How is my military research week going, you ask? Quite well, thanks. Very interesting stuff so far. I’ve been learning about the chain of command and the various ranks in each branch. (The Army and the Navy both have a rank called “captain” but they’re at totally different levels; attention generals, this sort of confusion is inconvenient for me, please fix it).
Besides that, I’ve also been learning about just how powerful the US Armed Forces really are.
I knew, of course, that the United States is considered a superpower on the world stage. But I’d also heard a lot of stuff about strained budgets, China gaining on us, etc., and I guess I sort of assumed that our position had eroded somewhat.
Take a look at the graph below. The bars indicate military expenditure by country, in 2010. Not per capita, not a percentage of GDP, just raw money pumped into the armed forces.
If you look at the full table of data, the US spends more on its military than the next nineteen countries combined.
The US has eleven aircraft carriers. The rest of the world, collectively, has nine.
The US has 3 million troops. China, with over three times our population, has only 4.5 million.
The US has over 3,000 fighter plans. Our closest rival in that statistic, Russia, has less than half.
I mean, damn.
Now, despite being a blue-blooded bleeding-heart latte-sipping liberal, I generally see this force dominance as a good thing. Yes, the US has used its power in many, many ways that I’m not happy about. But generally, if someone’s going to have this kind of military dominance, I’m sure as hell glad it’s not China or Russia.
Unfortunately, there are some other areas where the US isn’t so dominant. Education comes to mind. This USA Today article from last year says “Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.” Since the military in a democracy is ultimately accountable to the people, this is a problem. Stupid People Controlling Big Guns is generally not what we want to see.
More as it develops…