This article was written for The Edge, a publication of the Ithaca College Park Center for Independent Media
The first point that needs to be made in addressing the colossal $40 billion Ukraine arms aid package passed by Congress and rushed by plane to Asia for President Joe Biden’s signature is that it’s not all for weapons.
The package, which was approved with little discussion by lopsided votes of 368-37 in the House and 86-11 in the Senate (with only Republicans voting against it in either chamber), is huge any way you look at it. But that said, only $17 billion is for actual weapons (and training) going to Ukrainian military forces.
The rest of the money is either a sleight-of-hand $9 billion for arms makers to buy replacement weapons for those “drawn down” from U.S. military stockpiles (which is actually double-counting the $11 billion paid to the Pentagon for the transfer of those stockpiles to Ukraine), $4 billion for European Command Operations (NATO headquarters costs), $1 billion to defray the costs to Ukraine and other nations of handling some 6 million refugees fleeing the fighting, and another $9 million for economic aid to war-impacted countries.
Still, even $17 billion buys a hell of a lot of destructive and deadly weaponry.
Let’s put it in some kind of context — something that the largely cheerleading pro-war U.S. media have not been doing with this particular war.
In 2021, Germany’s entire military budget was $47 billion and Russia’s, during the year before it launched its war against Ukraine, was $66 billion. That is to say the U.S. — which also gave Ukraine $4.6 billion in lethal aid before passing the so-called Emergency Ukraine Arms Aid bill, bringing the total in military aid given over a four-month period to $21 billion — has reached a military spending total roughly half the size of Germany’s entire 2021 military budget, and a third of Russia’s!
Now Ukraine has an official 2022 population of just under 44 million (2.5 million of whom have reportedly fled the country this year to more peaceful nations), while Russia’s population is 146 million. Ukraine’s 2020 GDP, the entire economic activity of the country, was $156 billion, compared to Russia’s $1.5 trillion that same year.
The U.S. military budget in 2021 was $753 billion, while U.S. GDP that year was $23 trillion.
In other words, the U.S. military budget in 2021 represented 3.1% of GDP, while the $17 billion of arms being dispatched to Ukraine represents almost 11% of Ukraine’s 2021 GDP. This is particularly dramatic when one notes that in 2021, Ukraine’s entire military budget was $6 billion, a third of what it is getting from the U.S. over a four-month period this spring!
What is likely to happen with all this materiel and lavish funding?
In the best of circumstances, it will likely increase corruption…
For the rest of this article, please go to: The Edge