The faltering U.S. economy has led to more scrutiny of government spending. Foreign aid has come under attack from both budget hawks and even mayors who claim money should be spent on infrastructure in America and not Afghanistan. In fiscal year 2010, the U.S. international affairs budget was almost $57 billion. The number seems astounding, yet this is roughly 1 percent of the total U.S. budget. According to Oxfam America, Americans spend more money on pet care each year than the government forks out in foreign aid.
Foreign assistance dollars are used to help promote democracy and economic stability; to lift people out of poverty; for security and military assistance; and for counter-terrorism measures. U.S. commercial interests and national security also come into play. In 1948 the United States created its first major foreign aid program — the Marshall Plan — to help rebuild Europe’s infrastructure and economy. Most countries outside of Western Europe, Canada and Australia are recipients of U.S. foreign aid, although some countries benefit more than others. Here are the top 10 recipients of United States foreign aid, based on fiscal year 2010 figures from the Congressional Research Service.