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HEAVY WEAPONS

Even as it shrinks, the US military budget is unrivalled

A F/A-18 takes off from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman at an undisclosed position in the Mediterranean Sea.
Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch
Plenty more where those came from.
  • Jason Karaian
By Jason Karaian

Global finance and economics editor

This article is more than 2 years old.

This week, US president Barack Obama submitted a bullish budget increase for the military, exceeding the spending limits imposed by the congress. The boost is necessary to bolster the fight against the ISIL terror group, and to keep an edge over rapidly modernizing militaries in places like China and Russia, he argued.

Indeed, according to the latest statistics from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a research group, the rest of the world has been closing the gap with the US military. Still, there is little risk that any individual country will catch up with America’s enormous—and enormously expensive—military any time soon. Despite recent cuts, US defense spending still accounts for nearly 40% of the global total.

The gap may start to widen again. This would be due not only to Obama’s determination to reverse recent budget cuts, but because Russia’s financial crisis, Europe’s economic malaise, and China’s sputtering growth will dampen their defense ambitions. Even ISIL’s budget is set to fall, researchers believe (paywall), as it diverts funds from weaponry into administration of the areas it controls.

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