U.S. MILITARY IN PERSPECTIVE


Annual Military Spending

US$ Billion      
1 United States 796.4    
2 China 166.1    
3 Russia 90.7    
4 United Kingdom 61.0    
5 Japan 59.3    
6 France 59.3    
7 Saudi Arabia 56.7    
8 India 45.8    
9 Germany 43.5    
10 Italy 34.0    
11 Brazil 33.1    
12 South Korea 31.7    
13 Australia 26.1    
14 Canada 22.6    
15 Turkey 18.2    
16 United Arab Emirates 17.5    
17 Israel 14.6    
18 Spain 11.5    
19 Netherlands 10.9    
20 Colombia 10.3    
21 Poland 9.1    
22 Taiwan 8.9    
23 North Korea 8.8    
24 Singapore 8.3    
25 Greece 7.5    
26 Iran 7.5    
27 Chile 7.4    
28 Norway 7.1    
29 Algeria 5.6    
30 Belgium 5.4    
31 Indonesia 5.2    
32 Sweden 5.2    
33 Portugal 5.2    
34 Pakistan 5.2    
35 Mexico 4.9    
36 Iraq 4.7    
37 Denmark 4.6    
38 Switzerland 4.4    
39 Thailand 4.3    
40 Kuwait 4.4    
41 Oman 4.0    
42 Egypt 3.9    
43 Angola 3.8    
44 South Africa 3.7    
45 Finland 3.7    
46 Austria 3.4    
47 Ukraine 3.4    
48 Malaysia 3.3    
49 Morocco 3.3    
50 Argentina 3.2    
51 Venezuela 3.1    
52 Czech Republic 2.5    
53 Vietnam 2.4    
54 Syria 2.2    
55 Romania 2.2    
56 Cuba 2.1    
57 Peru 2.0    
58 Sudan 2.0    
59 Nigeria 1.7    
60 Lebanon 1.6    
61 Philippines 1.5    
62 Azerbaijan 1.4    
63 Jordan 1.4    
64 New Zealand 1.4    
65 Ireland 1.4    
66 Hungary 1.3    
67 Sri Lanka 1.3    
68 Kazakhstan 1.2    
69 Yemen 1.2    
70 Bangladesh 1.1    
71 Libya 1.1    
72 Croatia 1.0    
73 Slovakia 1.0    
74 Serbia 0.9    
75 Georgia 0.8    
76 Slovenia 0.8    
77 Bahrain 0.7    
78 Belarus 0.7    
79 Bulgaria 0.7    
80 Kenya 0.6    
81 Tunisia 0.5    
82 Cyprus 0.5    
83 Uruguay 0.5    
84 Eritrea 0.5    
85 Lithuania 0.4    
86 Armenia 0.4    
87 Cameroon 0.4    
88 Côte d'Ivoire 0.4    
89 Botswana 0.4    
90 Ethiopia 0.3    
91 Estonia 0.3    
92 Namibia 0.3    
93 Brunei 0.3    
94 Dominican Republic 0.3    
95 Bolivia 0.3    
96 Luxembourg 0.3    
97 Uganda 0.3    
98 Latvia 0.3    
99 Afghanistan 0.3    
100 Zambia 0.2    
101 Chad 0.2    
102 Honduras 0.2    
103 Turkmenistan 0.2    
104 Bosnia & Herzegovina 0.2    
105 Tanzania 0.2    
106 Senegal 0.2    
107 Nepal 0.2    
108 Albania 0.2    
109 Cambodia 0.2    
110 Mali 0.2    
111 Kyrgyzstan 0.2    
112 Dem. Rep. of the Congo 0.2    
113 Guatemala 0.2    
114 Panama 0.1    
115 Paraguay 0.1    
116 Macedonia 0.1    
117 Burkina Faso 0.1    
118 Congo 0.1    
119 El Salvador 0.1    
120 Ghana 0.1    
121 Mauritania 0.1    
122 Swaziland 0.1    
123 Guinea 0.1    
124 Jamaica 0.1    
125 Zimbabwe 0.1    
126 Mozambique 0.1    
127 Rwanda 0.1    
128 Uzbekistan 0.1    
129 Mongolia 0.1    
130 Benin 0.1    
131 Malta 0.1    
132 Madagascara 0.1    
133 Tajikistan 0.1    
134 Togo 0.1    
135 Central African Republic 0.1    
136 Fiji 0.1    
137 Niger <0.1    
138 Malawi <0.1    
139 Burundi <0.1    
140 Lesotho <0.1    
141 Nicaragua <0.1    
142 Sierra Leone <0.1    
143 Papua New Guinea <0.1    
144 Djibouti <0.1    
145 Monaco <0.1    
146 Moldova <0.1    
147 Laos <0.1    
148 Guinea-Bissau <0.1    
149 Belize <0.1    
150 Mauritius <0.1    
151 San Marino <0.1    
152 Iceland <0.1    
153 Cape Verde <0.1    
154 Gambia <0.1    
155 Liberia <0.1    
156 Seychelles <0.1    
157 Guyana <0.1    
158 Trinidad & Tobago <0.1    
159 Comoros <0.1    
160 Costa Rica <0.1    
161 Antigua & Barbuda <0.1    
162 Andorra <0.1    
163 Guinea-Bissau <0.1    
164 Moldova <0.1    
165 Bhutan <0.1    
166 Suriname <0.1    
167 Montenegro <0.1    
168 South Sudan <0.1    
169 East Timor <0.1    
170 Bermuda <0.1    
171 Tonga <0.1    
172 San Marino <0.1    
173 São Tomé & Príncipe <0.1    
174 Liechtenstein <0.1    
175 Grenada <0.1    
176 Kiribati <0.1    
177 Dominica <0.1    
178 Marshall Islands <0.1    
179 Micronesia <0.1    
180 Nauru <0.1    
181 Maldives <0.1    
182 St. Kitts & Nevis <0.1    
183 Gabon <0.1    
184 Samoa <0.1    
185 Solomon Islands <0.1    
186 St. Vincent & the Grenadines <0.1    
187 Vatican City <0.1    
188 St. Lucia <0.1    
189 Palau <0.1    
190 Tuvalu <0.1    

Note: Figures are for 2013 or most recently available. U.S. spending includes the Dept. of Defense budget, the nuclear weapons budget of the Dept. of Energy, Homeland Security, and other military-related spending, but does not include Veterans Affairs, veterans' pensions, and interest on the debt incurred in past wars.






Top 20 Global Arms Exporters

% of Total      
1 United States 30%    
2 Russia 23%    
3 Germany 11%    
4 France 7%    
5 United Kingdom 4%    
6 Netherlands 3%    
7 China 3%    
8 Spain 3%    
9 Italy 2%    
10 Sweden 2%    
11 Israel <2%    
12 Ukraine <2%    
13 Switzerland <2%    
14 Canada <2%    
15 South Africa <2%    
16 South Korea <2%    
17 Poland <2%    
18 Belgium <2%    
19 Norway <2%    
20 Brazil <2%    




The United States of America has a global military presence unlike that of any other country in history. Many countries go to war, but the U.S. is unique in both the size and power of its military and its propensity to use it. Since the end of WWII, the U.S. has spent more than $20 trillion to build up its military might. This is more than the cumulative monetary value of all human-made wealth in the United States.





The U.S. government has spent more on its military over the last six decades than the value of all the houses, office buildings, factories, schools, hospitals, airports, hotels, shopping centres, power plants, machinery, water and sewage systems, roads, bridges, railroads, etc. in the United States put together!




Adding up the current Pentagon budget, the nuclear weapons budget of the Energy Department, the military portion of the NASA budget, foreign military aid and other military-related expenses, the U.S. spends over three-quarters of a trillion dollars on its military each year. If veterans' benefits and interest payments on the debt are included, the figure is closer to $1.5 trillion.

The U.S. alone is responsible for half of the world's military spending and spends more than 35 times as much as the combined spending of the so-called rogue states: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

More than 50% of the U.S. government's annual discretionary spending – the money the President and Congress have direct control over – goes to the military. By comparison, 5% goes to education and 6% to healthcare. Cutbacks in social programs have caused far more devastation in the U.S. than any foreign army ever has.



Foreign Interventions

Every few years, the U.S. sends soldiers, warships, and warplanes to fight in distant countries. Since the end of WWII, the U.S. has:

  • Atttempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected
  • Carried out over 200 military operations in which it has struck the first blow
  • Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries
  • Waged war/military action, either directly or by proxy, in some 30 countries
  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders
  • Dropped bombs on the people of some 30 countries
  • Suppressed dozens of populist/nationalist movements in every corner of the world
  • Been responsible for the deaths of over 20 million people in numerous wars and conflicts throughout the world

By its actions, U.S. foreign policy seeks not only to secure its own borders but to dominate the rest of the world. Foreign military interventions usually serve the interests of global corporate investment, regardless of the human and ecological costs to the region. Rather than being guided by a devotion to moral principles of any kind, they serve to fulfill the following objectives:

  • making the world safe for U.S. corporations
  • preventing the development of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model
  • extending political and economic control over as wide an area as possible
  • preventing any challengers from emerging that might threaten U.S. military supremacy
  • repaying defence contractors who have contributed generously to members of Congress

U.S. troops sometimes remain as an occupying army after invading, enforcing U.S. dictates and putting down local protests and rebellions. The U.S. government also finances, arms, and directs local "proxy" militias to fight on its behalf to overthrow governments not compliant to "U.S. interests." The list of those declared to be an "enemy" or a "terrorist" has included many people fighting for democracy in their country – like Nelson Mandela.



Military Bases

U.S. control over most of the planet is supported by an integrated network of military bases and installations which covers all the continents, oceans, and outer space. Thousands of troops are stationed at strategic locations to be deployed into military action. With unparalleled naval and air forces, the U.S. possesses a unique capacity to act militarily anywhere in the world if it so chooses.

In addition to 4,500 military bases on its own territory, the U.S. has more than 1,000 bases in over 50 countries. Of these foreign bases, 760 are acknowledged by the Pentagon and at least 300 more are known to exist, many of them espionage bases. Not included in the official base count are facilities run by other countries on behalf of the U.S., sites operated covertly by the CIA, and de facto "bases" that float on America's fleet of aircraft carriers.

The U.S. military maintains an empire of bases so large and shadowy that no one – not even at the Pentagon – likely knows its full size and scope. In total, about 1.5 million military personnel – combatants and civilians – are permanently stationed in over 150 countries worldwide.





Following its bombing of Iraq in 1991, the U.S. acquired military bases in:
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • Bahrain
  • Qatar
  • Oman
  • United Arab Emirates

Following its bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the U.S. acquired military bases in:
  • Kosovo
  • Albania
  • Bulgaria
  • Macedonia
  • Hungary
  • Bosnia
  • Croatia

Following its bombing of Afghanistan in 2001-2, the U.S. acquired military bases in:
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Tajikistan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Georgia
  • Yemen
  • Djibouti

Following its bombing and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. set up hundreds of military bases throughout the country of which at least 80 remain to this day.





The U.S. Department of Defense is the world's largest landlord with over half a million buildings and structures located on nearly 5,000 sites worldwide. The actual number is likely much higher, as many Pentagon facilities are kept secret. The U.S. is currently in negotiations for additional sites and bases in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The U.S. military is the single biggest polluter in the world, with no concern for the environmental impact of its operations. The heaviest resource consumers of fossil fuels, in order, are: the U.S. military, U.S. citizens, China, and India.

In the Status of Forces Agreements that it signs with other nations, the U.S. government generally insists on exemption from environmental regulations and categorically renounces any responsibility for cleaning up the pollution that its military produces or leaves behind when it pulls out. On its own soil and in U.S. territories and coastal waters, the U.S. military has been exempted from almost all EPA regulations.



September 11, 2001

For most of its history, the true costs of the wars the U.S. waged overseas had largely been hidden. U.S. taxpayers had to pay the military bills but the death and destruction was all overseas. That changed on September 11, 2001 – for the first time, the violence reached the U.S.

Few people anywhere in the world, including the Middle East, supported bin Laden's terrorist methods. (Violence directed at civilians is never acceptable!) But they shared his anger at the U.S. for supporting corrupt dictators (including Saddam Hussain during his worst crimes), supporting Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, and imposing U.S. dictates on the Middle East through violence and brutal economic sanctions.

The September 11 attacks were a response to decades of U.S. violence perpetrated against the people of the Middle East. The intended targets – the World Trade Center, the White House, and the Pentagon – were the centres of U.S. commerce, government, and military power. The message was clear: stop imposing economic, political, and military control on the people and resources of the Middle East.





"What America is tasting now is something insignificant compared to what we have tasted for scores of years. Our nation (the Islamic world) has been tasting this humiliation and degradation for more than 80 years. Its sons are killed, its blood is shed, its sanctuaries are attacked and no one hears and no one heeds. Millions of innocent children are being killed in Iraq without committing any sins....

To America, I say only a few words to it and its people. I swear to God, who has elevated the skies without pillars, neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it here in Palestine and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad, peace be upon him."

- Osama bin Laden,  October 7, 2001









1998 interview with Osama bin Laden





Instead of reconsidering its foreign policy, the U.S. government responded to the attacks with more violence. But the War on Terrorism cannot possibly end terrorism. Even though bin Laden is no longer a threat, continued U.S. aggression will encourage others to drive the U.S. out of the Middle East, inspiring more acts of terrorism.

Homeland defense has become a pretext for eliminating civil rights protections long deemed inconvenient by the FBI and other police agencies. The Pentagon and the CIA now have a much freer hand in carrying out wars and violent covert operations around the world. The U.S. military has been handed practically a blank cheque to fight "terrorism" – a term that can be applied to any act of resistence to U.S. domination.



Corporate News Media

Corporate-controlled news media in the U.S. are businesses just like any other: they make a profit by selling a product to a buyer. The product is an audience and the buyer is another business. In effect, large corporations sell audiences to other large corporations. The product is you, as a viewer of media content and a consumer. To avoid alienating the buyer of their product – other corporations – the major news media generally conceal from their audience the corporate interests behind much of U.S. government policy, especially foreign policy.

Despite claims that the press has an adversarial relationship with the government, news media in the U.S. generally follow Washington's official line. The spectrum of debate falls in the relatively narrow range between the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties. Washington policy-makers often claim that foreign interventions are necessary to protect "our interests" but the news media seldom ask what those interests are and who is actually served by them.

As demonstrated in Nicaragua, Yugoslavia, Haiti, and numerous other countries, defending U.S. interests usually means imposing neoliberal capitalist ecomonic policies on nations that might strike a course independent of, or unfriendly to, transnational corporate investment. This is never the reason given in major news media. Rather, it is always a matter of "stopping aggression," "protecting national security," or punishing leaders who are said to be dictators, drug dealers, or state terrorists. The War on Terrorism is really a global war against all those who oppose U.S. control of the planet.

The major news media expose little about the U.S. role in financing, equipping, training, and directing the repressive military forces in countries around the world. Many of the CIA's covert operations – bombings, assassinations, paramilitary massacres – are terrorism by any definition. Yet news media will never refer to such acts as "terrorism" – or describe U.S. foreign policy as "aggressive" or "criminal" – as long as government and military leaders proclaim they have noble intentions. The corporate news media will sometimes criticize their government's foreign policy as "ill-defined" or "overextended" but never as lacking in virtuous intent.