Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'Normal' is killing us.

Donald Trump is out of the White House. COVID-19 is fading, at least in wealthier nations. The world, they say, is returning to “normal.” That’s the narrative that the corporate media is selling. But there’s a problem: “normal” is destroying our planet, threatening our democracies, concentrating massive wealth in a tiny elite, and leaving billions of people without access to life-saving vaccines amid a deadly pandemic. Here at Common Dreams, we refuse to accept any of this as “normal.” Common Dreams just launched our Mid-Year Campaign to make sure we have the funding we need to keep the progressive, independent journalism of Common Dreams alive. Whatever you can afford—no amount is too large or too small—please donate today to support our nonprofit, people-powered journalism and help us meet our goal.

Please select a donation method:

"Why are so many of Yemen’s children going hungry and dying?" (Photo: Julien Harneis/flickr/cc)

No More Holiday Gifts for Repressive Regimes

The U.S. is selling weapons to a country that's killing a child every 10 minutes. That has to stop.

Medea Benjamin

 by OtherWords

While the world has been transfixed on the epic tragedy in Syria, another tragedy — a hidden one — has been consuming the children of Yemen.

Battered by the twin evils of war and hunger, every 10 minutes a child in Yemen dies from malnutrition, diarrhea, or respiratory-tract infections, UNICEF reports. And without immediate medical attention, over 400,000 kids suffering from severe acute malnutrition could die, too.

Why are so many of Yemen’s children going hungry and dying?

Since 2014, Yemen has been wracked by a civil war — a war that’s been exacerbated by intervention from Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally. Since 2015, the Saudis have been pounding this nation, the poorest in the Middle East, with cluster bombs and explosives.

And the U.S. has been helping, selling the Saudis advanced weapons and providing intelligence and logistical support.

This nearly two-year-old bombing campaign has killed thousands of innocent Yemenis and sparked a severe humanitarian crisis. A desert country, Yemen imports 90 percent of its food. But thanks to a Saudi naval blockade and the bombing of the country’s main port, imports have dried up.

Subsequent shortages have led food prices to soar. Meanwhile, the war has left millions of people unemployed and displaced. Unable to buy the high-priced food, they’re forced to depend on humanitarian aid for their survival.

UN and private relief organizations have been mobilizing to respond to the crisis, but a staggering 18.8 million people — out of a population of 25 million — need assistance. The situation is only getting worse as the war drags on and the winter cold sets in.

At the same time, the UN Refugee Agency has received less than half the funds it needs.

The nation’s health system is also on the verge of collapse. Less than a third of the country’s population has access to medical care, and only half of its health facilities are functional. Diseases such as cholera and measles are spreading, taking a heavy toll on children.

The only way to end the humanitarian crisis is to end the conflict. That means pushing harder for a political solution and calling for an immediate ceasefire. Until that happens, the United States should stop its military support for the Saudi regime.

Despite the repressive nature of the Saudi regime, for decades U.S. administrations have supported the Saudi government both diplomatically and militarily. Under Obama alone, weapons sales to the Saudis reached a whopping $115 billion.

Concerned over the high rate of civilian casualties, on December 12 the White House took the rare step of stopping the sale of 16,000 guided munition kits. This is a great step forward, but it represents only a small fraction of total U.S. weapons sales to the Saudi regime.

In fact, at the same time the White House announced it was blocking this $350 million deal, the State Department announced plans to sell 48 Chinook cargo helicopters and other equipment worth 10 times as much.

Moreover, the coming Trump administration might well restore all sales. That’s why it’s important for Congress, which has the authority to block weapons sales but seldom actually does, to step forward and take a stand.

Selling weapons to a repressive regime should never be allowed. And today, when these weapons are leading to the death of a Yemeni child every 10 minutes, the sales are simply unconscionable. The time to stop them is now.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Support progressive journalism.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'We Can't Turn Our Backs': 60+ Lawmakers Demand Biden Extend Pause on Student Loan Payments

"President Biden should cancel student debt, but in the meantime he should extend the payment pause so that borrowers aren't hurt."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


US and Israel Vote 'No' as 184 Nations Condemn American Blockade of Cuba

"The U.N. vote... on Cuba was a chance for President Biden to show global leadership," said CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin. "He failed miserably."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


With Planet's Future at Stake, Biden Told to Be Bold With Pick for Top Energy Post

"It's time to treat climate change like the emergency it is, and stop approving new fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, reads a letter signed by over 300 climate-focused groups.

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


SCOTUS Solidifies Students' Free Speech Protections, Upholding Right to Say 'F**k Cheer'

"The message from this ruling is clear—free speech is for everyone, and that includes public school students."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Rules Union Organizing on Farms Violates Landowners' Rights

The Supreme Court "fails to balance a farmer's property rights with a farm worker's human rights," said United Farm Workers of America.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·