Thursday, 7 October 2010

Less Than Half The World's Defense Spending

There's much blog chat about the extraordinary datum that more than half the world's defence spending is by the USA, as reported in this BBC story:
The US remains the biggest spender, accounting for some 54% of the total, having increased its military spending by $47bn in real terms, Sipri said.
But that percentage is not the USA's proportion of world defence spending. The true figure is 43%. The BBC's report is easy to misunderstand, but in context it's actually saying that 54% of the world's annual increase in defence spending (from 2008 to 2009) came from the USA. The data are in this table from the Sipri report the BBC report was based on.

I think the USA should spend much less on what is euphemistically called "defense", and so should the rest of the world. And I think journalists, including bloggers, should check original sources, even when using a report by the BBC.

Update: I posted a comment explaining the misunderstanding on one of the sites I linked to. Andrew Sullivan doesn't allow comments, so I sent him an email politely setting out the facts: he ignored it. He featured the same mistake twice more, so I sent two more emails which were also ignored. Sullivan should try reading this excellent advice to bloggers.