How much money is behind military might?


Photo: Mike Baird, via Creative Commons, some restrictions.

With cutbacks facing the military, including a projected reduction of 1,500 troops at Fort Drum in the near future, an article in 24/ caught my eye: Countries Spending the Most on the Military.

This introduction from the article:

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) measures annual military spending for most of the world’s armed countries. According to SIPRI, the United States spent $668 billion, more than the combined budgets of the next 10 countries. While the U.S. budget has declined, some of the other global powers, including Russia and China, have ramped up spending.

The entire article is worth reading–there’s information about the position of various countries in terms of import and export of arms (India is the largest importer of weapons, the U.S. is the 6th largest exporter). Here’s a quick distillation of the top 10 in terms of dollars spent and the expenditure as a percentage of the country’s GDP:

10. Brazil — $36.8 billion, 1.5% of GDP

9. India — $48.3 billion, 2.5% of GDP

8. Germany — $48.6 billion, 1.4% of GDP

7. Saudi Arabia — $54.2 billion, 8.9% of GDP

6. Japan — $59.2 billion, 1.0% of GDP (yes, even Japan spends billions)

5. United Kingdom — $59.8 billion, 2.5% of GDP

4. France — $62.6 billion, 2.3% of GDP

3. Russian — $90.6 billion, 4.4% of GDP

2. China — $157.6 billion, 2.0% of GDP

1. United States — $668.8 billion, 4.4% of GDP (this is a 6.0% decrease from previous year)


Photo: Cliff1066, via Creative Commons, some restrictions.


For comparison, federal spending in FY2013 on education, $98 billion.





5 Comments on “How much money is behind military might?”

  1. EVH says:

    That figure represents only what the Pentagon is appropriated annually….Add in defense spending spread across other federal agencies (such as the Dept. of Energy, which is tasked with building and maintaining our extremely large nuclear arsenal) and the figure is far higher than $670 Billion. Some sources have pegged our annual outlay on defense as being over a TRILLION dollars per year.

    The opportunity cost of this gargantuan militarized economy added up over its 60 plus year existence is immeasurable.

  2. tootightmike says:

    And it’s all pointless, unproductive spending.

  3. Ellen Rocco says:

    TootightMike–perhaps you’re a pacifist or just skeptical about the military, but are you saying that the U.S. and other countries should NOT have a military? And, I’m not talking about a utopian world. I’m talking about in this world, in 2013, how would a country realistically go about reducing military costs? Everyone hates war, everyone loves peace. Okay. How come this poor little planet is perpetually plagued with the battles of our species?

  4. EVH says:

    I can’t speak for Mike, but I certainly believe we need a military. But one far more defensive in nature than the global offensive one we’ve had since the end of World War II.

    For instance, isn’t it time we let the rest of the world pay for its own defense? Isn’t it time we let the Japanese, Australians, British, French, numerous oil wealthy middle eastern countries defend themselves? That is to say, do we need or can we afford well over 700 hundred overseas bases that do mostly nothing but pump the economies of their host nations at our expense?

    Do we really need 11 fully operational air craft carrier groups? Couldn’t we make due with 5? Or even 3? Do we need yet another stealth fighter plane, the F-35, (that incidentally doesn’t work as advertised) that will cost nearly a trillion dollars after its complete build out a mere couple years after we built the last turd, the F-22 (which also doesn’t work and suffocates its pilots). Do we need 50 attack submarines and over a dozen Tridents each capable of obliterating an entire nation with their nuclear payload?

    We could so easily field an affordable and extremely lethal defensive military if we just had the courage to decide we no longer wanted to be the world’s policeman nor wanted to fatten certain corporate and government interests at the cost of everything else.

  5. Ken Hall says:

    As I have proposed a time or three previously the most egregious act that POTUS Nixon pulled off was to placate the fears of the obscenely wealthy, on the off hand chance that their money might not prevent every last one of their sons from being drafted, by doing away with the draft. Now, rather than having 10-20% of the US population exposed to the lunacy of the military “way”, we are now complacently placated to allow a maximum of 1%, give or take, of the US population to provide the manpower to defend the nation, primarily drawn from the un/under-employed poorest levels of the nations population; thereby preserving the lives that “really” matter and reducing the likelihood that multitudes of “Edward Snowdens”, might start pointing out more of the hypocrisy of the military ways, all direct benefits of our new found affections for an all “volunteer” military.

    Ellen, As EVH points out the acknowledged $669 Billion is likely light $300, 400, 500 Billion or more. Remember that the costs of killing the hell out of Iraqi, Afghani and Pakistani citizens, oh sorry a slip of the tongue I meant insurgents and terrorists, was not part of the “regular” military budget but was added on off budget. Who knows how many “black” programs/projects, the knowledge of which are limited to mere handfuls of US citizens, are or have been funded by off budget monies that the sources of which are classified at the same levels as the programs/projects? Ellen, do you live in the same county that I do? If so how say you “Everyone hates war, everyone loves peace. Okay. How come this poor little planet is perpetually plagued with the battles of our species?” If we did not have our post WWII military might spread wide and far about the Earth how do you reckon a country which represents a bit over 4% of the Earth’s human population could sit in the catbirds seat and posses, control, consume, ., . 25% or more of the total of the Earth’s resources and human production? Why do we as a group incessantly proclaim our “love” of freedom and democracy, for us and everyone else on Earth, while simultaneously supporting and/or installing despotic dictatorial regimes in countries which have wealth producing resources which our freedom loving businessmen want/demand access to for the pillaging of?

    EVH, As I pointed out to Ellen the US military is the insurance that the US pillaging lifestyle, as pointed out by our previous great President Richard Cheney, oh no another fox pass, I mean VICE-President, is non-negotiable. How are we going to keep multitudinous chickens in every pot and cars lining the curbs in front of our houses if we do not have 10, 11, 12, 13, ., . Naval Carrier Task Forces ready at the drop of a $100 million dollar bill to project America’s might around the World? Now I ask you, who can complain about a fine interceptor aircraft such as the F-22 which has had some problems meeting the ballyhooed performance expectations and some minor cost growth problems from an initially projected $35Million per flyaway unit cost to what $500, 600 maybe even 700 million per aircraft today. What’s that you say the F-35 is following in the same foot steps? But seriously, who can complain when one thinks about all of those “jobs” created, all over the US, to build these babies and especially all of the obscenely wealthy Americans whose bank accounts have and continue to soar from the profits built into the building of these weapon systems? I think the term ought to be corporate/government interests since the corporations and their obscenely wealthy beneficiaries are the power behind the US government.

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