ACTION ALERT: Petition Bernie Sanders for Action on Yemen

August 13th, 2023 - by Action Corps

Action Corps Meets with Bernie
On Yemen and Murphy-Lee 502B
Action Corps

(August 11, 2023) — Action Corps took the opportunity of a Bernie Sanders’ town hall in Brattleboro yesterday to meet with Bernie on the Yemen War Powers Resolution (WPR) and Saudi-Yemen 502B [the Murphy-Lee-Durbin bill], including the presentation of this petition [still circulating: read petition below] which asks him to reintroduce Yemen WPR and to co-sponsor the Murphy 502B resolution. Some takeaways:

  1. Action Corps got Bernie to recommit on Yemen. Bernie told Action Corps Vermont leader MD Baker: “We’re not giving up.” And that was specifically in the context of MD asking Bernie to reintroduce the Yemen War Powers Resolution.
  2. We need to keep up the pressure. If past is prologue, Bernie’s not going to follow through unless we keep pressuring him. Same as all the others. Lots of people are demanding his attention on lots of issues, all the time, as they should. The squeaky wheels get the grease. “This is what democracy looks like.”
  3. The Action Corps petition is a powerful tool for maintaining pressure because it makes specific, concrete demands which anyone can see whether they’ve been met or not. Anybody can see whether Bernie has re-introduced the Yemen War Powers Resolution or not. Anybody can see whether Bernie has co-sponsored the Murphy-Lee-Durbin Saudi-Yemen 502B Resolution or not. Anybody can see whether Bernie has introduced a 502B resolution on human rights in Israel or not.
  4. The two Yemen asks represent different levels of commitment on Bernie’s part, and that’s a very good thing. Co-sponsoring a bill that was introduced by Murphy and co-sponsored by Durbin, which Warren co-sponsored in July is a relatively small ask.

People can tell stories that it’s not the right time to introduce Yemen WPR. We don’t believe those stories, but people can tell them. Nobody can tell a story that it’s not the right time to co-sponsor the Murphy-Lee-Durbin bill.

Any day the Senate is in session is a good day for that. So any day the Senate is in session that Bernie hasn’t co-sponsored the Murphy-Lee-Durbin bill is a day on which anyone can observe that Bernie is not following through on the commitment that he made to Action Corps Vermont yesterday to “not give up.”

The link showing the current cosponsors of the bill is here:

  1. When Bernie co-sponsors the Murphy-Lee-Durbin bill, it accomplishes several good things. It shows that Bernie is “not giving up” on Yemen, as he promised Action Corps. It helps push the Murphy-Lee-Durbin bill along. It shows activists around the country there’s something they can engage the Senate on right now, even if Yemen WPR is not re-introduced yet.

Warren co-sponsored, Bernie co-sponsored, you can ask your Senator to co-sponsor. It helps set a precedent for a 502B resolution on human rights in Israel. Anyone who wants to see a 502B resolution on human rights in Israel should want the Murphy-Lee-Durbin bill to go well. “Hey, that worked really well! Let’s do that again!”

  1. In his answer to another Action Corps activist, Bernie appeared to imply that the status quo in Yemen is basically good, and our goal is to make the status quo permanent. This is basically the current Biden State Department line. We absolutely need to vigorously challenge this, and this is key to everything. Here’s the relevant part of the transcript:

Bernie: “We are right now … at this moment, in a country that was poor to begin with, made much worse by the war, there is a fraught ceasefire at this moment, so the ports are open, some food is getting in, some medical equipment is getting in. So the goal is to make the ceasefire permanent, the goal is to have not only US aid, UN aid … international aid, to help children that are really struggling.”

Of course it is wonderful that there is a de facto ceasefire, even if fraught. Of course it is wonderful that the Saudis have mostly stopped bombing. These are wonderful accomplishments, that prove that activism matters, that Congressional pressure matters, that it matters for Yemen whether Biden or Trump is POTUS.

But that does not mean that the status quo is wonderful, or that our goal should be to make the status quo permanent. Two Yemeni-Americans who just returned from Yemen told us yesterday what an ordeal it is to get into and out of Yemen, how there is an artificial scarcity of flights leading to inflated prices, bribery, capricious and abusive treatment. And these are healthy, able-bodied American adults with American middle class resources.

Imagine what it’s like for poor Yemenis, which is most Yemenis, because Yemen was a poor country even before the war. This is the status quo. The status quo is not wonderful. The status quo is not ok. The status quo is unacceptable. The goal cannot be to make the status quo permanent.

The goal must be to end the blockade. To end the blockade, we need more Congressional pressure. To generate more Congressional pressure, we need more activist pressure. To generate activist pressure on Congress, activists need legislative vehicles to organize around.

Telling activists to “tell Congress to end the blockade” accomplishes little, because it’s too vague. It’s not observable to the average person not closely following Yemen policy in Washington whether they are doing it or not.

To hold their representatives in Congress accountable, activists need their representatives in Congress to face observable, binary choices for which they can hold their representatives accountable. They introduced the bill or they didn’t. They co-sponsored the bill or they didn’t. They voted for the bill or they didn’t.

This is the Foundation Stone on which all else is built. This is why we need to keep holding Bernie’s feet to the fire. Along, of course, with everybody else. As Brother Frederick Douglass taught us in 1857: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”


ACTION ALERT: Appeal to Sanders to
End Endless War, Starting in Yemen

As a candidate for President in 2020, Joe Biden promised to “end endless wars,” including the Saudi war in Yemen. These promises are enshrined in the 2020 Democratic Platform, where it says:

“Democrats will deliver on this overdue commitment to end the forever wars… Democrats will end support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and help bring the war to an end… Democrats believe that the United States should support diplomatic efforts — not block them.”

Although President Biden deserves credit for bringing home the troops from Afghanistan and pushing for a ceasefire in Yemen, these 2020 Democratic Platform promises remain largely unfulfilled. As recently reported by The Nation, the US-enabled Saudi blockade on people in Yemen continues, while the Intercept has reported that the Biden Administration is now slow-walking diplomacy to end the war. US troops remain in Syria.

The Biden Administration continues to take escalatory steps in Ukraine it had previously refused, such as its recent decision to transfer cluster bombs to Ukraine — in violation of the cluster bomb treaty and despite the opposition of 150 Members of the House and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

As the Netanyahu government takes unprecedented actions that threaten democracy in Israel, Israeli democracy activists complain that the Biden Administration is not speaking up forcefully enough against this to stop the Israeli government’s present course.

ACTION: Please urge Bernie to take action in the Senate now to end endless war, by signing our petition.