Kei Pritsker breaks down the nature of US humanitarian aid and how it’s weaponized to advance foreign policy objectives.
(Transcript) —This video was produced as part of a MintPress News and Grayzone collaboration — There’s been nonstop talk about the humanitarian situation in Venezuela.
In case you haven’t heard, U.S. politicians are really concerned for the Venezuelan people’s well-being — screaming their all-too-familiar code words that justify U.S. intervention, like “a humanitarian crisis … socialist dictator starving his own people.”
But if the United States really wants to save people from a dire humanitarian crisis, why aren’t we also then talking about sending aid to the 23 million Yemenis facing starvation right now as a result of the U.S.-backed Saudi bombing and illegal blockade of Yemen — right, Marco Rubio?
Marco, you there? Marco?
Oh there you are, voting AGAINST the Senate resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen.
Highly selective “humanitarianism”
The U.S.-backed Saudi Coalition’s assault on Yemen is the real humanitarian crisis. In fact, it’s the world’s worst humanitarian crisis of the modern era. The war has already taken the lives of 80,000 Yemenis, not including the 85,000 children under the age of 5 who have starved to death as collateral damage of Saudi’s bombs.
Despite how dire the crisis in Yemen is, it’s not even noteworthy to U.S. politicians crying crocodile tears for the people of Venezuela. In fact, these same politicians screaming how “socialism is starving Venezuelans” have been totally OK with the U.S. selling Saudi Arabia weapons so it can bomb the hell out of the Middle East’s poorest country.
In 2017, Donald Trump significantly expanded the U.S.-Saudi military relationship, pledging $350 billion dollars worth of U.S.-made weapons to the Kingdom. That’s nearly double what Obama sold in weapons to the Saudis.
Arms dealer Lockheed Martin bragged that the deal would bring thousands of “high-skill” jobs to the United States. And it’s apparent that the blood of Yemeni people will pay the ultimate price to keep the jobs for the war economy flowing.
The U.S. isn’t just selling weapons to Saudi Arabia; it’s actively refueling Saudi jets before they drop bombs on Yemeni homes, schools, hospitals, water treatment facilities and Yemen’s food infrastructure. The U.S. even went as far as helping the Saudis impose an illegal blockade on Yemen — blocking medical supplies, food, and basic humanitarian supplies from coming into the country, exacerbating the famine crisis
This also caused the worst cholera outbreak in modern history, with over a million cases. Doctors in Yemen served nobly, going months without receiving pay.
The blockade also prevents food imports and for a country that imports 90 percent of its food, this is understandably devastating.
This is why 20 million of the 25 million people living in Yemen are classified as food-insecure. Yet, without a shred of self-awareness, U.S. leaders continue to criticize Venezuela for not letting U.S. aid into that country.
For U.S., it’s all geopolitical, everywhere, all the time
So why is the U.S. contributing to such an inhumane situation in Yemen?
The Houthi rebels overthrew the Saudi-backed former puppet president of Yemen, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who escaped to Saudi Arabia. Not pleased with the toppling of its puppet regime, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition with other Arab states and — with the backing of their key allies, the U.S., UK, and France — launched an all-out assault on the Houthis. Which turned into a bombing spree against the entire people of Yemen, its food supply, schools and hospitals.
Keep in mind that the Saudis’ tremendous military arsenal was largely supplied by the world’s largest arms dealer, the United States.
We’re supposed to believe that this whole war is justified because Saudi Arabia believes that the Houthi rebels are a pawn of Iran, in a larger Iranian plot to take over the Middle East.
While Iran has expressed support for the Houthi rebels, there is no evidence that Iran is arming or financing them. What the Saudi Coalition is doing is indefensible and Iran recognizes that, as does a majority of the U.S. Senate and the United Nations.
And if the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are concerned that Iran is trying to control the Middle East, they might just be projecting their own ambitions. In the Middle East, the U.S. screams “Iran” to justify its aggression. In South America, it’s “socialism.”
Any look at a map shows that it’s the United States, not Iran, taking over the Middle East. And in South America, it’s U.S. economic interests and sabotage that is hurting the people.
So if anyone tells you that U.S. policy towards Venezuela is oriented towards humanitarianism, remind them of U.S. policy towards Yemen. Remind them how 23 million Yemenis are starving while the U.S. continues to help Saudi Arabia wipe out their nation. Remind them how selective, disingenuous and perverse the U.S. “humanitarian” concern is. For if we continue to misconstrue Washington’s motives in Venezuela as humanitarianism, we will be vulnerable to the same cynical manipulation to which we’ve been subject time and time again.
Top photo | Vice President Pence stands in a room filled with humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela where he met with a group of Venezuelans in Bogota, Colombia, Feb. 25, 2019. Martin Mejia | AP
Kei Pritsker is a journalist and activist located in Washington DC. Kei focuses on international politics and economics. He previously worked as a producer at RT America.