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Mitchell & Ness
Trump overstated the growth of Iran’s military budget in the wake of the Obama-era accord.
Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling sanctions. The lifting of U.S. and European sanctions kicked in in 2016.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Tehran’s military spending grew from $10.8 billion in 2015 to $14.1 billion last year — an increase of about 30 percent.
Another estimate, from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, found higher defense spending levels, as well as a slightly higher percentage increase since the deal was brokered. Still, the military spending numbers were lower than those Trump cited.
Venezuela’s economic collapse, hyperinflation and widespread starvation are well known. But is it true that not long ago it was one of the richest countries in the world?
"I think calling it one of the richest countries on earth is a stretch," said Dany Bahar, a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
In the late 1960s, Venezuela’s GDP per capita was comparable with high income countries, he said. And in the ‘70s and even ‘80s, it was among the richest countries in Latin America.
"But it was still considered a middle-income country by the World Bank, never an upper-income one such as U.S., Britain, France and others," said Shannon O'Neil, a Latin America expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
"Per-capita income never grew to levels seen in Spain or Portugal, the lower-income level European nations," she added. "It also has always had a significant percent of people living in poverty."
Going back further in time, Venezuela by some measures was the fourth-richest country in the world on a GDP per capita basis in 1950, said Harold Trinkunas, a Stanford University researcher and Latin America expert.
But that was "compared to countries whose economies had been devastated by World War II," he said. "Once Europe and Japan recovered, Venezuela quickly fell out of the top rankings many decades before Chavez or Maduro were on the scene."
Based just on the dollar amounts, Trump is correct about the United States, the world’s largest economy. Based on the size of the economy, more than 20 nations are more generous.
Looking at dollar amounts provided in 2016, the latest year for this comparison in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development database, the United States topped all other nations at $28.5 billion. Germany came in second with $19.6 billion, and the United Kingdom was third with $11.5 billion.
But relative to each country’s economy, the United States ranked 25th out of 39. In 2017, it gave 0.18 percent of its gross national income (the OECD’s economic yardstick). The United Arab Emirates were in the No. 1 slot with 1.31 percent, followed by Sweden at 1.01 percent and Luxembourg at 0.99 percent.
Based on the U.S. State Department’s narrower definition of economic development assistance, the amounts of foreign aid have trended lower since 2015, falling from $9.7 billion to $2 billion in 2018.