In March of 2003, as the United States military prepared for its imminent invasion of Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz suggested to US Congress members that the US would not foot the bill for rebuilding Iraq after the devastation the US invasion would bring to the country. Wolfowitz, who was then deputy secretary of defense, assured Congress members that Iraq, through its oil revenue, could pay for its own reconstruction.
Reality turned out much different. As Krishnadev Calamur wrote at The Atlantic in 2018, “15 years later, Iraq has yet to fully rebuild after the American-led invasion, a civil war, and the isis takeover of large parts of the country, and has never been able to fund a substantial portion of the reconstruction itself.”
Inquisitive, informed individuals would have had plenty of reason back in 2003 to be very skeptical when Wolfowitz dangled before them the prospect of a reconstruction of Iraq at no cost to the US government. But, many people, included among them Congress members, were seeking talking points to sell the war against Iraq, not predictions based in reality.
Here we are 19 years later with a similar tactic being used to propagandize to the American people and provide pro-war talking points to Congress members in regard to the US going to war against Russia. So far, the US war on Russia is largely being pursued via aid to the Ukraine government and sanctions. US troops, at least overtly, are not fighting Russians troops on the ground, in the air, or at sea, but it is war nonetheless. Indeed, in a Thursday Twitter post, White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain bluntly affirmed this while saying the war cost can be paid by selling yachts the US seizes from Russians. “Seize yachts, fund the war,” Klain declared.
Be ready for Klain’s declaration to prove as far off as Wolfowitz’s has. For now, though, the curt assertion of a free war can help keep Americans from paying critical attention to the unfolding US foreign policy disaster and give politicians an excuse for helping move the war forward.
Klain’s Twitter post came the same day as the Biden administration announced its proposal for legislation to expand and streamline the US government’s confiscating and selling of Russians’ property wherever it may be found. This activity is already an unconstitutional travesty, before being amped up as proposed by the Biden administration.
The Russian property conversion racket is sure to bring in far less money than the US government spends in its anti-Russia effort, not to mention the additional costs born by Americans due to shortages and price increases arising from the disruption of commerce caused by US sanctions on Russia. And, the more the war ramps up, the more costs to the US government and Americans can be expected to rise.
The Biden administration’s announcement of its plans for expanded and streamlined confiscation and sale of Russians’ property begins with a mention that this plan is being pursued “ in concert with [President Joe Biden’s] supplemental request to Congress to support Ukraine.” That supplemental request is for 33 billion dollars. This is on top of tens of billions of dollars the US has spent already on Ukraine this year. Of course, the money was flowing from the US to Ukraine consistently, though at a slower pace, for many years before as well. Included was funding for the 2014 overthrow of the country’s elected government.
Compared to the money the US government has spent and will spend on the Ukraine government and against Russia, money from selling yachts and other property of Russians is sure to be a drop in the bucket. The Biden administration, in its Thursday announcement, talks of the Department of Treasury having “sanctioned and blocked vessels and aircraft worth over $1 billion, as well as frozen hundreds of millions of dollars of assets belonging to Russian elites in U.S. bank accounts.” That is already way behind expenses. Deficit spending is the US government’s way. So also is war.