Via Robert Farley and Visual Economics a useful depiction of world defense spending, that helpfully combines both percent-of-GDP spent (a good measure of intensity) with a pie chart to illustrate overall spending. You can click on the map for a larger image:
A few noteworthy points here:
— Despite overall U.S. dominance of the spending pie, it’s in the Middle East where you see the really defense-preoccupied regimes. That’s when you get when you have a cluster of resource-rich autocracies.
— Not only does the U.S. spend more than China, but we spend a larger share of GDP on defense than China does. Under the circumstances, citing the alleged threat from a “rising China” as a rationale for high levels of defense spending is illy.
— Note the second largest slice of the pie; if the Pentagon’s budget were reduced to $0 the dominant military power on earth would be the European Union. Not that we should drop to zero, but this illustrates how low the objective threat level is.
Just recall that every unnecessary dollar spent on defense is a dollar that can’t be invested productively. Spending too much year after year after year leaves American living standards much lower than they otherwise could be.