Couple of weeks ago I wanted to write a sentence saying: "The U.S. spends more on its military establishment than the next N highest-spending nations." Of course, I needed to find a value for N.
I went to the CIA factbook, always a good stop for this sort of thing. Sure enough, they have a neat table of nations ranked by military expenditure. Starting with number two on the table, I worked my way down, intending to just keep adding up the numbers until the total surpassed the U.S. figure. From that I could deduce N.
After about twenty additions, I gave up. The sentence never got written.
Regarding the value of n, it is either 43 or 44, reader opinion is divided.
Big Enough Iraqi Military?/ Or: Marvin The Missing/ Or: Farming Out Al Sadr/ Given the "presence"(as in, "appeared without trace")of "ghost soldiers" on the payrolls(reminiscent of ARVN), the "unknown quantity" in question may well be represented by an imaginary number.* Btw., I still think that we have only a Paper Tiger by the tail and that if we left really, really fast, we wouldn't get mauled. *We should not wait until we are invited to leave. If we cut(the throat of Al Sadr is fit for a Parthian shot or slash and burn)and run now, we would be leaving Iraq pretty much as we found it: A hell-hole with pretty much only the capacity for making WMDs. It would be fair and square, and with respect to the consequences, the root of the only negative one would be the "iiiiiiiiii!!!s"(and "Aiiiyyyeees!!") of those Iraqis left to their own improvised devices.