zaterdag 9 juni 2018

Bas Heijne's 'Hollands Perspectief' 3


Bas Heijne's woorden in de NRC: 

Het is mijn ambitie geweest de onderstromen zichtbaar te maken.
Daar ga ik de komende tijd mee door in NRC, maar niet op deze plaats. Het afgelopen jaar begon juist de vorm van de column te knellen, als een mooie maar iets te strakke broek. Juist de broodnodige opwinding over de actualiteit waarop columns gedijen, begon bij mij af te nemen. Rutte I had ik gevolgd, en Rutte II, en Rutte III. 
Had ik nog zin in Rutte IV en V?
Wat beweert hier NRC-opiniemaker Bas Heijne precies? Wel, dat het zijn 'ambitie [is] geweest om onderstromen zichtbaar te maken,' door 'Rutte I, II, en III' te volgen. Kennelijk is Heijne de mening toegedaan dat het volgen van de Nederlandse politiek de 'onderstromen' van het wereldgebeuren 'zichtbaar' maakt. De provinciaal denkt al snel dat wat bij hem in de buurt gebeurt van universeel belang is. Maar dit is natuurlijk onzin. Moest hij tot 11 september 2001 zich nog inspannen om als gevolg van de Hollandse 'windstilte' niet in slaap te sukkelen, de afgelopen 17 jaar bleef hij klaarwakker door zich te concentreren op de politiek van wat de emeritus hoogleraar Kees van der Pijl -- niet zonder reden -- de '150 makke schapen' van de Tweede Kamer betitelt. Desondanks bleven deze schapen Bas fascineren. Tot hij onlangs bij zichzelf ontdekte dat '[j]uist de broodnodige opwinding over de actualiteit waarop columns gedijen, bij mij [begon] af te nemen.' Ik kan me daarbij wel iets voorstellen: 'makke schapen' in een polderland veroorzaken bij de meeste mensen, laat staan bij serieuze journalisten, alles behalve 'opwinding.' Maar zonder een zo groot mogelijk publiek telt een mainstream-columnist van de commerciële massamedia niet mee. 

Blijft over de vraag welke 'onderstromen' Heijne 'zichtbaar' wilde maken. De neoliberale ideologische 'onderstroom' die sinds het eind van de jaren zeventig door middel van deregulering en privatisering, benevens het massaal overhevelen van arbeid naar lage lonen-landen, de westerse samenleving heeft verwoest? Nee, deze 'onderstroom,' die het Westen zo ingrijpend heeft veranderd, speelde bij Heijne geen centrale rol. Pas in 2001, twee decennia na het begin van de neoliberale revolutie, schrok hij wakker, niet van het vanwege deze ideologie die hele culturen verpletterde, maar van de aanslagen op 11 september in New York en Washington. Dat       na alle westerse terreur de slachtoffers met spectaculaire contra-terreur begonnen terug te vechten, was voor Bas in zijn windstille Holland een schok van jewelste. Ineens stond  zijn wereldje ondersteboven. Bombarderen is namelijk sinds jaar en dag een westerse privilege. Dat er sprake was van een Keerpunt (de titel van het boek dat ik drie maanden na de aanslagen publiceerde) begreep Heijne niet. De geschiedenis was voor hem ontspoord geraakt. 

In zijn boek A History of Bombing (2001) vertelt de Zweedse journalist en auteur Sven Lindqvist, dat enkele maanden na de wapenstilstand die een einde maakte aan de Eerste Wereldoorlog in Groot-Britannië

a demand was made that the German pilots who had bombed London be brought to trial as war criminals. The British Air Ministry protested. Trials of that sort 'would be placing a noose round the necks of our airman in future wars.' Since the aim of the British air attacks against German cities had been 'to weaken the morale of civilian inhabitants (and thereby their 'will to win') by persistent bomb attacks which would both destroy life (civilian and otherwise) and if possible originate a conflagration (vuurzee. svh) which should reduce to ashes the whole town,' the application of the Hague Convention in these cases would defeat the very purpose of bombardment. 

This was top secret. Publicly the air force continued to say something quite different, just as the navy had done throughout the 19th century. This was the best tack to take, wrote the air staff in 1921: 'It may be thought better, in view of the allegations of the "barbarity" of air attacks, to preserve appearances by formulating milder rules and by still nominally confining bombardment to targets which are strictly military in character… to avoid emphasizing the truth that air warfare has made such restrictions obsolete and impossible.’

De ‘waarheid’ dat ‘bombardementen’ vanzelfsprekend ‘barbarij’ zijn, aangezien er geen onderscheid kan worden gemaakt tussen militaire- en burgerdoelen, weerhield de westerse autoriteiten er niet van om op grote schaal het oorlogsrecht te schenden. De overgrote meerderheid van de westerse politici zijn nog steeds van oordeel dat ‘our airman in future wars’ niet veroordeeld moeten worden voor hun onvermijdelijke oorlogsmisdaden, die in het moderne jargon ‘collateral damage’ heten. De Shock and Awe-strategie van de NAVO, onder aanvoering van de VS, is een eufemisme voor oorlogsmisdaden en misdaden tegen de menselijkheid. Een moderne oorlog is per definitie een voortdurende massale schending van het recht, zo weet elke deskundige en elk slachtoffer, uit ervaring. Dit systeem is politiek mogelijk gemaakt omdat onder politici en militairen de opvatting heerst dat ‘[t]here is no such thing as an innocent civilian,’ om hier nu eens de formulering te citeren van Curtis LeMay, die opklom tot stafchef van de Amerikaanse luchtmacht. 

Gedurende de Vietnam Oorlog was de Amerikaanse strategie al even simpel: ‘We will bomb them back to the Stone Age.’ En ook de term Shock and Awe geeft aan dat ‘tijdens de oorlog de wetten [zwijgen],’ zoals de grote Romeinse schrijver en staatsman Cicero ruim twee millennia geleden al wist. In de met een Oscar bekroonde documentaire The Fog of War (2003) wierp Robert McNamara de vraag op: ‘Why was it necessary to drop the nuclear bomb if LeMay was burning up Japan?’ Het antwoord is simpelweg dat met grootscheepse terreur tegen een burgerbevolking de VS zijn hegemonie probeerde te consolideren. Niets nieuws onder zon. De Amerikaanse hoogleraar politicologie, Samuel Huntington, vatte het in zijn bestseller The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) als volgt samen: 

the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.

Iedere militair, politicus, academicus, journalist weet dit. In zijn boek De Natuurlijke Historie van de Verwoesting (2004) wees de gelauwerde Duitse auteur en hoogleraar Europese Literatuur, wijlen W.G. Sebald, erop dat ‘Van een insectenkolonie je niet [verwacht] dat ze verstart van verdriet om de verwoesting van een naburige mierenhoop. Maar van de menselijke natuur verwacht je een zekere mate van empathie.’ Maar de elite, haar politici en haar massamedia beschikken eenvoudigweg niet over dit vermogen. De voornaamste taak van de ‘vrije pers’ is het verdedigen van de belangen van de economische en financiële 'elite,' en op zich al demonstreert dit proces dat 'power corrupts.' In het interbellum schreef de Franse intellectueel Julien Benda in La Trahison des Clercs (1927) over datgene wat de Nederlandse historicus Ewoud Kieft het 'oorlogsenthousiasme' noemt:

Our age is indeed the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds. It will be one of its chief claims to notice in the moral history of humanity… All these passions of today… have discovered a ‘historical law,’ according to which their movement is merely carrying out the spirit of history and must therefore necessarily triumph, while the opposing party is running counter to this spirit and can enjoy only a transitory triumph. That is merely the old desire to have Fate on one’s side, but it is put forth in a scientific shape. And this brings us to the second novelty: Today all political ideologies claim to be founded on science, to be the result of a ‘precise observation of facts.’ We all know what self-assurance, what rigidity, what inhumanity… are given to these passions today by this claim.

To summarize: Today political passions show a degree of universality, of coherence, of homogeneousness, of precision, of continuity, of preponderance, in relation to other passions, unknown until our times. They have become conscious of themselves to an extent never seen before. Some of them, hitherto scarcely avowed, have awakened to consciousness and have joined the old passions. Others have become more purely passionate than ever, possess men’s hearts in moral regions they never before reached, and have acquired a mystic character which had disappeared for centuries. All are furnished with an apparatus of ideology whereby, in the name of science, they proclaim the supreme value of their action and its historical necessity. On the surface and in the depths, in spatial values and in inner strength, political passions have today reached a point of perfection never before known in history. The present age is essentially the age of politics.

De lezer doet er goed aan Benda's beschrijving in herinnering te roepen wanneer hij of zij leest dat bij Bas Heijne '[j]uist de broodnodige opwinding over de actualiteit waarop columns gedijen,' begon 'af te nemen. Rutte I had ik gevolgd, en Rutte II, en Rutte III.' Zelfs zijn politieke haat en afschuw bevredigden hem niet meer voldoende.

Inderdaad, 'Our age is the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds.' Bas Heijne is hiervan een sprekend voorbeeld. 

MH17 Raadsels



Rob Heusdens. Bij het vooronderzoek van het JIT (wat alleen de fysieke oorzaak trachtte te achterhalen) is al een kwalijke fout gemaakt destijds. Men heeft de gegevens van de inslagen in de romp gebruikt om de positie van de raket tov. het toestel te berekenen, en dat gegeven vervolgens gebruikt om (met een grote onnauwkeurigheid) het lanceergebied te bepalen. Maar in hun kennelijke opzet om de seperatisten/russen als daders te kunnen aanwijzen, hebben ze die data gecorrigeerd, om naar dat resultaat toe te werken, en wat in strijd is met de gebruikelijke protocollen voor dergelijk onderzoek. Het gebied dat ze aanwezen was overigens 320 km2 groot, wat natuurlijk niet al te nauwkeurig is. Dat komt natuurlijk omdat je de precieze baan van de raket niet weet, want je hebt maar 1 datapunt. Russisch tegenonderzoek kwam op een ander gebied uit, en volgens hun kan de door het JIT aangewezen locatie niet kloppen omdat de raket dan recht op MH17 moet zijn aangevlogen, waardoor aan BEIDE kanten van de romp/cockpit shrapnell ingeslagen zou moeten zijn, wat niet zo is. Zo'n raketbaan van een BUK kun je vangen in een mathematisch model, op grond van de bekende fysieke kenmerken. Als je dan een tweede punt zou hebben van zo'n baan, dan kun je met meer nauwkeurigheid de lanceer locatie berekenen. De raket laat nl. een duidelijke knal horen wanneer die door de geluidsbarriere gaat. Op de grond horen mensen twee knallen, en afhankelijk van de locatie van de waarnemer in verschillende volgorde en tijdsduur tussen de knallen. Die tijdsduur kun je in beginsel meten door getuigen naar geluidsfragmenten te laten luisteren van 2 knallen met daar een varierende tijdsduur tussen de knallen, en het geluidsfragment te laten kiezen dat met het gehoorde tijdverschil het beste overeenkomt. Twee knallen die tegelijkertijd binnenkomen, of knallen met een tijdsbestek van 1/10 seconde ertussen is nog wel degelijk goed hoorbaar en in 1/10 seconde legt het geluid 33 meter af, dus qua afstandsbepaling levert dat een redelijke nauwkeurigheid op. Als je dat onder zeer veel getuigen had laten onderzoeken (zeer veel mensen hebben die knallen gehoord), had je nl. het punt kunnen berekenen waar de raket de geluidsbarriere doorbreekt, en vervolgens kun je dan vrij precies de raketbaan berekenen en dus het lanceerpunt vaststellen. Maar dat onderzoek is helaas niet gedaan. Ik kan mij indenken dat er dan een ander potentiele lanceerlocatie uit de bus zou kunnen zijn gekomen, en één van de deelnemers aan dat onderzoek zo'n onderzoek dan ook liever niet zag uitgevoerd. Tenzij men een dergelijk onderzoek in het geheel niet heeft overwogen, hetgeen dan wel slordig is, omdat elk fysiek/objectief bewijs dat de ware toedracht kan aantonen, onderzocht had moeten worden. Of een dergelijk onderzoek na 4 jaar nog zinvol is, is natuurlijk de vraag, dat had je binnen een paar weken moeten doen liefst.


Ukrainian eyewitnesses confirm military jet alongside MH17 airliner: BBC deletes video 25 July 2014

Steve Pirk
Gepubliceerd op 30 nov. 2014

Source - Global Research: On July 23, two days after the Russian Ministry of Defense presented a radar track of a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter climbing to within three kilometers of MH17, the BBC’s Russian service aired a report by correspondent Olga Ivshina. 

The report originated when Ivshina and her cameraman went in search of the field outside the town of Torez, where the US government claims an SA-11 BUK surface to air missile was launched at the Boeing 777 on July 17.

Instead of finding witnesses who saw or filmed with camera phones a SAM launch plume that would look like this test firing of an SA-11 in Russia, what Ivshina found instead were people who heard two loud explosions in the sky and described Ukrainian fighter jets near the MH17 crash scene. As Ivshina described in the opening of her report, these Donbas locals were certain the Boeing airliner was shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force.

As RT reported in late July, the same night the video was posted on the BBC’s Russian service website the British-taxpayer funded network immediately took the video down. The ‘404 not found’ ghost URL of the video can still be found here, but the content is gone. Russia Today reported on the removal here, including the Russian blogosphere’s suspicions that this was a blatant act of censorship by the British government in order to protect Kiev.

Jan Leder, Managing Editor of the BBC Russian Service, denied that the BBC had engaged in politically motivated censorship of eyewitness testimony on July 24. Mr. Leder wrote in Russian that Ivshina’s report failed to meet BBC editorial standards because it lacked context, specifically the opinions of experts. While Mr. Leder’s statement doesn’t specify what sort of ‘experts’ Ivshina should have consulted for her report to meet BBC standards, we note that nearly all experts cited by Western mainstream media determined to prop up Washington and Kiev’s Narrative of a SAM shoot down have insisted that Ukraine’s Su-25 ground attack jets are incapable of shooting down a Boeing 777.

Journalists and self-described experts such as Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman, RFE/RL’s Glenn Kates, and New York University Prof. Mark Galeotti all insist Russian and Donbas eyewitness claims about a Su-25 shooting down MH17 are just Kremlin propaganda. Both Sweetman and Kates ignored pushback in comments left below their articles at Aviation Week and RFE/RL that Ukraine possesses a modernized M1 variant of the Su-25 capable of reaching the altitude the Russian Ministry of Defense described in its July 21 press conference.

Sweetman’s article of July 24 is a particularly egregious example of obfuscation, as he bizarrely insists no Ukrainian SU-25 pilot would be capable of putting on an oxygen mask above 23,000 feet. Sweetman also sarcastically refers to Wikipedia edits of the Su-25′s service ceiling after MH17 was shot down, ignoring abundant evidence that Su-25M1s were operational and capable of flying at altitudes up to 10,000 meters months before the Ukrainian Civil War.

This columnist also notes that the pro-Kiev government Twitter feed Ukraine Reporter (@StateofUkraine) reported several hours before the MH17 shoot down on July 17 that the Ukrainian Air Force lost a Su-25M1 to Novorossiya rebel MANPADs. As Russia Insider contributor the Saker noted in early August, Ukraine’s Su-25s are more than capable of firing R-60 and possibly other air to air missiles at an easy target like an airliner. Contrary to the misleading narratives of Sweetman, Kates and Galeotti, a Ukrainian pilot would not have needed to maintain the same altitude or air speed as the Boeing 777 in order to shoot the plane down.

To date, neither Sweetman, Kates, nor Galeotti, or any other Western mainstream media journalist that we’re aware of have bothered to address the BBC Russian report. Like inconvenient facts in George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth modeled after the BBC where the novelist worked during World War II, the eyewitness accounts pointing to a Ukrainian shoot down of MH17 have been flushed down the memory hole. Fortunately, we have the Internet to keep examples of inconvenient reports alive online and highlight when Western media organizations try to bury stories on behalf of their governments.

From the Global Research article: http://www.globalresearch.ca/mh17-wit...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp5w8HKFnfI&feature=youtu.be


Remembering the U.S.S. Liberty

Remembering the U.S.S. Liberty

The power of the Israel Lobby

L1000211
Last Wednesday at noon at Arlington National Cemetery I attended the annual commemorative gathering of the survivors and friends of the U.S.S. Liberty. The moving service included the ringing of a ship’s bell for each one of the thirty-four American sailors, Marines and civilians that were killed in the deliberate Israeli attack that sought to sink the intelligence gathering ship and kill all its crew. Present were a number of surviving crewmembers as well as veterans like myself and other Americans who are committed to ensuring that the story of the Liberty will not die in hopes that someday the United States government will have the courage to acknowledge what actually happened on that fateful day.

It was the forty-ninth anniversary of the attack. In truth the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty by Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats on June 8, 1967, has almost faded from memory, with a younger generation completely unaware that a United States naval vessel was once deliberately attacked and nearly sunk by America’s “greatest friend and ally” Israel. The attack was followed by a cover-up that demonstrated clearly that at least one president of the United States even back nearly fifty years ago valued his relationship with the state of Israel above his loyalty to his own country.

It was in truth the worst attack ever carried out on a U.S. Naval vessel in peace time. In addition to the death toll, 171 more of the crew were wounded in the two-hour assault, which was clearly intended to destroy the intelligence gathering vessel operating in international waters collecting information on the ongoing Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The Israelis, whose planes had their Star of David markings covered up so Egypt could be blamed, attacked the ship repeatedly from the air and with gunboats from the sea.

The incredible courage and determination of the surviving crew was the only thing that kept the Liberty from sinking. The ship’s commanding officer Captain William McGonagle was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic role in keeping the ship afloat, though President Lyndon Baines Johnson broke with tradition and refused to hold the medal ceremony in the White House, also declining to award it personally, delegating that task to the Secretary of the Navy in a closed to the public presentation made at the Washington Navy Yard. The additional medals given to other crew members in the aftermath of the attack made the U.S.S. Liberty the most decorated ship based on a single engagement with hostile forces in the history of the United States Navy.

The cover-up of the attack began immediately. The Liberty crew was sworn to secrecy over the incident, as were the Naval dockyard workers in Malta and even the men of the U.S.S. Davis, which had assisted the badly damaged Liberty to port. A hastily convened and conducted court of inquiry headed by Admiral John McCain acted under orders from Washington to declare the attack a case of mistaken identity. The inquiry’s senior legal counsel Captain Ward Boston, who subsequently declared the attack to be a “deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew,” also described how “President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” The court’s findings were rewritten and sections relating to Israeli war crimes, to include the machine gunning of life rafts, were excised. Following in his father’s footsteps, Senator John McCain of Arizona has used his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to effectively block any reconvening of a board of inquiry to reexamine the evidence. Most of the documents relating to the Liberty incident have never been released to the public in spite of the 49 years that have passed since the attack took place.

The faux court of inquiry and the medals awarded in secret were only the first steps in the cover-up, which has persisted to this day, orchestrated by politicians and a media that seem to place Israel’s interests ahead of those of the United States. Liberty survivors have been finding it difficult even to make their case in public. In early April a billboard that read “Help the USS Liberty Survivors – Attacked by Israel” was taken down in New Bedford Massachusetts. The billboard had been placed by the Honor Liberty Vets Organization and, as is normal practice, was paid for through a contractual arrangement that would require the billboard company to post the image for a fixed length of time. It was one of a number of billboards placed in different states. Inevitably, Israel’s well connected friends began to complain. One Jewish businessman threatened to take his business elsewhere, so the advertising company obligingly removed the billboard two weeks early.

After forty-nine years, the dwindling number of survivors of the Liberty are not looking for punishment or revenge. When asked, they will tell you that they only ask for accountability, that an impartial inquiry into the attack be convened and that the true story of what took place finally be revealed to the public.

That Congress is deaf to the pleas of the Liberty crew should surprise no one as the nation’s legislative body has been for years, as Pat Buchanan once put it, “Israeli occupied territory.” The Lobby’s ability to force Congress and even the presidency to submit to its will has been spelled out in some detail by critics, first by Paul Findley in They Dare to Speak Out, later by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in The Israel Lobby, in Alison Weir’s Against Our Better Judgment, and most recently in Kirk Beattie’s excellent Congress and the Shaping of the Middle East.

Congressional willingness to protect Israel even when it is killing Americans is remarkable, but it is symptom of the legislative body’s willingness to go to bat for Israel reflexively, even when it is damaging to U.S. interests and to the rights that American citizens are supposed to enjoy. I note particularly legislation currently working its way through Congress that will make it illegal for any federal funding to go to any entity that supports the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, better known as BDS. BDS is a way to put pressure on the Israeli government over its human rights abuses that is both non-violent and potentially effective. As the federal government has its hooks all over the economy and at various levels in education as well as state and local government its threat to force the delegitimization of BDS is far from an empty one.

Existing laws in more than twenty states with more on the way, including most recently New York, punishing entities that support the peaceful BDS movement by labeling BDS as anti-Semitic and making it illegal or sanctionable to support it are direct attacks on free speech. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated “We want Israel to know we are on its side.” And it doesn’t stop with BDS. Recently signed trade agreements with Europe were drafted to be conditional on European acceptance of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank while Israel is also pushing to censor the internet to make material that constitutes “incitement” banned. Incitement would, of course, include anything critical of Israel or its government on the grounds that it is anti-Semitic.

Democratic candidate presumptive Hillary Clinton has explicitly promised to do all in her power to oppose BDS, telling an adoring American Israel Public Affairs Committee audience in March that “Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS. Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe, we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people. I’ve been sounding the alarm for a while now. As I wrote last year in a letter to the heads of major American Jewish organizations, we have to be united in fighting back against BDS.”

So the treatment of the U.S.S. Liberty should surprise no one in a country whose governing class has been for decades doing the bidding of the powerful lobby of a tiny client state that has been nothing but trouble and expense for the United States of America. Will it ever end? As the Israel Lobby currently controls the relevant parts of the federal government and much of the media change is not likely to happen overnight, but there are some positive signs. If the Democratic Party platform committee under the influence of Bernie Sanders is successful in toning down the usual extravagant praise of Israel – against the wishes of Hillary, one might add – that would be a sign that change is difficult but not necessarily impossible. If Donald Trump wins and holds to his promise to be neutral between Israel and Palestine in negotiations that too would be a marked shift in perception of the conflict. And if the American people finally wake up and realize that they are tired of the entire farce and decide to wash their hands of the Middle East that would change everything. Just imagine picking up the morning newspaper and not reading a front page story about the warnings and threats coming from that great world leader Benjamin Netanyahu. That would be quite remarkable.
http://www.unz.com/article/remembering-the-u-s-s-liberty/

Authoritarian Chickens Roosting at Home


Rotten to the Heart: Authoritarian Chickens Roosting at Home

 

Photo by T toes | CC BY 2.0

Yes, He’s Awful
Much of what liberals say about Donald Trump and the chilling political moment the Trump presidency represents is true enough.
Trump really is the arch-authoritarian malignant narcissist that liberals say he is.  Trump thinks he deserves to rule the nation like an absolute monarch or some ridiculous Banana Republic dictator.  He believes he’s above all the law, consistent with Louis XIV’s dictum L’etat, C’est Moi (“the state is me”). The notion that Trump can pardon himself from any crime really is the height of imperial arrogance.
Trump really does value nothing but the advancement of his own wealth and image. There is no person, no principle, no higher loyalty he is not willing to sacrifice on the altar of self.
Trump really is the almost perfect embodiment of venal malevolence that liberals say he is. The idiotic military parade Trump has scheduled for the next Veterans Day is an exercise in proto-fascistic, Mussolini-like imperial-presidential self-adulation.
This racist and sexist beast befouls the nation and world with his ghastly, eco-cidal presence. The sooner he draws his last undeserved breath, the better for all living things (or maybe not: Mike Pence could be worse).
The Authoritarian and Inauthentic Opposition
Fine, but why does this despicable, orange-tinted insult to common human decency occupy the White House? He holds the most powerful office in the world because the Democratic Party has long been and remains what the late liberal-left Princeton political scientist Sheldon Wolin called the Inauthentic Opposition. “Should Democrats somehow be elected,” Wolin prophesied in early 2008, they would do nothing to “alter significantly the direction of society” or “substantially revers[e] the drift rightwards. … The timidity of a Democratic Party mesmerized by centrist precepts,” Wolin wrote, “points to the crucial fact that for the poor, minorities, the working class and anti-corporatists there is no opposition party working on their behalf.” The corporatist Democrats would work to “marginalize any possible threat to the corporate allies of the Republicans.”
Wolin called it. A nominal Democrat was elected president along with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in 2008. What followed under Barack Obama (as under his Democratic presidential predecessor Bill Clinton) – a different and possibly more dangerous kind of malignant narcissist– was the standard “elite” neoliberal manipulation of campaign populism and identity politics in service to the reigning big-money bankrollers and their global empire. Wall Street’s control of Washington and the related imperial agenda of the “Pentagon System” were advanced more effectively by the nation’s first Black president than they could have been by stiff and wealthy white Republicans like John McCain or Mitt Romney. The reigning U.S. system of corporate and imperial “inverted totalitarianism” (Wolin) was given a deadly, fake-democratic re-branding.  The underlying “rightward drift” sharpened, fed by a widespread and easily Republican-exploited sense of popular abandonment and betrayal, as the Democrats depressed and demobilized their own purported popular base.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did nothing to correct that problem.  Quite the opposite. With a colossal campaign finance war-chest fed not just by the usual Wall Street and Silicon Valley suspects but also by many traditionally Republican big money donors who were repelled by Trump’s faux “populism,” the transparently corporate establishmentarian candidate Clinton could barely deign to pretend to be a progressive.  She ran almost completely on the argument that Trump was too terrible and unqualified to be president. Making candidate character and qualities her sole selling point was a critical and historic mistake given the angry and anti-establishment mood of the electorate and her own epic unpopularity. So was calling Trump’s flyover county supporters a “basket of” racist and sexist “deplorables” in a sneering comment (one that accurately reflected her aristocratic “progressive”-neoliberal world view) to rich Manhattan campaign donors.
Authoritarianism? Single-Payer national health insurance had long been supported by most U.S.-Americans when Obama ascended to the White House. Who cared? Not the “radical socialist” Barack Obama. Like the Clintons before him, Obama coldly froze Single Payer advocates out of the health insurance policy debate. He worked with the leading drug and insurance corporations and their Wall Street backers to craft a richly corporatist “reform” that preserved those companies’ power to write their super-profits into the obscenely exaggerated cost of American medical care.
As our greatest intellectual Noam Chomsky noted two years ago, Obama “punished more whistle-blowers than all previous presidents combined.” The Obama administration repeatedly defended George W. Bush’s position on behalf of indefinite detention, maintaining that prisoners (US-Americans included) in the US global “war on [of] terror” were not entitled to habeas corpus or protection from torture or execution. Obama carried overseas assassination (by drone and Special Forces) – execution (even of U.S. citizens) without trial or even formal charge – to new levels. Regarding Obama’s drone assassination program, Chomsky wrote acidly about how “the [Obama] Justice Department explained that the constitutional guarantee of due process, tracing to Magna Carta, is now satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch alone.  The constitutional lawyer in the White House agreed.  King John (1199-1216) might have nodded with satisfaction.”
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Vice Presidential ticket partner, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), is currently a leading sponsor of the “Forever AUMF 2018” (SJRes 59(Authority for the Use of Military Force). As the ACLU’s Renee Parsons explains, the measure would “ eliminate Congress’ sole, inviolate Constitutional authority ‘to declare war.’” It “would remove Congress from its statutory authority as it transfers ‘uninterrupted’ authority on ‘the use of all necessary and appropriate force’ to one individual.” That would garner another thumbs-up from King John.
Such examples are just tips of the richly bipartisan “deep state” iceberg of authoritarian class and imperial rule that lurks beneath the visible-state surface dramas of “our” so-called and oxymoronic “capitalist democracy.”  (See my book They Rule: The 1% v. Democracyfor a more comprehensive account, just one of many studies [here’s a recent one] that document the eclipse of anything like democracy in New Gilded Age America)
The Democrats: Corrupt, not Feckless
The Democrats could well have won the 2016 election by running Bernie Sanders. Bernie would have tapped popular anger from the center-left, advancing a policy agenda and anti-plutocratic sentiments consistent with longstanding majority-progressive public opinion in the U.S. But so what? The Democratic nomination process was rigged against Sanders for some very good ruling-class reasons. As William Kaufman told Barbara Ehrenreich on Facebook last year, “The Democrats aren’t feckless, inept, or stupid, unable to ‘learn’ what it takes to win. They are corrupt. They do not want to win with an authentically progressive program because it would threaten the economic interests of their main corporate donor base… The Democrats know exactly what they’re doing.  They have a business model: sub-serving the interests of the corporate elite.”
The reigning corporate Democrats would rather lose to the right, even to a proto-fascistic white nationalist and eco-exterminist right, than lose to the left, even to a mildly progressive social democratic left within their own party.
Among other things, Russiagate is the Inauthentic Opposition, following its business model, doing its job, working to cover its tracks by throwing the debacle of its corporatist politics down Orwell’s memory hole and attributing its self-made defeat to Russia’s allegedly powerful interference in our supposed democracy. Russiagate is meant to provide corporate Democrats cover not only for 2016 but also for 2018 and 2020.  It advances a narrative that lets the Democrats continue nominating business-friendly neoliberal shills and imperialists who pretend to be progressive while they are owned by the nation’s homegrown oligarchs. This year’s crop of Democratic Congressional candidates is loaded with military and intelligence veterans, a reflection of the Democrats’ determination to run as the true party of empire.
“Some Discipline and Pragmatism to the Oval Office”
Under the cover of Russiagate, the pinstripe politicos atop the nation’s not-so leftmost major party seem to have the Sanders wing under control.  Clintonite Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez purged progressive, Sanders Democrats from leading positions in the DNC last fall. Bernie-endorsed candidates have flailed in the Democrats’ 2018 Congressional primaries. The not-so “socialist” Sanders’ not-so revolutionary “political [though not social] revolution” seems largely spent, skewered on the fork of a major party electoral-industrial-complex it falsely promised to transform from within. In the Iowa Democratic gubernatorial primary last Tuesday, the progressive Democrat union member and “Our Revolution” candidate Cathy Glasson was trounced by the vapid and centrist but super-wealthy businessman Fred Hubbell, who self-financed his campaign with millions of dollars.
I recently watched a “liberal” morning CNN talking head salivate over the prospect of the Democrats running a billionaire business mogul who “shares the party’s world view” – someone like the just-retired Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. The latte and cappuccino mogul recently and absurdly ripped the Democratic Party for “going so far to the left.” Sounding like a once-traditional Republican, Schultz elaborated:
“I say to myself, ‘How are we going to pay for these things,’ in terms of things like single payer [and] people espousing the fact that the government is going to give everyone a job. I don’t think that’s realistic. I think we got to get away from these falsehoods and start talking about the truth and not false promises…I think the greatest threat domestically to the country is this $21 trillion debt hanging over the cloud of America and future generations. The only way we’re going to get out of that is we’ve got to grow the economy, in my view, 4 percent or greater. And then we have to go after entitlements.”
How to pay for progressive policies long but irrelevantly supported by most U.S.-Americans? With (to mention some other measures that have long been quaintly and trivially preferred by most U.S. citizens) seriously progressive taxation including a financial transaction tax and with a long-overdue transfer of taxpayer dollars from the bloated and monumentally mass-murderous Pentagon budget.  There’s nothing remotely mysterious about how we could fund Single Payer and green jobs programs that would help save the nation and (oh, by the way) the human race from the actual  “greatest threat to the country” (and to the world): environmental catastrophe, fed by toxic capitalist “growth” (let’s hit “4 percent of higher”!) and with the climate crisis (“climate change” does not begin to capture to the gravity of the problem) in the lead.
Here’s the accurate translation for “go after entitlements”: (1) slash Social Security and Medicare further; (2) use the fiscal crisis created by arch-plutocratic tax cuts for the already absurdly rich and by the persistently gargantuan “defense” (empire) budget as an excuse to decimate further the already weak U.S. social safety net and to (in what promises to be an epic windfall for Wall Street) privatize the nation’s old age insurance system.  The real entitlement that matters most – the inherited oligarchic class rule and despotism of capital over workers, citizens, and ever more poisoned commons – remains untouched and is indeed expanded in coffee baron Schultz’s glorious “liberal” agenda,
All of which is fairly consistent with the Wall Street- and corporate-friendly records and agenda of the Democratic Party during and between the ugly “neoliberal” years when a Georgia peanut farmer (deregulation leader Jimmy Carter) and two silver-tongued Ivy League law school graduates (NAFTA champion and public assistance-wrecker Bill Clinton and big bank bailout champion and Trans Pacific Partnership advocate Barack Obama) occupied the White House.  I expect the dismal Democrats to nominate the longtime centrist politician Joe “Regular Guy” Biden (who claims he would have kicked Trump’s ass in high school) or the newly hatched faux-progressive Senator and former longtime prosecutor Kamala “Obama 2.0” Harris (D-CA), but, hey, why not go full corporate monty and try to put an actual full-on corporate CEO in the White House in the name of the Democratic Party’s “liberal world view”? As the “liberal” New York Timesapprovingly explains:
“The election of Mr. Trump, a real estate developer and reality television personality, certainly opened that door of opportunity, making it clear that American voters were willing to elect a president with no prior government experience….American companies — including Starbucks — have become more political in recent years, wading into issues like immigration, gun rights and climate policy…And at a moment when many voters say they are frustrated with partisan gridlock and ineffective government programs, some believe that an efficiency-minded business executive might bring some discipline and pragmatism to the Oval Office.”
Besides Schultz, other corporate CEOs I’ve heard and read self-described liberals discuss as potentially desirable presidential candidates include Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, Disney CEO Bob Iger, Facebook’s spooky cult-leader Mark Zuckerberg, and even the JP Morgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. What the Hell: why not drop the pretense of independence from the nation’s corporate and financial dictatorship and run an actual corporate or financial chieftain for president?
That would be an act of oligarchic honesty on the part of the dismal dollar Dems.  “I like the idea of Dimon,” one left correspondent writes me: “maybe with him as a candidate people would finally wake up to the fact that the Democrats are the real problem.” Don’t hold your breath. “Because,” another comrade tells me, “being a ruthless plutocrat is their world view.”
“Trump is Terrible, So Let’s Give Him More Spying and Killing Powers!”
What is the Democrats’ leading cry?  That the terrible Trump is truly terrible – and a tool of Russia. And, of course, the “terrible” part is all too terribly true – the Russia part not so much. But after you’ve bemoaned the terribleness of Trump for the ten thousandth time, are you ready to get serious about the systemic and richly bipartisan, oligarchic context within which Trump has emerged?  “The Trump administration,” Chris Hedges reminded us on Truthdig two weeks ago, “did not rise… like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy…. The problem is not Trump,” writes Hedges. “It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count” (emphasis added).
And if Trump is as much of a dangerous and authoritarian monster as liberal Democrats say he is (and he is), then why, pray tell, have most Democrats in Congress been willing to grant him record levels of military funding along with re-authorized and expanded warrantless surveillance and spying powers? Why are Tim Kaine and other top Democrats ready to grant him (and his successors) a freaking “Forever AUMF”? Hello? What does that say about the not-so leftmost of the two reigning corporate parties? The glaring schizophrenia (“Trump is a monster, let’s give him more war and spying powers!”) is yet more proof that the Democrats are indeed an inauthentic opposition, committed to the same imperial and police state Trump heads today.  They are merely waiting to put one of their ruling-class own atop the same exact and in fact richly bipartisan structures.
What Goes Around: “Trampling on the Helpless Abroad” Comes Home
A final matter concerns the problem of imperial chickens coming home to roost. Liberals don’t like to hear it, but the ugly, richly documented historical fact of the matter is that their party of binary and tribal choice has long joined Republicans in backing and indeed crafting a U.S. foreign policy that has imposed authoritarian regimes (and profoundly undemocratic interventions including invasions and occupations) the world over. The roster of authoritarian and often-mass murderous governments the U.S. military and CIA and allied transnational business interests have backed, sometimes even helped create, with richly bipartisan support, is long indeed.
Last fall, Illinois Green Party leader Mike Whitney ran some fascinating numbers on the 49 nation-states that the right-wing “human rights” organization Freedom House identified as “dictatorships” in 2016. Leaving aside Freedom House’s problematic inclusion of Russia, Cuba, and Iran on its list, the most remarkable thing about Whitney’s research was his finding that the U.S. offered military assistance to 76 percent of these governments. (The only exceptions were Belarus, China, Central African Republic, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria.). “Most politically aware people,” Whitney wrote:
“know of some of the more highly publicized instances examples of [U.S. support for foreign dictatorships], such as the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of US military assistance provided to the beheading capital of the world, the misogynistic monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and the repressive military dictatorship now in power in Egypt… apologists for our nation’s imperialistic foreign policy…try to rationalize such support, arguing that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are exceptions to the rule.  But my survey…demonstrates that our government’s support for Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not exceptions to the rule at all. They are the rule.”
The Pentagon and State Department data Whitney used came from Fiscal Year 2015.  It dated from the next-to-last year of the Obama administration, for which so many liberals recall with misplaced nostalgia. Freedom House’s list should have included Honduras, ruled by a vicious right-wing government that Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped install in a June 2009 military coup.
The problem here isn’t just liberal hypocrisy and double standards. The deeper issue is that, as the great American iconoclast Mark Twain knew, you cannot maintain democracy at home while conducting an authoritarian empire abroad.  During the United States’ blood-soaked invasion and occupation of the Philippines, Twain penned an imaginary history of the twentieth-century United States. “It was impossible,” Twain wrote, “to save the Great Republic.  She was rotten to the heart.  Lust of conquest had long ago done its work; trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home.”
“Just a decade after Twain wrote those prophetic words,” the historian Alfred W. McCoy has observed, “colonial police methods came home to serve as a template for the creation of an American internal security apparatus in wartime.” The nation’s first Red Scare, which crushed left and labor movements during and after World War One, drew heavily on the lessons and practices of colonial suppression in the Philippines and Cuba. As McCoy shows in his latest book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,the same basic process – internal U.S. repression informed and shaped by authoritarian and imperial practices abroad and justified by alleged external threats to the “homeland” – has recurred ever since.  Today, the rise of an unprecedented global surveillance state overseen by the National Security Agency has cost the US the trust of many of its top global allies (under Bush43 and Obama44, not just under Trump45) while undermining civil liberties and democracy within as beyond the U.S.
“The fetters imposed on liberty at home,” James Madison wrote in 1799, “have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defense against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers abroad.” Those are wise words well worth revisiting amidst the current endless Russiagate madness, calculated among other things to tell us that the FBI, the CIA, and the rest of the nation’s vast and ever more ubiquitous intelligence and surveillance state are on our side.
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War on Yemen Could Starve Millions of Civilians

US-Saudi-UAE War on Yemen Could Starve Millions of Civilians

As the UN warns 18.4 million Yemenis could soon face starvation, the US is considering more direct military intervention. Shireen al-Adeimi discusses with TRNN’s Ben Norton how a Saudi-UAE attack on the port city of Hodeida could lead to mass catastrophe
BEN NORTON: It’s The Real News. I’m Ben Norton.
Millions of Yemeni civilians are on the verge of starvation as a foreign military coalition is intensifying its war on the poorest country in the Middle East. Three years of U.S.-backed Saudi and Emirati war have turned Yemen into the worst humanitarian catastrophe on earth.
Every 10 minutes a child in Yemen dies from preventable causes. This is according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, which has warned that there is a, quote: “brutal war on children in Yemen.”
And that war could soon accelerate. Military forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and backed by the United States and the United Kingdom, are preparing an assault on the major Yemeni port city of Hodeida. Hodeida is under the control of the Yemeni rebel group Ansarullah, also known as the Houthis.
American and British-backed Saudi and Emirati forces are planning to besiege the port city of Hodeida to try to force out the Houthis. But Hodeida is also the entry point of 70 percent of aid shipments into Yemen. This humanitarian aid keeps millions of Yemenis alive. And if aid shipments are disrupted, which an attack on Hodeida would virtually guarantee, it could lead to a mass famine.
A staggering 8.4 million Yemenis are already on the verge of starvation, and in late May the United Nations emergency relief coordinator warned that another 10 million Yemenis could be pushed into starvation by the end of this year. This means that 18.4 million Yemenis are potentially on the brink of starvation.
And yet the war is continuing. The Wall Street Journal reported on June 3 that the Trump administration is considering more direct military intervention in Yemen to help Saudi Arabia and the UAE conquer Hodeida.
Joining us to discuss this is Shireen al-Adeimi. Shireen is a Yemeni-American activist and scholar. She was born in Yemen, and spent part of her childhood living in Hodeida. And Shireen also just finished her doctorate at Harvard University, and accepted a position as an assistant professor at Michigan State University. Thanks for joining us, Shireen.
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: Thanks so much for having me, Ben.
BEN NORTON: So there are a few different things I want to discuss today. First, let’s just talk about the humanitarian situation in Yemen, because as I mentioned, the United Nations has warned for years now that Yemen is suffering from the worst humanitarian catastrophe on earth. Worse than even Syria, worse than Libya, worse than Iraq. And yet it doesn’t get much media coverage. Can you reflect on this?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: It really doesn’t. And there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. What you mentioned just now is that 18 million people are supposed to, you know, almost reach starvation level if this crisis isn’t lifted by the end of the year. And so it’s the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It doesn’t get any worse than this. People are relying on food that just isn’t coming in.
You mentioned that the Houthis control Hodeida, which is true, they control the city of Hodeida. But the Saudis and the Emiratis, they control that port. They control whatever comes into that port. And they have been disrupting shipments, which is why, you know, a child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen because 70 percent of aid is coming in through Hodeida, and the Saudi-led coalition is deciding what comes in and what comes out, and at times they’ve blocked it entirely.
So it’s really the worst humanitarian crisis, but you know, and it should be on the front pages, it should be on the headlines every single day, especially given the U.S.’s role in this conflict. But we still don’t hear very much about it.
BEN NORTON: Let’s talk more about that. There was a Wall Street Journal report on June 3 that the Trump administration is reportedly considering an Emirati request to send direct U.S. military forces into Hodeida, to help them seize the city from the Houthis.
Humanitarian organizations and aid organizations like the Red Cross and the United Nations have warned that this could lead to a catastrophe. And in fact, a U.S. official quoted by The Wall Street Journal openly admitted that they could not 100 percent guarantee that there wouldn’t be a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of this attack. Can you respond to this report?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: Right. They haven’t been able to guarantee that any civilian lives are averted over the past three years, more than three years. The U.N. describes Saudi and UAE attacks on civilians as widespread. So an attack on a port that so many millions of people rely on for sure is going to have devastating consequences on the people there, on human life.
You know, the Saudis and the Emiratis have shown no interest in the past for protecting civilians. They have targeted civilians in their homes and schools. And you know, even on refugees who have been trying to flee by boat, they’ve targeted them.
So there’s no, I mean, it’s not even a guarantee that they won’t attack civilians. There is a guarantee that they will. And there is a guarantee that they will cause the death of many, many more people.
BEN NORTON: Yeah, and that’s what humanitarian organizations in the United Nations have been warning in response to these reports. Can you also talk a bit more about Hodeida? I mentioned in the beginning of my report here that you were tweeting about your childhood in Hodeida, that you spent summers there. Can you talk about this important port city, where 70 percent of humanitarian aid shipments into Yemen go through?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: Yes. I was born in Aden and I grew up in Aden, in the south. But we have family in the north, in Hodeida, specifically. And so that’s where my grandparents lived, and that’s why we would spend every single summer, every single holiday. It’s a very, very hot, hot city, and perhaps that’s the defining aspect about Hodeida, which is unfortunate because people have been without electricity now for over three years.
But that port is the lifeline of Yemen. It’s where 70 percent — so even before the war, Yemenis relied on imports, food and water, even, imports from foreign countries, up to 90 percent. Sometimes over 90 percent. And most of that is coming in through Hodeida. 70 percent of that aid and commercial shipping and all of that takes place in Hodeida.
And so if they disrupt Hodeida, if they attack that port, then, you know, millions of people literally starve to death, because the only other port of entry is in the south, in Aden, where about 20 percent of the food comes in, and also we’re about 20 percent of the population lives. Most Yemenis live in Houthi controlled areas, so around 80 percent.
BEN NORTON: Yeah. And then let’s talk a bit more about the humanitarian aid shipments. Mainstream human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, even the United Nations, have reported that multiple sides in the conflict, but especially the Saudi and Emirati forces, which are imposing a naval and air blockade in Yemen, have intentionally prevented aid, and specifically food aid, from getting to civilians.
They are essentially holding this aid hostage and using it as a political weapon. The Houthis have also been accused of this. Can you respond to these reports that food is being used as a weapon to try to force Yemenis into submission?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: Yeah, the Saudis openly say that yes, we are starving the Houthis. Of course, Houthis, for them, is a term that encompasses all Yemenis. Because when they say, we only bomb Houthis, we only target Houthis, well, then you see dead children on our screens. So they must be classified as Houthis, too, according to the Saudis and the Emirates. So the Saudis say that they are using starvation to try to force Houthis to submit.
But you know, the Yemeni population is the population that’s getting starved to death. You see children. We have evidence of this. We don’t need to have journalists in the country, from foreign journalists in the country, to know that there are children that are dying of starvation and of preventable diseases because the Saudi-led coalition withholds food, they decide which ships come into the country through Hodeida, which don’t.
Back in November, when they imposed a total blockade for a couple of weeks, you know, they essentially said nothing is coming into the country from Hodeida. People suffered tremendously. And so, you know, the Saudis have the power to essentially tell UN ships, to divert UN ships, tell them to, that they’re not entering through Hodeida when they see fit.
And you know, this is the reality that we’re confronting, that you have all of these foreign countries deciding who and what comes into the country. And you know, they’ve disrupted the flow, and at times blockaded food entirely. And if they attack now that port, then, you know, of course shipments are not going to be able to come into the the country.
BEN NORTON: Yeah, let’s talk a bit about the political situation here in the U.S. The U.S., and also the UK, have played a key role in this conflict from the beginning. The U.S. has sold billions of dollars in arms and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia, as well as to the UAE. It’s been well documented by human rights organizations that U.S. weapons have been used, including cluster bombs and other munitions, to attack civilian areas in Yemen.
And what’s interesting is there was little reporting about this during the Obama administration, which is when the war began in March 2015. But even under Trump, when there are a lot of figures who, you know, are calling themselves part of the resistance, The Washington Post has ‘Democracy dies in darkness’ as part of its slogan. And yet we haven’t really seen much critical reporting following what the Trump administration is expanding, this bipartisan war being waged in Yemen.
Why do you think that even from some of these Democrats who claim they’re part of the resistance that there’s so little interest in the massive humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, which again, to stress the point, is the worst on earth?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: You know, the consensus among Democrats and Republicans seem to be that, you know, Saudi is a powerful ally, and it’s worth supporting them at any cost. We’ve seen this with the Obama administration. We’ve seen it now with the Trump administration. Like you said, there’s very little critique, or any analysis, really, on mainstream television or news sources.
And so Yemenis suffer at the expense of this important relationship that the Saudis have with the United States. And we know that the U.S. has already been involved much more than weapons sales, which have totaled in the hundreds of billions of dollars over the last three years. But we know that they help them with targeting, with refueling, with, you know, mid-air refueling, with maintaining and upgrading their vehicles.
And more recently we found out that there are Green Berets, U.S. Special Forces, on the ground in Saudi Arabia fighting alongside the Saudis against the Houthis. So the U.S. is involved directly in Yemen already.
And now there’s this extra push to try to, the Emiratis are, the Emiratis and the Saudis are getting desperate. They haven’t been able to control a country that is not supported by any powerful ally, and like themselves have supported basically by every, you know, many world powers.
And so in their desperation now they’re calling for the U.S. to help them with a direct assault on Hodeida, which I hope doesn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen, because we are already entrenched in the war in Yemen, and we should be extricating ourselves from that war, not causing further humanitarian [inaudible].
BEN NORTON: Yeah, that’s a very important point. Not only has the U.S. and the UK sold billions of dollars, as you mentioned, the Obama administration did more than $112 billion alone in arms deals with Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration has pledged another, more than $100 billion.
But not only that, the U.S. military is refueling Saudi warplanes. We’ve even seen reports that American and British military officials have been physically in the command room with Saudi bombers. And then, of course, you mentioned that there have been U.S. Special Forces on the ground.
So considering the key role that the U.S. and also the UK have played in this conflict, we’ve seen some resistance in the form of antiwar protests here, some organizing among the Yemeni community. We’ve also seen some action that has at least tried to be taken by members of Congress. And you yourself have been working on getting members of Congress to support legislation to block arms sales to Yemen, to stop the war in Yemen.
The House of Representatives passed a bill that recognized that the U.S. played a key role in this, and that this is actually not, this is an unauthorized war. It has not been authorized by the legislative branch. It’s being waged solely by the executive branch. Concluding here, can you talk about attempts being made by both grassroots activists and politicians to curtail this war, to pull back from it, and to bring about peace?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: I think the sad reality, Ben, is that nobody really cares so much about the humanitarian crisis, because if they did then this war wouldn’t be in its third year, now. But what people do care about is legality, and the fact of the matter is that this is an illegal war. It’s unconstitutional.
We should not be supporting the Saudis in any way, shape, or form, let alone, you know, helping them essentially wage this war in Yemen. So Yemenis in Yemen view this war as a U.S.-Saudi war on their country, not just a Saudi or Emirati war on their country. They see the U.S. as much being central in this, in this war against their country.
So here in the U.S., like you said, the Congress has already recognized. It was a nonbinding bill, but at least it recognized that U.S. forces should not be in Yemen. The War Powers Resolution has been invoked a couple of times, both the House and the Senate. Most recently in the Senate by Senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, and Chris Murphy. So it was a bipartisan bill, and you know, my hope is that we continue to, I mean, very urgently, not wait around but really urgently try to introduce more legislation in the Senate to try to get things moving.
Because we recognize it’s an illegal war, and now we have to do something about it. We need to pull U.S. forces out of Saudi Arabia, because the Saudis are so entirely dependent on U.S. support that they cannot wage this war much longer without extensive support that they’ve been receiving from the U.S.
BEN NORTON: We’ll have to end our conversation there. We were joined by Shireen al-Adeimi. Shireen is a Yemeni-American activist and scholar. She just finished her doctorate at Harvard University and it will soon be beginning a position as an assistant professor at Michigan State University. Thanks for joining us, Shireen.
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: Thanks so much for having me.
BEN NORTON: This is Ben Norton, and I’m reporting for The Real News.

Confronting Israel Is Important

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