World military spending soars, with U.S. taking top spot, again
155 mm M795 artillery projectiles are stacked during the manufacturing process at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Scranton, Pa., April 13, 2023. | Matt Rourke / AP

Global military spending hit a new record high last year, with the United States accounting for 39% of the global total, according to a new report.

Spending on the world’s armed forces soared for the eighth consecutive year in 2022, reaching an astonishing new high of $2.24 trillion. By far the sharpest rise in spending, some 13%, was in Europe and was largely accounted for by spending by both Russia and the Ukrainians.

Military spending by central and western European states totaled $345 billion. In real terms, spending by these states for the first time surpassed that in 1989, as the Cold War was ending, and was 30% higher than in 2013.

But by far the lion’s share of military spending was by the U.S. The Pentagon war machine spent some $877 billion in 2022, which was almost four-tenths of total global military spending.

The 0.7% real-terms increase in U.S. spending would have been even higher had it not been for the highest levels of inflation since 1981.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) senior researcher Dr. Nan Tian said: “The increase in the U.S.’ military spending in 2022 was largely accounted for by the unprecedented level of financial military aid it provided to Ukraine.

“Given the scale of U.S. spending, even a minor increase in percentage terms has a significant impact on the level of global military expenditure.”

U.S. financial military aid to Ukraine totaled $19.9 billion in 2022.

Although this was the largest amount of military aid given by any country to a single beneficiary in any year since the Cold War, it represented only 2.3% of total U.S. military expenditure.

The level of military spending has been a bonanza for U.S. arms manufacturers. A SIPRI report in December last year showed arms sales of the top 40 U.S. arms manufacturers totaled $299 billion in 2021.

During 2022, the U.S. allocated $295 billion to military operations and maintenance, $264 billion to procurement and research and development, and $167 billion to military personnel costs.

According to the Pentagon’s own figures, the U.S. has about 750 bases across the world, with at least 313 in east Asia alone.

In contrast, China has a small number of bases in the South China Sea and just one other elsewhere, in Djibouti. It spent an estimated $292 billion last year on its military, about three times less than the amount spent by the U.S.

Morning Star

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Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.