The Economist remarks, as if in passing and no longer needing citation, that the United States spends as much on defense as the next 20 nations combined. They may be using more recent numbers than I; consulting Wiki (which draws on data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ), I find that it the true number is only a paltry 17: Start with the United States at $663 billion; cumulate the next 17 (from China through to Greece) and you get $666 billion (ours is also a larger share of GDP than any of the others except Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates).
All of which leads me to wonder--what if we decided we could live on a sum equal to just the next 15 (rather than 17) countries--lopping off a sum equal to Greece and Israel, with sum of c. $14 billion each. That would be a saving of about 4.3 percent--not a lot, but hey, it's a start, not so?
[For comparison: the President has talked about cutting $78 billion over five years, with most of it caboosed (surprise!) into 2014 and 15. The Republicans don't seem to be able to get their act together on this one but my guess is that when the moment(s) of truth come, they won't want to cut much of anything at all.]