The word “billion” has a certain ring to it. It sounds like, and is, a lot — in any context. We don’t normally think of numbers higher than a billion.
So when the United States inked a memorandum of understanding with Israel this month, promising $38 billion in military aid over a 10-year period, it set off alarm bells for many.
To be sure, in terms of U.S. foreign aid, $3.8 billion a year is definitely a lot. The package to Israel is the largest awarded to date, though it is only slightly bigger than the roughly $3.5 billion Israel received annually from the United States in the 10-year deal that ends in 2017.
And about three-quarters of all military aid goes to just two countries: Israel and Egypt, with Israel being the largest recipient of U.S. aid since World War II.
U.S. foreign aid serves many stated purposes, but, generally speaking, the money is intended to ensure American strategic interests abroad.