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On the point of advancement:


Advancement doesn't come through war, advancement comes through scientific research and funding...


War is the primary motivation for scientific research and funding during war and while preparing for it, but it's only the motivation.


The space race created as much or more technological innovation as WWII. Absolutely by far more if you don't count nuclear fission. Almost all of the technology we use today owes it's existence in it's current form and/or level of advancement to the Apollo program. That wasn't about war, but instead honor and pride in ability, competence, ingenuity, and execution.


If we shifted 50-75% of the funding from defense solely to scientific research, we would see exponentially more technological and scientific advancement. We just wouldn't have as many tanks, bullets, carriers, destroyers, F-22s, C-130s, cruise missiles, etc..

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For the record, defense spending as a percent of GDP (measured using outlays rather than budget authority) was 4.7% in the FY 2012 budget request, below the post-World War II average of 6.3%. This year under the sequester it's down another 10%, and a sizeable portion of it is salaries, veterans benefits, retirements, active duty benefits and maintenance. It will continue to shrink for the next decade unless someone starts a fight. The military also cintributes a lot to basic and biomedical research, especially prosthetics, wound and trauma treatment, through DARPA.

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