At last count, the United States had doled out nearly $20 billion in foreign aid this year. That doesn’t include funding for rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq, nor monetary gifts from private American citizens which are estimated to total over $34 billion a year significantly higher than any other nation and not counting corporate giving which totals over $48 billion a year.
In addition, immigrants send money back home to their families to the tune of about $28 billion. None of these totals includes trade agreement income nor military support and assistance. That makes Uncle Sam the “sugar daddy” for the worldnot quite the “stingy” miser that United Nations official Jan Egeland claimed we were in the aftermath of the Southeast Asia tsunami. Already, Americans have donated nearly $700 million to the tsunami relief effort.
The Republican Policy Committee just released data indicating that the United States leads the world in giving foreign assistance to its neighbors. It is obvious that our nation has internalized the words of Samuel Johnson, the great British statesman, who said, “A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.” In any way that donations are calculated and in any way of comparing contributions, the United States is truly the world’s “Uncle Sam.”
The United States is the world’s largest contributor to the major international development organizations: the United Nations, the World Food Program, the U.N. Children’s Fund and the U.N. Development Program. A common accusation against the United States is inaccurate: that, as the world’s richest nation, we give a smaller percentage than other nations. In fact, the U.S. gives 22 percent of the U.N.’s budget, compared to a combined 21 percent from the nations of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and 19 percent from Japan the second largest amount from a single nation.
The U.S. gives more than $1 billion annually to the World Food Program, which is five times the amount given by the second highest contributor, the European Commission. In fact, the U.S. gives more than 50 percent of the total contributions to the fund. The U.S. also leads in contributions to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) and the United Nations Development Program.
When the emergency “911” calls come in after a natural disaster, they are routed directly to the United States, where humanitarian assistance and emergency personnel are dispatched immediately including military support and disaster recovery teams.
The U.S. has been steadily increasing this international aid since 1998, while during the same time period other nations have been decreasing their foreign aid disbursements.
In short, the United States does not deserve the recent attacks on its generosity and sense of responsibility as the world’s leading nation. In official government assistance, in private giving and in corporate donations, the United States is a generous good neighbor.
Janice Shaw Crouse was an official United States delegate to two United Nations conferences the Commission on the Status of Women in 2003 and the Children’s Summit in 2002. She is senior fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute.