The New York Times editorial board recently took an unusual position of denouncing what it called “war crimes” by a U.S. ally, in a war in which the United States government is actively participating militarily.
“Saudis Try to Starve Yemen Into Submission” was the headline, and it was no exaggeration. As the Times noted, there are nearly 7 million people in Yemen, including millions of children, who are facing famine.
“At least 10,000 people have been killed, many by Saudi-coalition bombings carried out with military assistance by the United States,” the editorial stated.
The famine and shortages of medicine result from the Saudis deliberately blockading Yemeni ports, including Hodeida, through which 80 percent of Yemen’s food imports arrive. Combined with the Saudis’ destruction of Yemen’s water and sanitation infrastructure, the Saudi war and blockade has also delivered to Yemen the world’s worst cholera epidemic. More than 900,000 people have been sickened and, although cholera is normally easily treatable, thousands have died.
All of this is well known, although neither the atrocities nor the U.S. role in perpetrating them have gotten the attention they deserve. But the efforts of humanitarian and antiwar groups, as well as members of Congress who believe that U.S. military involvement without congressional consent is unconstitutional, are beginning to close in on the perpetrators.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution, by a margin of 366–30, which did two unprecedented things: first, it acknowledged the U.S. role in the war, including the mid-air refueling of the Saudi-led coalition planes (which is essential to their bombing campaign) and help in selecting targets; and second, that this military involvement has not been authorized by Congress.
Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, and the president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of “Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy“ (2015, Oxford University Press). You can subscribe to his columns here.