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Poll: Fewer Americans believe U.S. has mightiest military

Reversing the trend of the last decade, fewer Americans now believe the United States to be the world’s pre-eminent military power than at any time since 1999, according to a new survey released today by Gallup.

The annual poll showed that 54 percent say the United States has the mightiest military, 10 percent fewer than those who answered just two years ago and 5 percent below the average of 59 percent since 1993.

The poll showed little difference when respondents were grouped by political affiliation but did conclude that men and people with higher education were likelier to believe the United States had the world’s strongest military.

According to Wikipedia, the United States in 2011 accounted for 43 percent of all military expenditures worldwide, with a projected military budget of nearly $700 billion, representing nearly 5 percent of GDP and $100 billion more than is spent by the 14 next largest military nations combined. (On a per capita basis, only the United Arab Emirates appeared to spend more, with $2,653 spent defending each of a population just over 8 million people.)

Today’s results follow the release of a similar Gallup survey last month, which found that only 36 percent of Americans believed the United States would retain its place at the top of the world’s militaries in the next 20 years.

After 11 years of war, and nine years of the United States fighting two campaigns simultaneously, many Americans may believe the stress of deployment has weakened U.S. forces.

According to the poll, when asked about whether the current level of U.S. military strength was appropriate, 54 percent also said it was “about right,” with 13 percent saying it was “stronger than it needs to be” and 32 percent saying it was “not strong enough.”

This conforms to general trends, according to Gallup, which said that exceptions occurred in 2007 and 2008, larger pluralities (47 percent each year) said it was insufficient.

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This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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