U.S. Military Spending v. the Rest of the World

Yesterday, I posted an article discussing the U.S’s annual budget for the military and how that number has gone down over the years when measured in terms of both total federal spending and GDP. Despite the decreases in spending for our military over the past several years, particularly under Obama, the U.S still spends a considerable amount more than any of the other top militaries in the world. In January of this year, Obama defended his cuts to the military budget and asserted that the U.S spends more on it’s military than the next highest eight nations combined. Politifact checked the accuracy of that statement and here are the results. (Please click the link for the entire article)

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Obama was Wrong, but Just Barely

SIPRI’s calculations determined that in 2014, the US spent $610 billion on its military. The next top eight countries spent a total of $646.4 billion. However, if you remove the eighth country (Japan), the total is $601 billion. So, according to SIPRI, the US spends more than the next top 7 countries. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation put all of the numbers in this interesting graph:

Military Spending

(Source: Peter G. Peterson Foundation)

 But Wait, There’s Other Data Out There…

According to numbers from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the U.S does in fact spend more on its military than the next 8 highest countries. IISS calculated U.S. spending in 2014 at $581 billion while the next 8 countries spent $531.9 billion.

So why is there such a discrepancy in the numbers? Well, it’s quite simple. Each country calculates their military spending differently and there is no generally accepted formula that is used by each country. So there.


In the end, Obama’s statement was more right than wrong. However, I am not a fan of cuts to our military, particularly given the current state of affairs in the world.

Furthermore, military spending does not necessarily correlate to military strength. Although the U.S is still considered the most powerful military in the world by any calculation, are other countries starting to catch up? Should we be concerned?

Please come back tomorrow for my post on those two questions.

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