Charts of the Week: National security 

Chart: China emerges as top oil importer

With the 2019 Aspen Security Forum being held this week, this edition of Charts of the Week brings you analysis from Brookings Foreign Policy scholars about some top national security issues. 

US military spending down since 2010, but continues to lead the world 

Chart: Military spending as percent of global total

In their report “Managing the New Threat Landscape,” Bruce Jones, Charles T. Call, and Daniel Toubolets outline the global trends in military spending. While American spending has decreased since 2010, and China has substantially increased its military expenditures, U.S. military spending continues to outpace the world. “China and the United States are a long way off from parity but the directionality is clear,” the authors write. “Future increases in the U.S. and Chinese defense budgets would herald a shift [in total global expenditures], but we are a long way off from the burdensome arms races of the Cold War period.”

China exceeds the United States in crude oil imports 

Chart: China emerges as top oil importerThe United States has become a net exporter of natural gas but remains dependent on crude oil imports. China, however, is now the largest consumer of oil in the world. “If you look at Pentagon planning, they’re no longer defining protecting the oil of the Persian Gulf as a viable strategic interest of the United States,” according to former Brookings expert Martin Indyk. “The instruction to shift military deployments away from the Middle East to Asia is a practical consequence of this shift. Another is … the Chinese slowly but surely recognizing that they’re going to have to protect their own interests rather than be freeloaders on the United States.” 

North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions 

Chart: North Korea's sixth nuclear testComplete denuclearization of North Korea is not likely, according to senior fellows Jung Pak and Robert Einhorn. “Given the national identity of North Korea as a nuclear state, the role of nuclear weapons in underpinning the regime’s legitimacy, and pervading North Korean society and culture,” said Pak, “it seems unlikely Kim would relinquish it all for a peace declaration.” Einhorn added: “The Trump administration wants concrete benefits before making concessions. But the bottom line is we simply don’t have the leverage to compel North Korea to accept our demands.” 

Betsy Broaddus made substantial contributions to this post.