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10 Charts That Compare the Relative Strength of the U.S. and Russia

It's no contest.

Just how strong is Russia? That is a question that many Americans may be asking themselves in the aftermath of the alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Sure enough, the Russian campaign of disinformation had sown doubts in many a mind about the integrity of our democratic process, but Russia's actions can also be seen as a sign of weakness. That's because, on most measures, Russia cannot go toe to toe with the United States.

When it comes to the size of its economy, income per person, population, fertility rate, life expectancy, competitiveness, innovation, food production and manufacturing, America's traditional foe lags behind—often well behind. Put differently, Russia has to rely on "asymmetrical" measures, such as weakening America's domestic cohesion, to cause us pain.

Yet, I would not go as far as to agree with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who once dismissed Russia as "a gas station masquerading as a country." Russia is home to the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, which alone guarantees it world-power status. As such, the U.S. government must do more to counter Russia's destabilizing efforts by investing in cyber security and making use of some of the best brains in our technological arsenal.

Regrettably, in that most important of government functions—provision of security—our government had failed us. It allowed a much weaker country to undermine our confidence in our institutions; it convinced tens of millions of U.S. citizens that our government is illegitimate; and it made itself (Russia) seem much more powerful than it really is. Russian tactics may be deplorable, but the incompetence of our government is lamentable.

1. Total GDP, 2014 U.S. dollars, PPP, millions.

2. GDP, per person, 2015 U.S. dollars, PPP

3. Total population, thousands

4. Total fertility rate, births per woman

5. Life expectancy at birth, years

6. Global Competitiveness Index, overall score, scale 1-7

7. Capacity for innovation, scale 1-7

8. Cereal yields, hectograms, per hectare

9. Manufacturing value added, current U.S. dollars

10. Nuclear weapons stockpiles, United States and USSR/Russia, number of warheads

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It allowed a much weaker country to undermine our confidence in our institutions; it convinced tens of millions of U.S. citizens that our government is illegitimate...

    We've turned into a nation of anti-government militias.

  • Adans smith||

    And it's about time.

  • Cyto||

    So.... Fertility rate? Are we winning or losing?

  • ||

    Are we winning or losing?

    Total fertility rate
    BIRTHS PER WOMAN

    Define 'we'.

  • Juice||

    #10 is really the only chart that matters

  • SQRLSY One||

    What about the mines-and-caves gap?

  • Juice||

    Not really about a gap. It's more about, holy shit, look how many nukes these two countries have and, holy shit, it's enough to wipe out every human on Earth more than a couple of times.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yup, I hear ya...

    Can we live another 1,000 years, or another 10,000 years, with multiple nations armed with these things, without an accident or a mad political leader or a misunderstanding letting loose Armageddon?

    I don't have a magic fix, but sooner or later, this thing needs to be fixed!

  • @TheBitcoinimist||

    You mean the mine shaft gap? I think we should look at this from the military point of view. I mean, supposing the Russkies stash away some big bomb, see? When they come out in a hundred years they could take over...in fact, they might even try an immediate sneak attack so they could take over our mine shaft space... I think it would be extremely naive of us, to imagine that these new statistics are going to cause any change in any Russian policy. I mean, we must be increasingly on the alert to prevent them from taking over other mine shaft space, in order to breed more prodigiously than we do, thus, knocking us out in superior numbers when we emerge! We must not allow a mine shaft gap!

  • Gadfly||

    Charts showing data such as military manpower and military equipment would also matter. The fact is, Russia is a poor country with a strong military, which is exactly what the USSR was when it was considered a superpower. They are not strong enough to pose an existential threat to the US (well, other than the nukes, but MAD still holds), but they are strong enough to foil US plans abroad. They ought not to be feared, but rather are deserving of a constant wary eye.

  • GILMORE™||

    Russia is a poor country with a strong military... they are strong enough to foil US plans abroad.

    Not as strong as you might assume.

    they've got a few advantages in a few areas compared to smaller countries, but overall, they're a 3rd rate military power that can't deploy very far away or for very long without running into serious problems.

    this podcast from 2 years ago had a russian-military expert talk about their limitations. it was interesting from what little i remember.

    http://blogs.reuters.com/great.....ployments/

  • Juice||

    Charts showing data such as military manpower and military equipment would also matter.

    Why? Are we going to get into a conventional war with Russia any time soon? No.

  • GILMORE™||

    I almost added to my above post =

    "people who think nukes matter when it comes to actual 'fighting' are very mistaken"

    Russia's possession of nukes functions mainly as a diplomatic tool. They are not the significant strategic factor that people pretend they are.

    sure, they can limit the scale of possible conflict between super-powers, but when it comes to wars like Syria - where the US and Russia are both basically trying to exert their will over 3rd parties/regions - or Ukraine (whom Russia is trying to strong-arm into becoming a vassal-state), or in places like Chechnya, which had violent internal conflict for many years.... nukes don't really do shit. Conventional military capability still provides the vast bulk of a nation's potential Geopolitical "threat", and has huge implications for how they can exert their will both in their own region as well as far abroad.

    The fact that Russia's conventional forces are so shoddy has far more significance than you might appreciate.

    And, re: your point = "Are we going to get into a conventional war with Russia any time soon? No""

    this is sort of funny, given that only a few days ago the US and Russia announced a "ceasefire"

    Yes, its mostly between proxy-forces, but the conventional-military capabilities of US vs Russia are very much at odds, and a stray SAM or 2 could turn a proxy war into direct conflict at any time.

  • @TheBitcoinimist||

    Actually, they are a significant strategic factor, as you said yourself: "sure, they can limit the scale of possible conflict between super-powers...." The fact that nukes aren't universally suited for every move on the chessboard does not imply that they are not strategically significant. See, Cuban Missile Crisis, Cold War, Pershing 2, SS-20, DPRK, and How Options have Changed Since it Acquired Nukes..

    These are ballparks, but let's look at the cost per person of killing others, militarily:

    Conventional weapons: $2500/per head
    Nuclear weapons: $750
    Chemical weapons: $75
    Biological weapons: $2.00 (yes, that is two dollars)

    Methinks that the last one on that list is deliberately played down, on all sides, because even extremely shoddy conventional forces can afford that last one.

  • GILMORE™||

    Actually, they are a significant strategic factor, as you said yourself: "sure, they can limit the scale of possible conflict between super-powers...." The fact that nukes aren't universally suited for every move on the chessboard does not imply that they are not strategically significant.

    My point was that they were "less significant" than imagined, not entirely absent of any value. the person i was responding to seemed to suggest they were "the queen" ...and that having them made any form of conventional conflict unlikely - ignoring the forms of conflict we're already embroiled with at this very moment.

    When some shithole w/o any other strategic lever (a la Cuba) gets a hold of them, or when crazy beligerrants like Pakistan and NK do, it is an entirely different animal and not relevant to my point about the limited utility of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

    I'm not sure i even grok your point about "costs of killing" - nor do i think those #s make any sense at all. Its a silly hypothetical exercise and doesn't seem to really consider any of the (costly) conditions that surround the use of mass-killing weapons.

    e.g. How many people has Assad killed with chem weapons? and what "costs" has he incurred as a consequence?

    I think a more relevant analysis of the cost-effectiveness of weapons in modern conflict would look at something like IEDs vs. "drone strikes"

  • Mickey Rat||

    I think those tens of millions of people would have considered a non-Democrat President illegitimate no matter what. Russian interference (which was what, precisely?) is just a convenient excuse for that feeling.

  • mortiscrum||

    Well when the Democratic candidate wins the popular vote and fails to get the presidency (again), I think a bit of sour grapes are understandable, even justified.

  • Mickey Rat||

    When the Democrst candidate ignores states lime Wisconsin but wins big in the most dysfunctionally governed states in the Union their whining deserved little sympathy. It was known the presidency is a federal election not a popular election from the start.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Limeys are from Britain, not from Wisconsin... Just FYI...

  • mortiscrum||

    So people who live in "dysfunctional states" votes should count less? OK, then.

    I'm not going to rehash the clearly terrible strategy of the Clinton campaign - that's just obscuring the point.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Progressives shouldn't count at all. they have no souls. Just like gingers.

  • Mickey Rat||

    I am saying that the preferences of the California electorate do not impress me much as their recent history demonstrates political stupidity.

  • Fat Stanley||

    Californians don't make a point of trying to impress you, Mickey. They just futz around with an enormous economy and serving as a technology and cultural leader for the rest of the US. Their "political stupidity" must account for why they are the state 5th LEAST dependent on federal handouts. CA is a HUGE net contributor to the national economy. Yeah they're totally screwed.

    The preferences of the electorate there seem to hold up pretty well from an economic and social standpoint.

  • ToCa81||

    Jesus thank you. I get so tired of people bashing my state on this site.

  • I can't even||

    Trump won the popular vote in 30 states. The level of Hillary's victory in New York and California (whether from legal or illegal voting) is meaningless. Why would Trump even campaign in those places?

  • Azathoth!!||

    If the Democratic candidate is playing to win the popular vote, they deserve to lose.

    It's like saying 'Yes, I know we're playing chess, but I'm going to use the rules for checkers!' Look-- I've taken more of your pieces than you have of mine!!'

    'You've been checkmated.'

    'Yes, but I've taken more of your pieces--I've got your queen.'

    'That doesn't matter in chess. You've lost.'

    And that should be the end of it--but it isn't. They go out and whine to everyone they can that 'they took more pieces', and they get their friends to do it.

    And every time you manage to get one of them to finally concede that, yes, they know that's not how you win, they turn to the next person and start right up again.

  • mortiscrum||

    Jesus man, I'm not making some grand statement about election rules. I'm simply saying democratic voters feel a little sour (maybe very sour, in some cases), and considering how things played out it should be understandable why. Understanding something does not mean agreeing with it.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Understood, but I think a lot of non-progressives are so fed up with progressive whining that a lot of people's nerves are a bit frayed on the subject.

  • mortiscrum||

    Very fair. *I'm* fed up with lefty whining, and I'm liberal.

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    Well when the Democratic candidate wins the popular vote and fails to get the presidency (again), I think a bit of sour grapes are understandable, even justified.

    It's justifiable to be butthurt because you lost a game by the rules that everyone involved knew it was being played by for multiple centuries, while winning by some other hypothetical conditions that have literally - LITERALLY - zero relevance to the competition?

    Jesus, I hope you don't have children. There are enough entitled, self-centered, oblivious pussies walking around already.

  • mortiscrum||

    You've read far too much in to this - I'm not saying "Clinton is the rightful president," I'm saying it should be understandable that democratic voters are a little sour over the results of 2000 and 2016. Seriously, if it was libertarian candidates (or whatever candidate that you wanted to win) that won the popular vote but lost the electoral college, I think you might have a bit more understanding.

    Too late on the kids things, BTW. Also, fuck you for saying that.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    So if we are playing chess and I take your queen but you checkmate me, I won because I was playing to take your queen?

    A strategy to take the popular vote is idiotic when the goal is to win the electoral vote.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes, but being a refined and morally pure creature like I am, it shouldn't be about "what it is", but about "what it SHOULD be"!!!

    MeThinketh that the whole thing should be re-arranged to be purely by the numbers, not by geography, and it should be that "He/She that collects the most Sour Grapes, Wins!!!"

    "Sour grapes" to be semi-precisely defined by endless appeals through 12 layers of courts, then by SCOTUS, over a period of 3 or 4 years...

    Biggest benny of all is, it would give us 3-4 years of leaderlessness!!! In the absence of a Dear Leader, maybe we could have some freedom!!!

  • ||

    Well when the Democrats conveniently forget that America isn't a democracy but rather a representative constitutional republic, I have more sympathy for the dummies that repeat the party lines than the party itself.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The lefties love for popular vote is exactly why the Founding Fathers created the USA as a representative constitutional republic.

  • BYODB||

    Look, the Democrats aren't even playing to win the popular vote it's just the only thing they can look at to make themselves feel better about losing to a Republican. The same thing has played out pretty much every time since I've been alive.

    The Democrat party says they believe in Democracy as a form of government over a Republic because 'will of the people' while utterly ignoring that Democracy is simply another word for tyranny of the majority.

    Moving things like the election of Senators to a democratic vote was a pretty massive mistake in my mind, as was limiting the number of Congressional seats. They serve to undermine the say of states in the Republic, and the say of the individual in the Republic. I assume both were on purpose.

  • Sevo||

    mortiscrum|7.11.17 @ 8:22AM|#
    "Well when the Democratic candidate wins the popular vote and fails to get the presidency (again), I think a bit of sour grapes are understandable, even justified."

    She also won "Least Likeable" in the eighth grade and losers like mortiscrum find that very important!

  • Magnitogorsk||

    Were there a bunch of people who thought our last president was illegitimate for some reason? I can't remember

  • loveconstitution1789||

    He refused to show his birth certificate, so Americans could verify that he was a Natural Born Citizen as required by the Constitution.

    Since the constitution is a joke and hurdle to lefties, Obama Mommas continue to whine that the popular vote means you win the presidential election.

  • Cyto||

    Which was an idiotic thing to question --- unless you were going to posit that his mother was not really his mother.

    Her being a natural born American citizen automatically makes her son a natural born american citizen. Even if she gives birth on the moon.

    So stupid, from start to finish.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yes, its idiotic to enforce constitutional requirements on politicians. /S

    Obama's mom was an American and his father was Kenyan.

    The principle of jus sanguinis in 1788 applied to patrilineal descent only: A person born in a foreign country was viewed as a "natural born Citizen" of his or her father's country.

    This does not apply now but the main point of the "Natural Born Citizen" clause is to prevent allegiances to foreign powers. This is why Ted Cruz is not a Natural Born Citizen. Ted Cruz was born to American and Cuban parents and born in Canada, so he's is/was a dual citizen.

    Obama did not release his birth certificate with the doctor's name on it until after becoming President so people could verify that he was born in Hawaii and not at some other location outside the USA. Certificates of live birth can be false sworn to make it so babies seem like they were born in the USA when they were not.

    That and there were allegations that Obama formally renounced his US citizenship when it was convenient.

    Either way, the Supreme Court has not directly addressed this issue and Obama released his birth certificate which showed a doctor delivering him at a hospital in Hawaii in 1961.

    All of that could have been averted if he released his birth certificate in early 2008 when he decided to run. It was a political liability to have a sketchy background outside the lefty voting block, so it was withheld.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Her being a natural born American citizen automatically makes her son a natural born american citizen. Even if she gives birth on the moon.


    This is not correct.

    This issue has never been settled by the SCOTUS, which is why McCain had Congress consider the Constitutionality of his Panama Canal Zone birth to two American citizens. Obama was too anti-Constitution for that. Plus, Republicans controlled Congress in early 2008.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its just a footnote to Obama's otherwise horrible presidency.

    Bottom 10 presidents is where I would put Obama. Other worse presidents include: Lincoln, TR, Wilson, FDR, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Bush II.

  • BYODB||

    Wow, you're still barking up the birth certificate tree? That's pretty impressive considering Obama was always pretty clearly an American citizen even if he didn't 'grow up' entirely in the United States.

    If you're for the constitution, you would be hard pressed to be 'against' the legitimacy of Obama's election as POTUS.

    Don't get me wrong, I couldn't really stand the guy but he was legitimately elected as far as anyone can tell.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Look at that dip on number 2: GDP per capita, right when the 1990's started.

    Yep: that's what capitalism does to you.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It wasn't because the USSR's actual numbers for GDP were false? After 1990, the World could accurately track Russia's GDP.

    It was not because the USSR's manufacturing was state run and could not seamlessly adjust to free market consumer demand?

    It was not because after the USSR broke apart into separate countries, Russia's GDP would be smaller because Russia was smaller than the USSR?

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Why do you love greed?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Why do you love communism?

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    Why do you love greed?

    Why do you love dishonesty? Is it only because you have no argument?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Communism is the ultimate expression of greed and envy. Using the state to steal the productive fruits from your fellow man. Nothing is more evil.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Capitalism got us all that GDP in the first place. It sure as fuck wasn't socialism.

  • albo||

    Russia is Mississippi with nukes. And even then, they forgot where they put the nukes because they were drunk.

  • Zeb||

    Who measures anything in hectograms?

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Everything should be measured in fucktons.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Socialists have killed fucktons of people throughout history.

    Yup! That has a catchy ring to it.

  • @TheBitcoinimist||

    There actually is a town named Fuckton?

    Even if there is, why should we measure everything there?

  • Dillinger||

    Kellogg's

  • ||

    It allowed a much weaker country to undermine our confidence in our institutions; it convinced tens of millions of U.S. citizens that our government is illegitimate; and it made itself (Russia) seem much more powerful than it really is.

    The presumptions rolled into this sentence are so retarded it's not even funny.

    Like blaming a dog for allowing "its" cow to be tricked by a stick-throwing monkey.

  • Curt||

    Charts 6 and 7... c'mon. You know those are complete BS. Especially 6. Your talking about things that are measured on a scale from 1-7. So you zoom in to let the Y-axis cover values from 4 to 5.8. And hey, whaddayaknow?!?! We're totes kicking their ass. They're all the way at the bottom and we're all the way at the top!!!!!

    Murica

  • Curt||

    Also, I guess that's just how GDP is reported, but WTF with Chart 1? Y-axis goes from 0 to 18 million. And it's in units of millions of dollars. Why not just go from 0 to 18 in units of trillions of dollars?

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: 10 Charts That Compare the Relative Strength of the U.S. and Russia
    It's no contest.

    Damn that capitalism!
    Damn that capitalism to hell!

  • @TheBitcoinimist||

    Second paragraph, "...asymmetrical...." Brilliant choice.


    Well, "there you go again...."

  • swampwiz||

    Wow, the USSR had 40K nukes at one time?

  • Palatki||

    So, obviously, if there was a chart for how many times they could bounce the rubble, they would win, hands down.

  • schopenhauer||

    How about the most germane chart, what we spend on defense/military and what they spend.
    Basically they spend 65 billion dollars a year and we spend 650 billion dollars.
    They spend a tenth of what we spend yet they are represented in our media as a threat.
    Are the Russians allowed a sphere of influence?
    They do not have the Atlantic and Pacific to protect them.

  • Floretta Willa Lacey||

    The US is obviously much stronger than Russia, but these charts are pretty misleading since they do not start at zero!

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