The U.S. Senate voted 86 to 11 yesterday to send $40 billion in military and economic support to the Ukrainian government. The centerpiece of the aid package is military assistance to drag out the war with Russia. This follows the vote last week by the House of Representatives that saw every single Democratic Party lawmaker and the vast majority of Republicans approve the same measure. The bill now goes to Biden to be signed into law.
This enormous sum of money was approved just three weeks after it was first proposed by the Biden administration. In fact, Congress added $7 billion to Biden’s original $33 billion request!
Clearly, politicians in Washington are fully capable of moving quickly to address the issues they view as dire emergencies. Congress has not felt so moved to allocate funding to address the baby formula shortage causing havoc across the country. They have not shown any kind of sense of urgency when it comes to reducing the spiraling cost of essential goods, stemming the rising tide of evictions or any of the other crises facing the working class.
Less than six months ago, Congress actually did have an opportunity to greatly expand social programs through the Build Back Better bill, which included proposals to address climate change, fund universal pre-K, subsidize childcare, make permanent the child tax credit, and more. But after a debate that dragged out endlessly Democratic Party Senator Joe Manchin went on Fox News to announce that he was killing the proposal. And Biden himself seems perfectly content to let his signature domestic policy proposal gather dust as he turns his attention to deepening a major war.
When the Ukraine spending package was originally proposed, it was attached to $10 billion in desperately-needed COVID relief funding. But even something as fundamental as saving lives in the midst of the worst pandemic in living memory had to be jettisoned from the final bill, which politicians in Congress insisted remain exclusively focused on death and destruction.
The military and economic aid coming from the United States is a dangerous escalation of the war in Ukraine. The only people who stand to gain from the prolongation of the war are the imperialists in the Pentagon and the weapons manufacturers who reap profits from the huge weapons shipments that have been taking place since the war broke out.
Of the $40 billion just appropriated for Ukraine, $6 billion is set aside for the direct delivery of new weaponry, $8.7 billion for replenishing U.S. weapons stocks that have already been shipped to Ukraine and $3.9 billion for U.S. forces deployed near the warzone, and much of the rest is aimed at maintaining the basic functioning of the Ukrainian government. This massive sum proves that the conflict is a proxy war between the United States and Russia. Ukraine’s state would simply collapse if not for the huge cash injection from the United States.
The U.S. government and its NATO allies do not want the bloodshed in Ukraine to end because they view the war as a politically advantageous tool to advance U.S. domination of the world. Not only does the escalation enrich the military industrial complex, but it is a tool to solidify the United States’ diplomatic control over Europe. Last week, Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership under the intense pressure manufactured by the war.
The ascension of Finland and Sweden to NATO is an extremely provocative action. Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia and fought with the Nazis during their invasion of the Soviet Union. The two countries pursued a policy of neutrality during the entirety of the Cold War — and Sweden has been officially neutral for over 200 years! — but will now attach themselves to the NATO military machine. It will be impossible for Russia to stand by and allow this NATO expansion to take place without taking some kind of countermeasure.
The war in Ukraine could end right away if the United States sat down at the negotiating table with Russia, agreed on Ukraine’s neutral status, created a collective security agreement to demilitarize Eastern Europe, and stopped supporting the neo-Nazi forces that have been incorporated into the Ukrainian state. These are not impossible demands to meet and the United States’ unwillingness to do so exposes their aims as being not the pursuit of peace but rather the weakening of a geopolitical rival.
The cost of living is rising in the United States under the pressure of inflation caused in no small part by U.S.-led efforts to cut Russia out of the world economy. A major social program is needed right now to shield the working class from the worst of the crisis. But all that the ruling class politicians in Washington care about is their pet war and the profits of the weapons manufacturers.