The Reagan National Defense Forum this weekend was a great new chance for top Pentagon officials to prattle on about their favorite subject when trying to justify increases in US military spending: the “threat” posed by Russia and its much smaller military.
From Air Force Secretary Deborah James on down, officials were uniform in insisting Russia is the “number one threat to the United States,” and were all quick to mention Russia’s increase in arms spending as proof they are a growing threat. James went on to declare Russia an “existential threat” to the US.
The few percent increase in Russia’s arms sales was punctuated with talk of a US decline in sales, though in practice the US arms industry is more than half of the planet’s overall arms sales, while Russia is a comparatively small player for whom a few juicy export deals could amount to a big percentage increase.
Russia stands as a distant fourth place in global military spending, usually hovering somewhere around 10% of America’s own military budget, which is by far the largest. Russia only managed to get up to fourth after nations like Britain and France slowed their own spending increases in recent years.
Even if Russia follows through with planned spending increases in the years to come, there is no chance they’ll ever approach US spending levels, particularly since the US continues to massively increase its own spending to pay for its many, many wars.