Holy crap. Leftist Paste politics is about to earnestly compliment a bunch of Republicans on a vote pertaining to war. What…what…happened? What universe did I teleport into? Where are we? What is this?
*Has a nervous breakdown*
Ok, so, here’s what happened: nothing. But it’s an important kind of nothing that could actually lead to something. Less than nothing is what was supposed to happen. It’s what always happens. War is profitable in America, especially for the party who got us in two quagmires this century, including the longest war in American history (no, not the Iraq War, the other one that’s still killing young Americans to this very day).
There’s another war going on in Yemen. Has been for some time. Barack Obama is very much a part of this ongoing crime against the Yemeni people, and Trump has escalated the effort. In the last three years alone, over 85,000 children have died from starvation because we are blocking food and supplies from reaching the impoverished and war-torn nation. Earlier this year, we here at Paste did what few others in the media have done and published the gruesome images of dismembered and disfigured children after a U.S.-made bomb fired by Saudi Arabia exploded a Yemeni school bus, because we believe that censoring these harrowing images helps to whitewash American crimes. That said, we are far from the only ones changing our usual coverage in order to fit this very familiar and tragic American story. CNN took the extraordinary step of listing the government contractors who made the bombs, like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. We here at Paste—and myself especially—critique the mainstream media a lot, but this is what real leadership in journalism looks like.
CNN also showed a graphic with facts about climate change next to Sarah Huckabee Sanders as she lied about climate change the other day. The media atmosphere is changing for the better on some very serious subjects, and I think that fact is reflected in this absolutely stunning NEARLY VETO-PROOF vote to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen (it’s just a vote to move it to a full floor vote, and to get the bill enacted, it would have to pass in the House, so there is still a long ways to go in order to make this vote more tangible and less symbolic).
Here are the Republicans who should be commended for their leadership on this vote and this vote only:
Lamar Alexander (TN), Susan Collins (ME), Bob Corker (TN), Steve Daines (MT), Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Mike Lee (UT), Jerry Moran (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rand Paul (KY), Rob Portman (OH), Pat Toomey (PA), Todd Young (IA)
And here are the 37 ghouls who prefer to continue starving women and children all so their defense contractor donors don’t take a slight hit to their billion-dollar profits (noted civility liker Ben Sasse voted to keep the slaughter of women and children going).
Now, I’m not so naive as to think that these 13 Republicans voted for Bernie Sanders’ bill because they turned into bleeding heart internationalists overnight. This isn’t really about Yemen. This is about leverage and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Remember, congress is supposed to determine when America can and cannot go to war, not the monarch—I mean, president. The 2001 Authorization of Military Forces enacted a few days after 9/11 has been used by George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump to conduct forever wars with complete impunity. Congress could stop this whenever they wanted to by taking back the power they already have, but they haven’t…yet. That’s the implicit threat within this vote. It’s a rebuke of both Trump and Mohammed Bin Salman for violating the international laws and norms that American foreign policy hawks apply to everyone but us.
Trump is clearly not going to punish the Saudis for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, and the hawks in the Senate will not stand for that. An act like that truly does deserve punishment. These are the rules. We have found ourselves in an extremely bizarre instance where some of the people most likely to want to go to war (like Lindsey Graham, who never met a war he didn’t endorse) are momentarily some of our allies at stopping a specific war.
The atrocity perpetrated by Saudi Arabia upon Jamal Khashoggi was a violation of all that civilized humanity holds dear, but it also defied the post-World War II order that defines this last generation of politicians’ worldviews. If this feels like a liberal vote by these Republicans, that’s because it is. The United States of America is a project of liberalism. Taken to a historical and international scale, even American Republicans are liberal (not the outright fascists, just the authoritarian-leaning types).
Remember: the United States of America is a liberal democracy*.
*theoretically—in practice, we’re more like a corporatocracy built on the foundation of state-sanctioned genocide and slavery.
Members of the Republican Party voted to begin to remove U.S. support for Saudi-led war crimes in Yemen because Saudi Arabia brutally murdered a journalist who is an American resident with three citizen children. I know that we live in hellworld and everything is terrible and it’s mostly the Republican Party’s fault, but this is a fleeting instance where our founding principles could be more than just bluster or words on a page. Now—it’s not something yet—it’s still nothing, and given the GOP’s track record on war, nothing is the overwhelming favorite here.
But the pure fact that something has emerged on the scale of possible to help these poor Yemenis being slaughtered by the American-made, Saudi-led war machine is an unequivocal good thing. That leftists like us at Paste politics find ourselves aligned—even if only for the briefest of moments—with people who have spent an entire career preaching perpetual warfare—over their anti-war stance—is perhaps a bit of proof that there is hope for our liberal democracy after all.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.