Quantcast

«

»

Jan 03 2013

This Chart Speaks Volumes

This is a chart from Andrew Sullivan’s blog (I’m not sure where it originally came from) that shows why the claim that cuts to defense spending will hurt our ability to defend ourselves (and against whom, exactly? The last time this nation was attacked was in 1941):

defense spending

We spend about 50% more than the next ten countries combined. The next biggest spender is China and they spend 12% of what we spend. The defense cuts included in the sequestration deal, which Republicans and the Obama administration are claiming will do enormous damage to our national security, amount to less than $50 billion. We would still outspend the next ten countries combined by about $200 billion a year. This is just mindless fear-mongering, a marketing campaign to keep transferring hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars needlessly to defense contractors.

30 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    JasonTD

    “The last time this nation was attacked [by another nation's military] was in 1941″

    There, fixed it for you.

  2. 2
    brianwestley

    Here’s a comparison of aircraft carriers:
    https://www.wuala.com/en/api/preview/Luzius/Documents/Information/Aircraft%20Carriers.gif

  3. 3
    Lou Doench

    Welcome to the real world Andrew… liberals have only been pointing this out for FORTY FUCKING YEARS…sorry for yelling Ed, I just loathe Andrew Sullivan and all his “ex” conservative companions like the odious David Frum who are now making bank singing the same song we liberals have been howling in the wilderness for my entire life.

  4. 4
    David Wells

    I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the military, and everday I spend more time in and around it, I realize that we could feasibly cut the military budget in half without effecting our military readiness (and possibly improving it), simply by removing most of the graft, redundancy, wasteful spending, and entitlements many senior members unnecessarily receive.

  5. 5
    billgascoyne

    National Security? No, but it will hurt jobs. Most of the military budget has become nothing more than a make-work program for pork-barrel congress-critters. Eisenhower was right.

  6. 6
    d.c.wilson

    Imagine if we took 50% of what we spend on military contractors and invested it in infrastructure: Fixing bridges, protecting the shoreline, high-speed rail, efficient mass transit, alternative energy. How many jobs would that create?

    Oh wait, that’s the government “picking winners and losers” and that’s wrong*. What was I thinking?

    *Actually, it’s only wrong when we don’t pick defense contractors and the fossil fuel industry as the “winners”.

  7. 7
    fifthdentist

    An internet to d.c. wilson for his last two sentences.

  8. 8
    freemage

    billgascoyne: Then the money can be shifted to infrastructure-building programs in the U.S. Fnord knows we could use it. Start with a program to give money to the states to fund road repairs on state routes that run through economically depressed areas (which are often pothole-filled nightmares). States that encourage local hiring on those projects get more money.

    1: Direct stimulus in the form of local job-creation, even if only temporary.

    2: Increased traffic flow through the urban neighborhoods by commuters, giving local businesses a better chance to snag customers.

    The idea is to shift the money to a form that provides both a lasting benefit AND a temporary stimulus, instead of just a temporary effect that must be perpetually renewed.

  9. 9
    thisisaturingtest

    @#1, JasonTD:
    Not sure I understand the point behind your fix. Are all those aircraft carriers and bombers meant to deter terrorists?

  10. 10
    DaveL

    Imagine if we took 50% of what we spend on military contractors and invested it in infrastructure: Fixing bridges, protecting the shoreline, high-speed rail, efficient mass transit, alternative energy. How many jobs would that create?

    Don’t be silly- it’s only OK for the government as a make-work program when that “work” isn’t anything the recipient would willingly pay for, like getting shot or having your house bombed. If you were to maintain an organization well over one million strong for the purpose of, say, providing health care, that would be socialist and evil.

  11. 11
    caseloweraz

    What’s missing from this sentence?

    “This is a chart from Andrew Sullivan’s blog (I’m not sure where it originally came from) that shows why the claim that cuts to defense spending will hurt our ability to defend ourselves (and against whom, exactly? The last time this nation was attacked was in 1941):”

    From where I stand, it could be completed by adding “) is absurd/bogus/claptrap and felderkarb/deceitful/egregiously wrong:”

    (Pick one.)

    You can fix it the way you want, of course. I’m just pointing out that something’s missing.

  12. 12
    mithandir

    To put this into another kind of perspective: About a month ago I calculated the entire budget for NASA in its entire existence, including the moon landings, ISS and everything, adjusted for inflation. Then I added stuff like the LHC, human genome project, the EELT etc. I don’t have my numbers with me right now (I’m on a holiday away from my computer) but IIRC it was something like $950 billion in 2011 dollars. So in other words, slightly more than the US defense budget for just one year, and considerably less than the worldwide defense spending in the same year.

  13. 13
    mithandir

    Btw, for those wanting citations for that graph, the numbers are similar to the ones found at this wikipedia page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget

    Which itself sources its data from the stockholm international peace research institute yearbook of 2012

  14. 14
    caseloweraz

    In order to include terrorist attacks, JasonTD clarified:

    “The last time this nation was attacked [by another nation's military] was in 1941″

    There, fixed it for you.

    I believe it was Israel’s military that carried out the controversial attack on the USS Liberty in 1967.

  15. 15
    A Hermit

    And to make it even more absurd of the ten next biggest military spenders three (Great Britain, France and Germany) are NATO members, Japan is a defacto US ally (although it’s constitution forbids formal alliance) Saudi Arabia is being armed and subsidized by the US and India signed a ten year cooperation pact with the US in 2005.

    That’s seven of the next ten largest military spenders who are friends or allies of the US. Brazil is unlikely to challenge it’s North American neighbour, and is the smallest of that list of ten, leaving China and Russia as the only two which might offer any kind of conventional military threat…combined those two spend less than 20% what the US does, and they are unlikely to co-operate being big rivals themselves.

    So WTF are Americans so afraid of? Shifting some of that spending to infrastructure and education would do a lot more for American prosperity AND security.

  16. 16
    Bronze Dog

    I always like visualizations for this sort of thing. All too often, politicians rely on scaring people with big-sounding numbers without their context.

  17. 17
    zippythepinhead

    Found it at http://visual.ly/top-10-defense-budgets

    brianwestley@2: If you had a big enough crane, you could stack all the other aircraft carriers on top of the US carriers.

  18. 18
    Nick Gotts

    So WTF are Americans so afraid of? Shifting some of that spending to infrastructure and education would do a lot more for American prosperity AND security. – A Hermit

    Indeed. Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500 to 2000 is interesting in this regard, although it’s a long time since I read it so I don’t recall details. Kennedy argues that hegemonic powers (such as the Hapsburgs in the 16th century, France in the 17th, Britain in the 19th, the USA in the later 20th and 21st) typically face increasing difficulty allocating resources between consumption, military spending and investment, with rising debt and political conflict at home among the results. In these terms, simply from a selfish great-power standpoint, the USA looks to be grossly over-spending on the military, given the absence of any near-term military challenge by any other power or combination of powers. Its vast natural resources and enviable geostrategic position give it an excellent chance of remaining the most powerful state for a long time yet if it can rebalance its use of resources.

    Aside from this, Kennedy’s analysis takes no account of the need for the whole world to invest in energy-saving and low-carbon energy generating socio-technical systems, as well as mitigating other serious environmental and resource availability issues – an effort which is the USA’s to lead if it so chooses, and which is almost certain to fail, to the ruin of us all, without full American participation.

  19. 19
    tacitus

    So WTF are Americans so afraid of?

    There is no price high enough to counter the paranoia of the American conservative mind.

  20. 20
    Modusoperandi

    Sure, “Cut Defense”, you say, but don’t come crying to us when the Brazillians come knocking at your door.

  21. 21
    Johnny Vector

    The chart is misleading in that it uses area, which makes the difference look smaller. If it were a bar graph the differences be more obvious.

  22. 22
    sugarfrosted

    I’m not sure this justifies the spending on the military, but it should be at least noted that not all is spent on things directly related to the military. Two examples that come to mind are developing self guided vehicles as well as research into muscular dystrophy, although I expect that this is not the majority or really a big portion of the spending.

  23. 23
    Michael Heath

    I’m a strong proponent of significantly cutting our military budget. I also advocate invoicing those who benefit from our projecting power in areas outside the U.S. given their dependence on the U.S. military protecting their interests, in particular supply chains outside their borders, e.g., consumers of oil transported through the Persian Gulf.

    Imagine the state of our economy if we’d borrowed a trillion dollars to aggressively eradicate coal-based electricity, begin the installation of a smart grid, and installed a pervasive Internet network with Gbps speeds to each home; rather than starting a war in Iraq which will cost us about 80% of that and will reduce GDP by $2 to $3 trillion rather than leading to increased growth.

    But it’s critical to note that our military budget doesn’t merely protect the U.S. from our borders inward, or even only our direct interests, but also is the predominant force providing assurances of supply for a global economy. Our military presence projected outside our borders has also allowed other countries to choose butter over guns given the U.S. commitment to a more secure world. So doing an apples to apples comparison between the U.S. and other countries without considering how the U.S. military benefits the global economy and the world in general is both naive and wrong-headed.

  24. 24
    dingojack

    A hermit wrote “So WTF are Americans so afraid of?”

    America: land of the brave, home of the free.

    :/ Dingo

  25. 25
    JasonTD

    @#9 thisisaturingtest,

    I wasn’t going for much beyond saying that leaving 9/11 out is rather asinine given that even more people were killed that day than on 12/7.

  26. 26
    Childermass

    Yeah we spend too much on the military, but as others have pointed out we been attacked since 1941. Indeed as written, the statement is disproved by nearly every year. It forget foreign terrorists and attacks on American troops, naval ships, merchant ships, embassies, etc. outside the U.S.

    Now the last attack on United States territory by a foreign military was in WWII though the last fighting in U.S. territory in World War II was NOT Peal Harbor as both German and Japan attacked American territory after 1941.

  27. 27
    pamsmigh

    Fundagelicals will respond that China and Russia are deceiving international communities about the size of their defense budgets. “They’re really as big as ours.” And then you go nowhere because they know the “real truth.”

  28. 28
    kermit.

    We don’t want to fire (discharge) half our military, casting them into the pool of job applicants. Let’s take half our military and create a new Civilian(?) Conservation Core. Many of these young men and women can be retrained for infrastructure rebuilding. Preparing for continuous disasters as a result of global warming, reducing further harm by building a smart grid, etc. as so many of you folks have already suggested would more seriously improve US security and prosperity. When these people leave the service they will have more useful skill sets – and they are more likely to stay in until retirement if they are building fiber optic networks in Illinois rather than shooting the locals and getting shot at.

    Spending money locally, more stable home life, spending money to build for the long run rather than blowing up foreign infrastructures – it’s a win for everybody except the Koch brothers and some corrupt military/industry liaisons.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Childermass

    Interesting stat: Take away every nickle the U.S. spends on pay and benefits both active and retired military personnel and we still outspend the next ten combined.

    http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43574

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site