While experts and anti-war activists are demanding Congress end U.S. complicity in Saudi Arabia's war with Yemen—which has caused what the U.N. has called "the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time"—Trump Defense Secretary Gen. Jim "Mad Dog" Mattis is actively urging lawmakers to reject the bipartisan resolution that would do just that.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)—obtained Wednesday by the Washington Post—Mattis claims that ceasing U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition "could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism, and reduce our influence with the Saudis—all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis."
U.S. military support for the Saudi-led bombing, as Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), noted last week, includes "providing mid-air refueling to Saudi and UAE warplanes during their bombing runs, as well as targeting assistance for their bombs, and other logistical aid."
In addition to civilian bombing deaths, consequences for Yemen—one of the world's poorest nations—also include, Weisbrot lamented, "more than eight million people on the brink of starvation" and "the worst epidemic in the modern history of cholera, a waterborne disease that has sickened more than a million people there and has killed thousands."
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Mattis's personal appeal to McConnell is "part of an aggressive Pentagon effort to derail a resolution that could come up for a vote next week, when Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in Washington to meet with President Donald Trump."
The joint resolution in question—sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah)—was introduced late last month and calls for "the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress."
Following a closed-door briefing on Wednesday, Sanders told The Hill: "I think what our job now in Congress is to...accept responsibility for issues of war," adding: "I hope Congress and the Senate next week votes to get the United States out of aiding Saudi Arabia in this very terrible war."
Murphy, who also said he believes a vote will be held next week, called the briefing a "blatant effort" by Trump administration officials "to ignore reality."
After emerging from the briefing, Murphy told a reporter that he was irate over the "misleading" information that was presented, saying he had "never seen a more spin-heavy briefing than the one we just got."
Correct. Briefers aren't supposed be arguing a political case. Trump's reps left out loads of important information that would have ruined their case to continue the US bombing of Yemen. https://t.co/i6kBZqrcgK
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 14, 2018
While Trump's administration aims to kill the Sanders-led joint resolution to end U.S. support for the bloodshed in Yemen, a pair of senators have launched a separate attempt to undermine it.
Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) have introduced a "bogus 'compromise'" joint resolution that, as Weisbrot explained in The Nation this week, "poses a grave threat to this historic effort to stop the war" because it could "tempt those who want the U.S. military to continue its participation in the Saudi war to use that bill for political cover."