US Defense Spending Doubled Over Two Decades, Fighting Terror

DESPARDES News Monitor – The United States military spending continued to rise after September 2001 over the next 10 years – it had dipped to its lowest level post-cold war in 1998.

While the US had expended $577b in military spending in 1988, the spending dropped to $392b in 1998. It however started rising thereafter and exceeded the cold war mark- $746b the US spent on military in 2010. In 2017, the United States spent around $610 billion on its military. This figure is higher than what it was at the height of the cold war with Soviets (USSR).

In 2018, this figure slightly rose to $649b, amid several declared and undeclared global wars on terror (GWOT): Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Somalia, Syria, Iran. Yemen, etc. More so, the spending has risen for the first time in seven years, reflecting the Trump administration’s policy.

Almost within the same timeline, the Global Terror Index and Peace Index emerged. Both put Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Nigeria among the 5 most terror-hit spots worldwide.Afghanistan’s eastern neighbor Pakistan’s military spending increased. Between 2009 and 2018, the country spent nearly 73 percent more on countering terror within and at the eastern and western borders- tensions with India on the east saw gradual uptick, with the highest levels recently and above average during the years Pm Modi of ultra-right wing BJP party was in power.A somewhat similar situation but on a lower scale continues on the western border. As per the latest SIPRI data, Pakistan, the only Muslim nuclear-state, is among the top 10 countries with the highest military burden. Pakistan had helped the US and its ally push the Red Army out of Afghanistan. In less than two years, Soviet Russia (USSR) and the Berlin Wall became part of history. The cold war ended the West declared victory. Pakistan was left out in the cold though.

The end of the Cold War only saw a temporary respite in military spending for the US and the NATO nations. Since the turn of the 21st century, the United States began pumping more money into defense — driven by several declared and undeclared wars against terrorism called the ‘Global War on Terror (GWOT) — dwarfing Russia and China’s buildup post-cold war which ended in 1988.Presently, according to SIPRI, the five biggest spenders in 2018 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, which together accounted for 60 per cent of global military spending. India, Saudi, France are allies of the US in their regions.Pakistan has moved several milemarkers from being an ally of the US, and closer to its ‘iron brother’ China and one-time foe Russia.At the end of the day, regional geopolitics and GWOT cost Pakistan more than $230b in economic losses and 70,000 lives.

Terror incidents and extremism have taken a discernible hit in the country. In Afghanistan though, the Taliban control more territories than what it did in October 2001.“We are seeking peace and (a) political settlement … We want peace to give us the possibility to withdraw,”  said Zalmay Khalilzad to Tolo News this week.According to SIPRI, 2018 was the second year running the global military spending figure has risen, bringing it to the highest level since 1988- end of cold war.