Nowadays, what counts is the amount of money you can spend. It’s what distinguishes you from everyone. Money gives you power and makes it pretty hard for people to disrespect you.
Now imagine if a country made so much money that it was able to invest luxuriously on its military. They’d make bad-ass military weapons and flaunt them to the rest of the world. They’d flaunt it not only to show how much money they have but as a way of saying, “if you try to mess with us, we will handle you with our bad-ass weapons.”
The thing about power is that it makes you think you can do what you want. For instance, China’s military is so powerful that it snatched the Japanese Senkaku Islands from the Japanese. It might seem like a small territorial dispute but last I checked, "small" territorial disputes led to World War I.
So let’s take a look at the top ten countries that spend the most on their big guns.
10 Brazil - Military Expenditure: $36.2 billion
Brazil’s military spending increased dramatically in the 2000s. They didn’t need to increase taxes to fund their military projects thanks to the increase in their oil revenue.
However, the country’s military spending in the recent years has somewhat decreased. In fact, in 2013, military spending had decreased by 4%.
The socio economic conditions in Brazil might explain why the military budget is at $36.2billion. The country uses the military to keep order inside the country more so in the fevelas. Drug lords run the streets in impoverished neighborhoods, which are typically crime ridden. And this is not only a problem experienced in Brazil alone; several countries in South America experience ongoing drug cartel related violence and this has consequently increased military spending.
9 India - Military Expenditure: $49.1 billion
India is one of the biggest importers of military weapons. In fact, in 2013, they imported weapons worth $5.6 billion. This was the year they acquired several intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and commissioned their first advanced light helicopter, acquiring their first dedicated military satellite.
A large portion of India’s military budget has been used to modernize and expand its military. As of 2013, military expenditure accounted for 2.5% of their GDP. But despite their boom in business, population and huge spending on their defense forces, their military strength is still lacking.
Their military spending most likely increased due to ongoing conflict with Pakistan, which threatened the stability of both countries.
8 Germany - Military Expenditure: $49.3 billion
You know what’s ironic? Germany spends such a low percentage of its GDP (1.4%) on defense, yet it has one of the most sophisticated military systems.
And it’s the 6th largest exporter of military paraphernalia.
Since World War II, Germany has remained passive in world conflicts. They’d rather sell military arms instead. When most countries were reducing their military spending, Germany increased theirs by 2% from 2008 until 2013.
In 2013, they declared they were reducing military spending by reducing the number of soldiers they were employing to 180, 000. This is just one of the many reasons why they are able to maintain their position as one of the top military powers in the world at such a low budget.
7 United Kingdom - Military Expenditure: $56.2 billion
In a defense review in 2010, then-appointed Prime Minister David Cameron began implementing financial austerity measures including military budget cuts. Cameron’s critics said the military cuts would make the United Kingdom less reliable to its allies.
The U.K.’s armed forces, also known as the Armed Forces of the Crown, are tasked with not only protecting U.K. citizens, but also with protecting crown dependencies and overseas territories.
And as part of NATO peacekeeping missions, the U.K. finds itself with a huge military obligation. Despite its military budget cuts, the U.K. military expenditure was 2.3% of its GDP in 2013.
6 Japan - Military Expenditure: $59.4 billion
Japan increased their military budget for the first time in more than 10 years after a recent territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea. They increased their military budget by 0.8%, but their total military expenditure still remains at 1% of GDP. They currently don’t export military arms, but they spend $145 million importing them.
The increase in their military budget has led to under-funding of other economic sectors, and it might affect the country’s ability to reduce its national debt. By the way, Japan’s national debt stood at 243% as of 2013, making it the world’s highest.
5 France - Military Expenditure: $62.3 billion
With an estimated armed force of 250, 000 active troops, France has the 14th largest military force in the world and the largest military force in Europe. Though they never deployed troops to Iraq, France has the most active militaries abroad. Their forces have been deployed to offensive missions in Central African Republic, Mali and they’ve also deployed their troops to Ivory Coast and Libya.
The French pride themselves in only participating in military operations that have clear and legitimate objectives. So they only get involved in military operations if the requests come directly from governments themselves, not due to political pressure.
4 Saudi Arabia - Military Expenditure: $62.8 billion
Saudi Arabia increased its military budget by 14.3% in 2013. Being situated in such an unstable region, we don’t blame them for it. Their neighbors include Iraq and Yemen, two countries that are currently unstable. Saudi Arabia also has very poor relations with Iran, another country that poses a huge threat if they acquire nuclear systems.
The House of Saud plans to acquire missile defense systems as part of their effort to replace their 20-year-old weapon stores. Saudi Arabia has been an ally of the United States so when they requested to purchase 84 F-15 jets to equip them against a possible Iranian military threat in 2011, the U.S. happily approved. The F-15 jets are the most sophisticated jets in the world and they cost Saudi Arabia $30 billion.
3 Russia - Military Expenditure: $84.9 billion
Russia is currently the largest vendor of military weapons in the world and they are notoriously famous for supplying places of turmoil with these weapons. In 2013, their military exports were worth more than $8 billion.
Their military budget currently isn’t as high as it used to be during the 1980s, but it has been steadily increasing given their involvement in general conflicts. Their current military intervention in the Syrian war is an example of some of their military involvement to resolve conflict.
The country plans to modernize its weapons systems by 2020 and they plan to invest $700 billion in the project.
2 China - Military Expenditure: $171.4 billion
As of 2013, China imported as much military goods as it exported, making it the third highest importer and exporter of military goods in the world.
They increased their military budget by 7.4% in 2013, which was in line with the country’s economic growth. Their military has up to 1.25 million active personnel and they are undeniably well equipped with military power. It’s safe to say that China is an upcoming super power and the rest of the world can’t help but be concerned about what they plan to do with all that power in the next few years.
1 United States - Military Expenditure: $618.7 billion
The United States tops the list as the country that spends the most on its military and as you can see, it’s a sizeable amount of money. Their military spending is more than what the rest of the top countries spend combined.
The defense budget has obviously come under a lot of scrutiny given the current debt crisis. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan cost more than $4 trillion in the last decade. The U.S. currently has over 200, 000 troops stationed in more than 144 countries so it could be some time before they are finally able to cut back on defense spending.