Since President Biden’s speech last week, politicians and commentators have debated whether or not Israel and Ukraine are part of one conflict. Those debates have focused on the nature of America’s strategic and moral interests, as well as the nature of the Ukrainian and Israeli regimes. Less attention has been given to the budget the President is proposing and what it means for our objectives.
This chart compares the proposed support to Israel and Ukraine outlined in the Office of Management and Budget’s Letter Regarding Critical National Security Funding Needs to the Speaker Pro Tempore dated October 20th, 2023. It excludes the funding requests for the Navy’s modernization, the border, foreign military financing in Indo-Pacom, and additional support to the World Bank. Additionally, this chart does not include the $3,495,000,000 for Israel and Ukraine migration and refugee assistance because the funds are not broken out by conflict.
So what does comparing these numbers tell us? In Israel, we are supporting a military operation. 74% of the proposed support to Israel flows through the Defense Department, and 100% of the International Assistance Program funding is for foreign military financing. In Ukraine, however, we are supporting a nation. 66% of the proposed support to Ukraine flows through the Defense Department, and only 8% of the International Assistance Program funding is for foreign military financing. The majority of the International Assistance Program funding to Ukraine is for an Economic Support Fund.
The debates over supporting Ukraine and Israel are necessary and important. But, as the President’s budget request confirms, the difference between funding Israel and Ukraine is not a difference in degree but a difference in kind. In order to properly debate each conflict, we cannot debate them together.
Ben Judge, Ph.D. is president of The America Fund and editor of United and Independent: John Quincy Adams on American Foreign Policy.
This article was first published by RealClearDefense.