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Global Military Spending Tops $1T
June 7, 2005 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Donald Rumsfeld recently aimed critisicm at China's military spending. “Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment? Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?” A question he may well ask of himself. According to a report recently released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in our fair city) Global Military Spending topped $1Trillion in 2004. The United States accounted for 47 percent of all military expenditures, while Britain and France each made up 5 percent of the total. In all, 15 countries accounted for 82 percent of the world's total military spending. The BBC reported last month that Chinese military spending increased by 12% in 2004 to $25Bn - or one twentieth of what the US spends.
posted by three blind mice (45 comments total)

 
To match our bunker busting nukes, and fighter aircraft drones, and new sub the USS Jimmy Carter, and ...and...

Don't think that they will be dumb enough to be driving around in unarmored hummers through the comming warzone.

But the US is still spending 47% of the worlds weapons dollars, so.. they have a while to catch up to our spending level.
Can anyone point to a graph of US-Chineese military capibility?
Just how do we stack up now, and who's moving ahead faster?
posted by Balisong at 10:30 AM on June 7, 2005


Um ... what nation does Bush think threatens the US?
posted by kaemaril at 10:33 AM on June 7, 2005


Balisong, the current issue of the Atlantic has an interesting article by Fred Kaplan where he outlines a theoretical Chinese strategy for fighting the US. Basically it's asymmetric warfare on a grand scale, so traditional comparisons of how many tanks Vs. how many tanks etc. could end up being irrelevant. In that case, what's more important is the type of weapons being developed.

Quite frankly, I could do without seeing how the confrontation plays out in real life...
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 10:43 AM on June 7, 2005


How did the US win WW2 fighting on two fronts (Europe and the Pacific) and come out of WW2 as the world's only superpower (until the USSR stole the bomb)?

We had more factories than any other nation.

Where do so many of the US's imports now come form? Chinese factories.

When the oil crunch comes, who wins?
posted by orthogonality at 10:48 AM on June 7, 2005


The next frontier: military control of space.
posted by homunculus at 10:54 AM on June 7, 2005


Um ... what nation does Bush think threatens the US?

EEEEEEEVVVVEERRRRYONE!!!!!!! [/gary oldman]
posted by lord_wolf at 10:55 AM on June 7, 2005





Look out ! They've got technology !
posted by troutfishing at 11:04 AM on June 7, 2005


I was just reading an editorial about how far behind China is, militarily. Of course, the U.S. (et al) would like to keep it that way.

Hard to believe that we protest weapons testing by other nations when the only reason we're not doing any is because we're so far ahead (and then go ahead and test anyway when we need to). The west is in no position to lecture. What a great precedent we set -- more than just predent -- we set the terms (military) for sovereign nations to be able to do what they want without international support. Not that a peaceful U.S. would cause much backtracking in this way by China, but we certainly seem to have forgotten about disarmament or even arms reduction.

When the oil crunch comes, who wins?

I've heard the theory that all these mid-game moves for the middle east are really just about the control of oil as a means to control industrial-age China. This gives the neo-cons slightly more credit than I'm usually willing to give, but if you view every move in terms of the long game, it makes sense.
posted by dreamsign at 11:13 AM on June 7, 2005


I was just reading an editorial about how far behind China is, militarily. Of course, the U.S. (et al) would like to keep it that way.

Hard to believe that we protest weapons testing by other nations when the only reason we're not doing any is because we're so far ahead (and then go ahead and test anyway when we need to). The west is in no position to lecture. What a great precedent we set -- more than just predent -- we set the terms (military) for sovereign nations to be able to do what they want without international support. Not that a peaceful U.S. would cause much backtracking in this way by China, but we certainly seem to have forgotten about disarmament or even arms reduction.

When the oil crunch comes, who wins?

I've heard the theory that all these mid-game moves for the middle east are really just about the control of oil as a means to control industrial-age China. This gives the neo-cons slightly more credit than I'm usually willing to give, but if you view every move in terms of the long game, it makes sense.
posted by dreamsign at 11:19 AM on June 7, 2005


Here is the link to Rumsfeld's comments. I noticed my bad link as soon as I posted it, but the damn internets have been acting up. Must be those pesky Chinese.

On preview: lord_wolf great comment!
posted by three blind mice at 11:44 AM on June 7, 2005


Chinese people scare Donald Rumsfeld. They never pose for pictures with him like Saddam did.
posted by OmieWise at 12:05 PM on June 7, 2005


China's only behind the US military today because both the US and Europe ban the export of weapons and weapons technology to China. Europe has been making some noise about opening the markets back up, and allowing China to get their hands on something other than reverse-engineered Soviet crap.

Once this happens, China will begin to reach a parity with the US in terms of weapons modernization. The Chinese have a long history of reverse engineering Soviet weapons into their own versions, and this will eventually happen with European systems, which are of much higher quality. Of course, we in the US keep the good stuff for ourselves and export everything else a generation behind, so we'll still have the initial edge. The problem is 20 years down the line, where China is both economically and militarily equal to the US, and the world begins transitioning from a unipolar power system back into a bipolar one.

How badly do you think the US wants to prevent that from happening? Don't be so quick to dismiss the threat outright.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:11 PM on June 7, 2005


The defense secretary, who has said he would like to visit China this year....

Sounds like he wants to offer 'em another photo opportunity, OmieWise.
posted by alumshubby at 12:16 PM on June 7, 2005


"China will begin to reach a parity with the US in terms of weapons modernization."
Not the only factor at play. What keeps us ahead is not simply the modern weaponry (our small arms are terrible BTW, I'd rather have FN-FALs or Steyr AUGs or AK-47s for that matter, although our squad assault weapons -portable machine guns - are getting better. The new Stoner is nice). Not just the missles and space tech, etc.
It's the integration of combat systems. Mostly communication. Check out Jane's or other war resources - our Naval and Air combat power far outstrip just about anything out there. Mostly because of how were set up. Of course, the military is currently being used in a way other than what it's configured for...
But in the air or ship to ship we'd knock the hell out of the Chinese even with comparable technology (combat systems include training, a big factor) . On the other hand, they've got the people to expend to even it up. Pretty much Bruce Lee vs. Andre the Giant there.

Still, I'd rather be able to afford a mortgage & have my kids in a good school system than have another couple of stealth bombers.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:37 PM on June 7, 2005







posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:25 PM on June 7, 2005


It's the integration of combat systems. Mostly communication.

Give the Chinese enough time, and they'll build C4I systems that will rival ours. They're spending a ton of money on space-based surveillance, satellite radar and other communications equipment.

The bigger problem, one that Smedleyman alluded to, is that China and the Chinese public really wont care about human losses on a mass-scale. The American public will care. All our high-tech toys won't matter worth shit in a war of attrition.

But in the air or ship to ship we'd knock the hell out of the Chinese even with comparable technology (combat systems include training, a big factor) .

That it does. :-) (I help develop joint-forces training software)

Steve:
Posting graphics with no context does not an argument make. But then again, you already know that, you just don't care.

Anyway, big difference between GDP and real dollars.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:31 PM on June 7, 2005


Man, poor irony. To keep getting pulled out of the grave and killed over and over and over again.
posted by shawnj at 1:36 PM on June 7, 2005


OmieWise writes "Chinese people scare Donald Rumsfeld. They never pose for pictures with him like Saddam did."

Sweet!
posted by orthogonality at 1:36 PM on June 7, 2005


SweetJesus: I was not making an argument. The numbers speak for themselves.

If you want to pick a fight, you are going to have to do better than that.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:37 PM on June 7, 2005


SweetJesus writes "Steve: Posting graphics with no context does not an argument make. But then again, you already know that, you just don't care. "

Baby steps, baby steps.
posted by orthogonality at 1:38 PM on June 7, 2005


SweetJesus: I was not making an argument. The numbers speak for themselves.

If you want to pick a fight, you are going to have to do better than that.


Right, no they don't. And if you're not trying to make an argument, than what the hell is the point of posting those figures? As an aside? A random interjection? No, you're posting misleading figures to make it seem as if the UAE is out-spending the US militarilly. Which everyone knows is fucking non-sense

I don't give a shit about picking a fight with you, because in book you've always been a classic troll. So if you've got something to say, argue it like an intelligent human, not just hit-and-run with some graphics from a hacky think-tank.

I'll start posting data from Federation of American Scientists, and we can have a wonk-off.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:50 PM on June 7, 2005


WMD? Did somebody say WMD? They are probably worried about the USA.
I suppose if they really wanted to disrupt the world, they could begin training legions of lawyers. Now that would be an ultimate weapon to release upon the Western world.
posted by buzzman at 1:55 PM on June 7, 2005


Well, really, ANYTHING compared to the GDP of the US is small.
The speed of light is small compared to the US GDP.
the population of the world is small compared to the US GDP.

I was looking for more a graph using the same number scale for both sides, preferably over time.
posted by Balisong at 1:57 PM on June 7, 2005


kaemaril writes "what nation does Bush think threatens the US?"

All of them plus roving bands of people with no home land.

Holy crap S@L what's up with Greece? I like the little editorializing at the bottom of that graphic. It's not so much that we aren't pulling our share it's that we don't go around pissing people off.
posted by Mitheral at 2:13 PM on June 7, 2005



a peaceful U.S. would cause much backtracking in this way by China, but we certainly seem to have forgotten about disarmament or even arms reduction.

With deep throat being in the news, one of Nixon’s last televised interviews was replayed. It was interesting hearing what he called his thinking, "true conservative" in 1992 while looking at today's conservative ideas. He was for US nuclear disarmament, especially looking at China, a country “he knows” to have (he told Larry King it was his sources) them. The interview was for his book that was written in 92, fyi.
iirc, he said; industrializing China is the better equalizer for a peaceful world and nuclear arms are out dated looking at China's population.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2005


The DOD's Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China [PDF]

Robert Kaplan's "How We Would Fight China" (Atlantic link for subscribers), described by The Pentagon's New Map author Thomas Barnett as "Kaplan's strategic lap dance for the U.S. Navy and Pacific Command" [PDF]

Regarding US prospects in war with China, I think Kevin Bacon said it best [.wav] in Animal House.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:03 PM on June 7, 2005


hmmm, ~$400B on-budget deficit, $400B defense budget.

It has always been this way. Ah, I hear a Rush song coming on:

Don't feed the people but we feed the machines
Can't really feel what international means
In different circles we keep holding our ground
In different circles we keep spinning round and round
and round


Granted, if people want to eat they can get a fucking job, but Ike said it too:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.


$400B/yr spent on war could have gone into actual productive infrastructure rather than consumption. The present course is unsustainable.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:03 PM on June 7, 2005


EEEEEEEVVVVEERRRRYONE!!!!!!! [/gary oldman]
posted by lord_wolf

very nice :D you get the "best reference" of the day award
posted by nola at 3:27 PM on June 7, 2005


(I help develop joint-forces training software)
Thanks, SweetJesus. You've probably indirectly saved my life several times.

Speaking long term strategic - Playing Masters of Orion II as an analogy, I notice if you outpace the hell out of the other races in tech, you can get away with having a much smaller military.
If we wuz smart we'd throw everything into R&D and NASA and take the moon. Ultimate high ground....for a while. That'd rend the nukes obsolete...for a while.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:37 PM on June 7, 2005


sheisse. sorry, folks. never happened before. kept getting the "contact refused" msg, so never thought my posts were getting through.
posted by dreamsign at 5:28 PM on June 7, 2005


Steve_at_Linnwood: Your graphic does not have the percentage of GDP that China spends on the military.

For those who are interested it is: 4.3% (from the CIA world fact book) and to make the point very bluntly - the USA spends 3.3% of GDP on the military.

But, to be fair the sheer dollar numbers are China, $67.49 billion and the US ~$400 billion.

But, nonetheless, the USA needs a new enemy. How will all the procurement money be justified otherwise?
posted by sien at 6:54 PM on June 7, 2005


I was looking for more a graph using the same number scale for both sides, preferably over time.

Looking at spending as a percentage of GDP is one of the few ways to get a view that means anything. Looking at dollar for dollar today's ~$400 billion budget vs. 1941's $36 billion budget tells you very little. But seeing that today's defense budget is ~3% of GDP, and 1941's budget was ~40% GDP tells you a lot.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:17 PM on June 7, 2005


Steve, so if Luxembourg bought a fighter jet, sending their military-spending:GDP ratio skyrocketing, should we start an arms race with them, or realize that such a ratio is not at all useful in terms of dealing with countries militarily?
posted by odinsdream at 8:29 PM on June 7, 2005


1941's budget was ~40% GDP tells you a lot.

Gee, I wonder what was going on back then.
posted by c13 at 8:31 PM on June 7, 2005


I guess it all depends on HOW you want to present it.

If you were talking about how much social security will shortfall, you talk in billions or trillions of dollars, because that gives the impression of vast sums of money, which it is.
But if you just whip out the US GDP, it's only a percentage point or so... See nothing to worry about.

Of if you want to seek praise that you are adding 644,000,000 to go to schools for books, you whip out the dollar figure.
You don't say that you are increasing school funding by .0004318 of GDP.

(the example numbers are fictional and just used to make a point)
posted by Balisong at 9:56 PM on June 7, 2005


Why isn't this number presented as a percentage of our GDP?
or how much that debt is a percentage of the African countries GDP?
posted by Balisong at 10:03 PM on June 7, 2005


Maybe Rummy is just upset because when the Chinese spend on military, its less they have to spend buying up American debt.
posted by Goofyy at 12:40 AM on June 8, 2005


But seeing that today's defense budget is ~3% of GDP, and 1941's budget was ~40% GDP tells you a lot

But it's not today's, it's 1999, which -checking calendar, was six years ago.
posted by drezdn at 7:51 AM on June 8, 2005


If (as the deleted post stated), US military spending has topped 1 trillion, then it's now 8.2 percent of our GDP according to BEA stats.
posted by drezdn at 8:28 AM on June 8, 2005


1T is worldwide, the US only spends half, and take a look at why summoning the GDP is misleading.
posted by Balisong at 8:30 AM on June 8, 2005


I know it's misleading, I just figure if someone wants to throw out stats, it's more fun to play with the stats they give you.
posted by drezdn at 9:34 AM on June 8, 2005


But it's not today's, it's 1999, which -checking calendar, was six years ago.

CIA World Fact Book:

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $370.7 billion (FY04 est.) (March 2003)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 3.3% (FY03 est.) (February 2004)

if (as the deleted post stated), US military spending has topped 1 trillion, then it's now 8.2 percent of our GDP according to BEA stats.

$370.7 billion !> 1 trillion
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:47 PM on June 8, 2005


Hey Steve, can you name anything that, when compared to the US GDP, makes the GDP looks small?
Besides the number of stars in the sky, the number of ants total, or going microscopic? (atoms in a baseball, number of angels dancing on the head of a pin)

You know, everyday things. Something you might see or hear about everyday?
posted by Balisong at 2:11 PM on June 8, 2005


I'm saying, you *probably* don't see 3.4 trillion leaves on the trees, or blades of grass during a normal day's commute.
posted by Balisong at 3:23 PM on June 8, 2005


I don't think spending per GDP is as imporant as spending in relation to world GDP, or in comparison with other nations. We all live in the same world, and while surely the rich face the greatest threats (same reason why mansions have armed guards, nice houses alarm systems, and trailers rottweilers) there is still something totally out-of-whack with US defense spending, at 1/2 of the world's total, and with much less then 1/2 the world total in everything else.
posted by chaz at 3:34 PM on June 8, 2005


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