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Global Military Index Ranks Israel Most Militarized Nation in World

global military index 2012The Bonn International Center for Conversion maintains the Global Military Index, which lists the nations of the world according to the level of militarization of their societies.  Coming in first again in 2012 is Israel.

Here are the criteria used to determine a country’s ranking:

With its Global Militarization Index (GMI), BICC is able to objectively depict worldwide militarization for the first time. The GMI compares, for example, a country’s military expenditure with its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its health expenditure. It contrasts the total number of military and paramilitary forces in a country with the number of physicians. Finally, it studies the number of heavy weapons available to a country’s armed forces. These and other indicators are used to determine a country’s ranking, which in turn makes it possible to measure the respective level of militarization in comparison to other countries.

You’ll notice Iran isn’t even in the top 10 (32nd in 2010).  The U.S. was 30th.

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{ 68 comments… add one }

  • quip January 24, 2012, 2:35 AM

    What do you think this show? It could show any number of things. For example, would you infer that South Korea or Jordan are “aggressive” states because they are at the top of the list with Israel? South-Korea is a peaceful facing a highly aggressive North-Korea, so they armed themselves. Israel is a peaceful nation that’s surrounded with hostile Arabs, so it also armed itself. And yet, even though Israel invests a huge amount of its GDP to protect itself, we still manage to develop a highly creative academic environment and hi-tech industry.

    Oh. And let me save you some time with your anticipated response. I am not part of some hasbara cabal, this is not hasbara 101, I am not “hasbara” troll and in no way am I affiliated with a global network of Jews – ‘eh Zionists, that conspire to take control of the US through AIPAC. I’m just an Israeli dude.

    • Richard Silverstein January 25, 2012, 12:25 AM

      Israel a “peaceful nation?” You must be reading a different book than I am. My book portrays the wars Israel has started, the thousands of civilians killed in those wars, the decades-long serial violations of international law.

      • ProudZionist777 January 25, 2012, 4:30 AM

        What book do you have that portrays Israel as starting wars?

        The 1948 War? The 1967 War? 1973? The two Lebanon Wars? Which ones?

        • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2012, 11:58 PM

          Israel declared statehood rather than continue negotiating with the UN & Arabs as Judah Magnes had proposed.

          Israel certainly attacked Egypt & started the 67 War. Golda refused Sadat’s offer of talking peace in exchange for returning the Sinai & he promised her war if she didn’t. So 73 couldn’t easily been avoided as well. Sharon invaded Lebanon in ’82 using the pretext of Shlomo Argov’s near lethal assassination attempt. In 2006, Halutz invaded Lebanon after 2 soldiers were killed on the border.

          In none of those situations except perhaps ’48 was War inevitable & not Israel’s choice.

          • David April 16, 2012, 9:28 PM

            Re 1948 war:

            It should not be forgotten that between passage of the Partition Plan, UNGA Res. 181 (illegal, recommendatory only, in violation of the British Mandate, grossly unfair to the native Palestinians, never adopted by the UNSC) on Nov. 29,1947 and the declaration of the state of Israel effective 15 May 1948, Jewish forces had already expelled 400,000 Palestinians (e.g., 60,000 from Haifa in late April; 70,000 from Jaffa in early May and 60,000 from West Jerusalem in March and early May).

            Therein lies the reason for intervention by Arab state armies whose borders were being overrun with Palestinian refugees. Also, the Partition Plan had proven so unworkable that at the behest of Truman, the UNGA was in the process of shelving it in favour of a UN Trusteeship for Palestine when Polish born David Ben-Gurion (nee David Gruen) et al. declared the “Jewish state of Israel.” Furthermore, a US proposed ceasefire was accepted by the Arab states but rejected by Israel.

            Israel did start the 1967 war: . Menachem Begin, while speaking to the Israeli National Defence College on 8 August 1982: “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove
            that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be
            honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
            (New York Times, 21 August 1982)

            Also, re the 1973 war: Although the war was started by Egypt and Syria, it did not involve an attack against Israel. All Egyptian and Syrian armed forces confined their operations to sovereign Egyptian and Syrian lands that had been belligerently and illegally occupied by the IDF since June 1967.

          • Richard Silverstein April 17, 2012, 1:36 AM

            I suggest that no commenters sign their names “David.” There are so many Davids that someone with the opposite political views would easily be confused with you. Use your full name or something additional that will distinguish you from other “Davids” here.

      • Igor Berg September 10, 2013, 9:22 PM

        I wish you knew on your own skin what is to be jewish or better say hebrew outside US or Israel. What you wrote is a falsification of the facts. Jews must defend yourself otherwise we will be massacred. I was born and almost 30 years of my life lived not far from Babiy Yar. Here, I see raising hostility from blacks and spanish. And you lie and come against not even me but youself. Shame to have such jew as you are worst than nazi. reading does not help fools who adore pseudo science, which is filled the Internet

        • Richard Silverstein September 10, 2013, 10:09 PM

          I wish you knew on your own skin what is to be jewish

          Your comment is hilarious without you intending it to be. First, I DO know what it is to be Jewish “on my own skin.” Have you heard of circumcision??

          It’s totally understandable that someone who lived through the Hell of Soviet Communism would have the brutish, Hobbesian political views you do.

  • lifelong January 24, 2012, 2:50 AM

    Iran, the greatest threat to world peace and stability, only spends between 2 to 3% of its annual GDP on its military. Not really what you’d expect for a country who aspires to ‘world domination’, or ‘wiping’ another country off the map.

    In numbers, Iran spends around $8 billion a year vs $800 billion for the US, but goes without saying, it’s Iran we should all be afraid of… ;)

    • Mary Hughes-Thompson January 24, 2012, 7:44 PM

      Many of us believe it is Israel that is the greatest threat to world peace and stability.

      • David January 24, 2012, 8:45 PM

        An ever-increasing number of us KNOW Israel “is the greatest threat to world peace and stability.” Israel is also America’s number one geopolitical liability, a millstone around its neck.

        • John January 25, 2012, 6:09 AM

          Indeed, Israel is both an economic and political liability to the US.

        • quip January 25, 2012, 11:10 AM

          [Comment deleted--Abusing the anti-Semitism meme is a comment rule violation--read the rules & follow them]

    • KING_DAVE January 25, 2012, 8:01 AM

      lifelong, do you know any other country in this world which has ever said his intention to wipe away another country apart from Iran???

  • Bob Mann January 24, 2012, 3:17 AM

    Maybe Israel should be more concerned with its neighbors to the east.

    Syria and Jordan come in at third and fifth.

    And why is Singapore so high?

    • Elisabeth January 24, 2012, 11:35 PM

      I was surprised at the ranking of Greece!

      • Richard Silverstein January 25, 2012, 12:02 AM

        That’s because of Cyprus & the rivalry with Turkey. Also, their GDP is significantly smaller than Turkey’s so their high military expenditure will cause them to come out far higher in the rankings than Turkey.

        • Bob Mann January 25, 2012, 2:49 PM

          What about Singapore?

          Any thoughts on their high ranking?

          • Aonee January 25, 2012, 6:16 PM

            Ranking singapore 2nd in the top-ten raises serious questions on the credibility of this list.

          • Megat S Merican January 25, 2012, 8:24 PM

            Singapore shares an “extensive security relationship” with Israel.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel–Singapore_relations

            Perhaps in that light, it may be easier to understand why both countries are “militarized” in similar fashion.

          • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2012, 2:06 AM

            They either spend a great deal on military hardware or very little on health care (or both).

          • Megat S Merican January 26, 2012, 6:08 PM

            Interestingly, in spite of the apparent massive spending on Defence, Singapore has one of the best health care system in the world:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Singapore

        • dan gefen January 26, 2012, 3:16 PM

          What is the GDP of USA ,China ,Iran ,Egypt ,Turkey or even Germany?
          Israel is a very small country under a permanent threat so it doesn’t surprise me that she is first on that list.
          maybe if you look at the actual size of the army you will see that it is not that big.
          and since its based more on Reserve service its understood why almost 50% of the budget goes on salaries… (as usual on Israeli governmental expenses).

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/8002911/Defence-spending-the-worlds-biggest-armies-in-stats.html

  • ProudZionist777 January 24, 2012, 4:14 AM

    ‘Peace through strength’.

  • ProudZionist777 January 24, 2012, 4:16 AM

    BTW, this index doesn’t account for State sponsored terrorism or the use of proxy groups like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

    • David January 24, 2012, 8:49 PM

      Israel is a well documented expansionary, exclusionary, occupier, ethnic-cleanser, oppressor terrorist state and a serial violator of hard-won international human rights law. Indeed, it was Israel’s terror that gave rise to resistance movements such as Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad (as well as Hamas).

  • free man January 24, 2012, 5:40 AM

    I don’t know how this “combined” index is calculated.
    Israel is anyways in the top 10 in many such charts.
    The bias I see in your rating is that Saudi Arabia which spend more than 11% of its GDP on defense is only number 10 here.
    It should be much, much higher.
    Now if you look at the countries around Israel:
    Arabia – 11%
    UAE – 7%
    Oman – 9%
    Jordan – 6%
    Lebanon – 4% (not including hisbulla that get arms from Iran directly)
    Syria – 4%

    When you look at those countires, you can see that to match them Israle has to be not only high, but much more capable.

    • Richard Silverstein January 24, 2012, 4:09 PM

      Don’t you read the passage I quoted which offered you the protocol used to measure militarization? It was military defense as a percentage of GDP AND military spending compared to health spending. Got it?

      • free man January 25, 2012, 1:13 AM

        So because the American inssurance companies rob your citizens and you pay way over what you need for marginal health system, means the US doesn’t spend on defense ?
        Kind of a stupid way of calculating in my view.

      • Shira January 25, 2012, 11:31 AM

        Military Expenditure (% of GDP):

        Eritrea – 20.9%
        Saudi Arabia – 11.2%
        Oman – 9.7%
        United Arab Emirates – 7.3%
        Israel – 6.3%

        Infant mortality level (deaths/1,000 live births):

        Eritrea – 41.33
        Saudi Arabia – 16.16
        Oman – 15.47
        United Arab Emirates – 11.94
        Israel – 4.12

        So who is spending more on military and who is spending more on health? By the way, Israel has lower infant mortality level than US, Canada, EU, UK, Netherlands, New Zealand…

        • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2012, 2:23 AM

          You’ve offered infant mortality rates but not health spending rates which is what the survey is based on. Israel’s health system is not considered in particularly good shape & spending has declined.

          Israel is ranked higher than the other countries you listed on militarization chart because it has a lower level of health spending than they do.

  • yankel January 24, 2012, 6:22 AM

    The scale is unrealistic because it considers the ratio between Israel’s military expenses to its GDP.

    Israel’s military expenses are underwritten by the US whose national-level political figures are either underwritten by the pro-Israeli lobby or scared shitless by it (or both).

  • pabelmont January 24, 2012, 7:49 AM

    However, Israel is tiny — even counting non-Jews and expatriates and settlers as part of the population (to reduce per-capita expense computation) — so that this number, based on per-capita numbers, does not reveal much about how much Israel actually spends for military purposes.

    Still, I often think that if the USA spend all the money now spent on drug-related incarceration for education K-12, university, for the segment of the population incarcerated, it would save money and reduce criminality and have other benefits.

    Maybe if Israel would withdraw from OPTs (and Golan) and end the occupations, and spend a lot of all that military money on improving the lot of the segments of its combined populations which are today treated a prisoners (Gaza, West Bank), it would make the transition from doer of horrors to doer of good, with benefits all around.

    • pabelmont says January 24, 2012, 4:02 PM

      “so that this number, based on per-capita numbers, does not reveal much about how much Israel actually spends for military purposes”.

      No, but that isn’t the purpose of this index, is it?

      Its job is to give some clue as to how big a role “militarization” plays in the social makeup of a country.

      And according to this index Israel is the most militaristic country on Earth.

      Israel has turned itself into a modern-day Sparta, which is all well ‘n’ good…. until the day it runs up against a modern-day Thebes.

      And that day can happen because – as you rightly point out – the degree to which it has “militarized” only ensures that it’s meanest dog in the lot.

      And that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the biggest junkyard dog.

      • ProudZionist777 January 24, 2012, 5:38 PM

        ‘If you want to attract wolves, dress as a lamb’– Russian proverb

    • Gabrielle March 8, 2013, 10:13 AM

      Can you clarify your comment? You’re saying Israel should “withdraw from OPTs (and Golan) and end the occupations” and then you say it should help the people in Gaza and the West Bank? You’re contradicting yourself… Gaza and the West Bank are the disputed territories you are saying Israel should withdraw from and then you’re saying they should help the people of Gaza and the West Bank??
      Also when you say: “improving the lot of the segments of its combined populations which are today treated a prisoners (Gaza, West Bank)” i think you are mistakenly thinking that the people in Gaza and the West Bank are living in Israel as Israeli citizens. The people there are not a part of israels “combined populations” as you put it. The people in Gaza have their own government that is responsible for them that they democratically elected (Hamas) and same in the West Bank (Palestinian Authority). So the way they are treated is not thanks to Israel because they are not under Israel’s authority. They are treated as “prisoners” as you describe it, thanks to the government that they elected. Israel has no power over the people there but it does send gas and electricity and food and water into those territories despite the rockets that come in return.

      • Richard Silverstein March 8, 2013, 4:04 PM

        @Gabrielle: This is a bunch of hasbara horses(^t. Gaza and the West Bank “not under Israel’s authority?” Are you daft? Of course they are. Their respective governments have very little control over much of anything in the sense that a normal government would. YOu’re living in a world of pro Israel delusion.

        Israel sends “food, water, gas and electricity” to Gaza out of the goodness of its heart and gets nothing but rockets in return. Poor Gabrielle, you haven’t learned your Hasbara Central lessons well. Please tell your instructor a C- this time. But we know you can do better. More study, more practice & you can come back & try again next time. But don’t come back till you’ve done remedial preparation. What you’re doing now is a bore & a waste. I have very little patience for poor quality hasbara.

  • Phan January 24, 2012, 10:57 AM

    For some, militarization is a source of pride:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4174273,00.html

    • Daniel F. January 24, 2012, 7:19 PM

      Phan,
      Not militarization for it’s own sake but militarization to the extent that if affords us the ability to defend ourselves is a source of pride.Israelis are painfully aware of the price paid to enable this militarization,military service,the extra hours of work,higher taxes on income and imports and the most painful of all the unnecessary loss of life.

      • Mary Hughes-Thompson January 24, 2012, 7:46 PM

        Painful loss of life? Whose life? Whose pain?

        • Daniel F. January 24, 2012, 9:42 PM

          Painful loss of life? Whose life? Whose pain?

          Mary,
          You hint at an asymmetry in the equation but that is so only ostensibly.
          The violence in the Palestinian-Israeli equation has left it’s mark on both sides,
          Just as per Newton’s law, the equal reaction to an action may not be apparent on the larger of the masses but it nevertheless exists.
          One side cannot do without being equally affected.

          • Richard Silverstein January 25, 2012, 12:18 AM

            You truly believe that the violence has affected each side equally? If so, are you blind? Have you not read the death figures offered hear many times which show that six times more Palestinian civilians are killed than Israeli?

        • ProudZionist777 January 25, 2012, 4:33 AM

          Richard says:, “…six times more Palestinian civilians are killed than Israeli..”

          A dubious statistic when you consider that Israeli first -responders and hospitals are more likely to save a patient’s life than their Palestinians equivalent.

          • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2012, 2:25 AM

            This is a non sequitur. The simple facts as measured by B’Tselem are that six times more Palestinian civilians are killed than Israeli civilians. It’s not a “dubious statistic.” It’s an accurate one as opposed to whatever you’re peddling.

      • Richard Silverstein January 25, 2012, 12:19 AM

        Militirization allows you to “defend yourselves?” More likely it allows you to kill your neighbors, dominate them or force them into temporary submission.

        • DANIEL F. January 25, 2012, 3:35 AM

          חרב תלפיות- The double edged sword
          I believe that the repressive control exercised over the Palestinians as a result of the 1967war have profoundly affected those most closely associated with its implementation and brought about major changes in Israeli society, none that I can think of that are for the better.

  • David January 24, 2012, 8:54 PM

    To quote the prophetic 1944 statement of Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism: “The concept of a racial state – the Hitlerian concept- is repugnant to the civilized world, as witness the fearful global war in which we are involved. . . , I urge that we do nothing to set us back on the road to the past. To project at this time the creation of a Jewish state or commonwealth is to launch a singular innovation in world affairs which might well have incalculable consequences.”

  • Andrew January 24, 2012, 11:34 PM

    It is no secret that Israel spends tons on its military. It is for this reason that it has one of the best militaries in the world. Before people start jumping that it’s all because of America, I will simply invoke the 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 Six Day War as two examples of major wars Israel fought without American aid/technology against multiple countries much larger than herself.

    However, why is this so terrible? It is called Israel DEFENSE Forces for a reason. Defense.

    Should Israel choose to dismantle its military, that is tantamount to national suicide. Rockets from Hamas and Hizbollah would immediately rain down on Israel. Egypt, Syria, Iran, and likely other countries would attack.

    Would you want this?

    Quite simply, pro-Israel supporters, if they truly support Israel, should take immense relief in the fact that Israel has such an advanced army and is so ahead of its neighbors.

    And yes, Iran’s army is no match for other countries. This is not a secret either. Iran would probably lose in any military scenario (although heavy retaliation from Hamas and Hizbollah). But that doesn’t nullify the damage they could do if they attain a nuclear bomb.

    • Richard Silverstein January 25, 2012, 12:06 AM

      Israel DEFENSE Forces? You must be kidding. There’s a reason some pro Palestinian activists refer to it (though I don’t) as the Israeli Offense Forces.

      As for the rest of yr prattling. Israel doesn’t need to dismantle its army. It’s need peace. After peace, it will not need to spend nearly as much as it does now. And the reason it doesn’t have peace is its largely own fault.

      I support Israel but the fact that it wastes so much of its treasury and human capabilities on weapons & military related stuff is a tragic waste of potential.

      • free man January 25, 2012, 2:08 AM

        You have to decide:
        Either: he must be kidding, you call it Israeli offence forces.
        Or: You don’t.

        Some people say that the self pretending attitude of yours towards yourselve only works to fool yourself (though I don’t).

        • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2012, 1:58 AM

          I have no idea what this comment means. There is no such term as “self-pretending.” I simply don’t use the term IOF since Israel uses the term IDF.

      • John January 25, 2012, 6:16 AM

        The israeli military is also frequently descriped as the Israeli Occupation Forces, since it’s primary mission in all it’s existence have been occupying territory outside Israels borders, while subjecting the population to a military dictatorship.

        Yet another fitting description is the Illegal Occupation Force, since the whole world is considering the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan to be illegal. Not least because of the 500.000 illegal settlers that attempts to claim the occupied territories for Israel.

        For all these reasons the IDF is not worthy to be associated with the united states armed forces.

      • KING_DAVE January 25, 2012, 8:13 AM

        Richard Silverstein
        a wiser man than you and me said one day ” sometimes, the best defense is to attack “. meditate about it.

        • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2012, 2:02 AM

          I didn’t know you consider Hitler a wiser man than you & I. He attacked Russian & England & ended up destroying himself & his nation.

      • Andrew January 25, 2012, 11:32 AM

        It’s Israel’s fault for no peace? So when they were attacked a day after they were formed, then you are stating it was their fault for creating a state. In that case, you believe peace will come when Israel is destroyed. Surely I am missing something here, as that can not be the case.

        And at either rate, there are people who think otherwise about the lack of peace. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/concoughlin/100132355/the-palestinians-are-doing-their-best-to-derail-peace-talks-with-israel/

        • Andrew can't take it January 25, 2012, 3:24 PM

          “It’s Israel’s fault for no peace? ”

          It is a serial military occupier, and every time it occupies territory it is remarkably reluctant to withdraw from it.

          All that colonization, I suppose….

          “So when they were attacked a day after they were formed, then you are stating it was their fault for creating a state. ”

          No, but there is a serious problem with your sentence i.e. you didn’t define the word “they” in the phrase “they were attacked”.

          Let me help you out..

          Q: Who were “they”?
          A: “They” were the Haganah.

          Q: Where was the Haganah on the day it was attacked?
          A: It was knee-deep inside the territory of the “Arab state”.

          Q: So why was it attacked?
          A: It was already I.N.V.A.D.I.N.G. someone else, stupid.

        • Andrew can't take it January 25, 2012, 3:38 PM

          “And at either rate, there are people who think otherwise about the lack of peace. ”

          ….followed by a link to a Coughlin article where he castigates Erekat for refusing to enter the room in Jordan.

          Which is laughable because nowhere in that article does Coughlin explain to his readers why Erekat refused, even though Coughlin must know the reason.

          It was this:
          Erekat was told that Molcho would be presenting Israeli’s written proposals on security to him.

          Yet when he got there he was told that Molcho wanted him to sit through a lecture on security from an IDF general.

          Erekat (rightly) refused: he is a negotiator, not a Uni student.

          That lecture was shelved, and so Erekat and Molcho then dicussed other topics (e.g. “incitement”) because – do’uh! – Israel refuses to commit anything to paper.

          Oh, and I’ll leave you with this gem from that article:
          “Most people in the West believe the main reason the talks are not going anywhere is because of Israel’s refusal to compromise on its settlement building programme.”

          No shit, heh?

          Yet Coughlin believes that this is as nothing compared to Erekat’s refusal to be lectured to by an Israeli delegation that Will Not Put Anything In Writing.

        • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2012, 2:04 AM

          This is OFF-TOPIC. Read the comment rules & do not stray fr the subject of the blog post on which you’re commenting. The purpose of this blog is not to debate the history of the Israel-Arab conflict, esp not using the bogus historical claims that you offer. If that’s your goal there are thousands of other places to do it.

  • Nimrod January 25, 2012, 7:14 AM

    if you live in a dangerous neighborhood, you spend more on security.

    I wouldnt expect someone who’s life in not under threat to understand.

  • Doug Willbanks January 25, 2012, 10:48 AM

    The early and present Zionists knew ahead of time that to take another peoples land is against all norms.
    They have robbed the bank (of Palestine) of billions and are now trying to defend the loot they acquired like any crooks. And to make it worse, they are still robbing the Palestinians.

  • sass January 27, 2012, 6:14 AM

    It is no wonder that Israel is the most militarized nation in the world. A Jewish state in Arab Palestine could only have materialized by force. Israel is basically a army with a country doomed to live by the same sword that created it. The irony is that Israel was meant to solve the ghetto mentality. There can be no better example of a ghetto than fortress Israel . One well armed Jewish ghetto which has made a mockery of the moral values of Judaism.

  • Yuval December 5, 2012, 1:27 PM

    Some of you are leaving in Lala land. For peace you need 2 sides. The other side do not want peace and we
    Do not want to die. Sorry if that is not attractive for you. We will do without the support of so called friends.
    Easy been so far and lecturing others on how to survive. In your view it is only numbers. I am sorry, but I prefer 1 Israeli alive that 10,000 died on any other side. You can keep leaving in Lala land, we are only protecting our land and our children future.

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