An ebb in the military’s cash flow

February 23, 2015

One need only look at the day’s headlines to understand that we live in a dangerous world.

Yet despite the feeling that the world is slowly becoming a military quagmire constructed on quicksand, world defense spending is shrinking, owing largely to a pull-back in U.S. military commitments. defenseAccording to data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in 2013, the United States’ military budget was far and away the biggest in the world. At $600.4 billion, U.S. military expenditures were over five times those of second place China, and almost equaled the sum of the second through fifteenth place countries combined. Perhaps surprisingly, Saudi Arabia spends the fourth most in the world on defence, but while Riyadh’s $59.6 billion is an order of magnitude less than the U.S. budget, that number marks 8 percent of the Saudi GDP, the highest percentage of any country. Conversely, the $112.2 billion that China spent on its military in 2013 represented just 1.2 percent of China’s GDP; the U.S. spent 3.7 percent of GDP on defence in 2013. Data from the Council on Foreign Relations show U.S. military spending in decline, both in real dollars and as a percentage of the world. But lest the doves become hopeful,  situations involving ISIS, Iran and North Korea—to name a few—mean that opportunities to flex some military muscle will always be near.

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