How Washington is spending your money in Ukraine
To say that the U.S. is a deeply divided nation is an understatement.
There is perhaps no issue countrywide that has universal approval. This divide is most apparent in Washington, where one rarely gets to see any display of bipartisanship among politicians.
That rare occasion, though, came in recent months. But it wasn’t for the U.S. -- it was for a country more than 5,500 miles away.
The House approved $40 billion of taxpayer money in aid to Ukraine on a 368 to 57 vote earlier this month. Yesterday, the Senate also approved the aid, and the vote was 86 to 11.
It was a display of generosity, Biden had requested $33 billion, but an additional $7 billion was tossed in. The only "no" votes were from GOP members.
Previously in March, both the House and the Senate approved $13.6 billion of taxpayer money for ‘assistance’ to Ukraine.
That brings the total to around $53 billion in just two months
Biden has previously dispatched $3.9 billion worth of armaments to Ukraine including laser-guided rocket systems; counter-artillery radars; Stinger and Javelin missiles; anti-armor systems; and various munitions.
Almost a month before Russia’s military intervention began, Biden provided ‘security assistance’ to Ukraine.
So what are the specifics of this $40 billion aid package?
More than $4 billion is dedicated to ‘international disaster assistance’ for humanitarian (food and shelter) needs in Ukraine and other affected countries.
The package includes almost $15 billion for defense operations and maintenance, which includes $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance and $8.7 billion to replenish stocks of U.S. equipment sent to Ukraine.
Over $100 million is dedicated to non-proliferation, anti-terrorism, and related programs.
Over $350 million is dedicated to assisting refugees from Ukraine and support to other countries in Eastern Europe.
The legislation also includes hundreds of millions of dollars for the procurement of missiles, weapons, tracked combat vehicles, ammunition, and aircraft.
Close to $3.9 billion is dedicated to the maintenance of U.S. forces deployed to Europe.
Around $2 billion is dedicated for long-term support to NATO allies and DOD modernization programs.
About $16 billion is for economic support to Ukraine, global humanitarian relief, a wide variety of international programs, and more.
The legislation authorizes up to a further $11 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority, which enables Biden to transfer articles and services from the U.S. without congressional approval.
The legislation also authorizes nearly $200 million for the U.S. State Department's diplomatic programs to respond to the situation in Ukraine and countries affected by the conflict.
It also authorizes $110 million for embassy security, construction, and maintenance.
To put this in perspective, the United States will end up providing Ukraine with more military aid than any country in the last two decades, and twice as much military assistance as the yearly cost of the war in Afghanistan, even when American troops were on the ground.
A citizen running a small business is required to maintain details of all spending incurred which may be requested by the IRS for scrutiny.
The government reports to the citizen and hence must be accountable to the citizen. A rule that applies to the citizen must apply to the government. The government is spending money that belongs to the citizen. The citizen has a right to know where how and where their money was spent.
A tracking mechanism for expenditure should have been within the bill that mandates public disclosure of all expenditures. But that was not the case.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) attempted to add safeguard measures to the legislation to facilitate transparency and accountability. If the lawmakers had nothing to hide, they would have supported this with the same bipartisanship as they did for the package itself. But that didn’t happen, Sen. Paul’s commendable attempt was rejected by both parties.
The record of corruption in both the U.S. under Biden and in Ukraine generally makes this absolute lack of accountability and oversight most worrying.
It is very likely that the tenders and contracts for various items in the bill ranging from advanced munition to food aid will be given to cronies of the powerful in Washington. It is beyond any doubt that there will be an unstated quid pro quo agreement between the politician and the private contractors.
Beyond this ghastly waste of taxpayer money, there are other concerns.
Twenty-two GOP congressional members questioned the administration's compliance with the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, which limits the use of weapons exported by the U.S. government in foreign countries.
That question remains unanswered.
The left that claimed to be against all wars was silent. The Squad and Sen. Bernie Sander who claim to be against wars readily voted for the bill. Even antiwar groups such as Code Pink have been docile.
The war in Ukraine had attracted more than 20 thousand foreign fighters. These mercenaries obviously haven't been properly vetted.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that some among the fighters joined the action either to pilfer advanced weaponry for further use or to sell it in the black market to the highest bidder. If some among the ‘fighters’ or the black market buyers turn out to be terrorists, the U.S. government could end up enabling a terror attack on its own soil.
Every citizen should be deeply concerned not just over the money spent but also the dire consequences this spending could have.
What is troubling is that this considerable spending is occurring at a time when the U.S., owing to Biden's misgovernance, is grappling with myriad other crises, such as 40-year high inflation, and a supply chain crisis.
Equally troubling is how swiftly and almost unanimously the bills were passed without debates, questions, or requests for amendments. Those lawmakers who asked the obvious were dismissed as agents of Putin propagandists by both parties. Most of the mainstream media is cheerleading this war instead of asking questions.
Thus just in a few months, Washington has involved the U.S. in a gratuitous military intervention with a nuclear-powered Russia that has no end date and no specific end goals.
If this isn’t a monumental crisis, what is?
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