CNN Swallows the Myth of Israel Dominating US Foreign Aid
American taxpayers doled out $5.9 billion in foreign military financing in 2014, according to the government’s Foreign Assistance report — that’s roughly the GDP of Somalia. But where did the money go?
To the usual suspects, mostly — Israel ($3.1B) and Egypt ($1.3B) received roughly 75 percent of all foreign military aid money handed out by the US last year.
This map from the cost-information website howmuch.net shows the relative size of countries based on how much US military aid they receive.
There are a lot of problems with this story, geared to make it look like Israel is taking the lion’s share of the US budget spent overseas.
Here’s what is not being said up front: The US government, for whatever political or bureaucratic reasons, uses two departments to hand out foreign aid, both military and non-military: the State Department and the Defense Department. Yes, the Defense Department sends out non-military aid as well.
The think tank quoted by CNN decided to discuss only military aid and only from the State Department budget. not total aid. The same document they link to shows over $50 billion in foreign aid in 2014 when you include non-military aid so Israel’s percentage goes down from more than half to around six percent.
The second issue is that the vast majority that the US spends overseas is not from the State Department budget, but from the defense budget. The amount directly earmarked for foreign military and economic aid is about another $56 billion,
But that is what is directly spent. Far more is spent indirectly. For example, there are 150,000 US troops stationed in South Korea, the EU and Japan. The best estimate I could find for the cost of each soldier is $112,000 a year for each soldier — in 2004.
That comes out to over $16 billion directly defending other countries and being mostly spent in other countries. (This doesn’t count US active combat troops who are far more expensive per soldier.)
The numbers also don’t include how much the US defense budget spends on NATO in Europe, which is a difficult number to find but it seems also to be in the tens of billions annually.
The implication that the US spends huge amounts of its overseas budget in Israel is a complete fabrication, In reality, just based on the numbers I documented here, it is probably closer to one percent.
This is an excellent example of how Israel-haters cherry pick statistics to make Israel look bad – and how lazy news agencies will parrot anything that looks and sounds good without bothering to do any real reporting.