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Israel Ranked World’s Most Militarised Nation

Israeli soldiers and police blocking Palestinians from one of the entrances to the old city in Jerusalem. Credit: Mel Frykberg/IPS

Israeli soldiers and police blocking Palestinians from one of the entrances to the old city in Jerusalem. Credit: Mel Frykberg/IPS

WASHINGTON, Nov 14 2012 (IPS) - Israel tops the list of the world’s most militarised nations, according to the latest Global Militarisation Index released Tuesday by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC).

At number 34, Israel’s main regional rival, Iran, is far behind. Indeed, every other Near Eastern country, with the exceptions of Yemen (37) and Qatar (43), is more heavily militarised than the Islamic Republic, according to the Index, whose research is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Singapore ranks second, followed by Syria, Russia, Jordan, and Cyprus, according to the Index, which is based on a number of weighted variables, such as the comparison of a country’s military budget with its gross domestic product (GDP), and the percentage of the GDP it spends on health care.

Six of the top 10 states, including Israel (1), Syria (4), Jordan (5), Kuwait (7), Bahrain (9), and Saudi Arabia (10) are located in the Middle East, while yet another of Iran’s neighbours, Azerbaijan, made its first entry into the militarised elite at number 8.

The former Soviet Caucasian state has used its vast oil wealth, which has placed it among the fastest growing economies in the world, to buy expensive weapons systems in recent years, apparently as leverage to press Armenia (23) into returning the disputed Nagorno-Kharabovsk enclave which Baku lost in a brief but bloody war after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Bahrain’s placement in the top 10 was also a first for the Sunni-dominated kingdom which has been backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an increasingly violent effort to suppress demands by the Shi’ite majority for democratic reform.

While the Middle East is far more militarised than any other region – all of its countries rank within the top 40 – Southeast Asia, led by Singapore, appears ascendant, according to Jan Grebe, the Index’s head researcher who directs BICC’s work in the field of arms export control.

In addition to Singapore, China (82) and India (71) are increasing their defence budgets at a relatively rapid rate, while the recent flaring of territorial conflicts between Beijing and its neighbours across the South and East China Seas will likely amplify voices within those countries for defence build-ups.

“It remains to be seen how this development will affect the degree of militarisation of individual states and the entire region,” Grebe said.

In contrast, both sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are relatively low on the Index, which covers statistics for 2011 and ranked 135 countries altogether.

At number 30, Angola was a notable African exception, while Chile (31), Ecuador (36), and Colombia (38) topped the Latin American list. By contrast, Brazil, which has by far the largest defence budget in the region, ranked 76.

Among those excluded from the Index was North Korea, whose defence budget has proved impervious to independent analysts and which is widely thought to be one of the world’s most militarised states, if not the most. Eritrea, another state that has made it into the top 10 in the past, also was not included this year.

Created in 1996, the GMI, which has been updated each year, tries to assess the balance between militarisation and human development, particularly related to health.

In addition to BICC’s own research, data published by the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Institute for Strategic Studies are used to compile the Index, whose rankings go back to 1990 at the end of the Cold War.

In addition to the comparison of military budgets, GDP, and health expenditures, the Index uses several other variables, including the total personnel in the paramilitary and military forces – albeit not the police – and total number of physicians vis-à-vis the overall population, and the ratio of the number of heavy weapons to the total population.

Each variable is given a certain score which is then “weighted” according to a set formula to determine a total quantitative score. The more militarised a country, the higher the score. South Korea which, for many years, ranked in the top 10, fell to 18 this year.

Eritrea, which fought a bitter war with Ethiopia and repeatedly cracked down hard against internal dissent, gained a “perfect” 1,000 score in 2004, the first of a three-year reign atop the list.

But Israel, which has carried out a 45-year occupation of Palestinian lands and Syrian territory, has topped the list for almost all of the last 20 years. On the latest Index, its score came to 877, 70 points ahead of Singapore, which has been number two for every year this century, except for the three in which Eritrea was number one.

Significantly, Greece ranked 14 on the list, the highest of any NATO country, far ahead of its regional rival, Turkey, which took the 24th slot, and Bulgaria (25).

The two countries with the world’s largest defence budgets, the United States and China, ranked 29 (591) and 82 (414), respectively.

In addition to the six Middle Eastern states in the top, Oman (11), the UAE (13), Lebanon (17), Iraq (26), and Egypt (28) were all found to be more militarised than Iran, which is currently subject to unprecedented economic sanctions imposed primarily by the West which accuses it of pursuing a nuclear programme that may have military applications.

The concentration of so many Middle Eastern states at the top underscores the degree to which the region has become a powder keg.

If the Middle East dominates the top ranks, sub-Saharan African states, with just a few exceptions, lie at the low end of scale. The region’s biggest economy, South Africa, ranks 98, while its most populous nation, Nigeria, stands at 117.

Too little militarisation carries its own risks, according to
Grebe, because states may not be able to guarantee order or even territorial integrity.

“This situation points to the seemingly paradoxical phenomenon that some state security apparatuses are incapable of preventing violence and conflict simply because the country concerned shows a degree of militarisation which is too low,” he said.

*Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at http://www.lobelog.com.

 
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  • thedirtydemocrat

    Maybe Israel will start paying back, at least in technology, some of the money we have given over the years. I’ll hold my breath for that to happen.

  • thedirtydemocrat

    Maybe Israel will start paying back, at least in technology, some of the money we have given over the years. I’ll hold my breath for that to happen.

  • Alex

    This is just a measure of existential threat

  • schwartzer

    Watch both episodes of “swindling the goyim” on youtube and soon you’ll realise the jig is up.

  • Don

    LOL! With Muslim enemies on every side (especially Palestinians constantly shooting missiles over the boarder), I don’t blame Israel! I’d militarize myself too.

  • Don

    LOL! With Muslim enemies on every side (especially Palestinians constantly shooting missiles over the boarder), I don’t blame Israel! I’d militarize myself too.

  • Johnny2bad4U

    zionists take from Americans and kill Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians and Iraqis. Period. Israel is a rogue country that needs to be isolated and made to account for its 60+ years history of violating international law and the commission of war crimes.

  • pissedoffpalestinian

    Yeah, Fuck Israel. Let’s be honest. They are the real terrorists. They come and plant themselves in the middle of all these Muslim countries, take over Palestine, and then start killing thousands and thousands of people. Then when people try to fight back (by throwing nothing more than a piece of metal that doesn’t even explode across the border), Israel starts to call them terrorists and go fucking Hulk on the whole nation murdering children, woman, men, and everyone in between without giving a possible escape for anyone except the few “real terrorists” there who have underground tunnels to Egypt.

  • pissedoffpalestinian

    Yeah, Fuck Israel. Let’s be honest. They are the real terrorists. They come and plant themselves in the middle of all these Muslim countries, take over Palestine, and then start killing thousands and thousands of people. Then when people try to fight back (by throwing nothing more than a piece of metal that doesn’t even explode across the border), Israel starts to call them terrorists and go fucking Hulk on the whole nation murdering children, woman, men, and everyone in between without giving a possible escape for anyone except the few “real terrorists” there who have underground tunnels to Egypt.

  • Miriam

    Tragic that Israel is perpetrating the same mentality that killed so many Jews in WW11. Tragic that somehow horrible behavior is rationalized – tragic that a people could go through the Holocaust and come out to perpetrate cruelty and totally self motivated aggression. Tragic that so many lives were lost and now Israel is doing the same things to others. Blame and aggression will never lead Israel to peace. They will lead lives of fear as long as they can’t find a way to get along with their neighbors. Just like preschool….fighting doesn’t work. War doesn’t lead to peace;. Never will.

  • Miriam

    Tragic that Israel is perpetrating the same mentality that killed so many Jews in WW11. Tragic that somehow horrible behavior is rationalized – tragic that a people could go through the Holocaust and come out to perpetrate cruelty and totally self motivated aggression. Tragic that so many lives were lost and now Israel is doing the same things to others. Blame and aggression will never lead Israel to peace. They will lead lives of fear as long as they can’t find a way to get along with their neighbors. Just like preschool….fighting doesn’t work. War doesn’t lead to peace;. Never will.

  • donnasaggia

    …and if your country was blockaded and occupied you wouldn’t shoot rockets at your enemy if you had them? Don’t start your history in the middle of the story. The occupation came before the rockets.

  • donnasaggia

    and tragic that they are using their religion and the holocaust to rationalize their savagery.

  • donnasaggia

    and tragic that they are using their religion and the holocaust to rationalize their savagery.

  • E

    And the US is number? Why does this seem article seem to ignore the elephant in the room with the world’s largest military?

  • E

    And the US is number? Why does this seem article seem to ignore the elephant in the room with the world’s largest military?

  • http://twitter.com/Truseattleite Truseattleite

    the article clearly stated that the U.S. was rank 29. Try reading the whole article.

  • http://twitter.com/Truseattleite Truseattleite

    The problem I don’t feel is the general population of Israel but the government of said country

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lance.Tsan Lance Tsan

    Amazing ranking, the country with the defense budget higher than the next 14 countries combined is ranked 29th. A small Island state with less than 6 million population is ranked second.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lance.Tsan Lance Tsan

    Amazing ranking, the country with the defense budget higher than the next 14 countries combined is ranked 29th. A small Island state with less than 6 million population is ranked second.

  • Boggie

    It has. It gave us the drones.

  • mithrandir8897

    The jewish Zionist state feeds off anti-semitism and needs it for its very existance like a dentist needs tooth decay. Israel controls everything that goes in and out of Gaza. Hamas was created by israel (just google it) Tell me for the sake of a failed state that can not function on its own are you wiling to blow up the world just to say that your god is on your side?

  • mithrandir8897

    Do not judge a nation by its geographical size. Keep in mind that the largest empire in the history of the World was Great Britain and it was a small island nation as well. Plus the amount one spends on defense is not the important factor. Its what one gets for their money.

  • mithrandir8897

    Israel and the U.S. are one and the same. Dont kid yourself. Berni Madhoff a zionist jew dupped the public for 65 billion. Half of the money was invested in israeli banks. Any chance the U.S. will even try to recover the money. NOT

  • mithrandir8897

    Who is that beating me silly iwth a whip? Oh its you Mr Zionist jew. Your Gods Chosen. that makes me feel so much better..You can go ahead and beat me some more. Would you like me to get you a cold beverage? Want me to bring in my women and children too? They can be beaten as well and we will love it knowing your god is in control. What did you say? Stop making fun of you? Im an evil nazi? SorryI’ll shut up Ill become a communist. they killed a lot more and they are jewish.

  • mithrandir8897

    A lot of jews did not die in WW2. Dont get me wrong many did. if they did then why is it illegal in the west to even question the official story of the holocaust? You would think it would stand on its own. Hitler had over 150,000 jewish soldiers including many high ranking officers. Hell even his chaufeur was a jew. You said war does not lead to peace. that it never does. To the jews who worship from the babylonian talmud they do not believe that. they believe that a war eliminating all non-jews will bring them peace. You are told “A lie told often enough become the truth.” was said by Hitler. No. It was said by Lenin. a jew. Goebbels at Nuremberg rally in 1934 he said that all good propeganda does not need to lie and that it will stand on its own. if it lies it will eventually crumble.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lance.Tsan Lance Tsan

    Sorry to break it down for you. This country in question is where I have been born and raised in. Calling us militarized purely based on % of GDP, without any references to real world context is just a bunch of BS. The only reason why the defense budget is high in GDP terms is because we are small and we need to run a conscription policy here(i.e. all able-bodied male must serve) whereas for other countries they have the luxury of keeping their armies professional and lean.

  • dazzwater

    what does the percentage of GDP spent on health care have to do with whether a country is militarized? more money for wartime medics?

  • dazzwater

    our govt spends a higher proportion of its money on defense, than all other countries except israel. that should be a good enough definition, lance. this article is about “most militarized nations”, not “nations with largest militaries”. stop attacking any perceived criticism of singapore just for the sake of it.

    although i do question the significance of the rankings, given that it includes as a variable the % of GDP spent on health care. more health care = more militarized?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lance.Tsan Lance Tsan

    If you think militarized can be defined explicitly by raw % of GDP, thats your opinion, of which I reject such notion. You are entitled to your opinion, but I think yours is of a naive thought. The other top 10 countries, or even 20 countries are rightfully classified as “militarized” because of the political nature in those countries. Singapore is a peaceful Island state which makes significant efforts to strengthen ties with other nations and especially our main trading partners/neighbours alike, while mose of these countries probably don’t even have any trading partnership to speak of other than the other terror sponsors.

    I have said it twice, and I will said it once again. Numbers don’t paint a full picture and certainly calling us militarized is way far-fetched, although I would like to point out that certainly we have military capabilities that could outmuscle the biggest threat north of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lance.Tsan Lance Tsan

    E is trying to point out that US with its “world’s largest military” has been inadequately ranked. Try reading more into his comment before speeding in such a dumb reply.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lance.Tsan Lance Tsan

    The same reason why the author thought % of GDP is the most absolute measurement of degree of militarization. Meaningless

  • dazzwater

    Do you have to be aggressive in order to militarized? Kuwait and Bahrain, also ranked in the top ten, are also small peaceful nation states in an unfortunate neighborhood. Why are they “rightfully classified as militarized” when Singapore isn’t?

    It seems that you are unhappy for Singapore to be on the rankings because of the negative connotation to the word “militarized”. Or you are unhappy that Singapore is lumped into the same category as Israel whom you perceive to be a warmongering nation, although the average Israeli probably would enjoy peace as much as, perhaps even more so, than the next Singaporean.

    I actually find it a source of pride that Singapore’s emphasis on defensive capabilities are being recognized as such, since it reinforces the fact that Singapore is a safe bulwark in a volatile region.

  • Songflightstar

    This Jew Israel hatred is too blatant. Israel and the Jews do their best to survive amounts hostle neighbors. If you think a tiny sliver of land in the Middle East for Jews who do have free speech and women have the same rights as men is so theatening to the billion plus Muslims of the Middle East and the world, then maybe you might stop wasting your time with teaching hate and start treating each other with respect. The few million Israeli’s must protect themselves from the multitude of hate filed people who are in poverty because their religious fanatic governments think it is the best way to stay in power.

  • Rick

    it wasn’t too long ago that bomb blasts were targeting such militarily important sites as school buses (1968, Negev landmine 2 children killed, 28 injured) or Avivum 1970, 9 children dead, 19 injured or Misgav Am 1980 Children’s dormitory 1 dead 4 injured, Jerusalem 2001 suicide bombing at a pizzeria 7 dead 5 injured, or maybe Itamar, 3 dead 2 injured at a shool or maybe Sa’ad 2011, anti-tank missile attack on a school bus, 1 dead, or 2012 Hamas missile attack on an apartment complex 4 injured among others targeting cafes and tourist buses, etc. Now tell me, when has Israel specifically targeted school buses and schools?

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