Ihe duration and intensity of the war in Ukraine, as well as the rise of international geopolitical tensions – particularly on the Asian continent – lead us to wonder today about the increasingly complex relationships between these different forms of war. and their links with the functioning of an increasingly globalized economy.
Traditionally, the relationship between war and the economy took mainly two distinct forms: on the one hand, the preparation for expected or possible wars, with military expenditure including the training of soldiers and their equipment through the production or acquisition military equipment – we then speak of the “defence economy”; on the other hand, the various economic levers that can be used by States for strategic purposes to deter or constrain the adversary – we then speak of “economic weapons”.
The temporal dimension taken by each of these two forms of relations between the economy and defense is very different, and this difference is now tending to increase, in particular due to technological progress.
The complex game of alliances
While the defense economy mobilizes an increasingly long preparation time, the use of weapons – including innovative weapons – in the field must be able to be deployed in an increasingly short time. This growing gap between these contradictory temporal requirements of the conduct of conflicts, on the sites of confrontation and in their preparation, today poses serious strategic and economic problems. These difficulties are further aggravated by the complex game of alliances when the clashes are prolonged, as can be observed today in Ukraine.
The asymmetry of the forces initially present highlighted the economic problems posed by this gap between the time of the fighting and the time of their preparation.
It was not until 2015, after the long period of decline that began at the end of the 1980s, that Western European countries began to timidly increase their military spending, with a few notable exceptions, including the Germany, whose military spending still reached only 1.2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021.
However, the urgency of the needs for men, arms and ammunition for the war in Ukraine and its long-term extension clearly highlight today the consequences of this temporal discordance in terms of equipment, and perhaps even skills, in a conflict that has rapidly become global.
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