Apr 28, 2022
Peace advocates reacted to Thursday's request by U.S. President Joe Biden for $33 billion in additional aid to Ukraine by warning against what they called a dangerous escalation and by accusing the administration of misplaced priorities.
"How can this not lead to escalation?"
Biden is asking Congress for additional funding for war-ravaged Ukraine, including more than $20 billion in "security and military assistance," $8.5 billion in economic aid, and $3 billion in "humanitarian assistance."
"It's not cheap. But caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen," said Biden. "We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country, or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in Ukraine every day."
The president's appeal for additional funds comes on top of the $4.6 billion in security assistance the U.S. has given Ukraine since January 2021, including $3.7 billion since Russian forces invaded the country in February.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the women-led peace group CodePink, called Biden's request "a down payment on World War III."
"Biden's call for an enormous $33 billion for Ukraine is over half the entire budget for the State Department and USAID," she tweeted, referring to the United States Agency for International Development. "We need diplomacy, not billions more in weapons!"
Benjamin also noted that the Biden administration--which refuses to unfreeze Afghanistan's central bank reserves--"won't fill the $2 billion shortfall in the urgent U.N. appeal for the desperately poor people of Afghanistan."
Jennifer Briney, host of the Congressional Dish podcast, tweeted: "How can the U.S. possibly maintain the already-pretty-clear-fiction that we aren't 'in' the Ukraine-Russia war if we inject $33 billion into it? How can this not lead to escalation?"
Ben Freeman, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, pointed out that "the $20 billion military assistance package is more than the total defense budgets of all but 13 countries in the world."
Others commented on what they implied are the administration's misplaced priorities amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, worsening economic inequality, and the climate emergency.
\u201cBiden has requested $33 BILLION in aid for Ukraine\u2013 $20.4 billion of which would be spent on weapons & other military assistance.\n\nWith that same $20 billion, the Biden admin could help 500,000 unhoused Americans by effectively ending homelessness. #CutThePentagon\u201d— CODEPINK (@CODEPINK) 1651174170
"Biden's $33 billion 'emergency' military aid package for Ukraine is three times the size of the EPA's entire budget for 2022," tweetedCounterPunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair, referring to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Writer and activist Margaret Kimberly bemoaned that "Biden is asking struggling Americans who lost their child tax credit for $33 billion after his Ukraine police blew up in his face."
Ben Cohen, co-founder of the ice cream company Ben & Jerry's, wondered why Biden is "asking for an extra $33 billion to help Ukraine and not an extra $33 billion to replace every single lead pipe in America" when "we have at least 1.2 million children suffering from lead poisoning here and now."
Jay Befaunt, an LGBTQ+ activist and co-host of the Revolutionary Blackout Network, tweeted: "Again? When Black and Brown countries need aid, you either never hear about it or it's very little. But when it's Ukraine, Biden is acting like he's Ukraine's sugar daddy. And don't get me started on we citizens who need our material needs met. We don't get diddly squat!"
Asserting that "we need healthcare, not warfare," Benjamin lamented that Biden's "initial ask of $22 billion for Covid has been slashed to $10 billion, cutting support to poor countries" even as "one million Americans died of Covid," and more than six million people have perished worldwide.
\u201c$33 billion to the Ukraine. \n\nPpl can\u2019t put food on the table. Rents gone up. Housing prices have gone up. Raises have almost gone down when accounting for inflation. We\u2019re having supply shortages across the board.\n\nBut we have $33 billion to spend on Ukraine but not US citizens.\u201d— Joe Biden Hates Black People (@Joe Biden Hates Black People) 1651161938
"Can we just start calling Americans Ukrainians," quipped Oscar-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox, "and work Medicare for All into this package?"
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