Copyright the FT. Britons back spending on military - FT.com [h=1]Britons back spending on military[/h]By Carola Hoyos, Defence Correspondent Three out of four Britons want the UK to spend more money on its armed forces or at least make no further reductions, according to a study that registers higher support for military spending among Britons than among Americans. A poll by the Foreign Policy Centre, a think-tank, conducted with the University of Essex and Georgia State University, found that 77 per cent of Britons want to see military spending increased or kept unchanged. In contrast, only 55 per cent of Americans wanted their government to maintain or increase the funding for the US military. At first glance the results of the YouGov poll, which interviewed 2,000 Britons and 2,000 Americans, seem counter-intuitive. UK politicians have beenaggressively cutting military spending while the timidity of US politicians from both political parties over cutting military expenditure indicates a belief it would be deeply unpopular among voters. The US spends 4.7 per cent of gross domestic product on its military, while the UK spends 2.6 per cent, according to the Stockholm International Peace research Institute, the think-tank. Last year, the US spent $711bn on its military, about as much as the next 17 countries combined, while the UK budget was $62.7bn, slipping from third to fourth highest in the world. But the UK is much further along in its post-financial crisis austerity drive than the US, having plugged a £38bn black hole of overspending through cuts, such as the eradication of entire programmes and plans to slash its army personnel by 20 per cent, taking it to its smallest since the Napoleonic wars. This could explain British fatigue to cuts, compared with their American counterparts. So far the USs $487bn reduction to future spending mainly curtails increases, rather than cuts deeply into a budget that has ballooned 70 per cent in the past decade because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the steadily increasing cost of healthcare and pensions. Both Republicans and Democrats want to avoid the $500bn in additional cuts that would occur automatically on January 2 if they fail to agree on a government budget. The war in Afghanistan and its gradual drawdown has been another political issue this year on both sides of the Atlantic. The poll found that half the number of Britons, at 24 per cent, than Americans, at 50 per cent, approved of their governments decision to use military force in Afghanistan. Neither Britons nor Americans wanted their countrys military used against Bashar al-Assads regime in Syria and both were reticent to arm the countrys rebels. Tom Scotto, of the University of Essex, said the study shows citizens do not simply parrot the positions of politicians or the media when forming and maintaining their foreign policy outlooks. He added: Governments would be well advised to look at the broad, apolitical outlooks of their populations when asking how they might respond to a specific foreign policy initiative.