Skip to comments.Who gets America's foreign aid?
Posted on 05/31/2005 3:08:21 AM PDT by Lorianne
Q: Why are we the global leader in lending aid to other countries?
- Anonymous, South Carolina
A: Through its annual foreign operations bill, Congress appropriates the majority of foreign aid money. Congress appropriated $39 billion in 2004, the largest amount allocated to foreign aid in the last 30 years.
That does make us the global lender - or giver, for that matter - to other countries, but only when we are talking about the total amount distributed.
Let's look at that amount of money from another angle. If we calculate the amount of financial aid in terms of gross national product, we devote less than 1 percent of our total economy to foreign aid. In 2002, we weren't alone. The top 22 industrialized donor nations each gave less than 1 percent of their GNP, according to the policy group Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. And the U.S. fell dead last on this list.
Getting back to your question, the amount of our foreign aid, quite simply, is tied into our country's foreign policy. Since the end of World War II, we have had the resources (read: money) to be able to promote in other nations the goals and issues that we consider important.
In 2002, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush issued his administration's National Security Strategy, which added global development as one of the top three aspects of national security policy, the other two being defense and diplomacy. This was the first time ever that financial assistance would be part of the strategy to secure the nation.
Since then, the Bush administration has put another objective near the top of its foreign policy agenda: spreading and propping up democracies throughout the world, especially in the Middle East. And U.S. dollars have flowed accordingly.
Q: How many countries receive foreign aid from the United States and how much does each receive?
- T. Nolan, Milton, Mass.
A: According to the Congressional Research Office, in fiscal year 2004 the United States donated some sort of financial aid to about 150 countries. That assistance ranged from food, clothing and shelter for natural disaster victims to guns, tanks and other military aid.
Of the major types of aid assistance, the Department of Defense and the State Department manage military aid assistance, the U.S. Agency for International Development administers the majority of economic and social foreign aid, and the Treasury Department handles most multilateral aid.
Country aid recipients, and the amount they receive each year, are determined by what the federal government considers to be the prominent foreign policy issues at the time and what they imagine will be in the future.
So if you think of what's important to the White House and Congress right now, you can guess where foreign aid is going. That's right, the Middle East. Countries in that region received 38 percent of the total $38.7 billion appropriated by Congress for foreign aid in 2004. Unsurprisingly, Iraq was the number one aid recipient last year, receiving a whopping $18 billion of U.S. taxpayer money.
Israel and Egypt were next, receiving $2.62 billion and $1.87 billion, respectively.
Afghanistan rounded out the top four, receiving $1.77 billion.
Israel and Egypt have held these top spots since the 1970s, since the U.S. has tried to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East for the last half-century or so. Another long-term goal of halting the drug trade in Latin America has lead to Colombia, Peru and Bolivia coming in the top 15 list of aid recipients for many years also.
Foreign aid recipients do change, however, as foreign policy changes. For example, the worsening AIDS crisis in Africa has pushed Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda up the list for financial assistance.
Compare that to the policy of a decade ago. In the years immediately following the fall of communism, the U.S. gave significant amounts of aid to Eastern European nations to help build new economies. For example, for the fiscal year 1994, Russia received more than $1.41 billion, the third highest amount for the year. Now flush with oil revenues, the former communist flagship doesn't even appear in the top 15 in the 2004 list.
If you have any more questions on foreign aid, visit the U.S. AID Web site at www.usaid.gov.
Anyone care to guess which one is the U.S. ?
We BORROW money from the Japanese and Chinese now and then we GIVE it away to the Middle East.
Common Sense is lacking -
Would any of you reading this, go to the bank and take out a loan so that you could GIVE the money to someone who hates you?
"Congress appropriated $39 billion in 2004, the largest amount allocated to foreign aid in the last 30 years."
A holes. Each congressman should, by law, have to donate 100,000 for each billion spent on foreign aid. Lets see how much they spend when it's their own money.