Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 Post–Global Military Expenditures

As I noted in POLI 1140 today, your blog assignment for this week is to write a post related to anything in Chapters 1 or 2 of the Mingst and Arreguin-Toft textbook. You have until midnight, Friday January 20 to publish your post. Here is an example of what I would consider to be a good post–format, content, and length.

Military Expenditures as percentage of GDP

On p. 3 of Chapter 1 of the text (in the Thinking Theoretically section), the authors write:

In brief, realism posits that states exist in an anarchic international system. Each state bases its policies on an interpretation of national interest defined in terms of power.

While there are many types of power–economic, political, prestige, etc.,–the most important source of power and the one which states generally seek to increase as much as possible, is military power. Because of anarchy, realists believe that states are constantly concerned about their security. States that feel more insecure seek to increase their power, thereby increasing the sizes of their military, all else being equal. It would be interesting to find out which states spend a lot on their military, and which states spend less. Fortunately, has compiled the data for us. In their most recent summary of global military expenditures (from 2011), we find some interesting data. I have copied the top 20 (in terms of absolute dollars spent) in the table below. For a list of all countries, click on the link above.

WORLD Gross Domestic Product Military Spending
State GDP rank % GDP
rank Military spending
WORLD $70,155,374,950,000.00

United States $14,120,000,000,000.00 2 5.20% 25 $741,200,000,000.00
China $8,818,000,000,000.00 3 4.30% 23 $380,000,000,000.00
India $3,680,000,000,000.00 5 2.50% 62 $92,000,000,000.00
Russia $2,116,000,000,000.00 8 3.90% 27 $82,500,000,000.00
Saudi Arabia $590,900,000,000.00 23 10.00% 3 $59,090,000,000.00
France $2,094,000,000,000.00 9 2.60% 57 $54,444,000,000.00
United Kingdom $2,123,000,000,000.00 7 2.40% 63 $50,952,000,000.00
Turkey $879,900,000,000.00 17 5.30% 16 $46,634,700,000.00
Germany $2,815,000,000,000.00 6 1.50% 102 $42,225,000,000.00
Korea, South $1,362,000,000,000.00 13 2.70% 53 $36,774,000,000.00
Brazil $2,010,000,000,000.00 10 1.70% 89 $34,170,000,000.00
Japan $4,149,000,000,000.00 4 0.80% 150 $33,192,000,000.00
Italy $1,737,000,000,000.00 11 1.80% 86 $31,266,000,000.00
Indonesia $960,200,000,000.00 16 3.00% 47 $28,806,000,000.00
Iran $825,900,000,000.00 19 2.50% 60 $20,647,500,000.00
Spain $1,359,000,000,000.00 14 1.20% 122 $16,308,000,000.00
Taiwan $734,300,000,000.00 20 2.20% 68 $16,154,600,000.00
Israel $206,900,000,000.00 51 7.30% 6 $15,103,700,000.00
Greece $332,900,000,000.00 35 4.30% 24 $14,314,700,000.00
Canada $1,277,000,000,000.00 15 1.10% 127 $14,047,000,000.00

Continue reading “Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 Post–Global Military Expenditures”

Woodrow Wilson at the White House

Here is some fascinating (silent) footage of Woodrow Wilson at the White House, no doubt thinking about his Fourteen Points.  I think he’s on the phone to Clemenceau debating the merits of Point Nine.  It’s interesting how many of the points refer to the establishment of new nation-states (getting nations congruent with borders) and/or adjusting borders to more adequately cohere with notions of justice.

How do you Affect International Relations in your Daily Life?

In Mingst’s first chapter, she asks “How does international relations affect you in your daily life?” More potentially meaningful information may be garnered by turning that question over on its head: “how do you affect international relations in your daily life?” Are you thinking of buying a new cell phone? What will you do with your old one? You may want to think twice about your decision, as it could have an effect on people thousands of miles away.

…did you know that throwing your old cell phone in the garbage helps support civil war in central Africa, driving endangered gorillas closer to extinction in the process? A little explanation: A used cell phone’s value lies mainly in small amounts of minerals in its circuits — gold, nickel and especially tantalum, a high-melting-point metal sometimes referred to as coltan. Like something from a Clive Cussler thriller, tantalum is vital to manufacturing cell phones and many other electronic devices, but 80 percent of the world’s reserves are in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo). There, it is mined under frequently appalling conditions and fought over during the DRC’s ongoing civil and international wars. Tantalum-mining revenues help fuel these wars, along with the associated destruction of human lives and gorilla habitat.

Tantalum and other minerals command a premium, so cell-phone manufacturers have turned to recycling because it’s easier (and more ethical) than dealing with warlords — or commodities brokers who buy from them. An entire tantalum-recycling economy has sprung up, and now accounts for 20 to 25 percent of manufacturing input per year.

In addition, cell phones and their electronic cousins may also contain potentially toxic compounds of lead and arsenic, so it behooves us to keep them from winding up in landfills and afterward, the water supply.

Here are some of the ways that you can keep your old phone’s minerals and plastics in circulation while easing your conscience about making calls using the equivalent of a conflict diamond.

Your next blog entry will be dedicated to documenting either how international relations affects you or how you affect international relations, or both.

Here is a compelling documentary.