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The ‘Ukraine War Is Good For American Business’ Argument Isn’t Just Vile, It’s Also A Lie

Instead of shoveling money to a foreign government to buy American weapons, taxpayers could use that money to buy American consumer goods.


By now, as President Joe Biden proposes sending another $61 billion from American taxpayers to Ukraine, most Americans realize supporting the war in Ukraine has been a massively expensive failure. When the Russian army initially invaded, the foreign policy establishment insisted the United States could successfully train and arm the Ukrainians to resist the Russian onslaught. This, it was said, would benefit Americans by preventing Putin from invading American allies in the rest of Europe and promoting democracy. Somehow, the corrupt oligarchy in Ukraine was more democratic than the corrupt oligarchy in Russia.

Hundreds of thousands of lives and more than $100 billion later, it’s clear nothing about this war is going to change. Now, the only people who want to keep the war going are defense companies and their shills in Washington, D.C. They will fight Putin to the last Ukrainian and happily sink our country even further into debt to do so.

Moreover, as former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen celebrated in a recent essay, these war profiteers are legion and quite proud of the business they’re bringing to American workers — almost as proud as they were when they hyped Volodymyr Zelensky as this generation’s Winston Churchill.

“Funds that lawmakers approve to arm Ukraine are not going directly to Ukraine but are being used stateside to build new weapons or to replace weapons sent to Kyiv from U.S. stockpiles,” Thiessen points out. Also, all this aid has become “a major cash infusion into factories across the country that directly benefits American workers” and is “also reinvigorating our dangerously atrophied defense industrial base.”

For good measure, Thiessen calls out Republican politicians who oppose this military aid to Ukraine, especially U.S. Sens. J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley. In his view, these men pretend to champion factory workers, but won’t support them where it counts. “Now, thanks to the Ukraine aid that Vance opposes, the Pentagon signed a $624.6 million contract last year to build Stinger missiles in Tucson, to replace about 1,400 sent to Ukraine,” Thiessen asserts. He accuses Hawley of impoverishing his constituents in Missouri by “trying to cut funding for these [Patriot missile] systems being built in his state.”

At no point does Thiessen mention who exactly is paying for these weapons: American taxpayers. Nor does he mention the other crucial fact that all this money could be going to a whole slew of other things that would benefit the American industrial base far more than producing weapons for endless war. Those include building a wall to keep out cheap foreign labor, promoting domestic energy production, and investing research into new industrial technology.

As the French economist Frederic Bastiat explained almost two centuries ago, “Destruction is not profitable.” He illustrates this point with the “Parable of the Broken Window,” in which a boy breaks a window, forcing the store owner to pay for a new one. Some might conclude this is good because it keeps window-makers in business: “Good comes out of everything. Accidents like this keep production moving. Everyone has to live. What would happen to glaziers if no window panes were ever broken?”

Bastiat points out that people only arrive at this conclusion because they can see the store owner paying to have his window replaced, but they cannot see what the store owner would have done with that money otherwise. For instance, he could have bought shoes, enriching the shoe salesman. As for the glazier, he could have made a window for a new building instead of repairing an old one that was just vandalized.

Saying that pointless wars are good for business follows the same logic. It focuses on what people can see — new Abrams tanks, the factories in Ohio making them, and the plants in Mesquite, Texas arming them — and neglects what they cannot see: new cars (that are actually affordable), the factories in Ohio making them, and plants in Texas equipping them with GPS systems. Instead of shoveling money to a corrupt foreign government that wants to buy American weapons, American taxpayers could use that money to buy American consumer goods. More jobs, more happy customers, and far fewer dead Ukrainians and Russians.

Without this argument that war is good for business, Thiessen and other Ukraine boosters are only left with the same old arguments used to initially justify American intervention in Ukraine: “decimating the Russian military threat to NATO, restoring deterrence with China, dissuading other nuclear powers from launching wars of aggression, and improving American military preparedness for other adversaries.” 

But all of these “reasons” are subject to serious questions at this point: Was the Russian military ever a real threat to NATO? Is China really deterred from taking military action in Taiwan? Are any world leaders more afraid of the U.S. military after seeing Ukraine laid waste despite the support it received — to say nothing of the despicable Biden administration withdrawal from Afghanistan? It’s time for our leaders to admit that continuing support for Ukraine is a mistake. It has been an utter waste of lives and money, and to suggest otherwise only ensures further destruction. For the sake of everyone involved, the Biden administration should just broker a peace deal and move on — or better yet, focus on domestic affairs. American workers should focus their efforts at home, beat their swords into plowshares, and rebuild a once proud country that’s currently falling apart.

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