of the things it must consider is one day the U.S. suddenly withdraw – or the Japanese gets too tired of U.S. forcing it to pay even more for the occupying forces.

    It may sound backwards, but how ‘close’ Japan’s relationship is with China depends on how solid their military relationship is with the U.S. and to a lesser extent with the South Koreans.

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