Abolishing hegemony is key to solving security dilemmas

China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2024-04-30 18:24:01

By Wang Qiang

According to a recent research report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in Sweden, global military expenditure has surged in 2023 due to escalating military conflicts and geopolitical tensions. In 2023, the total global military expenditure reached up to USD 2.4 trillion, an increase of 6.8%in real terms from 2022, marking the steepest year-on-year increase since 2009. However, geopolitical risks get increasingly worsening. The all-time high military spending of all countries has not brought about world peace, and the world has fallen into a seemingly insurmountable security dilemma. Then, what exactly is the problem?

After studying the data released by the SIPRI, we found that since the end of the Cold War till today, the global military expenditure situation has generally undergone a W-shaped fluctuation: the first declining stage occurred from 1992 to 1999, and the first rising stage from 1999 to 2011; the second phase of decline was only a short period of three to four years, and global military spending has been surging since 2015. This fluctuation is a very interesting curve, with several key turning points corresponding precisely to the NATO's launch of the Kosovo War in 1999, the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011, and the high-profile US attack on the so-called Islamic State (IS) in 2015. As shown clearly, the fluctuation in global military expenditure is directly related to the US' military operations overseas, and more interestingly, the gradient change of this W-shaped curve is highly consistent with the US' military spending. Simply put, the global military expenditure tends to decline simultaneously as the US begins to cut its own military spending, and vice versa. Certainly, each country has to consider its own situation, and will not build its own military strength according to the US' assessment of the security situation. The fundamental reason behind the curve is that the US military hegemony directly stimulates the global geopolitical turmoil and conflict outbreak.

Over the past few decades, the US has consistently led the world in the military expenditure, with its military spending always exceeding 3% of its GDP. In 2023, the US' military spending accounted for approximately 40% of the global total, and its defense budget for the fiscal year 2024 reaches as high as USD 886 billion. Not long ago, US President Joe Biden submitted to the US Congress the budget proposal of USD 895.2 billion for the fiscal year 2025, a figure going beyond the total military spending of the nine countries following the US.

The US' military spending is the sum of several other major powers in the world, achieving an overwhelming advantage in global military expenditure. It also claims to be the world's leading power and will not allow other countries pursue normal development. It is precisely under the influence of this artificially created atmosphere of anxiety that security panic pervades the world, leading to armed conflicts arising one after another, and for some developing countries, national security has almost meant a scarce resource. Undoubtedly, the US' pursuit of hegemony and absolute military advantage is the direct driving forces behind the surge in global military expenditure.

While increasing its military expenditure to improve national defense production capacity, the US has deliberately created bloc confrontation to stimulate the escalation of the regional security crisis. It has constantly added fuel to the fire regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict and taken sides with Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. Its aim is to control and induce allies into cooperation in improving its military production capacity and force its allies to continue to pursue military hard power. As a result, the "buddies" in the US alliance system are vying to expand their military spending, with18 NATO member countries' military spending reaching up to 2% of GDP in 2024. The defense industry contracts newly signed by NATO's European members are worth nearly USD 10 billion. Japan, an Asian ally of the US, has taken the opportunity to continuously break through the constraints of its pacifist constitution and plans to increase its military spending to USD 72 billion within five years.

These have actually led to an increasingly apparent arms race posture in the Eurasian region. History has repeatedly proven that an arms race is but to add risks with the ultimate result of a gradual escalation of confrontation. It is obvious that the Western-driven surge in military expenditure has never considered easing security difficulties, and instead aimed to build camp confrontation.

In fact, the surge in global military expenditure in 2023 itself has been a direct reflection of security and development challenges, fully demonstrating that the world is entering a new period of turbulence and change, and international peace and development are once again at a crossroads. It is unpopular for certain countries to force other countries to sacrifice economic development, social welfare, and public welfare for their private ends, and even squeeze resources out of investment in global public affairs such as poverty reduction and addressing climate change. Only by completely eradicating the risks brought by hegemony to the world and adhering to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security can all the countries solve their difficulties and achieve development.

(The author is a researcher on national security strategy.)

Editor's note: Originally published on huanqiu.com, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

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