Published on Monday, June 9, 2008 by Agence France Presse
Global Military Spending Soars 45 Percent in 10 Years
STOCKHOLM - World military spending grew 45 percent in the past decade, with the United States accounting for nearly half of all expenditures, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said Monday.
Military spending grew six percent last year alone, according to SIPRI’s annual report.
In 2007, 1,339 billion dollars (851 billion euros) was spent on arms and other military expenditures, corresponding to 2.5 percent of global gross domestic product, or GDP, and 202 dollars for each of the world’s 6.6 billion people.
The United States spends by far the most towards military aims, dishing out 547 billion dollars last year, or 45 percent of global expenditure.
Britain, China, France and Japan — the next in line of big spenders — lag far behind, accounting for just four to five percent of world military costs each.
“The factors driving increases in world military spending include countries’ foreign policy objectives, real or perceived threats, armed conflict and policies to contribute to multilateral peacekeeping operations, combined with the availability of economic resources,” the SIPRI report said.
Registering the greatest regional growth was Eastern Europe , which saw its military spending skyrocket 162 percent between 1998 and 2007 and 15 percent from 2006 to 2007.
Russia, whose expenditures ballooned 13 percent last year, was responsible for 86 percent of the growth in the region, according to SIPRI.
North America meanwhile saw its military spending swell 65 percent, largely driven by the United States, which has seen its costs grow 59 percent since the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington .
“By 2007, US spending was higher than at any time since World War II,” the SIPRI report said.
In the past decade, the Middle East has boosted military expenditures by 62 percent, South Asia by 57 percent and Africa and East Asia by 51 percent each.
Western Europe was the region with the least military spending growth at just six percent, followed by Central America at 14 percent.
At a national level, “ China has increased its military spending threefold in real terms during the past decade,” SIPRI said, adding however that “due to its rapid economic growth, the economic burden of military spending is still moderate, at 2.1 percent of GDP”.
As a direct result of the increased military outlay, sales by the world’s 100 leading arms producing companies (excluding in China ) jumped nearly nine percent in 2006 compared to the year before to 315 billion dollars, SIPRI said.
Sixty-three of the 100 top weapons firms are based in the United States and Western Europe , accounting alone for 292.3 billion dollars in sales in 2006, the last year for which SIPRI has numbers.
© 2008 Agence France Presse
BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions
By Jane Corbin
A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq .
For the first time, the extent to which some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding has been researched by the BBC's Panorama using US and Iraqi government sources.
A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.
The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.
While George Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted.
To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq .
The president's Democratic opponents are keeping up the pressure over war profiteering in Iraq .
Henry Waxman who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said: "The money that's gone into waste, fraud and abuse under these contracts is just so outrageous, its egregious.
"It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history."
In the run-up to the invasion one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth seven billion that was given to Halliburton, a Texan company, which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president.
Unusually only Halliburton got to bid - and won.
The search for the missing billions also led the programme to a house in Acton in West London where Hazem Shalaan lived until he was appointed to the new Iraqi government as minister of defence in 2004.
He and his associates siphoned an estimated $1.2 billion out of the ministry.
They bought old military equipment from Poland but claimed for top class weapons.
Meanwhile they diverted money into their own accounts.
Judge Radhi al-Radhi of Iraq 's Commission for Public Integrity investigated.
He said: "I believe these people are criminals.
"They failed to rebuild the Ministry of Defence , and as a result the violence and the bloodshed went on and on - the murder of Iraqis and foreigners continues and they bear responsibility."
Mr Shalaan was sentenced to two jail terms but he fled the country.
He said he was innocent and that it was all a plot against him by pro-Iranian MPs in the government.
There is an Interpol arrest out for him but he is on the run - using a private jet to move around the globe.
He stills owns commercial properties in the Marble Arch area of London .
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/06/10 17:25:48 GMT
© BBC MMVIII
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