The Ukraine shakedown is a big deal. Interference with the military justice system is a big deal. Corruption in general is a big deal. Let me explain why.
For example: When the US invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, Bush administration officials expected to win the war in a few weeks. They said so publicly. Yet here we are, 18 years later, with no acceptable end in sight. The lives lost and the trillions of dollars spent have largely been in vain.
There are several reasons for this, but corruption is high on the list. The Afghan people see the US-supported government as grossly corrupt. In contrast, the Taliban have set up a shadow government, operating in parallel, providing basic services and even a court system. The Taliban courts are intolerant and harsh, but they are incomparably quicker, and do not require bribes.
Let’s be clear: The US has largely defeated itself by tolerating and in many cases exacerbating Afghan corruption. See reference 1.
As Mao said, a guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea. If the Taliban did not enjoy the genuine support of the populace, the insurgency would end overnight.
Here’s another data point: General Washington did not tolerate any form of corruption in the Continental Army. He was not shy about court-martialing his own officers and men if they plundered, pillaged, or took bribes (reference 2). As a result, the populace saw the Continental Army as legit, as on their side, not as an occupying force.
We must apply these lessons:
The magnitude of the problem is mind-boggling. The cost includes millions of dollars swindled by various cabinet officers. It also includes tens of millions in emoluments, e.g. from military and foreign spending steered to the #fakepresident’s businesses. It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money that was exploited to extort the Ukrainians. It also includes billions of taxpayer dollars, not appropriated by law, illegally diverted to pay for wall construction. It also includes trillions of dollars wasted in Afghanistan. (It is sickening to think of all the US roads and US schools and US clean-energy installations that we could have built for a few trillion dollars.)
The cost includes all that plus something worse, namely loss in confidence in our elections, in the constitution, and in democracy itself. This will cause unimaginable long-term harm.