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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

With Democrat Back in White House, MSNBC Returns to Ignoring U.S.-Backed War in Yemen – by Adam Johnson – The Column

Posted by M. C. on November 27, 2021

https://thecolumn.substack.com/p/with-democrat-back-in-white-house

Adam Johnson

A review of MSNBC’s coverage from Nov. 3, 2020 to Nov. 22, 2021 shows MSNBC hasn’t run a single segment on the U.S.-backed war still raging in Yemen. 

To the extent MSNBC did cover Yemen’s “civil war” during this time frame it was exclusively to pass along, without skepticism, claims last spring from Democrats that President Biden had “ended U.S. support for the war”—which turned out to not be true in any meaningful sense, a fact evident at the time but not met with any questioning from MSNBC reporters or pundits.  

Since then, it’s become increasingly clear little has changed in the status quo. While the U.S. has halted some forms of assistance, like mid-air refueling of aircraft, other forms of vital participation remain, including: green-lighting of weapons transfers, maintaining spare parts for Saudi war planes, sharing some forms of intelligence, and training the Royal Saudi Navy, which is enforcing a catastrophic blockade on Yemen. 

And then there is the political cover that the Biden administration is giving the Saudi-led coalition, a vital form of support that noted in September by Annelle R. Sheline and Bruce Riedel at The Brookings Institute—hardly a far-left bastion of anti-imperial polemic: 

Biden’s broken promise on Yemen

…Unfortunately, Biden’s approach is fatally flawed. The president stated that he would “end U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen.” Yet the Saudi-led war on Yemen by definition, is an offensive operation. Saudi Arabia is bombing and blockading another country: Between March 2015 and July 2021, the Saudis conducted a minimum of 23,251 air raids, which killed or injured 18,616 civilians. The Houthis, known formally as Ansarallah, launch missiles in retaliation but if Saudi airstrikes ceased, the Houthis would have little reason to provoke their powerful neighbor. As long as the U.S. materially and rhetorically backs the Saudis’ war of choice, Biden’s assertion that the U.S. would end support for offensive operations is a lie. 

The second crucial flaw in Biden’s approach is that he did not call for an immediate end to the Saudi blockade of Yemen. The blockade primarily blocks fuel from entering the Houthi-controlled Hodeida port; the Saudis also prevent the use of Sanaa International Airport. Blockades cannot be defensive: they are offensive operations, and therefore U.S. involvement should have ended following Biden’s declaration in February. The U.S. tacitly cooperated with the blockade by not challenging it, and the U.S. Navy occasionally announces it has intercepted smuggled weapons from Iran, suggesting a more active role than the administration admits. Congress should investigate.

Just this week, the Biden White House and State Department announced the US will be selling another $650 million in weapons to Saudi Arabia, hiding behind the nonsensical talking point that the weapons are “purely defensive.”

There was a time when MSNBC media personalities did act like they cared about what the UN calls the “world’s worst humanitarian disaster,” which has killed almost a quarter of a million people.  

MSNBC ignored the war almost completely during the Obama years and early Trump years. But after the Saudi coalition bombed a school bus in August 2018, and Saudi dictator Mohammad bin Salman ordered the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, they—like much of the U.S. media—finally began reporting on the regime’s human rights abuses. For a while. 

MSNBC ran multiple segments on the war in the second half of 2018 when it was considered very much Trump’s war. 

After this spasm of concern in late 2018, the coverage largely died out. As I noted in FAIR at the time, when activist pressure to pass a resolution compelling an end to U.S. support for the war was at its most urgent in March 2019, MSNBC ignored the effort altogether. There was a brief aside about Trump’s veto of said Yemen war powers act by Rachel Maddow on April 16, 2019, but it amounted to little more than a passing mention. 

The next—and it turns out last—time an actual segment aired on the Yemen war was on Morning Joe in July 2020. This report, by NBC News’ Keir Simmons, did mention the war and the U.S.’s role in it, with a focus on how Covid was killing Yemenis. But since the July 2020 Morning Joe report, there have been no segments aired on MSNBC about the U.S.-backed Saudi bombing of Yemen.

See the rest here

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