By all accounts, United States weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been the primary cause of the worsening conditions in Yemen, where the United States is fueling American built planes sold to the Saudis that are dropping American made bombs on roads, hospitals, markets and dams. The United States-backed Saudi/United Arab Emirates coalition has hampered, restricted, and blocked the supply of food and medicine to large sections of Yemen so that eight million people are unsure of where their next meal will come from and 400,00 people, mostly children, are at imminent risk of starvation.
Over a million reported cases of cholera were reported between the fall of 2016 and the spring of 2018. Resumed bombing by the Saudis this past week has made a new outbreak of cholera more certain with the continued targeting of water supplies and hospitals and the coming of summer.
Senator Whitehouse’s “humanitarian concern”
After joining some Republicans and only nine other Democrats, including Senator Jack Reed (Democrat, Rhode Island) in blocking discussion of the United States’ role in Yemen in the Senate, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island) defended his vote back on March 21, saying, “I share the concerns of many colleagues about the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen. I don’t see how precipitous withdrawal of the limited support the United States military provides would make things better in achieving our humanitarian or strategic aims, and voting on it without hearings or committee work seems rash.”
In the months since Whitehouse’s expression of humanitarian concern, hospitals continue to be bombed and the Yemeni health system has been crippled.
Hopefully, those committee meetings that Senator Whitehouse feels are necessary are occurring and are fruitful. Meanwhile, a recently published Matt Taibbi article in Rolling Stone quotes a Yemeni doctor standing amidst the rubble of his hospital as saying, “The missiles that kill us, American-made. The planes that kill us, American-made. The tanks … American-made. You are saying to me, where is America? America is the whole thing.”
It should be noted that the weapons sales that have led directly to this situation, and our increasing military budget, do have other results as well. They are factors in the continued rise in stock prices by our country’s military contractor corporations. This benefits the portfolios of many members of Congress, including Rhode Island’s federal officials.
Enabling Trump’s power to wage war
Additionally, Whitehouse and Reed did not support Senators Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont), Mike Lee (Republican, Utah), and Chris Murphy‘s (Democrat, Connecticut) effort to rein in Donald Trump‘s war making capacities as he uses 16 and 17 year old Authorizations of Military Force to take war and military actions in the Middle East, Africa, and around the world. As Trump currently is tweeting his threats of destruction to Iran, is he empowered to do as he pleases there due to Whitehouse’s and Reed’s lack of interest in accountability for Trump?
It should also be noted that Congressman James Langevin (Democrat, Rhode Island) continues to not support Congresswoman Barbara Lee (Democrat, California) as she has sought debate again and again in the House on these endless, unaccountable wars. And he now has voted again to increase our country’s military budget. His good friends at Northrop Grumman are pleased. Representative Lee’s most recent letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (Republican, Wisconsin) in February of this year had 106 signors, including ten Republicans. Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island) signed. Congressman Langevin did not.
Do all new jobs and all spending has to be tied to war?
Can’t we put the government money, our money, toward other types of jobs programs – into our schools, roads and bridges , heath care, or green energy? Why do government dollars for jobs only have to be for advanced military weaponry? What good can be done toward employment for the betterment of society? Currently our Democrat officials promote Community College of Rhode Island training programs toward the building of war machines. Should Democrat officials use college training courses for better purposes of employment?
This event 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.