Fact check: Sanders' claim about military spending in the U.S.

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Senator Berni Sanders wrote a tweet about the military spending in the U.S., he claimed the  following :

Bernie Sanders on Twitter

We spend more on our military than the next 10 nations combined. American troops have been in Afghanistan for nearly 18 years, Iraq since 2003 and in Syria since 2015. We’re going to invest in housing, public education and infrastructure, not never-ending wars.

Claim:

“[The United States] spend[s] more on our military than the next 10 nations combined”

Fact check: Mostly True

As Politifact already investigated this claim last year  when Sanders said “We’ve spent more money on the military than the next 12 nations combined.” Politifact found that depending on the year that Sanders’ is looking at his claims are accurate or at least reasonably close but cannot be measured perfectly as other countries will reduce or increase their military expenditures during the year just as the U.S. does and the organizations tracking these numbers may find differing results. For example Sweden think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2017 fact sheet Trends in world military expenditure found that the U.S. military expenditure was $610 billion and the next seven countries combined military expenditures were $578 billion (adding in Germany’s $44.3 billion would have been more than the U.S. total). Instead if we were to go by the numbers provided by the London Based International Institute for Strategic Studies we see that this claim is matched perfectly with the U.S. military expenditure set at $643.3 billion and the next ten countries combined totaling  $643.3 billion. However, it should be noted that while these figures may or may not be accurate the International Institute for Strategic Studies has been rated by Transparify as the most deceptive Think Tank in the UK.

Politifact also reached out to Sanders’ office last year:

Sanders’ office, upon being contacted by PolitiFact, cited as his source a 2016 report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The 2016 report shows that the United States spent about $604.5 billion on its military, which indeed is higher than the next 12 countries combined. China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, India, Japan, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia, Brazil and Italy spent a combined $601 billion in 2016.

However, the most recent IISS report shows the U.S. spending is ahead of the next 10 countries. The United States spent $602.8 billion, while the next 10 countries spent a combined $593 billion.

The change in ratio has more to do with foreign countries than it does with the U.S. military budget. While U.S. spending dipped slightly, Saudi Arabia boosted spending by nearly $20 billion. China and Brazil increased spending by about $5 billion apiece.

PolitiFact alerted Sanders’ office to the updated IISS numbers.

“We will update our talking points,” Sanders spokesman Josh Miller-Lewis said.

So it is reasonable to claim approximately this number of the top countries for military expenditure combined have a similar amount compared to the U.S.

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