Britain ended conscription back in 1957 but many countries across the world still have some form of compulsory military service. The practice is controversial for many reasons including opposition on religious grounds or conscientious objection to military engagements. Many democracies including Brazil, Norway, Israel, South Korea and Switzerland still have some form of mandatory military service. Many states that have abolished conscription still have the power to bring it back into force during wartime.
Statistics and facts about defense spending and arms trade
If recent statistics are anything to go by, future developments in the worldwide trend of military expenditure are not expected to make hopeful reading for those who advocate global disarmament. Despite the austere fiscal policies that have been adopted in many of the world’s developed nations, military expenditure has suffered little, and in nations like India and China – countries that have in recent years enjoyed periods of economic growth – decisions in military spending seem to be indicative of a strategic choice in a long-term bid for regional and global influence, often cited by watchers as being the inevitable rise of Asia.
Despite future expectations around the shift in the balance of global power, the United States has, for now at least, secured its place at the top. With its vast spending budget, the United States has long occupied the role of primary determinant in the current worldwide trend of military expenditure, a role that comes with the territory of being top of the countries with the highest military spending.
With a comfortable lead of over half a trillion US dollars, the United States accounts for close to half of the entire world’s military expenditure. And despite the fact that the global financial crisis and the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in a decline in its spending, forecasts of U.S. defense outlays up to 2022 show that this change is set to be temporary.
While in the past many nations relied on the United States and its status as the world’s sole superpower for the defense of their sovereignty, many now rely on it as the world’s leading weapons exporting nation. The trade in arms, in terms of both exports and imports, is a very lucrative business.
It is a very controversial practice often resulting in protests, especially with regards to the sale of arms to nations whose regimes are known to use them in the oppression of their own citizens. It remains to be seen, however, how stable the future is for the United States. Around three-quarters of all cyber attacks carried out in 2012 were targeted at the United States, a statistic that serves as a stark reminder that the wars of the future may not be decided on military might alone, but on the extent of capabilities to be shown within the spheres of cyberspace.
This chart shows the status of conscription by country in 2015.
You will find more statistics at Statista