Each year, the global think tank SIPRI publishes an authoritative look at military spending levels across the world. The latest numbers, just released in April, found that the United States accounted for a staggering 38 percent of all military spending on earth in 2019.
Our $732 billion in military expenditures, SIPRI found, was more than the next 10 countries combined — and, actually, substantially more than the bottom 139 combined as well.
Every year, SIPRI’s numbers tell a version of this story. But this year’s figures come alongside another grim milestone: just as the United States far exceeds all other countries in military spending, we’re also number one in COVID-19 deaths.
Even with an official death toll that’s almost certainly lower than the actual number, the United States has held onto the number one slot in COVID-19 deaths since early April. In just a few short months, more Americans have died in this pandemic than died in the entire Vietnam War.
The COVID-19 crisis reveals an obvious truth about our exorbitant military spending: It isn’t keeping us safe. In fact, in the face of a global health crisis, it’s clear that Washington’s militaristic budget priorities — and the aggressive foreign policy posturing that spending supports — actually make us less secure.