Yemen: Killing in the Name of Profit

American-made weapons are still killing thousands of innocent people in Yemen, a country experiencing one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, with 14 million people at risk of starvation, blockades of essential supplies, and repeated deadly outbreaks of cholera. The U.S. has been selling the weapons to Saudi Arabia throughout its five-year military intervention in Yemen, with an understanding that they are being used in a campaign against Yemeni civilians.

American arms makers don’t think selling weapons that they know are killing innocent people in Yemen is doing anything wrong, while also claiming that they are accountable only to shareholders. And under the logic of capitalism, they’re right. Lives don’t matter if profit is being made, and accountability is to shareholders, not humanity. And technically what these arms makers are doing is perfectly legal – the State Department approves weapon sales to foreign governments, so these companies can claim that they are just following policy.

A State Department spokesperson even said that “economic security is national security,” and that the administration was “strengthening our advocacy for defense sales that are in our national interest.” But how is it in our national interest that an already pillaged country be devastated even more? A former state official explains this by stating that arms manufacturing “is an important export industry with a lot of factory jobs.” But the only way to benefit American workers is not by murdering people on the other side of the world. And this is a fallacy that workers need to see through.

Instead we need international solidarity. We can’t let large weapons manufacturers or national governments benefit from pitting regular people against each other. It’s true, workers need to be able to make a living, but not at the expense of other human lives. If workers were in charge, we would not be exporting deadly weapons to protect the economy of the rich, we would be exporting necessary supplies like food or sanitation equipment. Factory production would exist for the sake of aiding people across the world, not killing them. We can’t let capitalism and its profit motive continue. After all, if it’s profitable now to kill Yemeni people, who’s to say we’re not next?

Featured image credit: Creative Commons