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Kris from Concord, California, wrote in to ask how much aid the United States gives to foreign countries.
Foreign aid and diplomacy together comprise around 1 percent of the federal budget, or $56 billion in President Obama’s 2013 budget request.
That money goes toward global poverty alleviation, including a contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, as well as peacekeeping operations conducted by the United Nations and general U.S. diplomatic activities around the world.
That $56 billion does not include foreign military assistance, which is estimated at an additional $14 billion in fiscal 2013. Foreign military assistance is the money we spend to train foreign armies and help them acquire weapons.
Foreign aid is the subject of a great deal of confusion among Americans. Many people erroneously believe that foreign aid comprises a huge chunk of U.S. federal spending, and numerous opinion polls show that a majority of Americans would like to reduce aid to other countries in order to shrink our budget deficits. Since foreign aid is in fact a small item in the scheme of the federal budget, eliminating all foreign aid and diplomacy would only make a small dent in the projected $901 billion deficit for fiscal 2013, and it would also be a drastic step for the U.S. that would erode its standing among peer nations.