Rhode Island Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed have decided to turn a blind eye towards the humanitarian disaster occurring in Yemen as a result of both Saudi bombing and blockade. They voted with Donald Trump and the GOP to defeat the bi-partisan Sanders/Lee/Murphy resolution that would have stopped United States support for Saudi Arabia‘s war on Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is aided in its three year fight against Houthi rebels in Yemen by the United States, which helps refuel planes and provides intelligence for Saudi Arabia’s brutal air campaign. So far the conflict has claimed more than 13,500 lives, many of them in airstrikes.
Roughly 20 million Yemenis need humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs – including food and water. One million Yemenis are suffering from cholera, although the situation there is so bad that it is hard to get an exact estimate of the extent of the misery. This year parts of Yemen were experiencing a diphtheria epidemic. Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade last year that even the most conservative of estimates say resulted in the deaths of at least 5,000 civilians from starvation and disease, 20 percent of whom were children.
Rather than lifting the blockade and allowing the free flow of food, water and medical supplies, the Saudis and its coalition partners, including the United States, have said it will supply aid to Yemen, even while the bombing continues. Food supplies dwindle and transportation becomes impossible as fuel prices skyrocket and the road infrastructure is bombed, further preventing access to what little aid is available.
Apparently, our senators are fine with this.
Moreover, they seem uninterested in exercising Congress’s constitutional authority over the declaration of war and authorization of the use of force.
Posing as resisters, Senators Whitehouse and Reed have given Trump an immense military budget, voted to extend domestic spying on United States civilians by the National Security Agency and seem oblivious to the fact that under the new tax laws, we will be facing huge deficits. Every cent spent on war will not be available for domestic needs. Our Democratic Senators’ recent vote for a budget allocated more for war than for domestic needs. Later this year, when the GOP calls for safety net cuts on social security, medicare and medicaid, we expect our Senators to continue their pose as resisters. We are not fooled by this.
Whitehouse and Reed are giving Trump what he wants in terms of the ability to wage unchecked war wherever he wants, without oversight. They have voted to give security agencies the loopholes necessary to spy on civilians without warrants. They have tacitly agreed to vote for guns now, paving the way for cuts on domestic spending on the future.
This is not resistance…
Our demonstration, Wednesday, 4:30-6:00 PM outside Senator Whitehouse’s office at 170 Westminister St, Providence, is an effort to build public awareness of these issues and increase public support of a more peaceful, less militaristic country and world. The intent is not to directly engage our officials or their staff at these events.
Simple demonstration – people gathered on the sidewalks on the corner of Westminster and Dorrance Streets. People will be there peacefully with signs – bring your own, or we will have some, plus extra materials – generally challenging above mentioned elected officials and their support of Trump and majority GOP positions on these topics.
Key for successful demonstration – Respect Ourselves, Others, and Community. Positive interactions to build awareness, and work to change how our elected officials conduct our business and when they don’t serve our interests.