Opinion and reporting by Mathew Carr
The US government appears to be making deliberate accounting mistakes to justify its military spending or warmongering, however you choose to see it.
Reuters reported May 18 that the Pentagon overestimated the value of the ammunition, missiles and other equipment it sent to Ukraine by around $3 billion. The news service cited a Senate aide and a defense official. The error “may lead the way for more weapons being sent to Kyiv for its defense against Russian forces.” The country’s already sent $21.1 billion of equipment.
President Joe Biden’s Government Finds $3 Billion for Ukraine, but Rationale Seems Against Common Accounting Standards
The U.S. is pretending to have made its mistake before, but actually it seems to be making its mistake right now — in order to justify sending more military equipment, said Hector Birchwood, a businessman and economist in London. The weapons should indeed be accounted for at replacement value, he said.
Doing otherwise — accounting for them at historical-cost value — suggests they won’t need to be replaced.
“The news media and politicians are, by ignorance, or compliance, accepting that false narrative that there was a mistake in the initial accounting method, when in reality, the ‘correction’ is a deliberate act designed to mislead and circumvent the authority of Congress; because the administration would require Congress to allocate more money to the war,” Birchwood told CarrZee.
“The US Government accounted for the weaponry correctly the first time, as it should be accounted (for) by replacement value, because you value the worth of something by what the item costs now, not what it may have cost 20 years ago, which incorporates several years of inflation.”
The accounting gimmickry may have serious consequences. It could mean that the Pentagon’s budget projections for the current fiscal year are inaccurate. Should the $3 billion become a wobbly plank in the negotiations, the Pentagon may make cuts to other programs to make up for any shortfall.
In addition to the accounting problems, Biden’s rationale for the “$3 billion find” may erode any trust that remains in the debt-ceiling talks.
If Biden’s goal is to help Ukraine win the war, then the $3 billion aid package is just a drop in the bucket. Ukraine is estimated to need billions of dollars more in order to sustain its effort. The $3 billion aid package is a significant amount of money, but probably not enough to turn the tide.
As we said previously, there is also a big call on the US to provide more financial support for climate protection, disasters and adaptation around the world, not just at home. Every dollar spent on weapons clearly is the environment’s loss. (Still, the prospect of mass migration induced by global heating does stoke the need for military spending)
Especially given this context, Biden’s $3 billion find for Ukraine raises some serious concerns. If there really is an extra $3 billion, it should help the climate.