[Note for TomDispatch Readers: The next post will be on Tuesday, May 21st. Tom]
As William Hartung and Mandy Smithberger reported at TomDispatch recently, the national security budget has reached $1.25 trillion annually without evidently peaking, while the U.S. military fights wars without end across a significant swath of the planet (and yet another war or two loom on the horizon). One thing seems clear, as today's authors report: there are some remarkably deep pockets in Washington pouring money into ensuring that your tax dollars will never stop flowing into that budget and into the wars and the weaponry that keep it ever on the rise. Someday, it may be seen for the scam it largely is, as basic American infrastructure declines without investment of just about any sort. (Too bad Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and crew don’t build roads, dams, and public schools and that the Saudis aren’t at war with American infrastructure. Then some real money might go into them all!)
Anyway, maybe the greatest scam in Washington -- and that says a lot in the age of Donald Trump -- sports a distinctly anodyne name: “lobbying.” Whether you’re a major weapons maker or a war-making Middle Eastern ally of the U.S., it goes without saying that you have to hire one or more lobbying firms to make sure that your needs, desires, and views on what matters are front and center in political Washington. Too bad the rest of us can’t hire lobbying groups to make our own cases for what should matter most, which, when it comes to yours truly and so many other Americans, certainly isn’t the royals of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates or Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and the rest of the “industrial” part of the military-industrial complex. Unfortunately, as Mashal Hashem and James Allen report in their first TomDispatch post, at least two lobbying outfits have given the term “double-dipping” new meaning in Washington when it comes to American backing for and the sale of American weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in their seemingly never-ending war in Yemen, one of the genuine horrorsof our age. Tom
A springtime wedding in Northern Yemen’s Al-Raqah village took place in April 2018, a moment of reprieve from the turmoil and devastation of that war-torn country, a moment to celebrate life, love, and the birth of a new family. From the tents constructed for the event, music flooded into the village and, as at any good wedding, exuberant dancing was a central part of the festivities.
Unbeknownst to the guests, the music masked the buzzing of a warplane overhead. Suddenly, in a horrific turn of events, Saudi-led forces launched a deadly airstrike and 20-year-old groom Yahya Ja’afar’s wedding was transformed into a scene of carnage. Deafened by the explosion, guests fearfully searched for loved ones in a sea of confusion and body parts. In a telling photo, the flowery wreaths worn by celebrants lie atop a landscape of rubble. At least 20 wedding-goers lost their lives to the Saudi-led coalition’s now four-year-old brutal campaign in that country.