The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's 2009 Year Book documented that international military expenditures for 2008 reached $1.464 trillion. The denomination in dollars is germane as the United States accounted for 41.5 percent of the world total.
Earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service in the U.S. reported that American weapons sales abroad reached $37.8 billion, or 68.4 percent of all global arms transactions. The next largest weapons supplier was Italy at $3.7 billion, less than one-tenth the U.S. amount. Russia was third at $3.5 billion. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, however, asserted that Germany had superseded Britain and France and become the world's third largest weapons exporter.
Western nations in general and the U.S. overwhelmingly among them dominate the global arms market.
21st century weaponry is daily more technologically advanced, more linked with computer networks and satellite communications, and progressively approaching a blurring of conventional and strategic, terrestrial and space-based capabilities.
And in the U.S. and allied nations the notion of so-called preemptive warfare has advanced precariously to include cyber and satellite attacks that can cripple a targeted nation's communications, control and air defense centers, thus rendering it both helpless and toothless: Not able to fend off attacks and unable to retaliate against or even forestall them with a secure deterrent force.
The vast preponderance of American and other NATO states' arms are sold to nations neither in North America and Europe nor on their peripheries.
They are sold to nations like Saudi Arabia, India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Egypt, Taiwan, South Korea, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Kuwait, the Philippines, Morocco and other Western client states and military outposts far removed from the much-vaunted Euro-Atlantic space.
The weapons, along with the military technicians, trainers and advisers that inevitably accompany them, are spread throughout nations in geostrategically vital areas of the world, near large oil and natural gas reserves and astride key shipping lanes and choke points. In many instances Western-fueled arms buildups are accelerating in nations bordering Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela. Geopolitics in its most transparent, cynical and brutal manifestation.
The growing sales of Western arms in the Persian Gulf, the South Caucasus, South America (Chile and Colombia most pronouncedly), Africa, Far East Asia and the South Pacific (Australia in the first instance) are an integral element of American and general Western plans to gain access to and domination over world energy resources.
The campaign is not limited to efforts to muscle into nations and regions rich in oil and natural gas (and uranium), nor to employing fair means or foul, peaceful or otherwise, to seize the commanding heights of the international energy market.
The overarching objective is to control the ownership, transport and consumption of energy worldwide. To determine who receives oil and natural gas, through which routes and at which prices. And to dictate what the political and military quid pro quo will be for being invited to join a U.S.-dominated international energy transportation and accessibility network.
Those who are allowed to exploit, sell and transit hydrocarbons to the Western, and ultimately, world market are levied for a handsome share of their energy-derived revenues for their unprecedented acquisition of arms and for the stationing of U.S. and other NATO states' military forces on their soil. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan and Georgia are salient examples. The last two named nations have increased their military budgets by well over 1,000 percent in the first case, and by over 3,000 percent in the second, in the span of a few years.
A United Press International report of August 25, 2009 estimated that Middle Eastern nations would purchase $100 billion worth of arms over the next five years, with the lion's share going to the oil-rich Western client states of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq.
There are six major areas in the world that the United States and its allies have targeted in history's largest scramble for hydrocarbons and, it's important to remember, against a recent backdrop of diminishing energy consumption, plunging prices and both the discovery and presumption of oil and natural gas reserves hitherto unexploited.
They are the Persian Gulf, the southern rim of the Caribbean Basin, the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Western Africa, the Caspian Sea, the Arctic Circle, and the Antarctic Ocean and adjoining parts of the South Atlantic Ocean.
The first two were the private preserves of Washington and Western Europe until the Iranian revolution of 1979 in the first example, and in the second, the election of Hugo Chavez as president of Venezuela in 1998 and subsequent developments in that country and in nearby Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and El Salvador.