NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

What Size Defense Budget Do We Need?

December 7, 1998

Some analysts believe the GOP is about to launch a crusade for an exorbitant military build-up -- after we have won the Cold War, and we and our allies are as fully armed as conditions warrant.

They make these points:

  • The U.S. and our allies account for 80 percent of global military spending
  • The U.S. alone accounts for about one-third of all military outlays worldwide -- more than four times as much as Russia, almost eight times as much as China, and more than twice as much as Britain, France, Germany and Japan combined.
  • Defense outlays by Britain, France and Germany combined outpace those of Russia by 50 percent -- while Japan matches China's military spending.
  • South Korea devotes three times as much as North Korea to its military budget -- and with 29 times the gross domestic product and twice the population of its northern neighbor, it could do far more.

Critics note that U.S. military forces are being stretched -- but contend this is due to dissipating our strength on frivolous missions.

Military outlays have fallen from their peak in 1985. But inflation-adjusted spending amounts to what it was in 1980, during the Cold War.

Source: Doug Bandow (Cato Institute), "A Military Budget for a Republic," Investor's Business Daily, December 7, 1998.


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