And You Wonder Why We’re Broke? (Chart)

military spending charts

The International Institute for Strategic Studies

This chart from the International Institute for Strategic Studies—part of the think tank’s recent report, “Military Balance 2012,” more or less speaks for itself. Supporters of American militarism will look at this and say, “Well, we’re spending a smaller proportion of our GDP on warfare than some of these other countries.” But look at those countries: They’re tiny, and they also happen to reside in a less-than-stable Middle East.

Even if they weren’t, I don’t buy the whole GDP thing. So we’re rich. Does that really mean our military needs to be completely out of proportion with the rest of the world’s armies? Would someone care to explain the logic on that? Because this is military imbalance.

To quote the soldier-scholar Andrew Bacevich from an interview I did with him in 2008: “Rather than becoming better at waging imperial wars, we need to move to a nonimperial foreign policy. That argument is not a moral argument—although you could make a moral argument—but a pragmatic one, that the prospect of more such wars is gonna bankrupt us.”

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