US, NATO Allies Cutting Back; Rest of the World Arms

The US and Europe were the only regions to cut defense spending last year, while several adversary nations topped the world charts, according to the most recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute fact sheet. “China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia—all made substantial increases, with Saudi Arabia leapfrogging the United Kingdom, Japan, and France to become the world’s fourth largest military spender,” SIPRI summarized in an April 14 press release. Those three countries “have more than doubled their military expenditure since 2004,” states the release. US defense spending, on the other hand, dropped by 7.8 percent in real terms in 2013, due to the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was compounded by sequestration. Russia is undertaking a massive military recapitalization with the goal of replacing “70 percent of equipment with ‘modern’ weapons by 2020,” outspending the US as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product for the first time since 2003, states SIPRI. Britain fell out of the top five spenders for the first time since World War II, while Japan reversed its declining budget trend citing security concerns over China, according to the release.