U.S. Tax Dollars Help to Starve Children

Dec 07, 2018 · 289 comments
Nick (Potomac)
Sure thing. Our tax dollars also helped kill 600 thousand Iraqis and a few other Syrians, not to mention millions of Vietnamese and North Koreans. Humans never learn.
John Flemming (Reading, PA)
Nick, And those organizations that are helping are...? Perhaps Google search can help. I will contact my new Congresswoman.
Scott Hiddelston (Oak Harbor WA)
This speaks to larger issue, that we have allowed our government to abdicate its responsibility of being our conscience. We now expect corporations to have this conscience, and to choose to act in a moral way. Our government will sit idly by on any issue until one of the bigs i.e. big oil, big Pharma, need them to rise from their slumber.
Kirk (under the teapot in ky)
Trump's failings do not affect his supporters.Their actions ,or lack thereof,resemble a cult of personality...a Jim Jones/David Koresh follow the herd sort of thing. For some unapparent reason, reasonable people within the cult who see the problem cannot leave the herd. Perhaps the divide has become too great.There is no relief, forgiveness ,comfort coming to the enemy's camp. If we can't figure out a way to get over ourselves we will all end up drinking the kool aid, taking the fentanal as we send our country and the world slowly down the drain.
Dreamer (Syracuse)
'Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backed by the United States, are trying to inflict pain to gain leverage over and destabilize the Houthi rebels. The reason: The Houthis are allied with Iran.' Or, to make it more clear, Trump and his bff MBS, together, are making every effort to starve those children to extinction. And then we can sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia.
NSf (New York)
Nothing new. War and embargoes are power play to control resources. They make the ruling class richer, encourage black markets and drug trade and leave destitution and refugees behind. The UN and NGOs will then come and the country would be like a mess for the foreseeable future. Anything else is mere propaganda.
Steve Kelder (Austin Texas)
Where would our country be without the reporting of Nicholas Kristof? Thank you for risking your life to open the eyes of a rich and powerful nation, for nameless poor children. With tears in my eyes, I ask all of us to pray for Nicholas to continue his selfless work, and come home to us in one piece.
Cliff (North Carolina)
I called Senator Thom Tillis’ office this week and told the aide exactly what this headline says. In the never ending US quest to punish Iran for some college students seizing our embassy almost 40 years ago, and to further satisfy the Israeli far right government and to pad Donald Trump’s pockets, we will advocate virtually any kind of monstrosity.
G. (Lafayette, LA)
This suffering is horrible and I don't want to do anything as a taxpayer to support it. That said: is the premise that the US should terminate support for its side, because (a) the US supported side is just as bad as the Houthis, but worse at providing actual security for everyday people and (b) it is therefore preferable to allow the "other" torturing and totalitarian side prevail? I can see the argument that, in this case, acquiescence in the "other" side winning is the lesser of two evils, but how far does that logic extend? Is totalitarianism always preferable to war if it makes the (food) trains run on time? Seems like a cogent American leadership could find some way to balance these interests to curtain and end the suffering (even if ceding the country to the Houthis is the result but the best course). Sadly, Americans have elected a president who is devoid of substantive attention, talent, and compassion -- in a way that also reflects many of his constituents, who will readily pay billions for defense, even where a fraction of "foreign aid" would increase actual security and reduce human suffering.
s.whether (mont)
Thank You NYTimes. Thank You Kristof. A brave front page. I voted for Obama not because he was black I voted for him because I believed the speeches he gave, just as many believed the speeches Trump gave. To fight for the middle class, the old and the poor, to be against war and to give us health care. Obama appointed a Republican, Sen Baucus in charge of health care, everyone knew Baucus was against Single Payer and loved the Insurance companies. Obama cared more about getting along with the Republicans, I voted for a Democrat. Some people voted for a black man, some people campaigned for a woman, some people voted for a reality TV star. My point is this, the first and foremost vote should be cast for Country. In the last election, an highly educated woman said to me, "Don't you want a woman to be President instead of that crazy old man?" (referring to Bernie). Well now we have a crazy old man. That is my point. I hope Americans will vote for the country. Democracy is fragile, the world is losing freedoms everywhere, the Right is gaining around the world. Yeman should be on every front page, on every cable network along with the politicians pictures.
William O, Beeman (San José, CA)
Americans have been fed an enormous lie about the conflict in Yemen. The Houthis (named after their current leader) are NOT "rebels." They are, in fact, members of the Zaidi community of Shi'a Muslims. They ruled Yemen from the 9th Century until the 1970s when North and South Yemen (a former British colony) were re-united. The Zaidis were then persecuted by the Sunni leadership in Sana'a. Their movement is in reaction to that persecution, and is an effort to regain their historic control of the country. The Zaidis also live in Southern Saudi Arabia, precariously close to Jeddah, Mecca and Medina, and that is the problem. They have effectively won the civil war. They occupy the capital, and most large centers of population. But the Saudis are afraid that if they fully establish control over Yemen, their Saudi residents will challenge the Royal Family. The Saudis have therefore launched this monstrous humanitarian crisis to try and eliminate the Zaidis. They have sold the lie that somehow the Zaidis would not have tried to re-establish their sovereignty unless instigated by Iran. This plays into the US enmity against Iran, and the utterly false narrative that Yemen is some kind of Iranian expansion project. Yes, Iran has provided some aid to the Zaidis/Houthis, but the aid has not been extensive, or, more important, decisive. The Zaidi/Houthis have achieved their gains on their own. Simply stated, the Saudis are practicing genocide. The US should not participate.
John Grillo (Edgewater, MD)
Let us not forget that the strategic courting of a compliant Jared Kushner has played a vital role in deepening the Saudi-American alliance, as reported by this paper, and furthering this Administration’s continuing support of the war and its resulting human catastrophe. He is as a responsible actor in creating the conditions for this horrific outcome as his totally uncaring and amoral father-in-law. Blood is decidedly on their hands.
Nicholas Kristof, I like you, I really like you, but you need a reality check. We live in the same country, yet you seem to be tilting at windmills rather than seeing the reality of USA, 2018. Americans care less about anyone and everyone. The vast majority couldn’t find Yemen on a map that was labeled. The post WWII mentality about spreading democracy and freedom is dead. We just don’t care. Give us our screens and streaming and we’re happy, as long as others don’t have more. Trump elected tells all you need to know about Americans and morality. Could a truly moral person that cares about others actually have voted for him? Nope, we just don’t care.
Cliff (North Carolina)
The US currently sanctions Iran in direct breach of the Iran deal and the intention to bring about similar suffering. Until we come to terms with the evil of our practices, we will continue to wreak havoc around the world.
Larry L (Dallas, TX)
The world is full of regimes that think buying/selling hundreds of billions of dollars of weaponry will solve the world's problems.
Ralph Petrillo (Nyc)
Trump and Saudi Arabia seem to be lost as they ignore the failures of their policies. The UN at this time is wasting away. Why can’t the UN set up food centers? Seems a shame that the Republicans still support Trump. Saudi Arabia turned out to be a disaster as they starve so many children to protect their wealth. What a crop of low quality leadership. Iran , Saudi Arabia. Iraq, etc one atrocity after another . It would not surprise me if Saudi Arabia would drop a nuclear weapon on these defenseless individuals and then Trump would deny it occurred or the UScwould lose arm sales. The current logic is to take any action and to make the meeting with Kushner under the table so that it is supported by Trump. The argument is that evil actions have always occurred in society so why criticize it now if it is in US economic interests. Smells like fascism.
Steven Lee (New Hampshire)
The inability to be shocked means that infamy no longer has a face from which to repel in horror. The campaign to delegitimize government began by the modern conservative movement has created an edifice in which the walls that once provided privacy have been stripped away to reveal a craven interior scape of discordant colors and patterns that mimic in a grotesque fashion the harmonies of good design. The press/media provides home theater to cover this sad story while the thugs of the world ply their various trades. Our lose of empathy is a response to the confusing of a simulacrum of events to the actual events. We ignore the tragic unfolding of what will be history to preserve our illusions. The earth is burning and melting and desiccating. Our economy is built on destroying the ground we live on and the air we breathe. If we are willing to do that why care about the death of millions in a foreign land. Madison Avenue knows well the heart of the common man and that heart is of an acquiring nature. Block not the road to riches. Throw Christ from the Temple if he dares expel the money lenders. I say to you, My God is Mammon.
Fourteen (Boston)
Yes, your tax dollars help starve children, but that's not all - they also kill children (aka "collateral damage") directly via so-called "surgical" drone strikes. They also fund the military-industrial complex (the deep state) that supplies global militaries specifically designed to kill people all over the world, which is exactly what they do. Your taxes also fund the anti-democracy legislation of the corporations (that pay only 9% of total tax receipts), and legislation to directly transfer your wealth from the Treasury via tax give-aways to corporations and the very rich, which go into their off-shore accounts. You've also funded a police/surveillance state and the many prisons that keep you in line. But you're okay with this because you continue to pay your taxes.
jan (left coast)
I want to opt out. Why isn't there an option on my income tax form that allows me to not contribute to killing and other immoral actions. I don't support forced starvation of children or other people. You can opt in to contribution to presidential campaign funding. Why not be able to opt out of funding for killing people. Congress has simply not done its job these past 17 years and we are now in a 22 trillion dollar national debt hole following the misdirected response to the under investigated crimes of 9/11 which mostly subsidized oil and heroin cartels in Iraq and Afghanistan with our mercenary-ized US military. This is absolute nonsense. Let American taxpayers opt out of the immoral nonsense.
John Marciano (Talent, OR)
Powerful article and gut-wrenching photos. But Kristof writes an article on this war without once mentioning Obama and the Democrats, the initial supporters of this crime. The vile Trump has just continued it--all in violation of the Constitution and international law.
Tullymd (Bloomington, Vt)
We are the most evil country in world history. A toxic nation both to its inhabitants and to most other countries. We will eventually, it cannot be soon enough, expelled. Only our money keeps us in the game. But we are a debtor nation. The house of cards designed by Ponzi is collapsing.
Judith Govatos (Delaware)
I must admit that I do not understand the depths of the conflict in Yemen. What I do understand is that starvation and death of 85,000 children is terrorism by any standard. And by any standard of humanity, the United States should end our participation in this scourge. I hope each American who reads this article will pick up the phone tomorrow to call their Congressional representatives. The message is simple, “ Cut off the funding to support this conflagration. Stop murdering and starving children in Yemen.”
John C (MA)
Is Trump’s open support of genocide and boasting about the profits “we” recieve from arms sales an impeachable offense? Of course it is , by my reckoning. While this incompetent child attempts to play “realpolitik” balance of power games between Iran and the Saudis the results are sickening. A Democratic president would have continued the Nuclear agreement with Iran, while quashing Saudi Arabia’s adventurism in Qatar and Yemen. It would take real diplomatic leadership to broker a cease-fire and end to the Yemen proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Instead, we see the vapid cypher known as Jared Kushner in yet another bromance with a murderous autocrat. Meanwhile the GOP’s so-called moderates like Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins pusillanimously refuse to speak out, and Mitch McConnell continues to play the intransigent mandarin protector of his own power, calculating that waiting out 6 more years of Trump is preferable to actually trying to work out a single solution to any single problem. Republican voters actually voted for this.
Greg Giotopoulos (Somerville MA)
Guess what? I don’t support this government. I basically pay taxes because the corrupt people running the show would jail me. Don’t talk to me like this ever Kristoff.
Michael (Rochester, NY)
Excellent bit of writing. But, Americans are so used to our tax dollars being misused and abused to kill people who don't look like (whatever an American looks like).......that nobody cares. Congress and the President get so much money for their election campaigns from Military Contractors who are minting money in the five wars the US is now prosecuting that those wars will never end. China? China looks positively peace loving, gentle and kind compared to America these days. That's why I laugh when I read articles in the NY Times about China and its "threat" to the world. China is offering infrastructure for influence. America? We just kill people trying to influence them which results in more and more of them being alienated. It's pretty sad but has been going on since Vietnam. It's what we Americans do, and, the world knows it.
kwb (Cumming, GA)
Does Kristof believe that abandoning SA as an ally will halt the war in Yemen? Or maybe we should stop paying taxes.
Zeldie Stuart (NY/NJ/Fl)
I read the comments about “the horrors of starvation” the “genocides we ignored” the “Complicity of America and other countries” our “Weariness” in hearing/reading about all the above and feel much the same but once again I feel helpless much like I do about immigrants at our borders. What am I, a pro active, involved American citizen supposed to do? Tweet about this? Instagram? Share the articles? Who is going to start a movement and rally for this? Any advice? How do we combat this horror?
rjh (NY)
Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the US sound like an Axis of Evil, even without considering the deaths caused by their paid mercenaries in Syria.
Roland Berger (Magog, Québec, Canada)
How people who don't care about American children's health could care for Yemen children starving?
Reflections9 (Boston)
“He suggested that Washington was secretly arming Al Qaeda and that the United States was calling the shots for Saudi Arabia in Yemen, at the behest of Israel.” Given that the Houthis are allies of Iran. Given that Jared Kushner is the Saudis inside DC man. And Israel wants war with Iran. I wouldn’t call this a conspiracy theory. One has to ask who benefits
Kirk (under the teapot in ky)
Trump's failings, so obvious it makes the need for a Mueller investigation while Trump remains in power seem absurd, do not affect his supporters. Are they a 'tribe', a religious/political affiliation ? Their actions, or lack thereof, more resemble a cult of personality...a Jim Jones, David Koresh follow the herd sort of thing. And for some unapparent reason, reasonable people within this cult who see the problem find themselves unable to leave the herd. Perhaps the divide has become too great. There is no relief, forgiveness,comfort in coming to the 'enemy's' camp. If we cannot figure a way to get over ourselves we will all end up 'drinking the kool aid, taking the fentenal' as we send our country and the world slowly down the tubes.
LH (Beaver, OR)
We need to examine what would happen to the US economy if the government were to ban all ammunition and related sales to foreign countries. In other words, cut off the windfall enjoyed by the primary corporate supporters of the NRA, among others. They benefit enormously at the expense of human suffering and their profits are at the heart of the ever repeating cycle of pointless warfare. I imagine that without continuing warfare Wall Street would shut down altogether.
Dorothy (Minnesota)
Mr. Kristof, What can we do? Are there aid organizations we can contribute to? What are our elected representatives in Washington doing to stop this? Whom do we contact? We need specific information about how to help those suffering and how to influence those in power who are doing nothing.
shimr (Spring Valley, NY)
Long ago in the 1700's Ben Franklin realized ("Poor Richard"s Almanac" ) that "there was never a good war or a bad peace". Like so much in our modern world---=this is true for the poor and the downtrodden , for the vast swath of humanity that profits little from the sale of destructive weaponry but bears the brunt of the inhumanity of war. It is not true for the merchants of war. As long as there is profit to be made the profiteers will rationalize their evil and use power rather than diplomacy to solve international tensions. Why should those who need this money to build their yachts and swimming pools give all of this up if God Himself allows it . Our present administration which pays great respect to supposed Divine concerns like stopping abortion so as not to hurt the "unborn" conveniently forgets about the "already born" when it impinges on income and when it concerns fleeing refugees and far-away peoples. "America First" has become "America Only" and we gloat over defeat of enemies in tariff wars where the enemy becomes impoverished (albeit in ignorance we forget that we too lose). We now move away from being part of a global world and minimize the importance of diplomacy. Our MAGA leader can easily stomach the brutal inhumane slaying of a very decent man, a reporter, who has criticized his "ally" in this horrid war and who is supposedly or reputedly buying a massive trove of additional weaponry.
Greitje B (San Diego)
Thank you for this column. Though the New York Times has so often supported our endless foreign wars, it looks as if this time they do not. Our military budget, and presence, needs to be reigned in and the dollars saved put to our own, and humanitarian, needs.
Dave (Middletown, MD)
While we all likely agree this is a absolutely terrible situation, lest we forget this country of roughly 29 million Arabs that rests on the Gulf of Aden is, and which has long been even before this war began, run by a immensely corrupt government, been extreme human rights violators against their own people, and--not unlike that of other failing Arab countries--been narrowly and blindly focused on an oil based economy, reporting a paltry $3,000 of income per capita. So, as much as this country could benefit from an end to the war, so too could it benefit from--again, not unlike that of other failing Arab countries--the presents of varied industries of the technical and industrial kind, progressive reforms of their government, progressive reforms in their Islamic laws/beliefs and a government made of-the-people and by-the-people bent on addressing the very real and extreme corruption and unemployment problems. Yes, long before Yemen was at war with the Saudi's they were at war with their own government corruption, their seventh century way of thinking, their acute unemployment and their near exclusive reliance of an oil focused economy.
Perspective (Canada)
@Dave You label (dismissively) a whole people as "Arabs" as though they were a category of species best left as some historical irrelevance. Your description of their culture "long before they were at war with the Saudi's" is reminiscent of how other nations today view the so-called "United" States of America ie "they were at war with their own government corruption, their seventh century way of thinking, their acute unemployment and their near exclusive reliance of an oil focused economy." Such empty talk was part & parcel of Germany's military infrastructure in the 1920's & 30's. Look where that led.
ScottW (Chapel Hill, NC)
In days gone by, I have written many comments about how the U.S. military has killed more foreign civilians during the past 60 years than any other Country. The comments got very few recommends, as Americans hide their eyes from what our Country has been doing for decades--killing innocent civilians abroad. And make no mistake about the killing, it has been primarily a bipartisan supported effort. Under Obama, tens of billions in arms sales were approved to the Saudis, many while Clinton was Sec. of State. It is not like the Saudis suddenly became evil during the Trump admin. The mainstream press has essentially ignored the tragedy in Yemen so unless you venture into non-establishment media enterprises you are left in the dark. The anti-war sentiment in the U.S. is largely left unreported and there is virtually no political discussion opposing our military industrial complex. And we just got done with a week of adoring the man who commenced the most recent endless war by starting a war with the Iraqis. We are a violent Country and until we come to terms with that FACT we will continue to perpetrate (or aid in the perpetration) of war crimes around the World.
Cliff (North Carolina)
We are a violent hateful nation that attempts to solve “problems” with violence abroad and among ourselves here at home. And, yes, it has been a bipartisan effort that was going on long before Trump. That a large part of our domestic economy is dependent upon the war machine is not even open for discussion.
totyson (Sheboygan, WI)
@ScottW Agreed on all but one. In fairness, the man who just died had the wisdom to stop when his stated mission was finished. It was his son, and his son's vice president who commenced the endless war(s).
Kate (Gainesville, Florida)
Readers who missed Jane Ferguson’s excellent coverage of both underlying factors exacerbating the famine at the level of individual families and the extent of US involvement may want to take a look. Jane, who speaks fluent Arabic, smuggled herself into Sana’a by road dressed as a Yemeni woman in July, when conditions were already dire. Check this out on PBS.org.(Newshour)
Kathy Barker (Seattle)
There is no war that doesn't bring this kind of pain. The slow starvation of children...how can we bear it? The least we can do is NOT vote for any candidate for any office who doesn't have peace as stated foreign policy. No more war. Good article.
Ed Watters (San Francisco)
The bombing started three years ago, which means the Democratic President started it, and a Republican continued it. We need a new party that isn’t hawkish. And it’s time to stop the revolving door between the government/Pentagon and the corporate-military sector. When powerful people can enrich themselves by selling bombs, peace becomes a pipe dream.
jazz one (Wisconsin)
Every paragraph is a new, different, sickening example of pain, suffering and cruelty. Mr. Kristof, you do the world, and particularly U.S. citizens, such a needed reality check with all of your global humanitarian reporting, but this one ... just beyond what I had known or imagined ... and I follow a LOT of news. I hope this reaches many people, and cuts through a lot of the holiday clutter and everyday Trump Twitlessness. And in turn, that people reach out to help. I will be looking at your links and recommendations on how and where to start.
notimes (charleston, SC)
Hey Nicholas, How about you start sharing the one and only solution to all of the problems and horrors you keep bringing up. Too many (way, way, way too many) human beings on the face of this earth. Until that elephant in the room is addressed nothing is going to get better and simply because there are way more of us, the numbers will only get worse for any given catastrophe (man made or otherwise). Start beating that story over and over again cause ya'll ain't seen nothing yet unless we lose at least 6 billion of us in the next 100 years. We be the problem and we need to go; either in a planned compassionate way or a nasty ugly way.
Brad Blumenstock (St. Louis)
@notimes So, you're saying the solution to starvation is genocide? If you believe there are too many people in the world there's only one moral action you can carry out as an individual; remove yourself from the equation.
Neurovir (irvington)
I was going to express my outrage about this situation, but I see a number of people have gotten here before me. The only thing I would add is that those who blame the current American administration for this situation should hark back to the Clinton era when many thousands of Iraqi children suffered greatly because of the American oil embargo and the Secretary of State (Ms Albright) said that it was worth it, if it could adversely affect the Hussein regime. This is not just a Republican issue, but an issue of America in the world.
Mansukh (UK)
I am a UK taxpayer and our government is also complicit in the Yemen crisis though perhaps our hands are a little less bloody. In other genocides of the past 70 years or so one can point to a despotic individual and their henchmen - Hitler in Germany, Pol Pot in Cambodia etc. But in the case of Yemen, we are talking about democratic governments that are not just turning a blind eye but certainly supplying the means of massacre and maybe even executing some acts. Politicians in glimpses of candour will often tell us that its a nasty world and this is a small bad for a bigger good. In Yemen, the prize is to keep Iran at bay and in check. And of course, the trade ties with Saudi Arabia. On nastiness scale, I would rank Saudi Arabia worse than Iran. One is hostile the other is barbaric and feudal. Not just in MBS incarnation but historically. And as from prosperity from trade, its akin to providing a good education and provision for ones children with proceeds of drug dealing or being a hitman . We the citizens should hold our representatives accountable for what they do in our name and take issues such as Yemen into account when casting our votes. Just one point, this crisis dates from the days when President Obama was in the White House and he had a strongish moral compass. Just an indication of the systemic numbness of our political institutions.
Jay (Cleveland)
Taxes, or printing money the government never collected or had?
Peter Szymonik (Glastonbury, CT)
Not to take away from this tragedy, but our tax dollars are also being used to separate 21 MILLION American children from their parents and family members for no valid reason or cause. Fueled by the $50B Divorce Industry and federal SSA Title IV-D tax dollars. Why isn't the news media covering this story?
Chris D (New York City)
How can we help right now? Is there any way to get food to these people?
turbot (philadelphia)
I saw minimal mention of the Iranians, who are probably financing the Houthi rebellion. When the Houthis kick out the Iranians and stop the rebellion, I'm sure that food will get through.
Cliff (North Carolina)
Well, at least the Iranians have the legitimate argument they it is occurring in their own backyard. What really justifies US meddling in situations 6000 miles from our border? What justifies US military budget equal to next ten countries combined? What justifies US military bases in 70 countries? What justifies US ownership of 6600 nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them any where in the planet within thirty minutes? Our arrogance will be our downfall.
Michael Cohen (Boston Ma)
This war was horrible during the Obama administration and now is even worse. This excellent column is nothing new. This condition on the ground in Yemen is the consequence of our long term unconditional support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a backward, totalitarian, medieval regime whose favorite method of execution is beheading and crucifixion. Our hatred of Iran and our official love for Saudi Arabia is appalling. While Iran is is not Sweden or Denmark its democratic on the level of Hungary or Poland. The U.S. could end the war in Yemen immediately if it chose to cut all funding the the Saudis condition on the end. While we are not fans of the Russians, their worst human rights violations are dwarfed by the Mass Starvation of the Yemeni War. I wish this newspaper and its columnists could figure out how to shift middle eastern policy, a policy that has been stable across multiple administrations
gf (Ireland)
Wouldn't it be good if Mueller could check out that collusion thing with Saudi Arabia too? The one where the Saudis book 500 rooms at the Trump Hotel in DC and prop up the one in Chicago: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/12/trump-hotel-saudi-arabia So, when the President says he makes no money in Saudi Arabia, he's right - he doesn't because the Saudis bring it to him at home: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/16/trump-says-no-financial-interests-in-saudi-arabia-but-makes-money.html Who does Trump work for again?
My tax dollars pays to demolish Palestinian homes and entire towns to be replaced by exclusively Jewish settlements. My tax dollars are being used to keep trump in extreme luxury and safety while he splits up and destroys immigrant families and caging children up in concentration camps around the country for profit. My tax dollars paid for torture and rendition of innocent civilians caught up in the post 9/11 Bush-Cheney hysteria, start personal wars for profit that killed/maimed hundreds of thousands and cost trillions. The craziest thing is it is that industrial killing is more profitable than industrial feeding and caring for these people. This isn't even World War III, and yet my tax dollars are paying to starve and bomb 12 MILLION human-beings, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yemen FOR PROFIT - not surprising. They'd kill off the planet if it were profitable - and indeed it is and they're doing exactly that. I still flinch seeing a jetliner flying over a city - yet 9/11 was a single day in my life at Ground Zero. Yemenis experience a 9/11 level disaster every day over many years. Who is the terrorist now? Do we bomb or starve Israelis for their repression of Palestinians? Regrettably I am also responsible for donating cash to MSF (Doctors Without Borders) that results in the death of hero volunteer doctors and staff in places like Yemen. What could be worse than to be born immediately into starvation? An NRA chapter in Yemen won't fix that
Douglas McNeill (Chesapeake, VA)
I support sending US planes to directly bomb Yemen. What I do not support is the current weapons load for these missions. Fill every C-130 and available airframe with PLUMPY'NUT packages and bury Yemen with therapeutic food. If Saudi Arabia doesn't like this, that's just too bad. It's past time to cave to the pressure of autocrats who seek to use children as pawns in endless wars.
Chuparosa (Arizona)
Thank you Kristof for your bravery and fine reporting. This is really news. Much more important than so much of our domestic drama. For those who see it as worthless to know more about the endless suffering, I suggest reading Kristof and looking for the places where his reporting can lead to action. In this article, there are several places I see. Here is one that we can take to our legislators and our president and do our job as part of the system of checks and balances. Let's join Kristof and recommend to Congress that arms sales to Saudi Arabia should be suspended as "long as the Saudis continue the war." Excerpt below: "“You’re not going to solve this long-term until the war is ended,” said David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program. “It’s a man-made problem, and it needs a man-made solution.” One step to a solution: Congress should suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia so long as the Saudis continue the war. In conference rooms in Riyadh and Washington, officials simply don’t fathom the human toll of their policies."
woodswoman (boston)
I believe the majority of us want the U.S.'s contribution to this war ended immediately. If the sitting president would like to prove his fealty to the American people instead of Saudi Arabia, he'll set about getting us well out of Yemen. Without our help in destroying their country perhaps the Yemenis will be able to resuscitate their economy and restore peace. Even if Trump neglects our will and clings to the Sauds, some of the GOP in Congress are actually making sounds that they may be getting ready to move on this and may act against him. Given how they are currently viewed, it would be in their very best interest to do so.
P H (Seattle )
It is about time that the U.S. publicly acknowledges all the pain and suffering it causes around the world. The U.S. is behind SO MUCH infrastucture destruction, administrative/market destabilization, and humanitarian crisis. The U.S.'s idealist rhetoric does not match its actions around the world, so much of the time. The U.S. is a country is that has perfected gaslighting, on the level of nations. Trump said it best a few months ago, "What you see happening is not what's really happening." Spoken by your Gaslighter-In-Chief.
NellieC (Portland)
This horrific "collateral damage" based on anachronistic foreign policy is even worse in light of the recent investigation of government records and interviews with "current and former DoD officials, congressional sources, and independent experts" that "for decades, the DoD’s leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher, regardless of military necessity." So not only are our tax dollars torturing thousands of children, they're also lining the pockets of profiteers.
Laughingdog (Mexico)
I have been to Yemen, twice. It is an amazing country that has been completely ruined by the stinking policies of the USA and UK. In particular, South Yemen should be allowed to go its own way in peace.
°julia eden (garden state)
one bitter truth among countless others: the global north's unquenchable thirst for oil. and for every one wise person in yemen who wants the war to stop there might be two who want it to CON_tinue. when will the global north allow itself to be truly WEANED from [C]RUDE OIL and fossil fuels in general? stop hiding behind skape goats like "iran" today, ["iraq", "russia", "the red scare" & co. yesterday]. - park your POVs, your SUVs, - ground your cheap flight planes, - switch off your TVs, air condition, freezers, heaters, for starters. then ... move on to the next battle field and work towards ending the wars for natural gas, coltan, land, rare earths etc ...
Andrew (New York)
how do we win the war, quickly? yes, a truce may save some children today but a bad truce may doom the region and the world in the future. what does the author suggest we do to deny an extremist haven?
Brad Blumenstock (St. Louis)
@Andrew By perpetrating war crimes we're already creating an "extremist haven," just as our support for the Saudis helps finance their own extremists.
We on the left have to open our eyes to the uncomfortable truth that U.S. actions in Yemen under President Obama probably qualify as war crimes. President Obama often said that one of his hardest days in office was that of the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting. I've often wondered whether he also shed tears when he learned about the children killed by US bombs in Yemen and the drone strikes he ordered all over the Muslim world. And how does he feel now that the Saudi war on Yemen that he enabled has produced the worst humanitarian crisis in the world? The Obama Administration sold the Saudis $112 bil. in arms over eight years and approved sales of an additional $100 bil. plus. It provided essential mid-air refueling for the Saudi bombing in Yemen, even when it became clear that the Saudis were targeting civilians. U.S. intelligence support for the Saudi war in Yemen actually increased over the course of Obama's term. And just before he left office, President Obama escalated U.S. involvement by ordering U.S. warships to fire missiles into Yemen in Dec. '16. Trump of course has made things worse. But we on the left have to stop pining for the good old Obama days and chart a different course. As the saying goes, those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.
Nightwood (MI)
Nicholas, if you again go to Yemen bring all the birth control pills you can carry and bring a person who can translate and teach women how to use them. No woman wants to bring in 8 children to a already poor family.
AutumnLeaf (Manhattan)
Barak Obama sold the Saudi’s the weapons to wage this war. It even made news as the largest weapons deal ever in the history of mankind. Then Obama and his people opposed the UN investigation into crimes against mankind done by the Saudi’s in this war, and in Sudan. The Nobel Peace Price winner did this. Why is he not in jail?
DaveD (Wisconsin)
@AutumnLeaf Easy. We worship Presidents once they leave office. Then they are in effect deified at death, whereupon the worship is codified by the media.
Thomas (Tustin, CA)
How ungodly these Republican Politicians are. "In God We Trust." Another Republican lie.
Steve Griffith (Oakland, CA)
As the title of Rick Wilson’s recent book says, “Everything Trump Touches Dies”.
Anne Sherrod (British Columbia)
Thank you for risking your life to be there and report this, Mr. Kristoff. Looks like the Saudis and US have the biggest concentration camp of them all in Yemen. How can one look at the living skeletons and not see what the Nazis did in their concentration camps? I think this is a disgrace in the Obama legacy, equal or surpassing the bombing of Gaza by Israel which Obama condoned. Two perspectives I think are missing: I have been hearing that the Saudi blockade is responsible for the starvation. You say it's not unavailability of food, but collapse of the economy, but you do not link up the collapse of the economy to the specifics of the war. I'd like to know more about that. Also: the bombs falling may be the product of nations ( Canada is at fault too) and presidents, but what's driving them is the arms industry. As Robert Fisk put it in his article on Canada's role: "Arms will almost always win over murder." Read "money will almost always win over murder". The core of it is close to home: the glazed eye that US politicians turn towards the murder of children in schools at home with military weapons sold openly on the market to killers. So what we have at the very bottom of it all is the corporate takeover of the world, with the arms industry being the King Kong of the jungle. Someone should take apart the whole story of how many kisses in billions of dollars our various countries have traded with the Saudis.
Jubilee133 (Prattsville, NY)
"The Houthis are repressive and untrustworthy, but this is not a reason to bomb and starve Yemeni children." A completely dishonest and morally bankrupt piece. The mullahs of Iran support the Houthis and bankrolled the takeover of Yemen. A lawless Yemen sustains Al Qaeda of Yemen, a mortal enemy of the West and the US. The Iranian strategy of causing this foment and starvation in the Middle East, and Yemen in particular, is absent from Mr. Kristoff's piece. Instead, we get cheap American and Saudi-bashing. By the way, while murdering the Jihad-loving "journalist" Jamal Khashoggi is a crime, so is the imprisonment and torture of thousands of Iranian journalists at this very moment. When will Kristoff's wrath rain down on behalf of the Persian and Arab journalists imprisoned by Mulsim countries favored by the Left, such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the PLO-controlled Judea and Samaria?
Djt (Norcal)
A large part of America wants to drive pickup trucks and wants $2 per gallon gas to put into it. a gasoline price for which the US supports Saudi Arabia. Starving brown kids can't compare to that need. Sorry.
Dump Drumpf (Jersey)
Vastly more devastating and immoral than the Khashoggi murder by Saudis....and we're complicit. Trump will sleep well tonight and during Christmas while his arms are crossed and he mumbles bah-humbug about the whole situation. Sweet dreams and visions of Saudi oil money and deals dancing in his head.
Betsy Townsend (Cincinnati)
Last month I visited the genocide museum in Rwanda, where 800,000 people were killed in only 100 days as the world ignored the slaughter. The museum also recounted other genocides that have occurred in our lifetimes, including the Holocaust, Cambodia and Bosnia. Yemen threatens to dwarf all of them. Call your congressional representatives. Contribute to aid organizations. Encourage others to do the same. Let’s not stand by once again in uncaring silence as millions of innocent civilians die.
Chuck Burton (Steilacoom, WA)
@Betsy Townsend To this day, villagers in Laos, mostly children are being killed by cluster bombs and unexploded ordinance dropped by US bombers on a country we were not even at war with fifty years ago. Yes we go about our comfortable daily lives blissfully oblivious of the horrors perpetrated by our government to preserve tose very comfort.
sdw (Cleveland)
At some point the American military and the civilians in the Defense Department orchestrating the attacks on Yemen must stop and consider what is obvious to outside observers. If the only way that the Saudi regime can win this war is by bombing and starving women and children, then either the war is unwinnable for Saudi Arabia or the strategy employed is poorly conceived. America cannot allow a corrupt, murderous House of Saud, led by a deranged Crown Prince, to dictate our nation’s foreign policy. The world is watching and filled with disgust for the attackers and with deep sadness for the victims. None of the men, Saudi and American, engaged in this criminal barbarism want civilized people to see Nicholas Kristof’s pictures.
Mark (Iowa)
So the family starves while the father chews qat. That is like crackheads spending the food stamps on crack and not food for the family. This war is sickening. I feel we should vote to remove ourselves from involvement. If Iran is the real issue we should take the fight to them, rather than helping drop bombs on Yemen.
Jim Dennis (Houston, Texas)
The Sunni's hate the Shi'ites even more than they hate Western society and Jews. The most extreme Sunni's are the Wahhabi sect that is prevalent in Saudi Arabia. In effect, we, the United States, has become entrenched in a religious war between Sunni's and Shi'ites with Iran representing the Shi'ites and Saudi Arabia the Sunnis. There is nothing about this war that has anything to do with US security. We have become pawns of Saudi Arabia and have chosen sides in a conflict in which we don't even have a dog in the fight. We need to walk away from Saudi Arabia and let them fight their own wars. We need to choose morality over arms sales, for once.
meloop (NYC)
the headline"your tax dollars help starve children", make it appear that Dr K accuses all other Americans of being complicit in a conspiracy to destroy Yeman and kill it's people. I have been told that writers oif articles do not get to write the headlines, but someone ought to have caught this stinker. How will K convince anyone is the lead in to the article sounds like he is blaming all American taxpayers, excepting himself, perhaps. Times writers have to remember that oer half the peopple never get past the big letters of an articles headline, so if they think they are about to be morally clubbed by Dr. K, they will move to another subject less controversial.
Aziza Kasumov (New York)
"I find the American and Saudi role in this conflict to be unconscionable." Glad it only took Mr. Kristof some unpleasant interview interruptions and personal conversations with Houthi leadership to arrive at this conclusion.
Daniel Kauffman (Fairfax, VA)
Let’s turn all the headlines into a votes. Issue 1. Do you want your tax dollars to FUND (NOT FEED) the starvation of children in Yemen? [ ] I vote “yes.” Please use my tax dollars to starve Yemeni children. [ ] I vote “no.” I do not authorize my tax dollars to be used to starve Yemeni children. Problem solved. Next?
Monte McMurchy (Toronto)
The pure pristine obscenity in transactional power real ’politik’ is evidenced in the suffering of these innocents who merely as mother, father wish to ensure a childhood free from acute want and deprivation evinced in a childhood rife in play in joy. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump please take heed as your vacuous puerile dilatory posturing in strutting on the world stage for your own sole personal aggrandizement is making fully clear your collective utter lacking in any semblance of professional intellectual rigour in ordinal political public policy outreach designed to alleviate harm to those lacking voice.
JEG (München, Germany)
Want to understand why 85,000 children could killed in the past two years by Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies, including the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait, using American made weapons? Look no further than the fact that this story generated a mere 191 comments, hours after it was posted, while another Op-Ed about Anti-Zionism generated more than 800 comments, many of which argued that their intense criticism of Israel isn’t Anti-Semitic. So long as readers find more satisfaction criticizing Israel than its Arab neighbors, don’t be surprised that 85,000 Yemeni children can be killed without any outcry.
Nreb (La La Land)
Nick, tell it to the rebels and Iran!
John (Los Angeles, CA)
At what point does one ought to look up the definition of "genocide" and "complicity"?
John (New York)
While Khashoggi' s murder is bad enough, this complicity of the US in murdering so may children is even worse. We probably would be better off being friends with Iran than Saudi Arabia. Remember 9/11!
Melissa NJ (NJ)
Mr. Kristof, did you sense any decency, morality, care, compassion from the so called leaders or government individuals you talked to in Yemen and Saudi Arabia?
David (Middle America)
" The starvation does not seem to be an accidental byproduct of war, but rather a weapon in it. " Reminiscent of Bashar al-Assad
MW (Brooklyn)
Thank you for your bravery to got to Yemen and report this critically important story.
Rootkatia (NYC)
To save Yemen, I am ready to stop paying my taxes. Taxes should be used to provide citizens health insurance and education, not bombs and weapons.
Frederick (Philadelphia)
Everytime we outsource or delegate foreign policy to some degenerate power, we sully the human rights values of our democracy. The list is petty impressive, just to name a few, Savimbi in South West Africa (Namibia), Mobutu in Zaire, Suharto in Indonesia, Pinochet in Chile, etc. We can now proudly add Mohammad Bin Salman to that list.
John Andrechak (Idaho)
Obama's War
Nancy M (Atlanta)
There is no mention of the physical pain that accompanies starvation. These children are being tortured both physically and mentally. The pain itself evolves into a constant hollowing, twisting, wrenching emptiness within one's core. There is no escape. The slow draining of energy, viability and hope are mentally torturous, especially for the mind of a child who has no understanding of true, unmitigated cruelty. Torturing thousands upon thousands of innocent children is a crime against humanity straight out of our human hell on earth. Shame on us.
Richard Blaine (Not NYC)
"The reason: The Houthis are allied with Iran." . No, that isn't the reason. That is the trumped-up Saudi excuse. . The reason is that the people of Yemen wanted to choose their own government. . And that is something that the Saudi government refuses to tolerate. The same as it won't tolerate people choosing their own government in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Nigeria, Mali, Sudan ... . America is subsidizing the suppression of basic human rights. That is the overwhelming outcome of the 1945 USS Quincy Agreement.
Quandry (LI,NY)
The Senate has the legal authority to sanction Saudi Arabia to stop this war, notwithstanding Saudi Arabia's private funding of their millions for Trump's financial mistakes. Trump's substantial lies about the amount of Saudi's arms purchases. and job employment are also lies. Look at the millions of pitiful Yemeni children and their parents starving to death on television, while their wealthy Saudi counterparts where no expensive amenity is ever enough!
Ajax (Georgia)
Earth cannot sustain 8 billion humans. Population must and willl decrease in this century. There are only two ways in which this can happen. Either a mandatory one child policy or doing nothing and letting the problem take care of itself. What the author describes is a good example of the latter. If he really wants to help people he should emphasize the former. A finite planet cannot sustain indefinite population and economic growths. Simple math that even commentators should be able to understand.
Cat (Norfolk VA)
@Ajax did you even read the article? This is not about a shortage of food. it is about war and politics. it clearly states in the article that this is a man-made problem that can be solved. there is more than enough food, it is being prevented from reaching these people because of war.
@Cat Ajax makes a valid point. The starvation may not be directly due to a "shortage of food", but massive overpopulation has contributed to the devaluation of human lives. Additional humans have become a liability and thus much easier to dispense with. The global population now exceeds the ability of our social, political, and environmental systems to support it. If humans don't devise a method for depopulation, disease, starvation (e.g. Yemen), and warfare will do it for us.
Ajax (Georgia)
@RC Exactly my point. I was going to clarify, but no need, as you did so very eloquently.
Suzi (Tucson, AZ)
Our government simply does not operate on behalf of its citizens. I do not believe a majority of us endorse the atrocities—both at home and abroad—our government routinely supports as our representative body. This reality makes me understand why our younger generations are largely unengaged, election after election. The intent of our democracy is absolutely just and beyond compare; it’s execution is abhorrent.
John Doe (Johnstown)
Yaqoob was especially vulnerable. He is the second of eight children in a poor household with a father who has mental health problems and can’t work steadily. It is a tragedy, isn't it.
Will Hogan (USA)
Nicolas, your title is misleading and as if in a vacuum. This is a proxy war between US allies and Iran, with Yemeni kids as pawns and casualties in the process. Stop our part and we concede Yemen to Iran. This does not bode will for future wars with Yemen, only difference is that they won't be civil wars. Not sure that difference helps Yemeni kids. Keep our part and the kids starve now. We in the US already tried doing the right thing by not going into Syria when Russia did and the majority of Syrian civilians were either killed or functionally ejected from the country. This is not a good outcome. It is far more complicated than you pretend.
Ronny (Dublin, CA)
If you live in a monarchy, dictatorship or one-party ruled nation then you can say all the harms done is the moral responsibility of the government since the citizens have no voice in choosing their leaders. In Democratic nations the citizens must assume moral responsibility for every bad act done by our government since our government is of, for and by the people.
Donald (Yonkers)
Superb article, but I have a nitpick. The conspiracy theories Kristof mentions aren’t totally nuts. We aren’t arming Al Qaeda in Yemen, but who knows what the Saudis are doing? And we did arm factions in Syria which fought alongside Al Qaeda. As for Israel, part of the US motivation for this war is that perceived Iranian link and so yes, there are some rightwing supporters of Israel who support the war for that reason. Whether Netanyahu does I don’t know. He would probably prefer we attack Iran directly.
Jake Wagner (Los Angeles)
The problem in Yemen is overpopulation. The population in Yemen has grown from about 5 million in 1960 to over 23 million now. Such population growth is unsustainable in the long run. Something bad has to happen. The war is a proximate cause for hunger. But population growth makes hunger eventually inevitable. And Yemen is not the only country with a problem. Almost all the countries in Africa face overpopulation. The exact way in which overpopulation manifests itself varies. There has been starvation in South Sudan, genocide in Rwanda, a civil war fought by children in the Congo, political instability in many places across the continent. And Africa's population of 1.2 billion is projected to double by 2050. It is the height of hypocrisy to complain about the war with Arabia "causing" hunger in Yemen when so many people are dying around the world because of overpopulation. And the NY Times never discusses overpopulation. Why? Perhaps because Americans are in denial. They simply do not see the suffering in the third world. Or they have a distorted view of what constitutes human rights. Human rights start with the opportunity to have food and space to live. There is no human right to have as many children as biologically possible. China's autocracy did in fact make one good decision. After perhaps 40 million Chinese died in Mao's Great Famine, Deng Xiaoping introduced a one-child policy in 1979. Africa needs a one-child policy. And Yemen also.
DrBookworm (Ann Arbor, MI)
This is all very nice, but the problem of starvation in Yemen is now. Cold-blooded analysis of the need for Africa and Yemen (what, not the U.S.?) doesn’t get it. At all.
David (Middle America)
@Jake Wagner - please explain the influence of the bombing that has been taking place. It would seem that occurrence is correcting your thesis that "overpopulation" in Yemen is their problem and therefore THAT is why they are starving. War, famine, pestilence ... and death. Seems like they have it all thanks in great part to us. Make America Great Again.
DrBookworm (Ann Arbor, MI)
I meant to say I find it fascinating that only Africa and Yemen are mentioned as needing a one-child policy. Besides, it didn’t work out so well for China.
Duane Coyle (Wichita)
Pick a card, any card from the deck, and you will find that government—all governments—directly and indirectly picks winners and losers every day. America killed as many as 3,000,000 Vietnamese during our 10-year involvement in the Vietnam War. As many as 500,000 Iraqis died because of our intervention in Iraq in 2003, and that same mismanaged effort was the genesis of ISIS. How many did ISIS kill, and how many civilians were killed in the process of killing ISIS in Syria and Western Iraq? Civilians always die in greater numbers than combatants in wars. But the war in Yemen really is the creature of Iran and its allies, the Houthis, and the Saudis and their allies. If they weren’t killing each other with bombs, missiles and bullets they would do it with swords and rocks. And if the Russians and Americans didn’t supply each side with arms someone else would. The best way to prevent large numbers if deaths is for one side or the other to win quickly. But because of the reluctance to wage all out war, these little wars—and it is a little war—boil and boil while the simple-minded argue that there must be a political solution which is always just over the horizon. The war in Yemen is but one more lesson in the long line of historical events which document that governments are responsible for the deaths of more people than criminals, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, famines, disease, organized religions, fires, and other naturally-occurring disasters.
mlbex (California)
The Shi'a and Sunnis are at it again. All over the region, leaders and wannabe leaders are in on it, trying to increase their power at someone else's expense, and using an age old religious argument as an excuse. When Christianity was about as old as Islam is today, the Catholics and Protestants were busy fighting each other and tearing Europe apart. Eventually they learned to tolerate each other, and now they coexist peacefully. Maybe Islam could learn from them, but maybe not. The Catholic/Protestant split came to Christianity late in the game. The Shi'a/Sunni split has been present in Islam since almost the beginning.
N. Smith (New York City)
Yes. Most of us have already seen the pictures of the malnourished and suffering Yemenis, and I would even venture to guess that as long as they aren't joining the Central Americans leaping over the U.S. border. even the most anti-immigrant American would like to help in some kind of humanitarian way. But the problem is that not only this president and this government that for some odd reason refuse to hold Saudi Arabia accountable in creating this tragedy -- but the fact that tons of food and supplies that have already been sent to Yemen ends up sitting rotting in ports that have been closed by a senseless embargo. As long as that situation doesn't change, and the U.S. continues to sell arms to the Saudis, no amount of tax dollars will make any difference to the people of Yemen. And it's not looking like it will be any different any time soon.
TenToes (CAinTX)
Thank you, Mr. Kristof, for this column. You are shining a light on an obscene situation that the United States is both participating in and has the power to put a stop to it. The Houthis are no worse than many governments we support and are allies with. From what you have told us, it may just be that we should recognize them as a legitimate government as the government now in place cannot take care of it's citizens. You felt safe in Houthi controlled areas and unsafe in the 'government' controlled areas even though we are bombing the Houthi controlled areas. I know many people will not agree with this argument, but perhaps it is a discussion we should have. This obscenity needs to stop NOW.
Gerry (Solana Beach, CA)
It is ceaselessly amazing how we can compartmentalize this kind of mass suffering as an inevitable consequence of war, while we so easily, though appropriately, latch onto something like the murder of a journalist as a justification for sanctions, boycotts and handwringing. In this case, both are a result of Saudi efforts to promote their agenda. Why is it that the Khashoggi murder brings the mainstream outrage and not this genocide--in which we are complicit? What is wrong with us?
Marie (Philadelphia, PA )
Meanwhile, Americans are obsessed with an abundance of food: 60% of us are obese, dying from having too much of it. Channels like the Food Network run 24/7 with silly competitions showing how to use food for delight instead of nutrition. Imagine how these mothers would feel seeing our waste, our advertising, our food shows, up close, while they bury their children because they didn't have enough. We're so frivolous with our resources while tens of thousands of children are dying from a lack of them.
Boggle (Here)
Heartbreaking. Thank you for your reporting. I am eternally disgusted by how our nation sees violence as the answer.
Jean (NH)
This puts a lump in my throat and a knot in my chest. I will act. I will write to my congressional leaders and declare my disgust, and I will contribute a three-digit amount to at least one of the suggested orgs. Mr. Kristof, "thank you" seems entirely inadequate, but thank you.
Eddie Cohen M.D ecohen2 . com (Poway, California)
The humanitarian disaster in Yemen has nothing to do with US tax dollars and everything to do with the huge dollars spent by Saudi Arabia to US arms dealers including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, etc, etc. The stock holders of these companies care only about cash flowing into their pockets and nothing about the lives being destroyed in Yemen by their greed. We lack the moral backbone to stand up against our immoral president or these immoral companies. Yemen is an insignificant pon in the chess game being played between Iran and the Saudi’s, it is the Yemeni children who are paying the price and we don’t seem to care. So much for the thousand points of light.
Lisa (NYC)
Really, we could talk all day about the good vs bad that our tax dollars do. I always wondered/wished that there were a way whereby any Federal dollars that are proposed for initiative/project/war A, B or C must first be voted on by the American taxpayers. I think if we were to see a list of where and how our tax dollars are actually spent, we'd be disgusted. Of course, we already have a pretty good understanding that we place far too much emphasis/money on wars and meddling in other countries' affairs, versus taking care of our own citizens' needs in the areas of education, healthcare, well-paid jobs, infrastructure, etc.
This well-written documentary article has many answers to the question: "why do they hate us?". I just hope that it will have a positive impact on American foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, so that all can live in peace. Thank you so much Mr. Kristof, and God bless you.
M Lindsay (Illinois)
Thank you, Mr. Kristof. While I have been outraged for some time while following the coverage on Yemen, your article inspired me to contact my U.S. senators and representative to demand that congress stop supporting these actions which are responsible for the starvation of tens of thousands of children, and potentially millions more. I hope all in Congress are flooded with similar messages from their constituents.
james carlyle (point loma)
A very moving article about a modern tradgedy. My experience, first hand, is that Yemen has been at war, in many forms, for many years. Neither Saana nor Aden were secure nor pleasant places when I travelled there in the 1990s and early 2000s. They have had seriously poor relations with the KSA for many years, beginning with the First Gulf War in modern times. I have not seen a treatment of why the "Rebels" have occupied Yemen-their real purpose, if there is one. Neither have I seen a reason for the involvement of the USA in supporting the KSA nor in our dealing with the starvation issue. I get most of my information from MSF articles. I would appreciate Mr. Kristof's opinion on these points.
Dawn (Portland, Ore.)
The weapons industry makes the world go round. Remember the phrase "military/industrial complex"? It took its toll on children in Vietnam; these photographs remind me of the iconic fleeing napalmed child from that war. Have we learned anything since? No. The opposite. It's all escalated in a world gone mad with greed. And this country is at the heart of it. We have lost our way. Proof? That this story isn't the lead on every news source, that people like myself (yes, I am complicit when I pay taxes) aren't marching in the streets and picketing the houses, estates and yachts of politicians and CEO's and NRA weapons-pushers who profit from war. (Not only guns, of course, but the sophisticated technology of the weapons industry; look up DARPA). They are profiting from the deaths of children. Really, it's that simple. How they sleep at night is beyond me. Thank you, Mr. Kristof, for keeping this front and center in your column.
Amy (Colorado)
Thank you, Nick Kristof and the NYTimes, for this important work of journalism that helps us to see what others don't want us to see, and what we are often resistant ourselves to seeing. Deep gratitude for your personal and professional courage. May many be inspired to the same in our spheres, and to action on behalf of ending horrific senseless suffering.
TM (Muskegon, MI)
Again and again and again we see the same pattern: the US supports efforts to overcome forces that are thought to be aligned with communism/terrorism, and ends up creating a much bigger mess in the process. This has been the pattern in SE Asia, S America, and the Middle East, going back to our post-WW2 intervention in Iran. I realize there are no easy answers, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that starving children cannot possibly be a part of any rational solution. And yet, here we are. When I was teaching in Cairo a few years ago one of my students was from a wealthy Yemeni family that had been displaced by the fighting there. After speaking to him about the violence in his country, I said there were times I wanted to run up to the rooftop and shout at the top of my lungs, "Stop killing one another!" to anyone who could hear me. Reading this editorial evokes that same feeling of anguish and frustration - but this time it is with my own government.
mikecody (Niagara Falls NY)
The war started because the Houthis decided to take over the country. That is the fact that is often, if not always, left out of such articles. Yes, the legitimate government was deposed and is fighting from exile. Just like the governments in exile that fought the Germans from London during the Second World War. This is a civil war, which are almost always more cruel than any other type. The government in exile, and their allies the Saudis, have done things that have hurt the civilian population of Yemen, true. Was the fire bombing of Dresden, or Sherman's burning of Atlanta, a civilian friendly action? Yes, the war needs to end and it is unlikely that either side can get a military victory in the near future. The legitimate government could simply give up and that would end the war. The rebels could simply give up and that would end the war. Both sides share the blame for its continuation since neither will surrender their ambitions.
Brad Blumenstock (St. Louis)
@mikecody If the US would end it's support for Saudi war crimes, and actively oppose them instead, the war would end sooner.
Ying Wang (Arlington VA)
Yes, my tax dollars help starve children. But I think it’s been clear for some time now that the U.S. government isn’t representative of America, particularly in the cities and particularly with foreign interference and that of one specific political party that profits from arms sales leading to said starving children. I’m not saying I don’t bear this sin, but I am saying i can’t do much about it until I and the rest of America can make our representatives hear us. And that means focusing on the problems at home.
Allfolks Equal (Kenneth Square)
It was one thing during the Cold War to oppose Soviet expansion by military support and intervention. While it was often a misguided effort, as in Vietnam, it was based on a consistent policy from Truman to GHWBush. The ancient and modern tribal wars of Greater Arabia are another matter. Mishandled by Turkish and European governors and diplomats for 400 years, these tribal wars are only important to us today because of Big Oil. Iran is supplying support? So what? Iran is not trying to take over. The problem here is not Iran, it is the rich, weak, oppressive, murderous regime of the Saudi royal family. The phrase "royal family" says it all. If anybody wants to take over Yemen, Oman, the UAE, the whole peninsula, it is the Saudi royal family. We need to be on the side of Yemen here, not with the Saudis or Iran.
Ilene Bilenky (Ridgway, CO)
@Allfolks Equal Or perhaps the U.S. should not be on either "side," but stop supplying S.A. with the means to continue this aggression. I thought after 9/11 that we should do everything possible to stop needing S.A. oil. However it's come to be, we seem to be in that place now. Cut them off, and soon, for all their aggressions and human rights issues.
C Wolfe (Bloomington IN)
I will be surprised if Americans as a whole begin to care about this. We have been indoctrinated for decades by Republicans to feel outraged when "taxpayers" are asked to fund school lunches for children who might otherwise go hungry right here in our own communities. I have seen commenters here at the Times moralize that parents should pack a lunch for their own children and pontificate more universally that if parents can't take of children they shouldn't have them. We won't commit to the principle that health care is a right for our own citizens. So I don't expect us collectively to show any more compassion for children who are need in of medical care and so painfully and desperately starving when those children are thousands of miles away and, let's just say it, not white. The ideology of whiteness and selfishness is what the Trump administration thrives on. It may even be true that most Americans resist this creeping corruption of the spirit and still have a different set of beliefs that make us want to help. But we are ruled by an abhorrent minority and can no longer make our will known—or rather, when it's known, this minority will simply disregard what's right in favor of what's profitable for them. We can only hope that Mr. Kristof's powerful column will move a few rich and powerful individuals to advocate for this cause.
Mike Clarke (Madison NJ)
@C Wolfe Did you read just the headline and decide to attack Republicans, white people and Trump? Here is the fifth paragraph: "Both the Obama and Trump administrations have supported the Saudi war in Yemen with a military partnership, arms sales, intelligence sharing and until recently air-to-air refueling." I guess it didn't bother you two years ago.
C Wolfe (Bloomington IN)
@Mike Clarke My comment was primarily about US attitudes towards the use of tax dollars to take care of "other" people, not US policy toward Saudi Arabia. I'm one of those odd ducks who thinks Iran is a more natural ally of the US than the Saudis, so I've posted comments on other articles about that. Our support of Saudi Arabia post-9/11 along with our inability to normalize relations with Iran no matter what concessions they make baffles me. This has concerned me since the buildup to the war in Iraq, when Iran was a natural ally and we were seeing stories about a movement among young Iranians toward a more open society—crushed when W's rhetoric about the "axis of evil" contributed to a reactionary withdrawal into anti-Americanism in Iran. The new bromance between Putin and MBS is curious as well, given that one of the marks against Iran ostensibly has been Russian ties. For humanitarianism to rise above these tangled politics and how they come to bear on Yemen, it will have to come from a passionate commitment to caring for human life, by which I mean existing children who are suffering right before our eyes and not the kind of "pro-life" stance that's about forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. So yes, it is also my view that current Republican ideology and Trumpian "American First" sloganism does not encourage any sort of universal love for humanity.
gf (Ireland)
@C Wolfe, there are some Republican (and Democratic) senators trying to pass legislation to stop the supply of arms which is driving the conflict in Yemen. This bipartisan approach by Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Chris Murphy should be acknowledged and supported. They need to convince as many colleagues as possible to avoid a veto by Trump. It seems that many in both parties are defying the President's ethos of 'it makes a lot of money for us, we like that'.
Carolyn Egeli (Braintree Vt)
The world is full of inhumanity. Profit, and greed drive it. A sick need for power over and a mindless disregard for the feelings of others drives it. Of course our tax dollars drive this. The people we elect, seldom do what we ask for. They are not there to represent us, the people. They are there to represent the interests of oil, banking and the war machines. This trio represents the largest wealth generating entities of the modern age. Break up the banks, and the monopolies. Invest in renewable energies at a much higher rate. And oh yes...good luck with this!
Chuparosa (Arizona)
Yes, Good luck to us. It is our job to take the information from the fourth estate and bring it to our legislators.
Greitje B (San Diego)
@Carolyn Egeli There is no reason that we shouldn't require of our candidates for higher office a clear stance on breaking up monopolies,investing in renewable energies, and supporting taxes that are higher on the well-to-do (recall the now common statement of the 90% tax rate on the rich in the Eisenhower years). If we don't demand these things, we'll continue to get candidates such as we got in 2016.
Seb Williams (Orlando, FL)
Mr. Kristof, you're a national (and international) treasure. Thank you for your courage. This is journalism. And what you're reporting is what happens when "it creates jobs" is the end of every political sentence. We can't stop bombing countries because arms contractors employ people. That this war started - and was supported - under President Obama should disabuse anyone of the usual partisan finger-pointing. This is not our politicians. It is us. Big Macs and XBOX for one middle-class family holds more value with most Americans than a million Yemeni children's lives. That's the essence of "America First". How many college educations could we have paid for in place of all these bombs? Alas, we can't know: that's not public information. Because that is how our government and its military see us. We're not "the people", partners in governance. We're a means to their end, and that is war. As it ever has been.
Anne-Marie Hislop (Chicago)
Heartbreaking and infuriating. That said, I must admit that I debate reading such articles. It is so very hard to see such suffering, but have so little I can actually do about it. Yes, consider it when I vote, but the next vote is 2 years away; contact my Congress persons, yes; give to an aid organization, yes; share the article to increase awareness, yes. It all feels inadequate, to say the least. That said, thank you for taking such risk with your very life and limb to increase awareness for that is surely the first and a very important step to changing a dire situation.
Donald (Yonkers)
@Anne-Marie Hislop Do you take the same point of view on other issues? It seems to me you could say this about nearly all of them. Yemen is bigger than most issues, but if ordinary people in large numbers had been speaking out three years ago it might have saved some lives.
Gerry Anderson (Galway)
@Anne-Marie Hislop Agreed Anne-Marie, unfortunately every administration has pushed the war agenda, regardless of political affiliation. We saw that war made money and Eisenhower, a war hero, warned us of MIC. The Military Industrial Complex with its cousin the Citizen's United Supreme court decision, have fueled there playground with purposeful destabilization of the Middle East. Kennedy called them out on it after Eisenhower when the mongers were calling for our entrance into Vietnam. That was Kennedy's last speech before he was k.i.a. Great points A-M
woodswoman (boston)
@Anne-Marie Hislop, What you do may not sound like enough to you, but if we all were to do those things there would be no denying it's power. Contacting Congress, and even the White House, has more of an impact than you know. For every one call or letter they receive they count it as 100 people having the same thoughts and feeling the same way. With your inspiration, I'm donating to the IRC, one of the best groups giving aid around the world. (So, see? Now there's two of us.)
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
"Still, the civilian loss of life has overwhelmingly been caused not by the Houthis but by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and America, through both bombings and starvation." This article should be required reading for every single American preoccupied with partisan politics or prepping for Christmas. I applaud Mr. Kristof's bravery and commitment to ferreting out truth and educating us on why this crisis of humanity started and persists. I confess I'd not known much about the war's cause, and now that I know some details, it's even more horrifying. Nicholas Kristof speaks of war crimes, and if anything is, it is the mass starvation of a population caught up in other people's hatreds and war mongering. I've read murmurs of Congressional support for ending this war by cutting off arms and treasure to the Saudis. Such murmurs should be shouts and screams of horror. That America, under the command of Donald J. Trump, is so blindly following the hatreds of the Saudis is unconscionable. The photos I've seen over the past few months of starving children are a stain on the souls, if they have them, of those waging war on Yemen.
Mac (Colorado)
@ChristineMcM I agree that "This article should be required reading for every single American..." just leave out the remainder, and include all US children on the reading list. We need to let out little ones know what is going on so they can lead us out of this horror.
DJ (Yonkers)
@ChristineMcM First let me say that I despise our faux POTUS but to lay this war at his feet is the height of our hypocrisy. This war led by the Saudi Prince, Mr. Bone Saw (MBS), was fully supported by the Obama administration. Here’s a quote from a Time essay written on October 14, 2016 and entitled, U.S. Support for the War in Yemen Is Indefensible: “In the end, one has to wonder how this will ultimately reflect on President Obama’s legacy. He and his foreign policy leadership will surely look back upon the decisions they’ve made about Yemen with regret in light of the carnage and the daily assault on human dignity. Each day the U.S. supports this war, with every air strike that hits a civilian site, every civilian killed, maimed or going hungry; with every U.S. weapon used in Yemen and every warplane refueled that kills or wounds civilians, the U.S. tarnishes its reputation in the world. Some things should still be sacred.
SR (Bronx, NY)
"That America, under the [embarrassment] of ["covfefe"], is so blindly following the hatreds of the Saudis is unconscionable." (Had to bracket there. He doesn't command me, only the armed forces—and he's not my president so I'm not even sure there.) I wouldn't be surprised one bit if "covfefe" was also involved with the Khashoggi murder, e.g. in telling someone to get him to go to the embassy of death. Bought favors and all that. He was a journalist who spoke against wealthy evil powers. To someone who's made so much money off said powers and cries "FAKE NEWS" daily about real journalists, such a heroic man may as well be MS-13, worthy to be whacked by one who owes quid pro quo. As for Yemen, a sane government would find this even easier to deal with than the state-supported killings in Darfur. Whether or not we start outright war with Arabia, tossing them sanctions instead of weapons is obviously part of any meaningful reparations we make. I suppose the climate attack will end both our countries' suffering anyway. Nature's wrath equalizes.
Nicholas (constant traveler)
"The War Has To End"! Uf, the war between Sunnis and Shiites has been going on for well over a millennia. At home, there a virtual war between Republicans and Democrats. Trump is at war with Democracy, the Free World and Mother Nature too! The Middle East is at war with itself and the West arms it to continue its ancient religious mayhem and slaughter. America is at war with itself. Mankind must pause, and ponder. This is crazy, it can't go on?! Still, Where to start? Impeach and remove Trump first. If America can do that, we can stop the Saudis, Stop the War in Yemen, Stop the war on Nature, And just Maybe, Stop All Wars!!!
Michael (Henderson, TX)
If one looks at the geography, the Houthis are in Northwest Yemen, all the rest is controlled by the Saudi coalition; hence, there is no way that Iran can be helping the Houthis, who are Arab Shi'a (but a different sub-sect of Shi'a than the Iranians). Just as the 'legitimate government' of Burma declared that no Muslim can be a citizen, all are illegal invaders that must be removed, the 'legitimate government' of the Yemen (located in Riyadh) said that Shi'a are not citizens but illegal invaders from Iran who must be removed. In the case of Burma, the US is doing nothing. In the case of the Yemen, the US is doing everything it can to help the Saudi coalition remove all the Shi'a from the Yemen. And both Obama and Trump say this is the right thing for the US to do. So the answer is?
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
This breaks my bleeding heart, and infuriates me. This is exactly what happens when you befriend evil despots, sell them Weapons, and turn a blind eye to their atrocities. Saudi Arabia: We’ll sell you Oil, buy your Weapons, and commit genocide. The Art Of the Death Deal.
Joe (NOLA)
> He suggested that Washington was secretly arming Al Qaeda and that the United States was calling the shots for Saudi Arabia in Yemen, at the behest of Israel. Our foreign policy being driven by Israel? No..... That cant possibly be true....
Sherry (Washington)
For Christmas, for these starving and dying children, let there be peace in Yemen.
Greg (staten island)
We need to end the bi partisan war machine, vote for real progressive democrats and not the corporate war mongers like Chuck, Nancy, Obama and Hillary. Bernie 2020!
Joshua Schwartz (Ramat-Gan, Israel)
"However, the Houthis operate a police state and are hostile to uncovered women, gays and anyone bold enough to criticize them. They recruit child soldiers from the age of about 12 (the Saudi- and American-backed forces wait until boys are about 15), interfere with food aid, and have engaged in torture and attacks on civilians." Let's say the Houthis win and keep what they seized. And let's say that maybe there really is an Iran connection, are you OK with the above Mr. Kristof? You are simply OK with less evil who conquered territory and because they are in control are not rebels. That is an interesting theory, Mr. Kristof. Control. "I asked President Houthi about the sarkha, the group’s slogan: “God is Great! Death to America! Death to Israel! Curses on the Jews! Victory to Islam!” That didn’t seem so friendly, I said. “It’s nothing against the American people,” he replied. “It’s directed toward the system.” It's nothing against the American people. Well if you believe that Mr. Kristof, then you are somewhat gullible. I have learned over the years to believe the official versions. They mean what they say and when they say death to the US, Israel and curses on the Jews, they mean it. A friendly bunch. They just create fewer photo opportunities for op-eds.
Iced Tea-party (NY)
Your tax dollars to a Republican Government starve children.
Margo Channing (NYC)
@Iced Tea-party As Mike Clarke earlier stated perhaps you missed paragraph 5: "Both the Obama and Trump administrations have supported the Saudi war in Yemen with a military partnership, arms sales, intelligence sharing and until recently air-to-air refueling. The United States is thus complicit in what some human rights experts believe are war crimes."
Dwarf Planet (Long Island)
I find it hard to understand how MBS can sleep at night. As a Muslim, how can he reconcile his whimsical purchase of the yacht called "Serene" for 500 million euros in 2015 with tens of thousands of dead and starving children an hour's flight away from his bedroom in Riyadh? I am not a Muslim myself, but I have always understood that "Zakat", or charity, is one of the "Five Pillars" of Islam that are obligatory for those who are in a position to provide it. Does he not fear the judgement of the hereafter? Does he not dream of these emaciated bodies when he dons silk pajamas in the Serene? Does he not recognize that the 500 million euros locked up in that boat could feed every single one of these kids? As a Muslim, as a human being, he has a duty to act. Anything less is a crime against humanity, and an assault against the God he claims to follow.
John Lentini (Islamorada, FL)
The biggest famine ever! It's yooge! No other president has ever helped to starve so many in such a short time. MAGA!
Anne Russell (Wrightsville Beach NC)
I am furious about Yemen. The USA providing weapons to kill people, when we could be providing food and healthcare for these children. Shame on you, USA, shame on all the politicians responsible for this sacrilege. And as a female, I shame males who impregnate us and then kill the children we bear.
Asher (Chicago)
I remain disappointed - the most pressing problems in the world today are climate change (and its innumerable effects) and wars. Good leadership would be able to see what is needed - talks and convincing others that we all want the same thing - wellbeing of oneself, one's family and a reasonably good life. And yet, we remain divided. Change starts at home; with the leadership we have, we are hellbent on destroying and tearing down every possible tree and killing the environment, so there is limited hope for partaking in doing right for the rest of the globe - and that includes stopping the wars and bringing parties to compromise. If earth cannot support life anymore, I suppose that is when we may come to reflect, 'damn those wars'.
B Dawson (WV)
"...You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia”..." Everything I know I learned from The Princess Bride.
Johannes de Silentio (NYC)
Mr Kristof, Is there a single political, geo-political, social or ethical issue with which you don't find fault with the US? "What is most infuriating is that the hunger is caused not by drought or extreme weather, but by cynical and failed policies in Riyadh and Washington." But not Tehran? Not the Houthi rebels? If they admitted defeat and surrendered do you think the war might end? "Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backed by the United States, are trying to inflict pain to gain leverage over and destabilize the Houthi rebels. The reason: The Houthis are allied with Iran." And you find no fault with Iran... not any? "Both the Obama and Trump administrations have supported the Saudi war in Yemen..." Gee... ever wonder why that might be? "I asked President Houthi about the sarkha, the group’s slogan: “God is Great! Death to America! Death to Israel! Curses on the Jews! Victory to Islam!”
betty durso (philly area)
War is hell. Do we really want to continue bringing hell on earth? What MbS did to Khashoggi was likely over quickly if not painlessly, but what he's doing in Yemen is causing people to watch their children slowly starve to death as in that hellish picture. Always the goal is regime change in Iran. Why? Because they are a powerful country in the middle east rivalling Israel and the Saudis et al. Must we watch this danse macabre play out in our name? We acquiesced to bloody Iraq and smashed Libya--where does the carnage end? The middle east with its oil and gas is not the world. China is forging ahead with its Belt & Road expansion. Latin America is in a tug-of-war between its elites and the multitudes of the poor. Our country has the same problem to a lesser extent. Our civil society is under attack from totalitarians whose only goal is short term profit and disappearing the opposition. Europe and America must stand together in opposing the right-wing parties who are being used by these oligarchs to destroy our democracies and reduce us pawns on their bloody chessboard.
SM (Tucson)
If the Houthis win this war, a viciously anti-Semitic, homophobic, terror-state allied with Iran will control access to the Suez Canal. Nick and the New York Times are fine with that.
Margo Channing (NYC)
@SM Apparently facts like these always get overlooked.
Excellent title. Out tax dollars have been spreading death and destruction throughout the world for decades, at least since Vietnam. Driven by their desire for power and profits, politicians of both parties as well as our presidents are responsible. Unless we hold our politicians accountable for misusing our tax dollars, nothing will change.
Misty Martin (Beckley, WV)
Mr. Kristof: I, too, agree with everything you said in this article. I appreciate the dedication that you, as a journalist employ to finding out the truth and on educating Americans on what is really happening in the world around us. This article saddens me greatly. Children shouldn't have to starve and be blown to bits - it is unfair, unjust and horrifying. Will we never learn? I agree that America must end her support of monstrous regimes such as the one responsible for this travesty. Especially with the world celebrating Christmas, these horrifying statistics affecting these poor children are a stark reminder of the poverty and despair that plague some countries every day of the year. These pictures should sadden and anger every American's heart at the powers behind these atrocities and we as Americans have to do what is right. We must let our voices be heard for those who cannot lift their voices. God bless the children - and have mercy on America. May we open our eyes and our hearts before it's too late. Thank you, Mr. Kristof. God bless you and your family.
Texas1836 (Texas)
How is it fair to characterize Houthi's beliefs as "conspiracy theories"? The US had armed Al Qaeda during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, sends billions of dollars of aid and military equipment to Israel annually, and more than likely has some form of special forces working with the Saudis in Yemen.
AT (New York)
Mr. Kristof, as always, you report with unflinching humanity. And force us to look at what we don't want to see. I believe the Saudi people are not devils, nor are the American, but the politicians in charge are. Pressure must be put on the Congress to stop supporting this war.
M Martínez (Miami)
It is an honor to read this column. Wars are horrible. Hopefully the Congress and the President will take care of this situation. God bless you. We admire your courage. And your photos are wonderful masterpieces. These beautiful children don't deserve this kind of suffering.
Bev (New York)
It is our military industrial complex, as Ike warned us, that is in charge here. The war profiteers own this country. Every Democratic Senator voted for the recent obscene budget for war money. War jobs in every state ensure that politicians continue to support their business. Those war jobs need to be transitioned to green jobs. We should not sell any more weapons to the Saudis and we should transition our war jobs to creating green energy jobs..or any jobs that don't burn up the planet and starve children.
gf (Ireland)
Kristof's story, filed at great risk to his own life, shows the triumph of the US weapons contractors over the views of Congress in dictating US foreign policy. NYT, can you please follow up this great reporting with an in-depth story on the bipartisan moves in Congress to try to control the weapons supply and stop the conflict in Yemen? I suggest you ask Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Chris Murphy to write an Op-Ed explaining how they are bringing forward bipartisan legislation to stop the war.
Bruce1253 (San Diego)
As the article points out we are complicit in the on going slaughter in the Middle East. It is our funding for the endless cycle of violence and retribution that makes this possible. The solution is to withdraw completely from the region, pull our people, war machinery and money from all parties, yes, that includes Israel. Perhaps when the money dries up, the peoples of the region will find their way to peace. They are the only ones who can.
amp (NC)
Perhaps MBS did Yemen a favor by orchestrating the killing of the Saudi journalist working for the Washington Post. That seems finally to have woken up the Congress and hopefully they will see to it we stop supporting their efforts in Yemen. I look at the Middle East and say let their civil wars play out within their own borders. We should have let that happen way back in Vietnam. My what a mistake was the Arab Spring. It is instead a brutal Arab winter all over the place. We must try to work diplomatically with other free nations to solve problems and keep our guns and bombs at home.
Debra Sayers (Upstate New York State)
Congress: The U.S. military support to Saudi Arabia in Yemen is giving aid to a regime that is systematically committing acts of cruelty to Yemen men,women, and children, by economic starvation. To not condemn the murder of a U.S. journalist on Saudi Arabia's soil, is a cowardly act by President Trump and not a representation of American justice. So is the U.S. in the complicit act of giving military support to a murderous regime, who is committing genocide by victimizing the citizens of Yemen. Congress must not only rebuke President Trump, but vote to end our part in this genocide. We need to provide financial and humanitarian support to Yemen citizens. The whole world is watching.
Corbin (Minneapolis)
Thank you for writing this article. As a liberal it has always bothered me that the Obama administration could condone and support these atrocities. When Trump is only continuing a policy started by a democratic president, what does that say about the party. The candidate who runs in 2020 won’t get my vote unless they renounce the “warmongering” that has dominated both parties since the Clinton era. It is sad that nothing was written about this until Khasoggi was murdered.
vishmael (madison, wi)
Any candidate allowed to run for office by either party (both factions of mil-industrial complex) will be first vetted by those whose profit margins depend on maintaining the "warmongering" revenue stream. US for foreseeable future remains fully committed to this Death Cult. Psychotic Jim Jones pales by comparison.
Lili Kiki (Paris France)
Spent 2 weeks in Yemen in 1976... oh my a beautiful place and even then we didn't go out at night too much. Your reporting makes my heart break. Even then folks were "disappeared" and drinking whisky and smoking "khat" [sp] was possible. But starving kids? Didn't see that... Geeze, Louise, keep on with the extraordinary reporting.
Unless the Saudis and the Iranians can compel their Sunni and Shia proxies to lay down their arms, no peace is possible. How can a religion that professes peace allow children to starve?
Nightwood (MI)
@GM It's what all religions do. If anything is fake, it's religion and i most certainly do include Christianity even though i consider myself to be one without attending any church.
Abdel Russell (New York)
Let's take care of the "less" fortunate who are starving here first!
Distressed (USA)
These are war crimes. The US government is complicit in enabling the Saudi regime. Those involved should be brought before the International Criminal Court. Of course, this will not happen.
J. Mike Miller (Iowa)
The sad thing is that this is one of the worst humanitarian crises ever that is over three years in the making and has received so little attention in this country.
Wabi-Sabi (Montana)
Killing strangers for nothing is what all militaries do. If you salute a flag, and "Thank you for your service," you are part of the problem.
Aaron (Orange County, CA)
We still have lead in the water in Flynt, Michigan!
Annette (<br/>)
So heartbreaking, but a story which needs to be told, and read by every elected official in this country. So, Nicholas, what action can your readers like myself do to help? Are there still food blockades preventing the aid from reaching the starving children?
Shelley B (Ontario)
@Annette - make a donation - I did to the UNHRC - the day I gave (Giving Tuesday), two generous supporters were going to match gifts so my $250 Canadian became $750! Give, give, give everyone!!!
Charles Welles (Alaska)
Mr Kristof travels the world, sometimes with a publicly known youthful companion, bringing us deserved vision of world suffering. But he needs not travel so far; he could find sufficient in each of our own fifty states and then progress to our various dependencies. What he does not display is his own contribution towards alleviating these horrors. Might he not display what HE does with the means HE has, so suggesting what WE might similarly do. It is easy to report; more difficult to do. In my youth it was easy, fulfilling, even satisfying to give a dime to the legless vet selling pencils on his platform, and a more difficult task to consider joining him.
Music Man (Iowa)
@Charles Welles Don't blame the messenger. Without the world hearing this story, there would be no opportunity for action. What to do? I don't know. But we must do something.
PJ (Salt Lake City)
@Charles Welles Mr. Kristof doesn't need to report on the suffering in America. Open your eyes, and you can see it for yourself.
Corbin (Minneapolis)
I realize there are starving children in Alaska too. Just not millions. It isn’t an “either, or” type situation. We need to tell the stories of the suffering where ever we find them.
PJ (Salt Lake City)
Thank you Mr. Kristof, for another eye opening report. I look forward to your future work, and thank you for taking the risks you do on behalf of seeking the truth and giving voice to those who have none. This tragic support of atrocity, administered by Trump and Obama before him, represents yet another ethical concession made by the U.S. government, as you know. Yet I would like to ask you to speak to why our government continues to support war in general, as well as expanded war by proxy, as it has repeatedly since the end of WWII. Philosophically speaking, how did a people who once delayed entry into WWI and WWII because of allegiance to pacifism become so hungry for war? Does that change occur within the neuro-fiber core of a social consciousness because of collective trauma? Or is it an innate problem for humans tied to unconscious drives of creation and destruction, as Freud thought? Or is it far simpler? Is it the rational conclusion of a democratic state seized by a corporate cabal intent to protect its markets? Perhaps WWII was so devastating and brutal that we can't help but relive parts of it in our films, in our public spaces, or in the private and public war machine? But then I think, WWII certainly was not the first war for Americans. I just can't understand how this can happen. Are these children dying and starving simply to protect the jobs of the American weapons industry? I pray for your safety and continued health, Mr. Kristof.
Homer (Utah)
@PJ I can answer your questions as to why we are constantly at war. Greed. Money. Our country is a weaponry provider. President Eisenhower, a former WWII general, made the famous statement warning the nation or “the military industrial complex”. Eisenhower’s statement became our country’s continued reality.
PJ (Salt Lake City)
@Homer So true. Having never witnessed war personally, I would love to hear Mr. Kristof address the matter. If you haven't already, @Homer, read Chris Hedges' book "War is a Force that Gives us Meaning". I think I'll revisit it myself, even as I feel guilty about thinking about the atrocities others suffer in an abstract fashion. Your reply is greatly appreciated.
Bruce Williams (Chicago)
Despite our own problems, political Americans tend to think that people will be reasonable if only liberated from whatever version of authoritarianism they happen to labor under. The Middle East is a place we can't fix. It makes its choices between secular authoritarianism and violent sectarianism regardless of reason. They are paying for all this with oil money derived more from Europe and Japan than the USA. Maybe we should make sure the tiny US tax dollars are removed along with the profitable arms sales in a hard break with the region, real disengagement. Guns will then come from elsewhere, and we all know where, and the crushing will go on. I doubt anyone would support the only measures that would stop this kind of thing--outside force--and look at what that accomplished.
Corbin (Minneapolis)
@ Bruce Williams You have it backwards. The situation in Yemen is CAUSED by outside force. And the US is providing that force. (Guns, planes, bombs, intelligence, aerial refueling, political support, etc).
Blackmamba (Il)
U.S. tax dollars are also killing children in America ,Gaza, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kurdistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran ,Turkey, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, West Bank, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil,East Jerusalem and Myanmar.
Petey Tonei (MA)
@Blackmamba, Americans choose to remain ignorant. It’s by choice.
Jean (Cleary)
Why do we continue our relationship with the Saudi? Every day there is a new story about their inhumanity. I am sure we can find another country to sell arms too, to make up for the lack of sales to the Saudi Government(sic). We are complicit in this starvation and those who have condoned this war should be put on trial for War Crimes, including the Defense industry. The reality is that we have a Government that would cease giving Food Stamps to its own citizens in need. So for sure our Government does not give a damn about these children in Yemen. Recently there was a news report about the Defense Department not being able to account for 21 Trillion dollars spent over several years. This is probably what has been used for bolstering up other Governments, like the Saudis. Perhaps citizens should be in charge of metting out money from the Defense budget and use it to stop the starvation and maiming of innocent children. Obviously the Defense Department is incompetent. It is time for us to come to the conclusion that war is a zero sum game.
John (LINY)
The Sauds who have the only country in the world named after a family that runs it. Murder at will,turn an entire country into a concentration camp,attack neighbors and starve innocents. Show me your friends and I will tell you what kind of person you are.
Corbin (Minneapolis)
@John The only country in the world named after a family? Don’t hold your breath, driving through the rural parts of the midwest I see Trump flags that dwarf the American flags on the same pole...Scary!
Beyond Repair (NYC)
Don't u give him that idea!!! Before we know it we'll be renamed the UST...
Hootin Annie (Planet Earth)
Yet one more unconscionable act by the US government. Don't call yourselves Christian. Don't say "it's the will of the American People". Don't think your conscience is clear because it is happening a world away by a thuggish dictator (whom the US is backing). Don't for a moment believe American exceptionalism. Look at those eyes and skin stretched over a skeleton. We own this.
Steven Robinson (New England)
@Hootin Annie We 'own' this? Are you saying that the USA is responsible for creating and/or fixing every humanitarian crisis on this planet? I mean...really?
Paul (Dc)
@Hootin Annie Very powerful commentary, thanks.
Edith Thomsen (Wa state)
@Steven Robinson WE, our parents and grandparents do own much of the humanitarian damage in many countries (the US included) because WE have allowed US corporations (United Fruit, oil, etc), the military-industrial complex, and our elected officials to support policies which cause rampant human pain.
Lala (Westerly,RI)
I say to myself " At what cost to humanity more money"
Objectivist (Mass.)
"The famine in Yemen could become the worst the world has seen in a generation." Oh. really ? Maybe Kristoff needs to hop on a plane and head to the Sudan, where more people have died of starvation than the entire population of Yemen. The Yemenis could do a lot to stop this by no longer lobbing Iranian-built SCUD missiles into Saudi Arabia, ceasing incursions into Saudi territiry, and no longer happily hosting Al Qaued bomb making teams. I agree that the Saudis should be spanked for some of their actions. But it took a while for the British to figure out the same thing when T E Lawrence turned them loose on the Turks. But eventually, his initial impression was validated: A little people and a silly people; greedy, barbarous, and cruel. But so are the Yemenis.
Ockham9 (Norman, OK)
@Objectivist: “...no longer lobbing Iranian-built SCUD missiles into Saudi Arabia, ... and no longer happily hosting Al Qaued (sic) bomb making teams.” Do you see the problem with this? How can the Houthis simultaneously be allied with Iran and al Qaeda? As Mr Kristof points out, Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen have largely been cleared of Quaeda and ISIS. Which is more than can be said of territory controlled by some of our ‘friends’.
Bradford Hastreiter (La la land)
Here are a few reasons it happened: A large percentage of leaders are diagnosable as psychopaths (this includes CEOs and I am guessing religious leaders too, but good luck cracking that pedophile dynasty)... I am thinking of that lovely littel disturbing book The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. The ubiquitous social engineering/mind control/ brainwashing of society has made people absolutely apathetic to the most grand and heinous of issues of our times. There is always a holiday coming up, a sport to focus on, a new television show to binge, a reason to go shopping. We live in a very dark and twisted society that has bombed out and starved the very meaning of the word civilization. Oh and let us not forget the leviathan that will swallow all the other leviathans: UNCHECKED OVERPOPULATION.
John Taylor (New York)
@Bradford Hastreiter Yes, when I got to the end of Mr. Kristof’s article where he wasciting the experiences of that family and their MANY children, I had to flinch.
betty durso (philly area)
@Bradford Hastreiter "There is always a holiday coming up, a sport to focus on, a new television show to binge, a reason to go shopping." You read my mind with that statement. It is this distraction that keeps good people from even knowing about our heinous foreign policy, built on arms sales and plotting the next war.
John Globe (Indiana, PA)
The elite in Washington cares more about money than human beings. They have no regards to human suffering and some get satisfaction in seeing children starved to death, bombarded or killed. Washington has traditionally backed dictators and butchers. Supporting the Saudi regime is thought of as a noble thing as long as the Kingdom offers jobs to elite when they retire and is doing the dirty job in the Middle East.
Rocketscientist (Chicago, IL)
This problem spans three administrations: Bush, Obama and Trump. We continue to support the Saudis, despite their support of the 9/11 terrorist who killed 3600 Americans; despite their continued support of Muslim terrorists; despite the assassination of an American resident ---- proving that the kingdom could kill an American citizen --- and nothing would be done. You know, there was a time when, by now, MBS's head would be prominently displayed on a pole in Riyadh for the amusement of "visiting" marines. I often miss Teddy Roosevelt for situations like this. I am no friend of Iran and I will them ill as well but we have to stop supporting such monsters.
Jerry Harris (Chicago)
The US has committed war crimes the world over, supporting some of the worst military dictatorship throughout the global south. But this is the worst since the war in Vietnam.
herne (China)
"We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it." U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright CBS's 60 Minutes (May 12, 1996) Has anything changed? The deaths of hundreds of thousands of children are once again the price to be paid in a crusade against a weak nation inflated to bogey man proportions.
Greg Gerner (Wake Forest, NC)
Barack "Change You Can Believe In" Obama was in favor of this war. Hillary "Never Met A War Or A Wall Street Bank I Didn't Like" Clinton was in favor of it, too. Just think how much brighter the Yemeni children's lives might have been if only the results had been different in 2016!! For those of you who actually care, you of the unending tears, this "non-choice choice" is what you should really feel hopeless about. Try voting Progressive next time.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
This is a proxy war and must end now...unless we want to confirm our cruelty by torturing innocent people...before the double kill 'a la Salman', with the complicity of Trump.
Alan (Pittsburgh)
It’s horrible yes. I’m open to other suggestions but none that embolden or advance Iran. They are a dangerous theocracy and a threat to global peace. I long for the day when ‘The Middle East’ is not a constant regional news headline & headache - it will never happen of course. No other region of the world consistently creates this much chaos & disorder.
Hmmm (Seattle )
Good luck getting through to the average US citizen...over here it's football, fashion, and social media. Maybe if Beyonce could tweet about it...
Vink (Michigan)
Too many people on the planet anyway. Just one more way to get rid of them.
MtotheItotheB (60193)
@Vink Reminds me of a passage in the Christmas Carol...
clowns of synthesis (germany)
Why looking to Yemen? One or two Vink´s less and the world would be a better place.
Happy Selznick (Northampton, Ma)
We might wonder why Obama is not under arrest for crimes against humanity for starting this war, or since the USA never commits war crimes, why Obama is not loudly demanding the end of the war he started.
bobrt1 (Chicago)
@Happy Selznick Please get your facts straight before commenting here. Obama inherited this war from his predecessor (Dubya). Always cracks me up to see that there are still Obama haters out there that can't let go.
M Clement Hall (Guelph Ontario Canada)
I worked at one time in Niger, at an MSF camp for the severely malnourished, so have some knowledge of this issue Although Kristof's article describes that there is a major problem, it does not for me explain the whys of it. I read at one time that food was blocked at the ports. Is there enough food in the country but the people lack the means to purchase it? Or is there an insufficiency of food regardless of means? What are the aid agencies doing about it? On a daily basis I get urgent letters from numerous agencies who find Yemen a wonderful incentive for demanding money. What solutions does Kristof propose? Stopping the bombing would be nice, but that won't feed the children, who can still be fed if the right mechanisms are in place, whether bombs drop or not. The children of London who had not been evacuated were still fed during the blitz!
Lowell Greenberg (Portland, OR)
The question that this humanitarian plea fails to address is how corrupt a system, how abusive of human rights, how repressive and how cruel would cause and acquiesce in this suffering. And further, the degree to which this system reflects not only its leaders, but its citizens- so easily do they turn a blind eye to the suffering of the "other." Perhaps Kristof avoids this discussion because he wants to awaken the humanity in human beings and not force a geopolitical discussion. But this is hypocrisy. And if the tables were turned, there would be no avoidance- and hatred and revenge would become the logical response when children wither and die- for the mere fact that they are children and have no voice.
Grebulocities (Illinois)
When tens of thousands of civilians, mostly children, had been starved to death, and tens of thousands more blown up by Saudi Arabia and the UAE using American-made bombs, our policymakers shrugged and went right on supporting the Saudi coalition's atrocities. Then a single wealthy, well-connected Saudi with a Washington Post column was killed. This raised an international furor dwarfing the reaction to all the starving children, and only then did our politicians start seriously looking at cutting off our aid for Saudi Arabia's war crimes. It's good that this finally happened, but it's also a really good demonstration of how wealth and power work. Had it not been for the well-connected Khashoggi, we'd have let them kill 85,000 more children without seriously reconsidering our support for Saudi Arabia. MBS thought he could get away with that killing because he'd already gotten away with so many others, but he forgot that one Washington Post columnist is worth so much more than tens of thousands of Yemeni children.
Make America Sane (NYC)
@Grebulocities Thus far it's all noise. Nothing done...(can't rattle Wall Street.) Blame CONGRESS for always promoting war, never saying NO. I did not know until this article that the Obama administration was complicit in this nonsense. Take away his Nobel Peace Prize -- but there is no integrity! (And birth control is forever an issue.) Perhaps that's what the Gates, Koch, Clinton foundations should fund. Along with agricultural innovation.
drspock (New York)
There are two stories here. The humanitarian crisis is finally being covered and we are actually seeing the faces and shriveled bodies of starving children. But the story not being covered is why it took so long for the American media to recognize what was going on and why our involvement in this tragedy was ignored? Even now, America's bloody hand is barely mentioned. The Saudi's have been intervening in the politics of Yemen for years. In fact, the president that they now support was previously disfavored and cast aside. But this new level of Saudi involvement is a direct result of US military aid and US military support in the form of air traffic control, air refueling from American tankers, American made aircraft and weapons. The Saudi's have been bombing schools, hospitals and clinics for several years. Civilians have been their direct targets as well as their "collateral damage", a phrase taken directly from Pentagon briefings. But the concern of American media is only recent. While I applaud Kristof for this coverage, we must ask why the editors of the Times and the WaPost followed Washington's line for so long and treated this humanitarian disaster as if it were some far away tribal affair? We cannot profess to value human rights if our sense of humanity is based on who is buying our weapons rather than who they are being used on. Trump seems to have done this, but for far too long so has the New York Times.
Victor (Pennsylvania)
The algorithm changes when your first input is a starving child. When the complicated conflict in Yemen is analyzed from that focal point, the definition of the problem shifts from abstract, politically defined terms like "terrorism" and "surrogates" to flesh and blood truths like the human cost of war and those the bombs dismember. Nick Kristof's courage, soul, brilliance, and astuteness combine to afford us a species of reportage sadly in short supply. I guess his kind will always remain endangered—in every sense of the word—but I am bolstered by his unflinching dedication to telling the whole story, the first line of which is, "He is an eight-year-old boy who is starving..."
Joe Black (Ohio)
This war is cruel and heartbreaking. It must stop now. The USA must stop taking part in this war and must stop selling arms to Saudis. Thanks Mr. Kristof for your brave article. This is true example of journalism.
Is this what WE stand for? ALL efforts should be directed, in a just society (which we are certainly not under Trump) toward establishing peace. We are in bed with the Saudis because of oil and "strategic" location. THEY are manipulating us, as does Kim or Putin or Xi for their own benefit. For obvious reasons the United Nations is losing gravitas because we treat them as an American appendage. If there is ever to be peace on this planet, and crimes against innocent humanity such as those in Sudan and Yemen abolished, we MUST focus our efforts on serious diplomacy for multiple Administrations and generations. Trump has no concept of diplomacy - he is a bully and a thug who cares only about money and himself. We must take back our government and "do the right thing" before we are left to the trash heap of history.
Make America Sane (NYC)
Where's the UN in all this? Where is the rest of the world? It's not just the US, Russia and the Saudis? (I always flinch at the number of children in the starving, immigrating families.) I am glad Obama was given credit as well as Trump. And why do men have to have their implements of war? Women of the world arise, but don't try to outdo men in their "strategic thinking."
Marie (Boston)
Will the same people who rage against their tax dollars being used for birth control or abortion or their having to pay for insurance that allows for either be rage that they don't want their tax dollars being used to starve children in the world and force legislation to exclude it?
Bobby H (Massachusetts)
What about the war facilitators? Let us hear from the people who design , build, and profit from the weapons. Does this commentary affect them? As Christians or Catholics (as many are) how do they rationalize their work with their faith. There is no "Just War"
boz (Phoenix, AZ)
This is a sad situation, yes. Aren't there people in our own country starving or living in the streets and in doorways and bus shelters? Aren't there American families starving? Aren't we suffering from the same problems as the rest of the world? America First! There are plenty of problems at home that would benefit greatly from the cash we spend buying international friends who create these problems for their own people. If this is truly a partisan problem as many suggest, the Democratic Party should step up and donate the salaries of all their constituents to stop hunger in this country and all over the world. Let every Democrat in our Government donate their salary to this cause. That would send a message to the Republican party who would follow suit. Right? No? Then where is the problem? Why do we continue to look outside of our borders to find a cause? Should we not resolve our problems first and lead by example? No... Because we are a do as I say, not as I do country. We have all the answers but no one seems to ask the right questions? Shame of America!
FXQ (Cincinnati)
@boz Your post confuses me. We can help by stopping what we are doing: supporting and arming the Saudis. If we just stopped that and demanded that the Saudis lift the blockade of the ports (a war crime, BTW), food and medicine that the world wants to get to these children could get in. "Why do we continue to look outside of our borders to find a cause? " you ask. No one is asking for our involvement only our un-involvement. Once again, we aren't on the wrong side, we ARE the wrong side.
Harry Arendt (South Windsor, CT)
According to Wikipedia, Sunnis are 75% of the population and Houthi are 25% of the population. Why should the 75% accept a takeover by 25% of the people? Civilians die in every conflict, in the first 3 months of the Normandy invasion of WW2 25,000 French civilians died, should that invasion have not taken place? WW2 caused widespread famine, should the allies have given up? America aided the allies through carpet bombing of Germany, should that have been opposed because of the suffering of the German people? Are the Houthis promising democratic elections? It would seem that the Saudis have a legitimate interest in helping the official government to retake power.
Vivien Hessel (Sunny Cal)
I have been saying this for months, that the USA is in part responsible for this. What’s worse is our “friends” the saudis are blockading any humanitarian aid from getting to the people. Surely the administration has the power to stop this. Shame on us.
R. Littlejohn (Texas)
Our officials know all about Yemen, Gaza, and Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, it has been going on for decades. They do know and don't care, it is all about global domination. Nothing will change that, President Trump and his supporters see nothing wrong with it.
FXQ (Cincinnati)
I recall Senator Rand Paul giving a very impassioned plea on CNN that we end our support and participation for the Yemeni genocide. My jaw dropped when Wolf Blitzer, after listening intently, responded "But Senator, what about the American jobs that depend on these weapons." I realize that Mr. Blitzer isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but it was absolutely an astounding thing to hear. What's important to stress here is that this genocide is a bipartisan effort. The fact that our former president, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, did nothing to stop this genocide and actively participated in it is shocking. My hope is that Mr. Obama gets his priorities straightened out, stops giving speeches to Wall Street banks and starts earning his Nobel Peace medal by talking out against our genocidal policies.
Douglas McNeill (Chesapeake, VA)
So, what would victory look like if the Houthis or the Yemeni government "wins"? When you have killed or crippled most of your children by choice through both bombing and malnutrition, any "victory" you achieve is the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory. The first casualty of war is public health. Diseases rise, immunizations fall, food scarcity runs rampant and chaos is loosed upon the world. Ask Russia what it is like to lose 20 MILLION of its people in WWII. Ask Japan about the loss of over 100,000 to the atomic bombings. Ask Rwanda about watching bodies and body parts floating down the Kagera River in the 1994 genocide. Walk among the tombstones at Arlington and note what the American Civil War must have meant when 16,000 soldiers are buried there from that conflict, a seemingly unending rows of markers only reaching 2.5% of the total deaths of that war. These losses seem severe but they undercount the civilian losses from war which most often exceed loss of military personnel. Why do we persist in killing each other in conflicts? Why do we supply war materiel and support for others to kill one another in foreign lands? Is this what civilization truly looks like? We need to stop the madness and begin to do so now, even if we just focus on one small country in the middle east, Yemen. Please. For the children. For our immortal souls. Now.
Marlene (Canada)
Thing is, Trump, Pompeo, Mattis, Bolton do not care. They don't care. As long as it is in another country , they don't care.
FXQ (Cincinnati)
@Marlene True, but I don't remember Obama and Clinton giving much of a care either. One a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and the other always being touted as a defender of women and children. Disgraceful. If these poor and starving children could only have these two speak up and help them live. But I have never heard a peep out of these two.
DRS (New York)
This is a on sided blame America piece. I blame Iran for this tragedy, for arming these people on the Saudi border in their ever greater desire to expand their power and influence.
Make America Sane (NYC)
@DRS Plenty of blame to go around. Lots of arms out there for sale and in the second hand market. Who remembers the name of the program about the Ukranian/American gun merchant? Ruling over bunch of oppressed starving people in order to enrich yourself -- how can you be so greedy? In the 1960's we debated such questions including population control, distribution of wealth, giving peace a chance, etc. LBJ gave us Medicare/Medicaid and stupidly Vietnam -- what was that a reaction to? Since then politics seems to have been about reducing taxes on the rich and protecting real estate investment, and better arms What is the problem with men (mostly)?
Mahesh (Florida)
The foreign policy of the United States is dictated by multi national corporations who would sell out American values for a few pieces of sliver. They have now infiltrated into our domestic politics to undermine our Democracy using Citizens United.
Blue Moon (Old Pueblo)
The war in Yemen is being prosecuted by the Saudis/MBS and condoned by Trump ... and the United States. We Americans elected Trump. And make no mistake about it: all of us share responsibility for this horror. At what point does the burden shift from Trump to the rest of us? If not now, then when? Meanwhile, your last column ("my annual holiday guide for presents with meaning") gets 101 comments, the lowest I've seen in the past two years for a major NYT columnist ... in a progressive newspaper read largely by liberals, worldwide. I'm ready to resign from this species.
PRRH (Tucson, AZ)
Humans. The worst species. We're supposed to be smarter and kinder than this, I'm sure.
Petey Tonei (MA)
@PRRH, you just have to take a step back and witness all that is goin on, detached without emotion. As soon as you get pulled into the drama that is human created sorrow you realize it’s an endless cycle that keeps the world going around and we unwittingly become perpetrators or victims.
Usok (Houston)
Why we turn a bind eye towards Yemen is beyond my comprehension. We don't hesitate for a second to sell weapons to Saudi, but keep silence on Yemeni's poor women and children. Is money more important than humanity? We talk about human rights, but show no sympathy on poor and defenseless people. President Trump should show leadership to avert this situation. If he could do something in this situation to win people's admiration, he should do it. Otherwise, he can kiss good bye to Nobel Peace Prize Award.
Gimme Shelter (123 Happy Street)
NY Senator Chuck Schumer has an editorial in today’s Washington Post linking support for an infrastructure bill to addressing climate change. To quote Schumer ... “For too long, Congress has failed to...”. Fill in the blank - Vietnam, Iraq, climate change, Afghanistan, infrastructure. Our government is little more than the military-industrial complex, enablers of fossil fuel mega-corporations, and a few national parks. Of course our relationship with Iran is fraught. Will the U.S. ever assume any responsibility for Operation Ajax, the U.S. led overthrow of Iran’s government in 1953. So, tens of thousands of children in Yemen die. And again Congress will fail to...
ondelette (San Jose)
Mr. Kristof, I agree with most everything you said, and that the U.S. should not be complicit in the Saudi war in Yemen. But you owe it to your readers to note that before the Saudis attacked Yemen, 1/4 of the Yemeni population was food insecure, with huge numbers of children in SAM. Those numbers have increased to 1/2 and larger numbers of children in SAM, and the starvation is indeed cynically a weapon of war, but people should know before they get involved that the post-war scenario is not very happy, lest they get "fatigue" over thinking they solved a question they didn't solve.
Clearwater (Oregon)
Ever since coming to awareness towards the end of our, American war on Vietnam, which was shortly replaced by our, American, atrocity-support war in various Central American countries in the 80's, I have known our modern version of America for what it can be; an international monster. A country who's geopolitical goals, however hopeful they can be, throw hundreds of thousands, if not millions under the nearest bus to achieve, basically, our personal needs. We must end our support for monstrous regimes. We must elect officials who will not advance the seemingly unstoppable march of war, death and madness. As far as I remember Bernie Sanders was the only viable (and I mean viable) candidate that had the courage and foresight and bonafides to lead us away from this type of foreign policy; our standard approach to the world. I hope he runs again. If not, someone similar that can actually win. For, as I approach the end of my life I would like at least one 5 year period of time when I don't have to read how we have bedded down with dictators or belligerent governments because it's in our best interest. Peace is not an awful lot to ask.
Bev (New York)
@Clearwater Alas, peace is a lot to ask. No money for our owners in peace.
Johnny (Newark)
Tragedy will continue until order is established. Reading this article makes one appreciate the stability and democracy of the USA.
skramsv (Dallas)
@Johnny There is no democracy in the US and stability is just a fraying thread away from being chaos. Democracy spoke in Michigan and the state legislature is working hard to undo what the people demanded - a neutral commission of Michigan residents to draw the districts for elected offices. They have also circumvented a MI constitutional amendment that would raise the minimum wage, require paid sick leave by passing a law raising the minimum wage and providing some sick leave. Now they are hard at work undoing that law. This tragedy exists anywhere the US has overthrown elected governments and installed their own puppets. It is time to give up all of the US Colonies and recall all of our military troops. We cannot be the world police.
Petey Tonei (MA)
@Johnny, sad part is we are perpetrators of these, unknowingly. The peace stability in the US, comes at a high cost.
Brad Blumenstock (St. Louis)
@Johnny This tragedy has nothing to do with "order," or the lack of it. It's purely about our inability to embrace our common humanity.
K. Corbin (Detroit)
Thank you for writing this commentary. Thanks to the New York Times for keeping whatever is left of a great Country great. I have had the privilege over the last 10 years to have many dealings with Yemenis who have not been in the United States for very long. While it is never completely accurate to generalize from personal dealings, I have found them to be among the kindest and most honorable people I have ever known. It is a tragedy that this is what has become of our Country. For decades now you couldn never complain about what the United States does, because you were not considered “patriotic.” If this is the result of that, then I don’t care if people call me patriotic. We have the greatest riches in the world, and in many instances we do very little to make it a better place.
Council (Kansas)
Our current president has openly said money is more important than lives. The sad part is that we as a country have been supporting bad things for quite some time, for oil, for ability to have strategic advantage in the event of a future war, which will benefit the arms manufacturers, at the cost of lives, both here and wherever they decide to fight. Thank you for bringing this latest tragedy to light, Nick.
Miss Ley (New York)
Mr. Kristof, It is possible that you know that the U.N. has declared that Yemen is suffering from the worse humanitarian crisis in contemporary times. Even a religious visitor, forecasting a prophet, when stopped in his tracks at the door, was able to quote a figure of 14 million persons in Yemen in a state of starvation. Whether the U.S. Public will respond to the above is another matter, although our mind is able to relate in a clearer way to the plight of the individual than to the magnitude of massive genocide, or the deliberate policy of starvation. - Remembering the Children of Gaza; - Remembering the Children of Saigon - Remembering our Children World-wide. Farewell to Syria. Farewell to Yemen. The International Rescue Committee, and non-governmental agencies, UNICEF, The Catholic Relief Services, Save The Children and a long list of other humanitarian agencies are in need of funds from the U.S. Public. Watching 8 year-old Yaqoob die on the computer, while sitting in a second-hand chair, or in comfort may act as a prompt. 'Our Lot in Life', deemed by a friend from Africa, is addressed by long hours in 'The Field' from humanitarians born to save the sparrows of this world. An acquaintance on a long mission to the Sudan once wrote that prayers for rain were needed, and in the evening, she and her colleagues were on the roof of their compound, listening to music webs we forwarded - 'Dancing at the Palace', she called it, where now the music has stopped.
Writer (Large Metropolitan Area)
Thanks, Mr. Kristof, for your brave article. The pictures are absolutely heartbreaking and they need to be shown. Since you visited the area, can you pls report on whether there are any humanitarian organizations that are able to bring some relief or organizations you know of that one can send a donation to? Many thanks!
karen (nw arkansas)
@Writer Hello Writer - you wrote most of the comment I wanted to write; thank you. Also, about 15 paragraphs into the article, there are links to 3 organizations Mr. Kristof recommends as doing excellent work in this area of the world. I've bookmarked them myself.
M Clement Hall (Guelph Ontario Canada)
@Writer Every agency I know requests money for Yemen, you could start with UNICEF.
Joshua B. Good (Columbus, Georgia)
Thank you Mr. Kristof. This is the type of reporting we should be reading for every war. Be proud of your work here, it may very well be the words American leaders need to read to move them into an ethical and life-saving position.
JanetMichael (Silver Spring Maryland)
Thank you, Nicholas Kristof for being a reporter who goes to the scene of important humanitarian catastrophes and gives us eye witness information that is important, though jolting.You don’t just give us opinion, you are an on the scene reporter.This dreadful war in Yemen does not get enough attention in the politically toxic atmosphere of Washington.Now that the Senate has decided that MBS is complicit in the murder of Khashoggi they should use leverage to insist that the Saudis stop the war and that we stop helping them by supplying arms.
Bill Smith (Dallas, TX)
Just awful. Thanks for the brave and humane reporting, Kris!
Bill Smith (Dallas, TX)
@Bill Smith Sorry,Nick - got your name wrong. Should not type comments until I have had coffee!
Cheryl Wu (New York, NY)
This is killing me - I can’t look at another photo of these children without crying. What can we do? 1. What can an average US citizen (and a HUMAN one, nonetheless) do to make them stop this war? Call my congress rep? 2. Can we send money to organizations that provide aid? Please link. Thank you for bringing this to attention.
karen (nw arkansas)
@Cheryl Wu - I am with you, Cheryl. Also, about 15 paragraphs into the article, there are links to 3 organizations that Mr. Kristof recommends as doing excellent work in this area of the world. I've bookmarked them, and I imagine I won't be the only one by day's end.
skramsv (Dallas)
@Cheryl Wu Absolutely call your congressional representatives. There is legislation being pulled together that will require US participation in this war to be stopped. I would also instruct them to allow more refugees from the Middle East instead of well off people from Central America.
R. Littlejohn (Texas)
@Cheryl Wu, we need to work making our society more humane, at home and abroad, the nation needs re-education. This nation has become a brutal and punitive society. President Trump is the reflection of us, the nation.
s.whether (mont)
We need a Democratic President. Not one that wants to be the First Black President, not one that wants to be the First Woman President, we need a hero. We need a Roosevelt. Someone that is tough yet can walk with all these immigrant children, hand in hand, to unite with their parents. Running the world is simple, just stop the Greed. Stop lying. Stop Inequality.
C Wolfe (Bloomington IN)
@s.whether And a hero can only be a white male?
skramsv (Dallas)
@s.whether That is a nice dream but that person does not exist. The Eleanor Roosevelts of the world are long gone. Politics forced the champions of the poor and oppressed out of the business. The Carters continue to do good works and are the champions of the people but they can never be mentioned. It also does not help that Mr. Carter is only 4 months younger than the late Mr. Bush. During WWII many people sent their kids to safety only to never see them again. Some times hard choices must be made for the greater good.
s.whether (mont)
@C Wolfe A perfect response from someone who will always take the negative and diminish the positive. Thank you for reading my comment.
KO (Ann Arbor)
Thank you for risking your safety to bring us this update from the heart of Yemen. How can Americans sit by and watch tens of thousands of Yemeni children die? Where is the outrage? Their lives are in our collective hands. What happened to our humanity?
skramsv (Dallas)
@KO We are too focused on people who can pay $5000 on up to pay a human trafficker to take them or their kids to the US illegally.
Paul (Dc)
This is too troubling to read. But the headline says it all. Despite all of our overblown bluster or hubris about liberty, justice and goodness, we back monsters. Always have and I guess we always will.
Linda (King)
I hadn’t made the connection between the US selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the starving children in Yemen. Now that I have I am horrified by our complicity. I plan to contact my Senators and Representative urging that they work on a bill to cease sale of arms.
r2d2 (Longmont, COlorado)
@Linda The bill is already in the Senate, introduced by Bernie Sanders and a Republican a couple of weeks ago. Gotta wonder why Kristof didn’t point that out.
JJ (Chicago)
Bernie trying to do the right thing. Yet again.
JJ (Chicago)
The Obama and Trump administrations....shame, shame on you.
Petey Tonei (MA)
@JJ, you really need to go far behind those 2 administrations think unnecessary wars like Vietnam. Do you think George H.W. Bush’s attack on Iraq to free Kuwait was a “saintly” act? And what repercussions it had?
Nunila (Chicago)
I feel so hopeless, my heart breaks, I can't stop crying. How can there be such cruelty in this world? My heart aches.
s.whether (mont)
@Nunila Every time we walk past the homeless in this country we should feel the same. We must stop the greed. We must change on our own street in order to change the world. Start healing inequality. Guess what, corporations and the NRA are not people, kids can't fear getting shot in the greatest country in the world.
Ron Dong (Nashville)
@Nunila What world have you been living in? It's always been this way and will always be this way until the human race eventually does the Earth a favor by destroying itself to extinction.
See also