I’ve written a lot about Yemen over the past few years. And I knew the US Senate would never vote to end our direct participation in the Saudi war crime there that has led to the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII. I knew they – like 60 Minutes and the rest of the US — would kowtow to the extremist religious autocrats who rule over the most repressive regime on the face of the earth (with the possible exception of North Korea). I knew our leaders were bought and sold by Saudi money, which has also helped finance and arm violent extremists all over the world, for years. I knew they wouldn’t vote against America’s bipartisan participation in this genocide – and they didn’t.
But sickening as this was, it was the statement by one of the senators who did vote to end US involvement in Yemen that caused my gall to overflow: the sanctimonious prig Tim Kaine – the man who would’ve been vice president. After casting a vote that he knew wouldn’t matter (many Democratic “leaders,” like Chuck Schumer, didn’t even vote until the 51-vote approval threshold was passed), Kaine put out a smarmy, pious statement lamenting the millions of Yemenis who may starve and the tens of thousands already killed in a war that, he says, the US “stumbled into.”
It was this arrogant, arrant, brazen, soulless lie that outraged me to the top of my bent. Kaine knows — as does anyone who has simply read the news in the past few years — that it is an indisputable, established fact that the US did not “stumble” into the Yemen war. He knows the indisputable fact that the former leader of his party, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, very openly and deliberately and knowingly not only greenlighted the Saudi invasion but actively, openly and directly aided the slaughter in almost every way — with weapons, with bombs, with US forces helping aim and target the bombs, with US warships helping enforce a naval blockade against the desert country that has plunged millions of innocent people into famine … all to “restore” a “president” who was the hand-picked toady of the US and the Saudis in an “election” in which NO OTHER CANDIDATE WAS ALLOWED TO RUN.
Again, all of this was done openly, directly, unashamedly: you could read about it in the most respectable newspapers in the country. The Obama administration didn’t try to hide it. Indeed, in the last months of his presidency, Obama gave the Saudis a $115 million arms deal — the biggest in the 70 years of US-Saudi alliance — while Yemen was not only sinking into famine and ruin but also enduring one of the worst cholera epidemics in all of recorded human history.
So no, Senator Kaine, the United States did not “stumble” into the Yemen war. It plunged whole-heartedly into the putrid slaughter, under the direction of the progressive, scandal-free Democratic president, Barack Obama, with the full support of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment and the mainstream media. Building on Obama’s foundation, Trump has expanded the US involvement in Yemen, with more blunderbuss bombing and troops on the ground. But he is only carrying forward the policy that Tim Kaine knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was willingly launched by his predecessor. Without, we should add, the slightest word of opposition from moral paragons like Sen. Tim Kaine — or Hillary Clinton, or, at the time, from Bernie Sanders, who said during his campaign that the Saudis should be more militarily involved in the region.
This is the tragic, sickening, indisputable fact: under the last two presidencies, Democratic and Republican, the United States has been directly, actively, openly complicit in a ghastly, ongoing atrocity in Yemen, an act of mass murder and deliberate savagery that has sent thousands and thousands of innocent human beings — including thousands of children — to their graves, and plunged millions more into suffering and chaos that almost none of us in the West could even remotely imagine.
Yes, I hate Trump and all he stands for, and yes, I think it is an unbearable abomination that this two-bit, pig-ignorant criminal is now the president. But these indisputable facts about Yemen are one of the many reasons that I cannot join some of my friends and loved ones in nostalgic yearnings and fond reminisces of his predecessor, or pretend that my government was not also involved in horrific crimes and unspeakable moral depravity under his rule as well.
And it’s also why I cannot sit back and let abettors and accomplices of war crime like Tim Kaine now step forth and preen like moral paragons after watching — with approval — the innocent people of Yemen being starved and slaughtered in my name. When will we say enough is enough? When will we stop turning a blind eye to evil if it is committed by someone on “our” side, someone wearing the partisan livery of “our” team?
And when — in God’s holy name — will we quit pretending that “we are great because we are good,” that when we take a three-year-old child and rip her small, frail body into shreds of bloody goo with our missiles, we are noble, we are righteous, we are a light in the darkness? I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the sanctimony, sick of the self-righteousness, I’m sick of the pious bullshit from mouths that are dripping with blood. I’m sick of the whole ungodly freak show of murderers, and apologists and cheerleaders for murder, prancing around in their pomp and their power while they grind innocent people — children just as precious and valuable as your children and grandchildren, old folks just as loved and honored as your parents, men and women just as beloved as your spouses and partners and lovers and friends — into piles of rancid viscera, into skeletal, fly-ridden living cadavers, starving in shelterless ruins.
If you want to go on pretending that this is normal — or that it was all normal before, but has only become bad now that a garish mob goon is in the White House — then go ahead. I would love to live with such a comforting delusion myself. But it won’t change the facts, it won’t change the truth, it won’t bring back the innocent dead — or prevent the endless, continuing proliferation of death at the hands of the preening, lying, bipartisan murderers we keep supporting in the hellish kabuki of our politics.
This article also appears at CounterPunch.