The world is likely facing a more “dangerous decade” as military spending rises and tensions soar across the globe, according to a new report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
Researchers said the ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza indicate military powers could evoke a “might is right approach” to pursue claims, which will lead to increased defense ties from democracies.
“Moscow’s military actions have amplified concerns in other parts of the world, particularly the Indo-Pacific, that a militarily powerful neighbor may try to exert its will over others,” they wrote.
The increased concern comes at a time when “governments are trying to balance appetite for advanced weapons with the need to rebuild industrial-scale ammunition production capacity,” they said.
And it comes amid the collapse of major accords such as the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which limited conventional military equipment in Europe. Russia withdrew from the treaty last year, prompting the western security alliance NATO to suspend participation.
IISS researchers said democratic governments are working quickly to adapt to a changing security environment.
“National security is no longer an afterthought and … looming challenges require serious attention,” they said.
The report, called The Military Balance 2024, is part of an annual IISS assessment of security threats and military action and buildup across the globe.
This year’s assessment calls attention to not just Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Israel’s war on Palestinian militant group Hamas, but also China’s threats against Taiwan and in the South China Sea against the Philippines.
“China is becoming more assertive, not just in its immediate vicinity,” they said. “The country flew a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the US and deployed ships near American shores, while its maritime assets had tense encounters with Canadian and Philippine vessels.”
The report also identified concerns with North Korean aggression against South Korea, as well as military coups in Africa. It noted the less secure environment is leading to a major reassessment of defense equipment priorities, such as increased investment in artillery or advanced weaponry like drones.
Researchers also found that defense spending was up last year, rising 9 percent across the globe to $2.2 trillion.
That boost was largely triggered by NATO, which increased spending by 32 percent last year, with 10 European nations reaching the 2 percent of economic output goal for the alliance.
About 70 percent of global military spending is from NATO, China, Russia and India, according to the report.