Which Middle Eastern Country Gets the Most Aid?

by Daniel Pipes

Israel, of course. Except it does not, not even remotely, during the past decade. Totting up the most recent figures, 2002–11, from the U.S. government’s own statistics and using constant 2011 U.S. dollars, one finds that the numbers for all economic and military aid look like this:

Afghanistan: $60,017,650,000
Iraq: $64,373,630,000
Israel: $30,645,470,000

Further, these numbers substantially understate U.S. support for the economies and militaries of Afghanistan and Iraq, including neither the hundreds of billions spent on the U.S. war-fighting effort in those countries, which purchased substantial amounts in the local market, employed many locals, and led to unspeakably vast amounts of graft, nor the amounts of military equipment declared excess and donated to their armed forces.

I have long opposed economic and military aid to Israel’s mature economy, which can stand on its own two feet. Its 2011 GDP was $243 billion, meaning that U.S. aid came to a paltry 1 percent — not worth the trouble in terms of political resentment and financial distortion.

In contrast, to take the opposite extreme, Afghanistan’s 2011 GDP was $19 billion, meaning that American aid alone made up two-thirds of the entire country’s income that year, a sure recipe for political and financial havoc. I even more strenuously oppose such handouts — what used to be called development aid — which long before 2002 was known not to work as intended. More than ever, this latest experience vividly shows how it amounts to thrown-out money.

See the year-by-year charts after the jump.

All sums in millions of constant 2011 U.S. dollars
Source: U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (known as the Greenbook)