Which nation spends more on its military: Iran or Israel?

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Your average American who followed the debate over the Iran deal would have gotten the impression that Tehran is a military giant, with a Wehrmacht that even without nuclear weapons is capable of unleashing a blitzkrieg across the entire Middle East.

The hard facts are different. In a valuable recent article in Foreign Policy, Trita Parsi and Tyler Cullis point out:

* Iran spends $15 billion a year on its military.

* By contrast, Saudi Arabia spends $80 billion — five times as much — and the United Arab Emirates budgets another $23 billion.

Parsi and Cullis conclude,

Far from being a hegemonic power, able to domineer and subdue its regional rivals with impunity, Iran has a regional position that remains untenable, all while its regional rivals procure weapons systems that make themselves increasingly invulnerable.

And what about Israel? The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates its annual spending at $23.2 billion, over 50 per cent more than Iran.

Approving the Iran deal will not end the efforts to demonize Tehran and grossly exaggerate its military potential. In another vital piece in Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt warns that the attempts to undercut the arrangement are already starting. He explains,

. . . having secured a landmark agreement rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, a bunch of influential people are now demanding the United States take a variety of steps whose avowed purpose and likely effect will be to keep U.S.-Iranian relations trapped in a spiral of suspicion, demonization, and counterproductive rivalry.

And what motivates some of these hostile people? Professor Walt again:

For AIPAC and the rest of the hard-line wing of the Israel lobby, this agreement is a rare but telling defeat. Their consolation prize, however, is the opportunity to extort some more military aid for Israel and to do whatever they can to ensure Iran remains a pariah state. The last thing they want is a Middle East where the United States can talk readily to all the significant actors, and where the Iranian bogeyman is no longer there to distract people from the still-unresolved conflict between Israel and its Palestinian subjects.

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Iran’s military is designed for defense not offense. “The Islamic Republic’s leaders have designed its foreign policy and national security strategy to preserve Iran’s territorial and political integrity in the face of [threats from the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia]. The aim is not to establish Iran’s regional hegemony; it is to prevent any other regional or extra-regional power from attaining hegemony over Iran’s strategic environment. Even the U.S. Defense Department acknowledges the defensive character… Read more »

Very interesting stats and figures. To hear the rhetoric against Iran in the US, you might think it was the opposite. Of course, neither our media, nor our good for nothing leaders, might refer to this inconvenient fact, when they stand in front of the American people and keep demonizing Iran. As if that alien nation they are devoted to, Israel is a paragon of virtue. When it comes to Saudi Arabia, I have seen… Read more »

SIZE MATTERS. What’s the geographic difference between Iran and Israel? Iran – which has not invaded/attacked another country in 200 years –is slightly larger than the US state of Alaska. Israel is the size of New Jersey. But then, Zionist Israel may have expansion plans and needs more $$$ military hardware. Cough up, American taxpayers…

In a contrarian manner Iran`s biggest obstacle is Israel smallness in terms of the distance between the two countries – you send a missile and miss just a little bit you and you end up hitting Gaza, the West-Bank Palestinians, Lebanon or Damascus. That is why Syria was critically important as an ally – its size and proximity to Israel compensated for that. Hezbollah cannot deliver here no matter how many missiles they put into… Read more »

” Iran’s military spending is a fraction of Saudi Arabia’s, and is far below even the spending of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Altogether, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE—outspend Iran on arms by a factor of eight, an imbalance that goes back decades. The CSIS observes further that “the Arab Gulf states have acquired and are acquiring some of the most advanced and effective weapons in the… Read more »