Look at this graph and then tell me we can’t afford defense cuts

April 15, 2013

It won't be news to anyone that the United States spends more on defense than any other country, or even than any other five countries combined. But this is a terrific visualization of an extraordinary reality:

This graph, which comes from the Economist's Daily Chart blog, includes our war spending in our overall defense budget. Defense wonks can argue whether that's proper. I think it is. But let's rip out some of that spending. Even if we cut current defense expenditures by 30 percent, all at once, we'd still be spending more than the next five biggest spenders combined.

Even that understates our advantage, though, as at least three of those spenders -- Britain, France, and Japan -- are firm allies, and any country considering a serious challenge to U.S. or western interests will have to properly consider their defense budget not just in terms of our defense budget, but in terms of our defense budget plus the defense systems of those who will probably be on our side.

Keep this in mind next time you read sky-is-falling commentary on cuts to the defense budget.

Further reading:

- We don't have a spending problem, we have a defense spending problem.

- America's staggering defense budget, in charts.

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Sarah Kliff | April 15, 2013