Senate Democrats Blocked Watchdog For Ukraine Aid — Ignoring Lessons From Afghanistan
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Intercept
Posted: August 20th, 2023
Hours after Senate Democrats blocked an effort to install greater oversight over the billions of dollars the United States is sending to Ukraine, the watchdog who oversaw U.S. spending in Afghanistan issued a warning. Spending too much too fast, with little oversight, would lead to “unanticipated consequences,” John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, said at an event. Sopko especially warned about the risk of fueling corruption, perhaps the most damaging legacy of the billions the U.S. spent in Afghanistan and a major factor in the collapse of its effort in the country. “If that much money is coming in, you know some of it is going to be stolen,” he said. “In Afghanistan, corruption was the existential threat. It wasn’t the Taliban. It was corruption that did us in.” Debate over installing a special inspector for Ukraine modeled after SIGAR began swirling on Capitol Hill as it became clear that U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s full-scale invasion would reach unprecedented levels. Congress approved some $113 billion in aid to Ukraine last year, and some analysts put the full figure to date at closer to $137 billion. By comparison, the U.S. spent some $146 billion in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2022 (although it spent far more going to war there in the first place). “By the end of this year, we will have spent more money in Ukraine than we did to do the entire Marshall Plan after World War II,” Sopko said.
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