U.S. military power

Military might

Print edition : May 12, 2017
The United States’ immense firepower and propensity to stage interventions worldwide makes it a fearsome global policeman.

BY ordering the massive ordnance air blast airstrike on Afghanistan's Nangarhar province on April 13, which saw the 11-tonne “mother of all bombs” being dropped to wipe out a network of Islamic State (Daesh) tunnels, the United States has once again drawn the world’s attention to its massive firepower, enormous resources, and propensity to stage military interventions to buttress its status as the global policeman.

When U.S. President Donald Trump sought to increase the Defence budget to $639 billion for the fiscal year ending 2018, it signalled the country’s intention to keep feeding the military-industrial complex and maintain its global supremacy in military spending. Since the September 11, 2001, attacks the country’s defence budget has been leaping by tens of billions of dollars. rising to $357 billion in 2002 and peaking at $711 billion in 2011, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an independent resource on global security.

An idea of the size of U.S. military spending can be gleaned from the 2015 figures from SIPRI, which show that it accounted for about 35 per cent of the entire global expenditure of $1.676 trillion and was bigger than the next seven countries’ combined defence budgets.

U.S. military spending as a percentage of global expenditure steadily declined from 1991 until 2001, after which it has been on an upward trajectory for the most part.

Ever since the end of the Second World War, the U.S. has been involved in strife, low-intensity conflicts and full-fledged wars across the world that have toppled democratically elected governments, caused enormous economic and social upheavals and left a massive trail of destruction and loss of life in its wake. Some of the key conflicts that were marked by a significant American presence are the Korean War of 1950-1953, the 10-year Vietnam War that ended in 1975, the Gulf War of 1990–1991, the Iraq War of 2003–2011, and the war in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. Its two major ongoing wars are targeted at destroying Daesh strongholds in Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa, and Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan.

The U.S. air force and navy, arguably the biggest and most powerful in the world, enable the country’s interventionist role by virtue of the immense amount of resources and personnel at their disposal.