top of page

Arsenal of Hypocrisy: Why Wasting Ammo is the Whole Point

Paul Shepard

Sep 18, 2022

Remember Afghanistan? While the Taliban returned to power on the heels of a bewilderingly chaotic US withdrawal after 20 years of occupation, there was immense hand-wringing and a flurry of unpleasant, albeit mixed feelings, on TV and around American dinner tables. But the war lobbyists turned a VERY handsome profit. While they might have struggled with the news, the weight of history, the waste, the shame of defeat, as so many Americans did, they "struggled" all the way to the bank.

Maybe they even cried into their lobster: But it was the same delectable gourmet fare afforded them had the US instead succeeded in its Afghanistan mission (whatever that was).

It is never a matter of "winning" or "losing" to them – they win big in every scenario except peace.

The same is true for the Ukraine conflict, which war profiteers in the West (in contrast to everyday Ukrainians and Russians) might hope to prolong as much as they possibly can.

The Ukraine conflict is all the more delicious to them, because while war in Afghanistan saw actual deployment of US soldiers and even those who were yet to be born when that war was declared, the kind of meddling we've seen from the US in Ukraine has so far avoided the PR problem of American deaths and grieving American families.

"I am proud to announce our biggest tranche of security assistance [to Ukraine] to date: approximately $2.98 billion of weapons and equipment to be provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative," US President Joe Biden proclaimed in August.

US taxpayers will supply six advanced surface-to-air missile systems, (NASAMS), dozens of counter-artillery radars, precision rocket systems, and more than 300,000 rounds of artillery and mortar ammunition and more, on top of everything else we've sent to prop up the Kiev government.

On August 29, a Wall Street Journal report explained that the US has reached "uncomfortably low" levels of 155mm howitzer ammunition, citing an unnamed defense official. After sending more than 800,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition to fighters in Ukraine, the US supply is "not at the level we would like to go into combat,” the official said.

Surprising no one, the Pentagon's solution is to ask Congress for even more money. They need $500 million more to replace this "uncomfortably low" stockpile of ammunition.

"The Ukraine conflict is showing what it will take to keep the arsenal of democracy equal to the task," Bloomberg's Hal Brands wrote back in April, arguing that "greater investments in the defense industrial base and more aggressive purchasing and stockpiling of key munitions can help."

Over the past six months, we've sent Stinger anti-air missiles, Javelin anti-tank missiles, 16 M142 high mobility artillery rocket systems (or HIMARS), VAMPIRE technical kits, and a mountain of small arms and ammunition to Ukraine. The too-often unspoken but central point of it all is to prolong the violence there.

Make no mistake: $40 billion in aid later, Kiev is not standing on its own feet. It fights entirely at the pleasure of the West and profits only the "defense" industry of the West. And the US war lobby is absolutely giddy about the carnage in Ukraine.

Were my loved ones blown to smithereens in Donbass – distinguishing a US-made bomb from a Russian bomb would be less important to me, I expect, than the fact of my grief and my desperation to see the conflict come to an end.

But as was the case for Afghanistan, the US war lobby would prefer that it go on forever; it is willing to sacrifice men and women on the altar of corporate greed, indefinitely. And if, as we see in Ukraine, they can get away with sacrificing foreign children and families, but not US service members, on that altar, then so much the better!

bottom of page