America In Decline

I've always held that if there's one thing that proves America's superiority to all other nations, it's the quality of our television. Sure, other countries might be able to put together a Borgen or The Returned now and again, but nobody can match the good old U.S. of A. for our sheer quantity of top-shelf, high-production-value programming.

But others might find proof of America's dominance not in our cultural hegemony but in our military hegemony. For years since September 11, we've been able to say proudly (or something) that we don't just spend more than every other country on Earth on our planes and bombs and fighting ships, we spend more than every other country on Earth combined. But if that's your measure of American greatness, you might want to sit down.

The latest report on global military spending from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute is out, and the story they tell is a bracing one. What with the winding down of the Iraq War—and the increase in spending by other countries—America no longer accounts for half the world's military spending. In fact, in 2012 we totaled a mere 39 percent of all the world's machinery of war. Here's the relevant table:

So sad. Perhaps when the next Republican president is elected and we don't have to worry about deficits anymore (because, you'll recall, deficits are only a problem when there's a Democrat in the White House), we can start another war or two and get that number past 50 percent, where it ought to be.

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