The world has entered a new arms race at a time of relative peace, totalling $1.5 trillion, that is $217 for every person on the planet.

Over the last decade, Washington has doubled its military budget, fuelling massive military build-ups around the world, from the emerging powers in the South China Seas to the multi-billion-dollar arms deals in the Middle East, begging the question where and when this vicious cycle of rising military expenditures will end.

Aside from the strategic dimension, leaders and pundits have also advanced the economic case for their excessive spending, both in terms of supply and demand.

Apart from the extensive profits from selling arms, the military industry creates thousands of manufacturing jobs in the shadow of the latest international economic crisis and high unemployment.

However, considering that spending on the military takes away from other higher-yielding, less costly and more important sectors of the economy, Empire asks: What justifies this global military addiction, or, has the world been duped by the multi-national, military industrial complex?

Joining the discussion are Robert Kaplan from the Center for New American Security, Ellen Laipson, CEO and president at the Stimson Center, Joseph Cirincione, the president of Ploughshares Fund, and Ambassador Richard Butler, the former chief weapons inspector, Iraq.

This episode of Empire first aired in October 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera