Firepower vs human dev’t PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 14:33

By H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

As noted in my previous columns, the Philippines lags behind many of its neighbors in the East Asia and Pacific region in terms of human development, particularly in the fields of health, education and decent standard of living. But surprisingly – or maybe unsurprisingly – it is listed as among the top 30 out of 55 countries ranked worldwide in terms of firepower by www.globalfirepower.com.

The rankings don’t take into account nuclear weapons, and are based only on a country’s conventional warfare capabilities, including logistical and financial aspects.

GlobalFirepower.com cites sources like the Central Intelligence Agency but clarifies that the website is in no way endorsed by the US spy body or any other military organization.

As of this year, the Philippines is ranked 23rd surpassing Singapore and Malaysia, which are only ranked 41st and 27th, respectively.
Indonesia is ranked 18th and Thailand 19th. The other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are not in the list. Australia tails the Philippines at 24th spot. While Canada, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia (mentioned earlier), Sweden, Spain and Mexico occupy the 26th to the 30th places.    Interestingly, like Singapore, these countries are all way ahead of the Philippines in human development ranking where Australia places 2nd, Canada 6th, Saudi Arabia 56th, Malaysia 61st, Sweden 10th, Spain 23rd, and Mexico 57th.

The five countries ranked 18th to 22nd in firepower capability are Indonesia, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland and North Korea. Except for Indonesia, these states fare better in human development than the Philippines. North Korea, being a nonmember of the United Nations, is not included in the UN’s Human Development Report.

Of the top 30 in GlobalFirepower.com list, only 13 belong to the very high human development group. These are the US (until now the biggest military power), UK, South Korea, France, Japan, Israel, Germany, Italy Poland, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Spain.

Russia, the world’s second biggest military power, belongs to the lower rung of the high human development group at 66th spot. Qatar is only ranked 55th by GlobalFirepower.com but belongs to the very high human development group. Norway, the best state in terms of human development, is ranked 40th by GlobalFirepower.com.

And here’s something worth reflecting on: 31 out of 47 countries that belong to the very high development group are not in the list of GlobalFirepower.com. These include the Netherlands and Brunei Darussalam.

New Zealand, which is also not among the top 55 countries in terms of firepower, belongs to the high human development group. Rivals India and Pakistan are ranked 4th and 15th in terms of firepower but fare poorly in human development. India is 134th in human development while Pakistan in 145th.

China, an emerging superpower, ranks 3rd in firepower but has only managed to garner the 102nd place in the 2011 Human Development Report.

It’s too complex to present comparative analyses of these countries’ military capabilities. In fact, GlobalFirepower.com uses 45 factors in computing their relative military strengths, and warns that the list can be subjective, although its intention is to be “wholly unbiased”.

Nonetheless, at least one thing can be gleaned from the list: Some countries appear to prioritize their military spending over investments in their people’s wellbeing. Take the case of the Philippines 2012 budget which allots P107.9 billion to defense in contrast to the P54.1 billion to agriculture. Numbers speak far better than any well-crafted speech. — H. Marcos C. Mordeno writes for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. He can be reached at hmcmordeno @gmail.com