This week Donald Trump announced that he was going to increase the US military budget by an extra $54 billion. The money for this will come from ‘dollar for dollar’ cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, foreign aid and other government departments. According to Mr Trump, this will redress the apparent decline of US military power, and make the country safe again.
So it seems like a good time to post this graph, which I’ve featured before. This is from the 2016 SIPRI report, and it shows military spending by country.
The US has under 5% of the world’s population, but 36% of the world’s defence spending. It holds the top spot for military spending by such a distance that you could fit the next eight biggest spenders inside its vast and cavernous defence budget.
US military spending had been falling for good reason – for the first time in a while, it wasn’t fighting a major war. While not exactly a time of peace, the big operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were winding down. You’d expect spending to fall.
In short, no, the US military is not underfunded. If Trump is throwing cash at the armed forces, it is for political and cultural reasons. Should have listened to Eisenhower.