by Glenn Greenwald | May 4, 2022
The following is a full transcript from the most recent episode of my System Update video program on Rumble, entitled: Biden Wants $33 Billion More For the War in Ukraine. Which Americans Benefit? You can watch the program on the Rumble page at the link above, or watch the full episode on the player below. For those who prefer to read it, the full transcript appears below the video player:
Glenn Greenwald: Hey everyone, this is Glenn Greenwald. Welcome to a new episode of System Update here on our Home on Rumble. I want to examine what is truly an extraordinary announcement last week from the Biden administration that, in my view, received nowhere near the attention and critical scrutiny that it deserves.
Specifically, as you see here from The New York Times on April 28, the Biden administration is now seeking $33 billion more for the war in Ukraine. Some of this is for humanitarian aid. Some of this is for civil society. Much of it is for the purchase of weaponry and other military assistance to aid the Ukrainian army in its ongoing war with Russia. And by all accounts, Congress is virtually certain to approve this, maybe to even ask for it to be more.
And the question therefore arises, especially given the fact that up until now it’s been every 7 to 10 days that the Biden administration just seemingly randomly announces it’s sending another 250 million, another 700 million, another 500 million. It’s been like that once every 10 to 14 days since the start of the war when Russia invaded on February 24th. This is a radical escalation in the amount of taxpayer money the Biden administration now wants to send to Ukraine on top of all the other forms of escalation when it comes to the US involvement in this war in Ukraine, including sending heavy weaponry of the kind that two months ago was unthinkable, of having open discussions about the fact that U.S. intelligence agents and military officials are on the ground training Ukrainian officials, providing them with targeting and intelligence about where to shoot at Russian forces.
And we now have even Democratic politicians pronouncing things like, this is our war and we intend to stay and fight it until victory is ours, which is the language now, not just of the US involvement in this war as a proxy belligerent, that it’s clearly now a proxy war between Russia on one side and the US and its NAITO allies on the other. But except for the fact that US forces thankfully are not on the ground directly engaging the Russian military, at least as of yet, the mindset, the mentality in the United States is that we have to win this war. This war is ours to win, and we now must do everything possible in fighting to the end to win it.
And what’s particularly notable about this exceptional radical escalation in the amount of money and other commitments the United States is making, this investment in this war, is nobody thinks that $33 billion is the full amount that the United States will wind up committing to fueling this war further, because even US officials are saying that this war is not going to be resolved within weeks or even months, but potentially years.
So the only rational assumption is that this $33 billion, $33 billion is just the first step in what the United States clearly intends to be an ongoing, virtually limitless stream of US taxpayer dollars into the coffers of weapons manufacturers in order to purchase weapons to provide to the Ukrainian military, as well as to fuel all the other needs that Ukraine has in fighting this war against Russia. And that means that it is urgent, essential that we ask the question: How are American citizens, other than the small handful that have significant shares of Raytheon or General Dynamics or Boeing or other weapons manufacturers, benefiting in any way from the expenditure of these sums of money not to improve life in United States, but to send to Ukraine? What are the benefits that are being derived by American citizens from all of these escalating involvement and this financial investment and military investment in this war on the other side of the world between Russia and Ukraine?
And that in turn prompts a secondary question, which is, does that even matter? Does it matter whether or not policies that the US Government is pursuing produce benefits for American citizens? You would think just intuitively that that would be the primary, potentially only question that ought to be asked when the US Government is considering what policies to pursue or how to spend money, how are we benefiting the lives of American citizens, the people we were elected to represent, and whose lives were responsible for materially improving.
But I think there seems to be a strong belief that there are other considerations, other questions, other legitimate goals and objectives that the United States government has when deciding and formulating what policies will pursue, where it will send its money, other than are we benefiting the lives of American citizens. Which means if you’re one of those people who says, yes, I recognize that this $33 billion won’t actually benefit the lives of any Americans, working class Americans, middle class Americans, the American poor, any Americans except for this tiny little sliver whose coffers will be filled, I recognize that, but I nonetheless believe the US should do it anyway because there are other goals beyond or aside from, or independent of benefiting the lives of American citizens that are legitimate and worthy of pursuit.
In which case the question becomes, what are these other goals? What goals, other than improving the lives of American citizens, justify the increasing involvement now to the point of $33 billion of the United States in this war in Ukraine? Is it the case that any time there’s an invasion by one country of another that we regard as unjust or aggressive or destabilizing, even if the country invaded is not an ally, and therefore we’re not duty bound to defend it, that the United States just acts as the floating police officer of the world keeping the peace wherever the peace is disturbed or fighting against whomever is regarded as a criminal, is that the role of the United States? Is that the role you want your government assuming?
Or are there other goals that are legitimately pursued that have nothing to do with improving the lives of American citizens? At the very least, we ought to be having that debate. We ought to be asking that question: who is benefiting and who is sacrificing as a result of policies like this one? So before we delve into those questions, let’s just look at exactly what it is the Biden administration is doing.
From this New York Times article:
President Biden signaled a vast increase in America’s commitment to defeating Russia in Ukraine on Thursday as he asked Congress to authorize $33 billion for more artillery, antitank weapons and other hardware as well as economic and humanitarian aid.
It includes more than $20 billion for security and military assistance, including $11.4 billion to fund equipment and replenish stocks already provided to Ukraine, $2.6 billion to support the deployment of American troops and equipment to the region to safeguard NATO allies and $1.9 billion for cybersecurity and intelligence support.
The request also includes $8.5 billion in economic assistance for the government in Kyiv to provide basic economic support, including food and health care services, as the Ukrainian economy reels from the toll of the war.
An additional $3 billion would be provided for humanitarian assistance and food security funding, including medical supplies and support for Ukrainian refugees and to help stem the impact of the disrupted food supply chain.
When combined with the previous emergency measure, the United States would be authorizing $46.6 billion for the Ukraine war, which represents more than two-thirds of Russia’s entire annual defense budget of $65.9 billion. Mr. Biden said he expected European allies to contribute more as well.
So let’s just look at that alone. We’re being told that Russia is a grave threat. Not just to the region but to the world, including the United States, even though its total military budget is 65.9 billion, which is less than 1/10 of what the United States spends every year on its military. But also, it’s getting close to the total that the United States is going to spend on the war between Russia and Ukraine. In other words, we’re going to spend more on just this one isolated conflict than Russia spends on its entire military for the year because I said this $33 billion is just the first step.
The New York Times goes on:
By comparison, the Pentagon last year estimated the total war-fighting costs in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 at $816 billion, or about $40.8 billion a year.
So the U.S. spent close to $1 trillion, $816 billion just on war fighting costs in Afghanistan. Certainly it exceeded $1 trillion when you add everything in, or $40.8 billion a year, already less than the amount after two months that the United States is spending on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, at least in Afghanistan there was an argument that Afghanistan harbored Al-Qaeda, which directly attacked the United States.
No one suggests that Russia directly attacked the United States or intends to attack the United States, or is threatening to attack the United States. And yet we’re already, after just two months, spending more on its war with Ukraine than we spent in defense of ourselves ostensibly, ostensibly on the war in Afghanistan. That gives you an indication of the magnitude of how committed we are to this war.
The Times goes on:
Without waiting for the latest aid plan, Congress moved on Thursday to make it easier for Mr. Biden to funnel more arms to Ukraine right away. The House voted 417 to 10 to invoke the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 to authorize Mr. Biden to speed military supplies to Ukraine.
So the Congress didn’t even want to wait. That’s how eager they are to authorize it. And you’ll note this Lend-Lease Act of 1941 is very notable. Anything in 1941 was notable because that was when World War II was raging, and the United States, under Franklin Roosevelt, was eager to involve itself in that war and yet couldn’t yet convince the American people until Pearl Harbor, that it was necessary or justifiable to do so.
The Lend-Lease Act is what enabled the United States to become involved by supplying Britain with the weapons it needed in order to fight Germany. It was the entrance of the US into World War II. And now the question is, is this new Lend-Lease Act of 2022 with the entrance of the US into World War III?
The Senate passed the legislation unanimously earlier this month, meaning it now moves to Mr. Biden’s desk for his signature.
The original act, proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, authorized the president to lease or lend military equipment to any foreign government ‘whose defense the president deems vital to the defense of the United States’ and was used originally to aid Britain and later the Soviet Union in their battle against Nazi Germany.
“Passage of that act enabled Great Britain and Winston Churchill to keep fighting and to survive the fascist Nazi bombardment until the United States could enter the war,’” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland.
“President Zelensky has said that Ukraine needs weapons to sustain themselves, and President Biden has answered that call.”
Now in World War II, the argument was that a Nazi advance throughout Europe, a Nazi conquest of Great Britain and the Soviet Union would endanger the United States. And therefore, this Lend-Lease Act authorized the President in his sole discretion to provide military aid to whichever countries it was deemed that was deemed to be in the vital interest of the United States.
Is Ukraine in the vital interest of the United States? Is defending Ukraine from Russia, its neighbor now a vital interest to the United States, sufficient to demand that American citizens sacrifice their own well-being to send enormous sums of money into this war. And if so, how is it a vital interest to American citizens? That’s a debate worth having. I’m not that saying the answer is immediately evident just by posing the question.
But you’ll notice that we barely asked that question of what interest the United States has in this war. There’s obviously a lot of emotional anger and condemnation, moral condemnation of Russia over its unjustified invasion. But that’s separate from the question of what pragmatic interest the United States has and what pragmatic benefits will accrue to American citizens from the United States becoming increasingly involved in this war.
Now, already our involvement in this war is harming American interests.
Here from PBS, May 2nd, 2022. So essentially yesterday, the headline reads “The push to arm Ukraine may put a strain on US weapons stockpile.” We’re sending so many of our own weapons to Ukraine that our own stockpile is starting to get depleted. The article reads, quote, “The planes take off almost daily from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Hulking C-17s loaded up with javelins, stingers, howitzers and other material being hustled to Eastern Europe to resupply Ukraine’s military in its fight against Russia.
The game changing impact of those arms is exactly what President Joe Biden hopes to spotlight as he visits a Lockheed Martin plant in Alabama on Tuesday that builds the portable Javelin anti-tank weapons that have played a crucial role in Ukraine.
Obviously, as we deplete our own stockpile, we need to buy more and more, which means billions more going to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and the like, that were thriving by selling weapons that we needed to fight the war in Afghanistan. And yet, ever since the war in Afghanistan ended last year, at least from the perspective of US involvement, those weapons haven’t had a market and now suddenly they have a very big market, a bigger market even than Afghanistan. And that’s where most of this money is going.
The war will mean increased sales for some defense contractors, including Raytheon, which makes the Stinger missiles Ukrainian troops have used to knock out Russian aircraft. The company is also part of a joint venture with Lockheed Martin that makes the javelins.
Now, you probably recall that Raytheon is the company where the current defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, served on the board of directors immediately prior to becoming Joe Biden’s Pentagon chief. And now Raytheon, his former company, where he served on the board of directors, is now the beneficiary of enormous amounts of Pentagon spending, at the expense of the American taxpayer in order to send those weapons to Ukraine.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that defense officials have determined that the weapons transfers have not impacted military readiness. Still, the administration has included funding in the Ukraine supplemental bill Biden introduced last week to replenish U.S. inventories of depleted weapons stockpiles.
So, whatever else is true, there’s an enormous sum of money going from the US Treasury, which collects that money from American taxpayers who work and pay their taxes to the US government, to Raytheon and all of these other weapons manufacturers to buy weapons to give to Ukraine.
All of this money that could be used to improve the lives of American citizens, to improve American cities that are dilapidated and increasingly in disarray, crumbling the infrastructure of the United States, educational opportunities, health care. Instead, this money is being used to send to Ukraine to benefit Ukrainians.
Why? Why is the American government sending so much to Ukraine at a time when Americans are suffering so much. There may be a legitimate answer to that question, but we have to ask that question every time there is a proposed significant escalation of the U.S. involvement in this war. And this question has almost been entirely ignored.
Now on the question of whether Ukraine really is of vital interest to the United States sufficient to warrant this level of investment and commitment in the war, let’s recall what the extremely popular among Democrats, former President Barack Obama believed about that question in April of 2016, so his lame duck year, he was kind of on his way out of office, he sat down for an interview, a very extensive interview about foreign policy with the editor in chief of The Atlantic, the neoconservative Jeffrey Goldberg.
And this is at a time when Obama was being criticized by members of both parties, the establishment, pro-war wings of both the Democratic and the Republican Party, for not sufficiently confronting Moscow, in their view, for not confronting Moscow in Syria, for tying the CIA’s hands and not letting them be unleashed even more than they were to try and overthrow the Assad regime, a very close ally of Russia.
He felt that that was not in the United States’ interest to create disarray in Syria and to try and confront Russia to depose Assad. And especially what he didn’t want to do is flood Ukraine with lethal arms right on the border of Russia because he thought that was too provocative to Russia and not in the interest of the United States.
And so when Jeffrey Goldberg speaking for the DC bipartisan foreign policy establishment, angry at Obama for not having done more in Syria and especially in Ukraine, Obama explained his rationale. He defended his reluctance to send arms to Ukraine and to be otherwise involved in the border conflicts between Ukraine and Russia. Now, remember, this is 2016. This is after, obviously the war, the Russian invasion of Georgia. This was after the annexation by Russia of Crimea, which occurred in 2014. This was after the US role in engineering regime change, along with some Ukrainians in the Maidan revolution in 2014 that replaced the Ukrainian government with what had been a somewhat Moscow-friendly leader with a much more pro European pro-Western leader. And this was after two years after the outbreak of essentially a civil war in eastern Ukraine between forces loyal to the Kiev government that were Ukrainian nationalists, often neo-Nazis, and the Azov Battalion and others on the one hand, and the Russian speaking ethnic Russian separatist on the other, that Russia was helping to fund and arm and support who wanted independence from Kiev or even to be part of Russia as Crimea had just become.
So there was raging war in the eastern part of Ukraine for two years when Obama gave this interview was two years after Russia took Crimea, and the editor in chief of the Atlantic was saying to Obama, Why haven’t you done more to help the Ukrainians and to confront Russia over Ukraine? And this is what Obama said. This is not RT saying this. It’s not Noam Chomsky or Pat Buchanan or people on the fringes saying this. This was, as you can see here, a core view of what Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic called the Obama Doctrine. It was intended to understand Obama’s foreign policy worldview.
This is what Obama said, or this is Jeffrey Goldberg summarizing what Obama told him, quote:
Obama’s theory here is simple. Ukraine is a core Russian interest, but not an American one. So Russia will always be able to maintain escalatory dominance there.
That’s Obama’s view. Ukraine, of course, is of vital interest to Russia. It’s right on the other side of the Russian border. Ukraine was twice used by Germany to attack Russia in the 20th century, leading to the virtual obliteration of their country. Tens of millions of Russian lives were lost in those two. World War were world wars. So of course, Russia. Ukraine is of vital interest to Russia, but it’s not a vital or core American interest, said Obama.
But this is an example of where we have to be very clear about what our core interests are and what we are willing to go to war for.
That was what Obama said. We need to be clear what are our core interests and what aren’t.
Now, if there is somebody in this town that would claim that we would consider going to war with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, they should speak up and be very clear about it.
That was Obama’s view. That it was always going to be the case that Russia could dominate Ukraine because no one believed that we would or should confront Russia over a place, Ukraine, that is a not of vital interest to Americans or American interests, but is to Russia. And you see here from The New York Times in 2015 the headline, “Obama said To Resist Growing Pressure from all sides to arm Ukraine.”
Democrats and Republicans were demanding that Obama send lethal arms to the Ukrainians to defend themselves or to fight against the Russians and Obama refused. And this is why, quote:
As American intelligence agencies have detected new Russian tanks and artillery crossing the border into Ukraine in recent days, President Obama is coming under increasing pressure from both parties and more officials inside his own government to send arms to the country. But he remains unconvinced that they would help.
The president has signaled privately that despite all the pressure, he remains reluctant to send arms to Ukraine. In part, he has told aides and visitors that arming the Ukrainians would encourage the notion that they could actually defeat the far more powerful Russians and so would potentially draw a more forceful response from Moscow.
He also wants to give a shaky cease-fire a chance to take hold despite a reported 1000 violations so far and seems determined to stay aligned with European allies that oppose arms for Ukraine.
This is then Deputy Secretary of state under Obama and now the secretary of state under Biden, Antony Blinken, who is quoted telling a Berlin audience:
If you’re playing on the military terrain in Ukraine, you’re playing to Russia’s strength because Russia is right next door. It has a huge amount of military equipment and military force right on the border. Anything we did as countries in terms of military support for Ukraine is likely to be matched and then doubled and tripled and quadrupled by Russia. That argument seems to be most closely channel the president’s, according to people familiar with the internal debate.
Mr. Obama continues to pose questions indicating his doubts.
“Okay. What happens if we send in equipment? Do we have to send in trainers?” said one person, paraphrasing the discussion on the condition of anonymity. What if it ends up in the hands of thugs? What if Putin escalates?
This was the conventional wisdom in Washington until two months ago. NATO’s expansion up to the Russian border, particularly to include Ukraine, was highly provocative to Moscow. We’ve covered that before in other video report. And Obama’s view was, why am I as the American president, responsible for protecting the vital interests of America and American citizens, going to involve myself in a country that Russia will do anything in order to have its will over because it’s right on the other side of the border and a vital interest to them, but never to us. Not going to do that. We’re going to end up in a quagmire. A war that goes on forever where we can’t possibly win, where we’re going to send weapons and have no idea whose hands they’re falling into.
All of that is exactly what is happening. All of these weapons we’re sending have very little controls. We have no idea where they’re going, whose hands they’re ending up in. There has been reporting about that. Certainly at least some of it is ending up in the hands of neo-Nazi groups like these of and others that the Russians have been warning about for a long time. But more importantly, Obama’s central argument was there’s no real American interests served by trying to defend Ukraine against Russia. It’s not a NATO country. We have no interest there.
What changed? Obviously Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th. But the question of why Ukraine is a vital interest in United States and whether we should be putting $33 billion in there and all kinds of heavy weaponry and depleting our own stockpiles in order to prolong that war and defend it, that hasn’t changed that calculus. How has Ukraine suddenly become such a vital interest to the United States that we’re willing to prioritize that country and its military and its people over our own? When did that happen and why?
Here from Politico in December of last year is the article that explains how much we’re spending already on our military budget. “Biden signs the $768 billion defense policy bill that super-sized his original Pentagon request.” $768 billion is three times more than what the next largest military spender in the world spends, which is China. It’s more than the combined spending of the next 12 or 13 or 14 countries, depending on how you count. And as we just saw, the amount that we’re putting into Ukraine alone is about to exceed Russia’s entire military budget for the year.
That’s how bloated the US military budget is how much money is constantly transferred from the coffers of Washington to the coffers of these military contractors.
While Biden’s request amounted to a military spending increase above the current levels, Republicans quickly panned the blueprint as insufficient to keep pace with inflation and military advances by China and Russia. Most Democrats on Capitol Hill agreed, and both the House and Senate backed further budget increases in their respective versions of the defense bill.
Here you see the reality of Washington. We’re constantly told the parties have nothing in common. They can’t get along. They’re so radically different than one another. And yet, you saw the votes on the bill to spend another $33 billion in Ukraine, in the Senate, it was unanimous and there were in the House it had kind of symbolic, trivial ten no votes from Republicans.
And here you see, when it came to the question of the military budget, both Democrats and Republicans thought that Biden’s extremely bloated budget was not enough and should have been higher.
In all, the bill authorizes $768 billion for national defense programs, which includes the Pentagon and nuclear weapons programs overseen by the Department of Energy.
Now, in case you’re wondering who benefits in the United States, one thing we know for sure is that weapon manufacturers benefit greatly from the US role in Ukraine. From Reuters, on April 12th, “the Pentagon asked the top eight U.S. weapons makers to meet on Ukraine.”
The Pentagon will host leaders from the top eight U.S. weapons manufacturers on Wednesday to discuss the industry’s capacity to meet Ukraine’s weapon needs if the war with Russia lasts years, two people familiar with the meeting said on Tuesday.
So they’re telling the weapons manufacturers, you guys need to speed up the creation of your products and the selling of your products to us. We want it all where we’re gluttonous for these weapons because we need to send it all to Ukraine over the next two years.
Demand for weapons has shot up after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 spurred U.S. and allied weapons transfers to Ukraine. Resupplying as well as planning for a longer war is expected to be discussed at the meeting, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Now, as a result, because of how much of a boon this is for Raytheon and General Dynamics and the rest, they don’t even need to lobby any more. They’re almost getting not everything they wanted, but more than they can even handle. Here’s the open secret sites that tracks with great meticulousness and diligence the expenditures in Washington, the lobbyist money, the dark money, the donor to PACs and the like. It’s an invaluable site and it detailed quote, “Top Pentagon contractors spend less on lobbying as demand for weapons to Ukraine rises.”
They don’t need to spend money on lobbyists to try and get more money into their coffers. They’re already getting so much as a result of the gift of this war.
The Pentagon’s top contractors have scaled back their lobbying operations as demand for weapons to Ukraine rises. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics spent $16.9 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2022. All but General Dynamics spent less on lobbying this quarter compared to the same period last year. “They don’t have to lobby the government to say, let’s arm Ukraine. The government is coming to them and saying, how fast can you crank this out? So in that sense, they might not need to lobby as much as they would in a different time period.”
So there’s part of the answer about who’s benefiting. The same people who always benefit from us wars, the weapons manufacture industry, what Dwight Eisenhower called the military industrial complex. What Obama aides called the national security blob. What left wing scholars have long called, and then what Trump supporters began to call the deep state, whatever you want to call it. It’s the permanent faction in Washington that exists on, and feeds on and thrives on endless war that gets all of its profit and power, not just money, but power, authority more and more authority and power, whenever wars break out and the US is involved.
We know for sure they’re benefiting. In fact, beyond their wildest dreams. Right as the war in Afghanistan, which had been the source of their money and power right as it ended.
Now when it comes to the question of who benefits when the weapons manufacture industry, the military industrial complex, the deep state the security Bob thrive. It’s not a difficult question to answer from Inequality.org dot last year in September: “Taxpayers are subsidizing soaring CEO pay at Pentagon contractors. If Congress doesn’t crack down on military contractor pay, the White House should.”
More than half of the $14 trillion in Pentagon spending since 911, $7 trillion, has gone to for profit contractors, according to a recent study by our colleagues at the National Priorities Project of the Institute for Policy Studies. The chief executive of these contracting companies typically pocket paychecks that dwarf the salaries of US president and military generals. In 2020, the 20 publicly held U.S. firms that received the most lucrative Pentagon contracts paid their CEOs an average of $17.7 million. Department of Defense contracts to these 20 firms totaled $210 billion last year.
Many of the companies get huge proportion of their revenue from federal tax dollars. In 2018, the top Pentagon contractor, Lockheed Martin, got 70% of its revenues from the federal government.
So this is not an industry that is frugal with the money that it gets from its taxpayers. It needs war and always expanding military operations and military budgets in order to keep enriching themselves, their shareholders and their executives at the expense of everybody else.
Now, what do I mean by the expense of everybody else? At the time that we’re sending $33 billion for now to Ukraine, on top of the couple billion dollars that was sent previously with no legal authorization, on top of all the money that we’re about to send, on top of all the already bloated military spending bill that got approved last year, American cities are crumbling. They’re crumbling. And the standard of living of Americans continues to decline.
So I think you must ask the question. Of why it is that we are sending so much of our resources to benefit and aid and protect and improve the lives of citizens of other countries. While citizens of our own country continue to watch their quality of life decline so precipitously.
From the Center on Poverty and Social Policy in February of this year, “3.7 million more children in poverty in January 2022 without the monthly child tax credit.”
The child poverty rate in the United States increased from 12.1% [already a big number] in December 2021 to 17% in January 2022, the highest rate since the end of 2020. The 4.9 percentage point 41% increase in poverty represents 3.7 million more children in poverty due to the expiration of the monthly child tax credit payments. Latino and black children experienced the largest percentage point increases of poverty 7.1, 5.9 respectively.
From Forbes two months ago, “Shock poll: Seven in ten Americans live paycheck to paycheck,” in other words, without the slightest financial security for themselves or their families. Imagine how much anxiety and stress this causes as all the indicia of mental health problems and alcoholism and addiction skyrocket.
Things like this are obviously a major contributing factor, not just to the financial suffering, but to the societal and cultural and health suffering of American citizens.
From Forbes in October of last year, “50% of Americans now carry medical debt, a new chronic condition for millions.” Here is a random picture from the US Department of Agriculture of the city of Baltimore. Does it look to you as though that city could use some of that $33 billion to improve the lives of its residents as opposed to sending it to weapons manufacturers to arm Ukrainians?
Here is a subway station in Philadelphia filled with. Litter and dirt and people suffering and people are homeless. Here is a video that shows a clearer picture of what it looks like. I mean, anyone who’s visited American cities, let alone lived in them, knows that these are common scenes in every one of these places.
Here’s Boston. I could spend the rest of the day showing you images, horrifying images of our own citizens suffering greatly with images that are completely disparate from what we’ve been inculcated to expect our country to provide as a basic standard of living to which all American citizens are entitled.
Millions of people without health care, people unable when their children are excelling in school to send them to college because of how prohibitive the costs are or to saddle them with huge amounts of debt when they get out. People without the basic necessities of life. People working two and three jobs in hourly, low-wage, dead end job with no benefits, just to support the family, families incapable of supporting their family without both parents working, no longer even have the choice to have one parent work and one parent stay at home to raise children. Having to dump their kids off at daycare and other places so that they can. both work.
Putting older relatives into nursing homes instead of being able to take care of them. So when you think about what the role of the United States government is supposed to be, at the very least, even if you think it deserves to have other things on the list, at the top of the list has to be benefiting the lives of American citizens. Which means that when it comes to Ukraine, the only way to justify what the US government is doing is to mount an argument that in some way the Russian invasion of Ukraine endangers the interests of American citizens or the lives of American citizens.
And that $33 billion and all the other money and all the other assistance and aid that is being sent to Ukraine and to Ukrainians is not better spent in the United States in order to improve the lives of American citizens. The problem, of course, is that the question is so rarely asked because most Americans have no voice in Washington. Their interests are rarely spoken for. The corporations that benefit from these policies have very high paid lobbyist who used to work inside government and therefore can pick up the phone and get any of these officials on the phone with a single call and can influence their decision making with donations, with promises, with all kinds of support. But ordinary Americans have very few people in Washington speaking for them. Which is why $33 billion can be just shipped off to Ukraine with very few questions asked.
Now, one of the things that happened was at the start of this war, the narrative that instantly formed was so repressive and such a lockstep consensus. Virtually every major power center was on board the establishment wings of all parties. Virtually the entire corporate press, all branches of the US government. Western Europe. Big Tech. There was only one narrative allowed: The Russian invasion of Ukraine was a moral atrocity and we were all duty-bound to side with the Ukrainians.
And even if you believe that what ended up happening as a result of this lockstep consensus was that anyone who dissented in any way, who asked basic questions like Why should the United States government involve itself in this country that President Obama five years ago insisted was not of a vital interest to United States?
Or why aren’t we doing more to foster a diplomatic solution? Or have we done anything to provoke the war through NATO expansion and other things that for decades in Washington, it was conventional wisdom were highly provocative to Russia. Anyone who tried picking their sticking their head up and just sticking a toe into the to the well of dissent was immediately demonized as a Russian agent, an agent of the Kremlin, an apologist for Russian atrocities. A traitor. Guilty of treason
For the crime of asking why we’re not doing more to forge a diplomatic solution, Mitt Romney accused Tulsi Gabbard, a woman who, unlike Mitt Romney and all his sons, volunteered to fight for her country in the military and in Iraq. He accused her of treason for just asking why we’re not doing more to foster a diplomatic solution to the war.
And that climate that got deliberately constructed and then implanted by design made it such that nobody was willing to question anything the US government was doing. And so even now, as we escalate severely our military involvement, the risks of our involvement in a proxy war and enormous sums of money, previously unthinkable sums of money, going to Ukraine, there’s still almost no dissent.
You see these votes in Congress from two parties that supposedly can’t get along and don’t agree on anything, that the votes are basically unanimous. There’s no debate on this incomparably important decision making process in Washington to involve the United States increasingly in a war with the other largest nuclear power on the planet, which is Russia.
And at the very least, the question that should be at the forefront of every policy debate that we ever have, and certainly one as significant and consequential as whether to continue to involve the United States and its resources in this war in Ukraine, is how is it benefiting the lives of ordinary Americans?
I don’t think anyone can construct an argument that this war and the US role in it is benefiting the lives of American citizens in any way. And that fact speaks volumes about whether this policy and all the ones that are coming can actually be justified.
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