Bernie Sanders has withdrawn his bill to end US support for the Saudi war on Yemen following reports that the Biden administration was working to tank the resolution, with White House aids reportedly saying they’d recommend the president veto it.
Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp reports:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Tuesday night withdrew his request to vote on the Yemen War Powers Resolution that would end US support for the Saudi-led war and blockade on Yemen, citing White House opposition to the bill.
Sanders said on the Senate floor that he was informed ahead of the scheduled vote of the administration’s opposition to the legislation, meaning President Biden would veto the resolution. The Intercept reported earlier in the day that The White House was pressuring senators to vote against the bill, and Democrats came out in opposition to Sanders’ resolution earlier on Tuesday, including Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA).
Sanders’ justification for not holding the vote was that the administration claimed it would work with Congress on ending the war in Yemen. He said the White House wanted to “work with us on crafting language that would be mutually acceptable” and insisted if that didn’t happen, he would resume his efforts to end the war through a resolution.
But even if the White House really wants to engage with Congress on the issue, or if Sanders chooses to reintroduce the resolution, the plan will take time, which Yemenis don’t have. There has been a cessation in violence in Yemen, with no Saudi airstrikes since March, but there has been a recent uptick in fighting on the ground.
Sanders Withdraws Yemen War Powers Resolution Vote Over Biden Opposition
The White House was asking senators to vote against the resolution and threatened Biden would veto the bill
by Dave DeCamp@DecampDave #Yemen #SaudiArabia #Biden #BernieSanders https://t.co/9dJ5DqSSE7 pic.twitter.com/YtcWcbcl0d
— Antiwar.com (@Antiwarcom) December 14, 2022
It’s probably also worth noting that this administration has been consistently lying about its intentions to end this war, with Biden campaigning on the promise to bring peace to Yemen and make a “pariah” of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, then turning around and keeping the war going while greeting the crown prince with a friendly fistbump ahead of a meeting where the two leaders coordinated their governments’ continued intimacy.
“Today, I withdrew from consideration by the U.S. Senate my War Powers Resolution after the Biden administration agreed to continue working with my office on ending the war in Yemen,” Sanders said on Twitter. “Let me be clear. If we do not reach agreement, I will, along with my colleagues, bring this resolution back for a vote in the near future and do everything possible to end this horrific conflict.”
“At which time the House, under GOP control, will block your efforts,” former congressman Justin Amash replied. “But you know that already. As does the Biden administration, which is why they don’t want you to pass this joint resolution now, when all the pressure is on the president, because his party currently controls.”
“What I’m acknowledging is that both Rs and Ds in government are addicted to war,” Amash added. “They’re playing a game. When Trump was president, everyone knew he wouldn’t sign a Yemen joint resolution, so it passed Congress. Biden has to pretend he’d sign it, so he needs Congress to block it.”
Indeed, it would appear that a determination was made that the war in Yemen was too important for its outcome to be left to the legislative branch. Experts have long acknowledged that the mass atrocities in that war-ravaged nation would be forced to end if the US and its allies stopped assisting the Saudi military in perpetrating them, and Biden could have done so on day one of his presidency, but, as Vox’s Alex Ward put it last year, “doing so would risk losing Riyadh as a key regional partner.” Saudi Arabia plays a key role in both US fossil fuel interests and in fighting Iran, and that’s clearly a geostrategic asset that Washington is unwilling to relinquish.
So now we’re looking at a best-case scenario where either (A) the worst mass atrocity on earth continues for a much longer time than it would have if Sanders’ bill had passed, or (B) we get a watered-down version of the resolution. And of course there’s the other scenario where neither of these things happen and the slaughter just continues into the foreseeable future completely unabated.
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) December 13, 2022
In the lead-up to the vote The Intercept’s Daniel Boguslaw and Ryan Grimm reported on the shenanigans coming from the White House to undermine the resolution. An update to their article about the bill currently reads as follows:
The White House, according to sources involved in the fight over the resolution, is urging senators to vote against the resolution. The White House is arguing that a vote in favor is unnecessary because, despite the lapse of the ceasefire, significant hostilities have not yet resumed, and the vote will complicate diplomacy. They are also arguing that Biden has made significant progress in reducing violence and re-opening ports and airports, so his judgment should be respected and the resolution rejected. And finally, the White House has warned that some of the arguments being made could complicate the effort to back Ukraine in its war against Russia. A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
So efforts to end the war in Yemen needed to be sabotaged because they might complicate the US proxy war against Russia? That’s some, uhh, interesting logic.
Jamal Benomar, a former UN under-secretary-general who served as special envoy for Yemen until 2015, told The Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein that there haven’t even been any diplomacy by the Biden administration for the bill to “complicate”, which if true would mean the entire White House claim is bogus.
“There’s been no diplomatic progress whatsoever,” he told The Intercept. “There’s been no political process, no negotiations, or even a prospect of them. So an all-out war can resume at any time.”
It’s hard to think of a word to describe all this besides “evil”. If intervening to ensure the continued mass starvation of children and mass military slaughter of civilians is not evil, then nothing is evil. It’s actually hard to think of anything more evil.
Biden Lied About Yemen
"We are being lied to about yet another US war by yet another US president."https://t.co/uLD2hCMaP2
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) April 29, 2021
This could be called a tri-partisan crime, with both Democrats, Republicans, and independent Sanders each playing a role in making sure the war in Yemen keeps going. Libertarian Scott Horton, one of the most forceful critics of the US role in the war, had harsh words for supposedly anti-interventionist Republicans for not doing more on this front.
“I blame Rand Paul,” Horton tweeted. “He’s supposed to be young Ron in the Senate, and with more willingness to rumble. He could have been championing this resolution all along. We know he knows about the war. He’s why we had to rely on Bernie Sanders and his friends to even try. Mike Lee too. There was not a single GOP co-sponsor in the Senate. Not one.”
It’s safe to say that in a nation which serves as the hub of an empire that’s held together with endless violence and the threat thereof, anyone who ascends to a certain level of power in any party is going to have to be a servant of mass military slaughter to some extent. That’s why efforts to save Yemen keep getting stonewalled, that’s why Biden’s promise to end that war turned out to be a lie, that’s why the US war machine keeps expanding, that’s why aggressions keep ramping up against Russia and China, and it just might end up being why the human species went the way of the dinosaur.
Here’s hoping that all changes soon.
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