Monday, 16 July 2018

Fun with numbers

From last week's City AM:

Re: Trump claims Nato spending win after US President warned over US membership

As Donald Trump calls for Nato members to spend more on defence, it is important to consider where the US currently spends its 3.5 per cent of GDOP.

According to figures from the US Department of Defense [sic], even the flagship European Defence Initiative only accounts for 0.67 per cent of the US defence budget, the majority being spent at home or in the Pacific. Only five per cent of US personnel are stationed in Europe - it is Japan that hosts the largest number.

By contrast, almost all defence expenditure by European Nato members occurs in the North Atlantic area. All Nato members should meet the two per cent target but it must be noted that a large proportion of the US's 3.5 per cent is spent elsewhere.

TH Dempster.


Lola said...

I am not sure it is possible to do the sums in your article like that. The USA is the only true global superpower. Its pax Americana is global. The European nations between them have no real global reach. There is no pax Europeana - not is there ever likely to be given the total incompetence of the EU.

I think that's what Trump's getting at.

You (we?) can argue whether defence spending is compatible with a libertarian and / or socialist approaches to nationhood. Personally as a slightly conservative libertarian I think an effective defence capability is what secures liberty in this troubled world. (And by that I do not mean it has to be used and abused in foreign adventures like Blair got us into). But if I am right then we do need to spend more on defence.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, he's doing a bit of a diagonal comparison. And he's confusing "defence" (good) with threatening other countries (bad), I just liked his number crunching.

Lola said...

MW. I think his number crunching is disingenuous. But i agree that the NATO proportion is minor. And is probably BECAUSE european nations spend on defence. If they didn't the US may have to spend more under the Pax Americana obligation.

paulc156 said...

The history of superpower defence spending has little to do with defending liberty, unless it's coincidental. In fact US actions have invariably been linked to the support of vicious despots who happened to be well disposed to US business interests. It was and is about trade (just not the free variety). So when US gunboats were sent to Japan in 19thC or the interior of Korea it was about opening up those markets by force just as the Iraq war was in large part about control of oil resources.
Highly decorated Major General Smedley Butler made this quite clear back in 30''s. His book War Is A Racket should be required reading and is easily read for free on the Web. Here's a flavour.

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."
War is a racket (1935)

Lola said...

P156. The identical accusations can be made against any 'socialist' regime. It is true that war is diplomacy by other means.

But I do agree about US self interest driving its military adventures. The US has the most developed 'military industrial establishment'. And IMHO that is one of the reasons why other nations need to spend more on defence.

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC, agreed. Which is why I support defence spending but not attack spending.