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The U.S. Spends Six Times More On Military Than China

The U.S. Spends Six Times More On Military Than China

 

Written by Zaid Jilani, a ThinkProgress blogger

The Defense Department has just released its annual assessment of China’s military capabilities and development to Congress. The report is being covered in much of the media as a dire warning to the United States warning of the looming threat of Chinese military expansion.

The Hill notes that the report will be “fuel for congressional hawks — mostly Republicans in the House, who point to China as the main reason annual Defense Department budgets must continue to grow.” Politico quotes Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), whose most major campaign contributions come from the defense industry, saying that American security will be “jeopardized” by defense cuts in the wake of China’s military rise:

“China clearly believes that it can capitalize on the global financial crisis, using the United States’ economic uncertainty as a window of opportunity to strengthen China’s economic, diplomatic, and security interests,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a leading opponent of deep defense spending cuts. “Security in the Pacific could be further jeopardized if our regional allies also come to believe that the United States will sacrifice the presence and capability of the U.S. military in an attempt to control spending. This is an unacceptable outcome in such a vital region of the globe.”

What both the Hill and Politico fail to provide in their coverage of the Pentagon’s report and the right-wing response to it is any context about the relative levels of U.S. and Chinese military spending. The U.S. defense budget is six times as large as annual Chinese military spending. The following graphic from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute chronicling U.S. defense spending from 1989 to 2008 visualizes this:

While it’s not unreasonable to discuss the growth of Chinese military spending and debate the U.S. response, these discussions in the media should include the context of relative spending between the two countries to best serve readers.

While China’s military spending remains far eclipsed by that of the United States, there is one area where it is besting the United States: investing in clean energy. China invests twice as much money in clean energy as the United States, and for every dollar it spends on clean energy, it spends two to three dollars on defense. In the United States, every clean energy dollar is paired with 41 dollars of military spending.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.

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59 comments

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11:56AM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

Robert B

You seem incapable of logical thought. You are conservative so I shouldn't be surprised. Are you really incapable of grasping the possibility that China might simultaneously lead the world in green technology and have a terrible pollution problem? The two are not contradictory. A bit like the US having the most advanced medical technology but being number 25 in the international infant mortality league table, number 22 in life expectancy

Incidentally, so far as CO2 is concerned, the US produces 3 times more emissions than China on a per capita basis. Probably something else you can't grasp. My 7 year old grandchild has no trouble with either concept but you give no evidence of reaching her mental capabilities.

11:54AM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

Robert B

You seem incapable of logical thought. You are conservative so I shouldn't be surprised. Are you really incapable of grasping the possibility that China might simultaneously lead the world in green technology and have a terrible pollution problem? The two are not contradictory. A bit like the US having the most advanced medical technology but being number 25 in the international infant mortality league table, number 22 in life expectancy

Incidentally, so far as CO2 is concerned, the US produces 3 times more emissions than China on a per capita basis. Probably something else you can't grasp. My 7 year old grandchild has no trouble with either concept but you give no evidence of reaching her mental capabilities.

1:37AM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Go china! Good for you! While everyone else spends it's money on armaments. You can build a prosperous nation.
 A culture that glorifies war is a very sick culture indeed, and is possibly mentally ill. Yes! Whole countries and cultures can be mentally Ill. Germany in the 30's and early 40's was a mentally ill country. Fundamentally religious countries also seem mentally ill, or at least deluded. (iran, north Korea) but theirs is like a quiet madness. Insular and seething.
 Americas madness is wild and violent and raging and anyone that stands in their way is going to get knocked down. America is building a case against china in readiness of when  we bomb them.

4:30PM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

Dianne and David-you, of course make no sense. First, China does NOT lead in green anything, they pollute and are wantonly destroying their environs.... we can give evidence of US companies doing green things as well; and getting taxed into oblivion to feed your entitlement rich comrades. Second, Dianne especially, you need to look at exchange rates; and the concealing of information that China does. These are NOT baseless assertions. We agree, about Iraq, generally (see some of Cheney's writings and at least he is consistently pro American!)--we also agree on the Afghan provinces and that republicans like to emulate liberals when they get into office; cant resist that power to take other people's money.

12:42AM PDT on Sep 5, 2011

Robert ,Your libelous attack on liberals as "asinine" is not only ill advised BUT WRONG. Your characterizing of liberals as "feeding off the trough and not working" leads me to wonder where you get your information and WHY you chose THIS rant in response to THIS post. The article states that CONSERVATIVES are pushing to maintain HUGE military -industrial spending in the face of our obvious financial problems.The article also points out that we are ALREADY spending SIX TIMES AS MUCH as CHINA IS SPENDING. Thr Republicans have presided over the budgets for the last 10 years. The Republicans called TWO UNNECESSARY WARS and paid Cheny's companies to cater them.Neither the MILITARY expenses nor the PRIVATE CONTRACTOR Charges were budgeted they just went on the deficit. SO WHERE did the LIBERALS GO WRONG? Sounds LIKE GOP to me!

5:22PM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

We spend so much more money on the military, than China, because we are CRAZY.
We think we have to be the policemen of the world. It's NUTS!
Also, we love to pay Big Business, like Halliburton, money, so they can keep giving it to Chency.

5:46AM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

My comment was truncated. Last sentences:


DoD plus discretionary veterans benefits accounted for 55% of discretionary spending in 2010. It's difficult to see that we can continue to afford such spending given today's deficits.

5:44AM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

@John C

I posted this yesterday but for some reason it did not appear.

For 2010, there was a total of $120 billion for veterans benefits split between mandatory and discretionary budgets. These were in addition to the DoD spending of $608 billion. I'm sure you're right about the difficulty in directly comparing Chinese and US spending. However I'm equally sure the US is spending much more than China no matter how you count it. Hundreds of overseas bases, a large expensive navy, cost a bundle. I suspect - but have no hard data - that the cost of a Chinese compared to a US aircraft carrier or fighter will not scale by human payscales. I would guess that labor costs do not dominate final total cost.

You're kidding yourself if you think any portion of the US's world-wide capability is intended to deliver aid in disasters. It certainly happens from time to time and the assistance is invaluable and usually has strongly positive effects on image. BUT the assistance is incidental to the desire to project power at long range.

Today, the US has the capability to intervene anywhere in the world. Sometimes a "friendly' local power is needed. Afghanistan is a prime example. Troops in landlocked countries can only be supplied by air or by long expensive road trips from the ports; both require road or air transit through a third country. This is why it costs $1 million per year to support one US soldier in Afgh.

DoD plus discretionary veterans benefits accounted for

3:18PM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

The assertions about China’s spending being less than the US needs to be couched with some observations: First, US figures include a fair amount of benefits for retired members of the military and families of active and retired members for health care with the Tricare costs. Second, China manages to steal a lot of technology from the US and others so they benefit with weapons system development by not having to do the R&D (of course the Dems giving technology via trade rule relaxation helps China in this area). Third, it is hard to compare the two countries expenditures when China keeps its currency value low, its military is deeply involved in many businesses so how the funds obtained from those initiatives support the military is unclear, and the accounting methods are different. Last, China is a regional power currently and the US has broader responsibilities including using its military in disaster relief in many areas of the world.

11:09AM PDT on Sep 2, 2011

@Robert B

You're an ostrich Robert B. China can have terrible pollution but still lead in green technology. Just 3 hours ago, I was talking to some ex-colleagues who work for a company that makes materials for solar cells, one of the most advanced companies in the US. Their materials are going to China which has taken the lead in cell production. You seem to have serious problems with logic.

There was no personal attack in my comment. My attack was on the substance of your comment. If you take that as a personal attack, be my guest. I notice you promptly described liberals as asinine - a global pesonal attack. Take your own advice, follow your own rules.

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