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Annual Defence Expenditure vs Investment Possibilities

In this day and age, even though civilisation has come a very long way since the early days of war and pillaging, there still remains residual hostility, and more often than not we can see people resorting to their baser instincts and bringing forth unnecessary destruction and loss of life. In a world that is striving to be “peaceful”, there is so much animosity and distrust that no one really knows what the other person is planning.

Here is where the defence intuition kicks in. It is common knowledge that most of the developed countries, and the developing ones also, spend a fortune on their annual defence budgets, and it is often the case that the defence expenditure far outweighs the other expenditures. To put it into perspective, the United States of America spends $649 billion yearly just on the defence budget, which is 3.2% of its Gross Domestic Product. China comes in second with $250 billion, with 1.9% of its GDP. As the evidence suggests, these numbers are humongous in size and one cannot help but wonder if these colossal numbers might be put to better use in some other, perhaps more “humanity-driven” applications.

It is possible to make this argument by looking at some statistics. Reports suggest that the United States spent $44.1 billion annually on renewable energy, for example, which in itself is quite a big number, but when looked at from the tower of the military expenditure, seems quite puny in comparison. This trend continues in all the major developed countries, where the expenditure on renewable energy or all-round development is, essentially, a fraction of the money that is spent on the military and defence forces. Perhaps China can be acknowledged as an exception, as it spent $102.9 billion, coming somewhat closer to its military spending of $250 million.

So the question arises: Is all this spending on defence more important than sustainable life and other important issues? The fact of the matter is that defence is still a very important necessity, so as to prevent illegal activities from being carried out across borders and also to be prepared for any type of emergency that may befall a country. The military also plays a big part in rescue operations during natural disasters, and they need to be sufficiently equipped in order to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

Keeping that in mind, one cannot simply ignore the needs of the many, which is survival, comfort, and ease of living. People need jobs, they need food, they need basic amenities, which are still scarce in many areas of the world. The various governments need to come up with a compromise that, while keeping the security forces of the country intact and well equipped, does not undermine the basic requirements of its people, and does not hinder the potential financial development of the country.

Imagine how many billions of dollars would be invested in other areas (healthcare, clean energy, clean water) if all the countries would redirect their defences budgets to other causes.
Imagine how many Africans would drink clean water and would be saved from deadly diseases.
Imagine how many children would have a home and clothes.
Imagine how many people would be saved from starvation or death.

We, as humans, have a long way to go to learn from our mistakes but let’s not lose hope and optimism.