How much more security can the United States buy with the $54 billion in new defense spending that President Trump will propose in his speech to Congress tonight?
Not a whole helluva lot if you ask me.
Consider what we already spend. In 2016, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance 2017 report, we spent more than the next dozen countries combined. The graphic above tells the tale.
The $604 billion that the US spent last year was more than four times what China spent, and more than 10 times what Russia spent. Frankly we spend our military competitors into the ground already.
The United States is the only country that can project military power anywhere on the globe it chooses, at any time it chooses. We can do that because of our unchallenged superiority in key hardware, for example, naval aircraft carriers.
There are only 36 aircraft carriers in the world. The United States Navy has 19 of them, 10 of those Nimitz-class “supercarriers.” Here’s what those ships carry:
Each Nimitz typically carries an air wing consisting of 24 F/A-18C Hornets, 24 F/A-E/F Super Hornets, 4 to 5 E/A-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, 4 E-2D Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft, 2 C-2 Greyhound transport aircraft, and 6 Seahawk helicopters.
Two more Nimitz-class carriers are currently under construction.
What about the rest of the world? China has one, an old Soviet-era carrier which it acquired from a Chinese investor who had originally bought it to convert into a floating casino. It was refurbished and commissioned in 2012.
Russia also has one in it’s fleet, built in 1991. It’s spent much of the winter limping along the coast of Syria, belching smoke and losing fighter aircraft.
In terms of military rivals, that’s it. Meanwhile, the Brits have two under construction, France has one operational carrier. India boasts two, including an old British carrier that dates back to World War II.
You get the picture. For the full details check out this breakdown from Popular Mechanics.
So let’s bring it back to the main question: Given how huge a military advantage the United States already enjoys, how much more security can an additional $54 billion buy?
I don’t expect an answer in tonight’s speech, but I sure hope someone asks the question.