It may not seem this way if you watch cable news in the U.S., but there are severe life or death crises unfolding across the world and they have literally nothing to do with the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged relationship with Russian officials or Don Jr.’s direct messages with WikiLeaks. I’m not saying that this investigation is not important or relevant or necessary. It is. But the emerging pattern is that nothing else matters. And that is extremely dangerous and frankly reckless, particularly when you consider the level of humanitarian destruction and the wars, both covert and overt, that are raging across the globe.
It’s an unspeakable scandal that what the U.S., and Britain, and Saudi Arabia are doing to the people of Yemen is not on every single newscast every single day. The world is witnessing a genocidal war that is made possible by the United States government. For three years, the Saudis have used U.S., British and other Western-supplied weapons to systematically target the civilian infrastructure of Yemen. They have bombed power plants, including destroying the main power grid in the capital, Sana’a.
There is now a horrifying outbreak of cholera. More than a half a million Yemenis have been infected with the disease this year alone. Two thousand people, most of them children, have died from the cholera outbreak. By next month, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, there are estimates that cholera cases will rise to about one million. This is a direct result of the scorched-earth bombing that the United States is facilitating.
Some seven million Yemenis are facing what a coalition of 20 international aid groups call famine-like conditions. Twenty million people right now have about six weeks left of food rations and the country has a vaccine supply that’s expected to last no more than a month. People are living in sewage. Hospitals are closing or are totally overwhelmed. Doctors and nurses have not been paid in months. It’s a matter of time before diseases like polio and measles begin rapidly spreading.
Making matters even worse, the Saudis have imposed an embargo, a blockade on humanitarian supplies coming into Yemen and they’ve actively prevented ships from delivering desperately needed aid. Now under international pressure in recent days, the Saudis now say that they’re going to ease that blockade. We shall see. The past three years have shown a ruthless, merciless, and heartless Saudi agenda that is collectively punishing the entire population of the poorest nation in the Arab world, all with the enthusiastic support of the U.S. government under Donald Trump.
Pope Francis’s envoy to the United Nations warned that the bombing campaign in Yemen is creating, “a humanitarian disaster of apocalyptic proportions.” Think of all of this the next time you hear Trump or any other U.S. official talk about how important Saudi Arabia is to the United States.
Secretary Rex Tillerson: America’s security at home is strengthened when Saudi Arabia’s security is strong as well.
JS: Or when you hear Trump bragging about weapons sales to the Kingdom.
DJT: And we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies, the greatest anywhere in the world.
JS: Think of this when military or intelligence officials claim that the Saudis are an important ally in the fight against terrorism.
Secretary James Mattis: Well, welcome, your Royal Highness, Excellencies, distinguished members of the Kingdom’s delegation. Welcome to the Pentagon.
JS: It’s one big deadly lie. And this bombing could end tomorrow with one phone call from Donald Trump. But instead of stopping a genocide, Trump is fueling it, as Obama did before him, albeit with a little bit of feigned concern about the humanitarian conditions in Yemen. This policy is shameful. Utterly shameful.
Late on Monday night this week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the civilian deaths and the spread of disease in Yemen. But by the time it was actually voted on, it was so watered down as to be completely meaningless as though it’s a mystery who’s doing most of the killing in Yemen. It doesn’t even mention the Saudis! That resolution will have no actual consequences. It doesn’t stop the U.S. from selling arms to the Saudis, it doesn’t stop the U.S. from refueling Saudi warplanes or providing the Saudis with intelligence to wage its bloody air war.
In fact, Congress remains totally unwilling to stop this genocide. There are a few who seem to get it, among them Senator Chris Murphy.
Senator Chris Murphy: I mention that the blockade is being run by the Saudi-led coalition. The United States is a member of that coalition. For two years the United States has been aiding the government of Saudi Arabia in a bombing campaign of the Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. That bombing campaign has caused this outbreak of cholera. Why is that?
JS: Now, I don’t believe that either the Democrats or the Republicans will actually confront this horror with anything except toothless resolutions, but Murphy should be applauded for speaking out. And here’s the other thing: it’s not just Yemen. U.S. drone strikes have continued unabated under Donald Trump. There were four in Somalia in the last week alone. Afghanistan is once again escalating. The CIA has been given wider latitude to conduct lethal operations and Trump has removed some of the Obama era approvals that the CIA would need to get in order to conduct drone strikes. Meanwhile, Trump has eased the rules on the military, the U.S. military, killing civilians and the death toll in Syria and Iraq are spiking through the roof since Donald Trump became president.
U.S. Special Operations Forces are deployed in 130-plus countries around the world, but there’s almost never mention of this in big establishment media. No, all day every day it’s: Trump, Russia, Trump, Russia, Trump, Russia.
What presidents do, including in their personal lives, when they’re president, it’s very important for the media to cover. It was important under Bill Clinton, as it is under Donald Trump. But the point is, at what price does this obsession with a small part of what’s going on in the United States and around the world, at what price does that obsession and imbalance in coverage come? The secret and public wars that the U.S. has engaged in, they all must be covered in depth regardless of what’s happening inside the palace at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
We are going to pay a price at home for what is done with our money and in our names abroad, and this is all going to come back to hit us as it has before. So, let’s not fall into this trap of deciding what to cover and in how much depth, as though news organizations are producers of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or that we’re somehow cheap ambulance chasers. People are dying in massive numbers because of the actions of our government. Our wars make new enemies every day. And it’s all of our job, as reporters, as journalists to report on it, regardless of what else is happening in the country or the world