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By Huessy, Peter | Harvard International Review, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

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Huessy, Peter, Harvard International Review


CORRECTIONS

In Missiles in America by PETER HUESSY, editors from the Harvard International Review provided a graph based on data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and a chart based on data from the Center for Defense Information. Below is a response from author Peter Huessy detailing concerns about the misleading nature of these visual elements.

Defense analysts often use a percent of a nation's GDP to describe the extent to which a country is devoting resources to its security. The chart placed with my piece on missile defense was such an effort, however, the chart's estimates of government spending are highly misleading. A number of important objections are obvious:

1. China does not include its nuclear force expenditures, intelligence spending, or research and development funding, among many other elements, in its official defense budget.

2. In addition, if China paid its soldiers what America pays its soldiers, the Chinese military expenditures would far exceed those of the United States in terms of GDP percentage.

3. Even so, one is left asking "So what?" Such figures do not tell the reader what should be spent on defense, including missile defense, nor does it explain the obligations of the United States given our role as the leader of the free world. While it may be perfectly prudent to spend 4-6% of one's GDP on defense, this number still remains significantly lower than that spent by the United States throughout our post World War II history.

4. Ballistic missile defense programs consist of over 20 elements, but are only 1.5% of the defense budget and 0.025% of the federal budget.

5. The other chart on suspected nuclear warheads", purported to show the relative nuclear weapons stockpiles of the various world nuclear powers. …

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