30 March 2012

World defense budgets

Data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, posted at Mother Jones.


  1. Which goes to confirm my suspicion that visually representing information by means of the area of comparative circles is almost useless. See the bars at the top right? Gives you far more information instantaneously than the circles to their left.

  2. I'm no fan of spending money on military stuff, because war and militarism disgusts me, but let's remember that these graphs are designed to suggest a certain thing which is actually debatable.

    Remember that the U.S. is a BIG country. Thus, it will tend to spend more than other countries on anything. By absolute measures, the U.S. also spends 'too much' on roads, public transportation, green energy, and child care. Should we cut funding to those things because the U.S. spends more than other countries on them? No, obviously not. We're not other countries.

    More relevant is the defense budget as percent of GDP. Those are the small circles in the middle of the chart. By those standards, the U.S. is not completely out of line. Note also that a large part of U.S. foreign policy depends on real or implied military protection pacts. Being a military superpower is part of what we 'do' in the world. In return we get favored decision-making status in international affairs and preferred business treatment. More directly, a large chunk of our economy is weapons development and export. The military industrial complex, as disgusting as it is, supports our way of life. The internet was not designed for blogging, for example. It's a child of cold war paranoia.

    -Chuck, who is actually a peacenik

    1. >The military industrial complex, as disgusting as it is, supports our way of life.
      >Chuck, who is actually a peacenik



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