Military spending

Last updated 23 November 2020

There is no evidence to suggest that high military expenditure increases UK or international security, on the contrary, it threatens it. Defence, in the sense of provision of security to citizens, is frequently said to be the “first duty of government”. There are then arguments as to whether 2% or 3% is enough.

However, before considering the expenditure needed to provide such security, a prior examination is needed as to the threats to that security and into what creates and exacerbates those threats. The next step is to see what resources are needed to meet these threats and tackle their causes. Only after that would a government be in a position to allocate resources in the most effective way to tackle them.

NATO is a military alliance. The September 2014 NATO Declaration that member states would spend 2% of GDP on the military, with a minimum of 20% of that being on major equipment, including its research and development, boosts the military and helps arms companies. It does nothing to bring greater security to the UK or elsewhere.

Arbitrary military spending figures produced without rationale are illogical. Whether or not military pensions, or the Intelligence Services, are inside or outside their calculation is of little importance as the whole concept is so flawed.

Read CAAT’s report Fighting the wrong battles: how obsession with military power diverts resources from the climate crisis by Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman. CAAT Research Coordinator and former head of military expenditure at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

CAAT would not exist without its supporters. Each new supporter helps us strengthen our call for an end to the international arms trade.

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