The United Kingdom is a small but heavily populated nation on the North Western edge of Europe. For centuries it was a hared place to invade because and enemy had to cross the sea, often against the prevailing winds. England was invaded last nearly a thousand years ago. England has since been able to invade other nations but for the past sixty eight years it has been a peaceful place, where there have been no threats of invasion. Britain is now friendly with its traditional enemy France, and very friendly with Germany Spain and other large continental nations. It claims a special relationship with the world’s most powerful nation, the United States.
Yet for all this peace and lack of external threats the United Kingdom maintains (on a per capita spending basis) one of the largest military operations in the world. It spends 2.5% of its gross domestic product on military expenditure. This amounted to $61.7 billion in 2012. By contrast, Germany, a larger and more wealthy nation, unprotected by seas, spends 1.5% of its GDP on military matters and less than two thirds of the UK’s expenditure.
It is hard to comprehend military expenditure on this scale. It is harder t understand what benefits flow from such expenditure. Military expenditure to defend and protect the United Kingdom is one thing, but expenditure at this level goes beyond protection and defending the nations and includes protecting and defending what are deemed to be national interests around the world
It is one thing to have a big stick and speak softly, but the stick should not be so big that it weakens the person who carries it especially when the carrier of the big stick seems to be perfectly safe from external threats.