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Linda_Owl's avatar

Have you ever wondered why the United States spends more on the military than any other country in the world?

Asked by Linda_Owl (7743points) August 14th, 2010

Our country is in financial disarray & we are sinking under our level of national debt & we desperately need for our tax dollars to be spent on fixing the things wrong with our country. But we keep spending for the military at the top of list. Why do you think this is? Is it because the Military Industrial Complex is making tremendous amounts of money from the wars in which we are involved? Doesn’t it make more sense to cease fighting these wars & bring our troops home & free-up this money to be spent on things that will directly benefit the citizens who are paying the taxes? We cannot force democracy down the throats of citizens of other countries – democratic ideas have to come from within. We are getting innocent people killed in these countries & we are getting our military personnel killed as well. We need to balance America’s budget by cutting the military budget in half (even cutting it in half, we will still be spending more than the other countries).

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25 Answers

Seek's avatar

No. I know exactly why we’re at war, and democracy has nothing to do with it.

I wonder why it spends more on healthcare, yet leaves an absurd percentage of the population uncovered.

wundayatta's avatar

There are a lot of scared people in this country. They are insecure and don’t trust that America has any strength other than its military. So they want more and more military so we can be stronger and stronger. There are enough of them to elect politicians who pander to them, and these politician then give all these contracts to their friends—the Haliburtons of the world, and they all make a lot of money, and they can also crow about creating jobs.

However, spending money on the military creates fewer jobs than spending money just about in any other sector of the economy. The military is capital intensive. Lot’s of capital expenditures (making money for Haliburton) and a couple of jobs, here and there, for soldiers and mercenaries.

Truly secure people understand that our strength is in our ideas and our economy. They understand that people need money in their pockets so they can purchase things that drive the economy.

War is counterproductive. Not only does it waste a lot of money, but it usually makes us more enemies than it wins us. We don’t live in the 1940s any more.

If we spent the money nearly anywhere other than the military—health care, housing, education, renewable fuels, etc, etc, we would be far ahead of where we are today. We would be more innovative. More research and development would be done. Higher test scores. and on and on.

There’s a reason why Costa Rica has one of the most dynamic economies in Central America. They don’t have to spend money on the military. None at all.

We may not be able to get away with none at all, but we certainly could get away with a lot less.

CaptainHarley's avatar

This chart shows military spending by all countries as a % of Gross Domestic Product. That is a much more meaningful way to discuss this, I think. The chart shows several nations who expend a higher percentage of their GDP on the military.

Austinlad's avatar

Well heck, they have to do something with all the excess money in the federal budget!

CaptainHarley's avatar


Dude! Bite yer tongue! Heh!

Linda_Owl's avatar

You are right, Seek_Kolinahr, democracy has NOTHING to do with the wars that we are fighting – however, that is one of the excuses that has been put forth as the reason that we are fighting – that we are trying to bring democracy to these countries. You know this is not true & I know this is not true – but some people actually believe this lie. The money that is being spent in keeping these wars going could be put to so many better uses & it is a tragedy that the wars just keep raging.

Seek's avatar

The people that believe that also believe that the United States is a democracy. It isn’t. It’s a representative republic.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Cutting the military budget won’t stop the wars, it will just cut the programs for soldiers and their families (which have already had some cuts). I really don’t think it’s a good idea at all.

ETpro's avatar

Ha! The USA doesn’t just spend more than any other nation on defense. We spend more on defense than all the other nations of the world combined!. Why? Look to another heavy area of spending for the answer to that. In 2009, corporations and organizations operating in the US spent $1.4 billion dollars on lobbing in Washington DC alone. That figures to $1.3 million for every hour Congress was in session. While jobs are scarce and small business languishes, the well connected are getting very, very rich and the military-industrial complex is right at the front of the feeding trough.

Oil might be an answer, but we have to fight to get oil and mineral rights so we can get enough oil to keep a strong military to fight for oil. So it comes back to the lobbying power of the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us to be wary of.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

My views on US foreign and military policy have been expressed before. @Seek_Kolinahr and @wundayatta, I agree with you both.

Pandora's avatar

Now heres the funny thing. Lets say we cut back. Does anyone know the actual amount we need to keep so as to keep our military viable. Do we cut back on safety equipment? Do we cut back on training, or how many soldiers? Do we cut back on their care? Do we cut back on new ships or new planes? Do we cut back on new arms?
The fact of the matter is the bigger your military the less likely other nations will bug you. There will always be bullies. They have existed for centuries. And if history has taught people anything is that the stronger you are the less likely you’ll have too many bullies against you.
Japan was way smaller than we are and yet they handed us a pretty good can of whoop ass until we gave it all we got. Now imagine what a larger country with a larger army can do.
No, I don’t believe its all about making other countries democracies. I think we just have to keep our status of being the biggest bully or best friend (your choice as a nation) on the block.
For the most part we are hated as a nation around the world but they rather be our allie than our out right enemy because of our forces.
@CaptainHarley Interesting chart.

ETpro's avatar

@Pandora My answer would be for us to slowly, with time for transition, quit trying to project our power everywhere around the Earth and control so many other natin’s foreign policy. As the world’s foremost nuclear superpower, I don’t live in fear of sudden attack the day we finally withdraw from Okinawa.

@CaptainHarley‘s chart link is quite informative. It is interesting how much each of the Arab nations spends on defense. A good deal more than the US, as a percent of their GDP.

chocolatechip's avatar

@ETpro “My answer would be for us to slowly, with time for transition, quit trying to project our power everywhere around the Earth and control so many other natin’s foreign policy. As the world’s foremost nuclear superpower, I don’t live in fear of sudden attack the day we finally withdraw from Okinawa.”

One could also argue that the US’s influence brings a certain degree of order to the world.

Seek's avatar


The US has never been attacked by a country that had a McDonald’s. One could argue that bad fast food brings world peace.

chocolatechip's avatar


…or that bad fast food is a indicator of peace…

CaptainHarley's avatar

I KNEW it! The New World Order is a plot by Ronald McDonald!

mattbrowne's avatar

Trauma of Pearl Harbor? I wonder when in the past was it exactly the US made it to the top of the list. I guess in the 19th century it was the British.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Not really. My feeling is the USA has felt beholden because of it’s new country status, democracy and self appointed progressive mentality and vast resources to “help” the rest of the world become new and free, like itself.

ETpro's avatar

@chocolatechip “One could also argue that the US’s influence brings a certain degree of order to the world.” At times we have. But one could also argue that the US has brought on a great deal of the war and insurrection in the world just as forcefully as one can argue the opposite. We have destabilized some countries because we thought it in our interests to do so, and we have done it in others through the law of unintended consequences.

If you put our good in one tray of a balance, and our evil in the other, I think we may come up short in the press for world peace.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Pearl Harbor ( and of late, 9/11 ) have infused the collective American psyche with a degree of paranoia. I strongly suspect that is one of the reasons for the size of the American military.

Nullo's avatar

A lot of that money goes into technological development. Perhaps not the largest slice of the pie, but the UAVs aren’t going to develop themselves.

Besides that, we’re not very well-liked in some parts of the world, and we owe a lot of debt that might get called in at a bad time.

Joybird's avatar

Follow the money trail. Money is funneled to make the products of the war machine and develop more. Big corporations get the bulk of that money as does the corporations we pay to rebuild the countries we plunder. We also keep a larger military by staying at war which insures a large military to be used against our own citizenry should we decide to revolt against the current state of the union and insist that taxation cease altogether…especially since THAT money is also being funneled to coroporations that should not be bailed out in my opinion. And of course we have to maintain Big Oil’s access to Middle Eastern oil for as long as possible. We are also a fear based people; afraid of foreign languages and people who don’t look or behave exactly like we think they should. And like alot of our population our government is narcissistic. It presumes we are number one and boasts that like a man commiting domestic violence to get what it wants…but we are full of it. We don’t have democracy and our “freedoms” and civil liberties are slipping away, policy is influenced by those who have the most money and therefore the ability to buy the most power. We are like an overindulged child now stealing the candy of others and still boasting about how “special” we are.

ETpro's avatar

@Joybird As much as I would like to argue with that, I can’t.

@CaptainHarley If Pearl Harbor and 9/11 got us that frightened, God help us if we ever go through what England did during the Blitzkrieg or Russia did in Hitler’s advance on the Eastern front.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Many nations don’t spend anything on their military because the US protects them. Because the US military budget is so big, they don’t have to spend on theirs.Especially if they are members of NATO or one of the other defense treaties that the US is part of.

The Defense department decided in the 40s and early 50s that our potential main enemies were superior to us in numbers. The set the goal of the US military to be so far advanced in technology and weaponry that the numbers would not entice our enemies to think we were an easy target. Unfortunately cutting edge technology costs money.

A large part of the US military budget is spent training and equiping our nominal allies. Columbia and Mexico get much of their military supplies through US military aid.

I feel these are the primary reasons the US spends more than anyone else.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

So Uncle Sam can meddle in other’s affairs, and while meddling in other’s affairs no one will be so bold as to meddle in his or get a smack down as calling an act of war (doing no less than what Uncle Sam is doing anyhow), but ”might makes right”. If Uncle Sam was able to get the upper hand on the Kremlin with a missile defense curtain etc. the US would have bombed them just like they sucker punched Iraq; figure if we can slap them and they cannot slap us back, SLAP!! I pity the fool that tried to defy Uncle Sam, now kneel before Zod SAM!

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