Fuelled by the impact of the war in Ukraine and the growing tensions in the Indo-Pacific (currently the centre of gravity of the international agenda, being the region where the strategic competition between the United States and China is most visible), global military spending has continued to rise for the eighth year in a row. The data recently published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) confirms that an all-time record of US$2.24 trillion was reached in 2022, which represents a 3.7 per cent increase in real terms (6.5 per cent in nominal terms) on the previous year.
Seen from a traditional state security perspective – which generally assumes that more weapons means more security – this could be interpreted as good news, as it implies that having more resources to protect one’s own interests and a greater power of deterrence against potential enemies. But immediately, when looking at the data on the number of state conflicts registered so far in the 21st century, based on data from Uppsala University’s renowned conflict programme, we see that while in 2001 there were 33 active conflicts in various parts of the world, 20 years later the number had risen to 54. And while recognising that violence is a complex phenomenon, it seems elementary to conclude that, viewed on both a global and a local scale, the idea that more weapons means more security does not hold true.