"Big boom" of NATO military industry behind intensified regional conflicts

China Military Online
Chen Zhuo
2024-04-28 10:29:48

By Han Bing and Zhou Xiaotian

According to the data revealed by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in Sweden on April 22, the military spending of all member states of the US-led NATO amounted to more than 1.3 trillion USD last year, over half of the world's total. Among them, the military spending of the US alone exceeded 900 billion USD. Many European countries also saw significant rises in their military spending.

While the military spending of NATO countries increases, NATO's military industry drives onto the "fast track" of expansion, with the US and many European countries actively enlarging military production capacity and accelerating armaments research and development. Some analysts noted that the further growth of the military-industrial complex interest groupsin NATO would intensify the arms race which has already trapped the world and introduce the risk of more conflicts and confrontations, which requires the world to stay vigilant.

Since the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2022, the tension in the global geopolitical situation has continued to increase and regional conflicts have emerged recurrently. However, the NATO military industry embraces a new round of expansion in the flames of war, embodied in the surge of share prices of many US and European military-industrial giants.

In the US, Northrop Grumman has seen a rise of nearly 40% in its share price, and Lockheed Martin over 30%. In Europe, from January 2022 to February 2024, as many as six major European military-industrial groups enjoyedthe share prices more than doubled.

According to the data released by the US Department of State, the US foreign military sales in 2023 reached a record 238 billion USD, up 16% from the previous year. For Northrop Grumman Corporation, General Dynamics Corp and other US military giants, the year-on-year growth in their revenue that year reached or exceeded 7%. In Europe, Rheinmetall obtained a revenue growth of more than 12% in 2023, andBAE Systemsof 9%. William Cook Group, aBritish tank track manufacturer,got a revenue growth of 20% in 2023 and expectsa further 40% increase in 2024. US Senator Bernie Sanderswrote that many US military industries "use war as a way to fill their pockets."

Furthermore, military interest groups in NATO members have increased their influence on political decision-making. Take the US as an example. Open Secrets, a US nongovernmental organization, disclosed that US defense contractors spent nearly 140 million USD on lobbying the federal government in 2023, the highest amount in nearly a decade, while during the same period, companies and individuals related to the defense industry directly donated millions of dollars to members of Congressin election campaigns.

In recent years, many scholars and media practitioners have repeatedly called for the world to be alert to the fact that as the new round of expansion of NATO military industry has facilitated the power expansion of the US and Western military-industrial complexes, Western military enterprises will further collude with politicians to manipulate national decision-making, leading to higher risks of more conflicts and confrontations in the world.

Franklin Spinney, who worked in the US Office of the Secretary of Defense for 26 years, said that the enormous impact of the military-industrial complex interests group on US foreign policy is often ignored by the academia and media. On the one hand, the military-industrial complex attempts to exert influence on key constituencies through projects and jobs, to bind their interests with politicians. On the other hand, it leverages the media and politicians to demonize other countries, exaggerate "security threats" and stir up voters' sentiments, aiming to drive military spending rise and seek more benefits for itself.

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