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In 2022, military aid accounted for about 13% of overall U.S. foreign aid.
In this century, military aid has consistently accounted for less than 40% of overall foreign aid.
Does most of U.S. aid to foreign countries consist of military assistance? That’s what Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson said during a Nov. 7 town hall at a store in Manchester, New Hampshire.
"So, when you look at most American aid over the last few decades, what do we mean by American aid to other countries?" Williamson said, in remarks captured by PolitiFact’s partner, WMUR-TV in New Hampshire. "The vast majority of it is military aid. And we sell arms to 60% of the world's autocrats. We are the world's largest arms exporters."
In reality, official federal data shows that U.S. military aid accounts for a minority of overall U.S. foreign aid. (We are checking the portion about arms exports separately.)
U.S. military aid is defined as equipment, training and other defense-related services to national-level security forces of U.S. allies and partners.
The ForeignAid.gov website, a project of the State Department and the Agency for International Development, tracks U.S. foreign aid to every country, including the breakdown between economic and military aid. This source is the official one for such breakdowns, said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
It shows that for the most recent full year, 2022, the U.S. provided about $60 billion in economic aid and about $8.9 billion in military aid. That means about 13% of total aid was military aid.
That was a smaller percentage for military aid than in other recent years; for instance in 2011, military aid accounted for about 38% of all foreign aid.
Still, at no point in this century has military aid accounted for a majority of all U.S. foreign aid.
Williamson said that looking at "American aid to other countries … the vast majority of it is military aid."
In 2022, military aid accounted for about 13% of overall U.S. foreign aid, and in this century, even at its peak, military aid has accounted for less than 40% of overall foreign aid.
We rate the statement False.
Marianne Williamson, event in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 7, 2023 (video courtesy WMUR-TV)
ForeignAssistance.gov, data, accessed Nov. 10, 2023
Congressional Research Service, "Foreign Assistance: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy," Jan. 10, 2022
Email interview with retired Marine Corps Reserve Col. Mark Cancian, senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Nov. 10, 2023
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