Fact Checking: Comparison of Military Budgets

to hQuote of the Day

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

— Abraham Lincoln


Figure 1: Largest 15 Defense Budgets. The yellow rows indicates the level at which non-US defense budget sum exceeds US total. (Data Source)

Figure 1: Largest 15 Defense Budgets (2015). The yellow rows indicates the level at which non-US defense budget sum exceeds US total. (Data Source)

I heard a news commentator say that the US defense budget is larger than the combined defense budgets for the next ten largest spenders. I thought that this  would be easy to check and would provide my staff a beginner's example to use for their Excel self-training.

I was able to find the list of the top fifteen countries with respect to defense spending in 2015 on the Wikipedia. I used Power Query to grab the data, clean it up, and generate a running total – Figure 1 is my final result. The particular skill I wanted to illustrate with this exercise was how to generate a running total in Power Query.

Yes, the US defense budget is larger than the next ten largest defense budgets combined. My source file is here for those who wish to follow my work.



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2 Responses to Fact Checking: Comparison of Military Budgets

  1. Malcolm Frame says:

    Those of us of a certain age can recall that the subject government departments were once called War Ministries. Now it appears that a total budget of $1260.8 billion is now being spent only for defending the countries listed. Would it be a justified inference to suppose that somewhere there is another list giving the arms spending of the countries that are threatening those listed above - presumably called offense budgets?

    • mathscinotes says:

      Good humor. With everyone defending, who is offending?

      I wish this money could be spent for something productive. Unfortunately, I do not see people getting any wiser. I was at dinner once with two Chinese engineers – one older and one younger. The younger man was explaining to his two older colleagues how China needed to build a large military to counter the US threat – he particularly wanted to see a large nuclear arsenal. I mentioned that the US spent 7 trillion dollars developing a massive number of nuclear weapons and still does not feel secure. In fact, we have been working with the Russians on reducing our stockpiles and that does make us feel more secure. The older Chinese man nodded his head. He felt that China was going to spend massive amounts of money on defense, but would never really feel secure. This is the problem with Mutually Assured Destruction.

      I did find it interesting that the two old-timers both agreed on this point. Grandpas have seen this story before and don't like the ending.


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