Joe Biden has signed a $40 billion aid bill to Ukraine. But the biggest beneficiary isn’t ordinary Ukrainians — it’s the United States military contractors set to receive at least $17 billion in additional revenue.
Since President Joe Biden signed a massive $40 billion aid bill for Ukraine on May 21, 2022, Americans have wondered what this monstrosity of a bill exactly contains.
Stephen Semler of Jacobin Magazine noted that this bill provides $40.1 billion in “emergency” funding to Ukraine, which includes $24.6 billion for military programs and $15.5 billion for non-military programs. When it comes to legislation that perpetuates conflict abroad, Congress acts with the quickness. By contrast, any legislation that upholds the national interest — border security or domestic infrastructure spending — is not dealt with in a timely manner or it’s ignored altogether.
Semler raises some good questions about this this:
But what’s in the bill? Who is the main beneficiary? And will it bring the conflict closer to an end?
Semler admitted that “it’s difficult to tell how much of the $40.1 billion Ukraine aid bill will end up as direct aid to Ukraine.” However, it’s apparent that private contractors are expected to receive substantial amounts of aid in order to obtain weapons and other “military-related services.” The American arms industry is expected to be a big winner from this bill, at least in financial terms.
According to Semler’s estimates, this new law will “produce at least $17.3 billion in revenue for US military contractors — more than the total amount of nonmilitary funding ($15.5 billion).” This projection is conservative and is based on the “bill’s language, accompanying documents from the White House and House Appropriations Committee, and overall trends in military contracting.”
Some of the $17.3 billion in expected private sector revenue falls under the category of “direct aid”. Semler noted that an “estimated $1.5 billion of the $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (a bill provision that provides Ukraine with weapons, training, intelligence, logistical support, and salaries and stipends for enlisted personnel in Ukraine’s army) will be used to buy weapons from contractors.”
Semler nails it by observing that the “bill is a massive redistribution of wealth from the public coffers to the pockets of private military contractors.” Wars of choice are redistributionary affairs that see the wealth of the productive, private sector shifted to unproductive entities such as national security bureaucracies and defense contractors.
This military aid allows the Biden administration to continue dialing up pressure in a conflict that none of the principal NATO actors have an interest in ending.
The amusing part about the passage of the latest Ukraine aid bill was the unanimous Democrat support for this bill. Yes, even the progressive wing of the Democratic Party voted in favor of this pro-proxy war spending package. Even Bernie Sanders, Mr. Progressive Extraordinaire, voted for the bill.
This bill is a watershed moment as far as the political realignment in American politics is concerned. On one hand, the traditionally progressive wing of the Democratic Party has thrown its lot with the national security state. On the other hand, populist Republicans are slowly turning into the non-interventionist, realist wing of DC politics.
Obviously, there will be roadblocks along the way, but it’s becoming clear that any meaningful change to American foreign policy will be brought about by populist Republicans. The key is that the populist Republicans take control of the party and critical national security positions so that they can amass power and effect change.