By Tucker Long
The United States, the world's largest supplier of weapons, has been hard at work trying to keep up with the international demand for arms. America has been supplying ammunition, smart bombs, and interceptors for the Iron Dome missile-defense system to Israel, with President Biden assuring that more military aid is on the way. Countries in the middle east like Israel and Saudi Arabia are significant buyers of American weapons, and war in the region will surely increase their arms purchases.
This comes at a time when military spending and arms sales are already surging due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as heightening tensions in East Asia due to the perceived threat of China. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in 2022, total military expenditure reached a new high of $2240 billion. The three largest spenders are the U.S., China, and Russia, who account for 56% of all arms spending.
As the war in Ukraine rages on, so does military spending on both sides. Russian military spending grew by 9.2% in 2022, this comes as President Biden says that he will not prioritize support for Israel over support for Ukraine. The conflict in Eastern Europe has led to what the SIPRI referred to as “Cold-War levels of military expenditure” in Western and Central Europe, spending $345 billion in 2022, in real terms the highest level since 1989. This increased demand in weapon sales has led to other countries getting in on the action when the US is not able to keep up their supply. Notably in Poland, a nation bolstering their military, weary of Russia, has been increasing their military spending, buying not only from the U.S. but also South Korea and Turkey.
American allies in Asia, such as Taiwan, are also buying more weapons due to a perceived threat coming from China. Among the fervor for arms sales, large powers such as India and Indonesia are switching weapon suppliers, looking away from Russia and China, and towards Western nations. This is being seen as a way to improve relations and form ties between these countries and the United States, as long-term contracts require close government coordination on both sides. Indonesia backed out of a deal with Russia for fighter jets in 2018, now having a tentative deal to purchase American-made Boeing F-15s and Lockheed-Martin Blackhawk helicopters.
This increase in armament throughout the world could certainly have disastrous effects. According to Dr. Nan Tian from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “The continuous rise in global military expenditure in recent years is a sign that we are living in an increasingly insecure world.” While it is true that having weapons contracts between nations can strengthen alliances and generate economic activity, it leads to a highly armed and more volatile world. It is feared that the surge in weapons sales and larger militaries can mean smaller conflicts becoming bigger, leading to the involvement of major powers, and ultimately more bloodshed.
Madison Sciba '24,