HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  March 20, 2018

'Samantha Em-Powers Genocide in Yemen': Students Protest US Role in Saudi War

Ex-U.N. ambassador and liberal war hawk Samantha Power faced a protest at Johns Hopkins University over her role overseeing the catastrophic U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen. A student leader speaks about the military-industrial-academic complex - Ben Norton reports.
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

Real News simply has no entertainment value. But its news value puts CNN,MSNBC,ABC& BBC to shame! - Santhip
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Ben Norton is a producer and reporter for The Real News. His work focuses primarily on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, media criticism, and movements for economic and social justice. Ben Norton was previously a staff writer at Salon and AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.


BEN NORTON: As the catastrophic joint U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen escalates under the administration of President Donald Trump, activists around the country are challenging the politicians who have fueled it.

Student activists at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University disrupted an event featuring former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

Power is a notorious liberal war hawk who, as a top official in the Barack Obama administration, spent nearly two years defending Saudi Arabia while it was committing war crimes in Yemen, relentlessly bombing civilian areas with weapons, fuel, and intelligence provided by the United States.

Anti-war activists at protested at a speech Power gave on March 13, holding up banners reading "Samantha empowers genocide in Yemen" and "it's still genocide when U.S. allies do it."

The action was organized by Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS. The Real News spoke with Emeline Armitage, the co-president of Johns Hopkins SDS.

EMELINE ARMITAGE: To us it is really important to point out that what's going on in Yemen is ongoing. And a lot of people at the event, even with the huge education opportunity, even students that are educated about the Middle East, have no idea what's going on in Yemen and what the U.S. is supporting, because mainstream media isn't reporting on it.

So in that case, that's the most important takeaway. It's not about us; it's not about Hopkins; it's not even about Samantha Power. It's about recognizing what the United States is not just doing in Yemen but across the globe, and trying to combat it in whatever small ways we can.

So in the future we would love to do more anti-imperialist work and demilitarization work around Hopkins, around the bombs that we're building, and also reach out to any coalitions that we can in order to fight what's going on.

BEN NORTON: Saudi Arabia launched a bombing campaign in Yemen in March 2015, in an attempt to force the rebel Houthi movement out of power. Over three years, the Saudi monarchy has carried out tens of thousands of airstrikes, killing thousands of Yemeni civilians, with direct assistance from the U.S. and Britain.

This war has devastated the health system in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, unleashing the largest humanitarian crisis on Earth, and the biggest cholera epidemic on record.

While Saudi Arabia was committing some of its most egregious crimes, it enjoyed support from the Obama administration and its UN ambassador. Samantha Power quietly backed the war on Yemen, and refused to publicly criticize Saudi Arabia.

Since leaving office, Power has come around and admitted that it is "wrong … to keep supporting [the] Saudi-led coalition as it kills civilians with impunity and blocks medicine, food, [and] fuel supplies in face of looming famine."

Power's former top spokesperson, on the other hand, is still lobbying against peace activists.

As a student in the international studies program, which sponsored Samantha Power's talk, Emeline criticized how U.S. military intervention is normalized in university programs.

EMELINE ARMITAGE: I'm a part of the international studies program, and I think it's important to critique it, because a lot of the other students in the program have internships with the CIA, have internships with the Department of Defense, kind of want to rise up the ranks of the United States military-industrial complex or intelligence-industrial complex. And therefore they can get very uncomfortable when you kind of point out these moral lapses in what they think that they want to do and what's actually going on.

And this event was sponsored by the department at Hopkins, in addition to a student group of students across the university, so I think students get really, really uncomfortable you point out like, "Hey, this is, we're kind of pointing out the flaws in the career that you want to aspire to."

BEN NORTON: Emeline also spoke of how some academic institutions have merged with the U.S. military-industrial complex, and how student activists are challenging the militarization of higher education.

EMELINE ARMITAGE: Our university has a laboratory called the Applied Physics Lab, where they actually manufacture a lot of drones, manufacture parts for nuclear weapons. So we've done some actions around that. Trying to disrupt recruitment events, so when the CIA recruits here, we'll go and we'll hand out flyers, or when the Applied Physics Lab, we'll try to disrupt that in some way and hand out flyers.

But we're hoping to step that up. Especially because of our university's connection with with the Department of Defense. Especially, Hopkins has several billion-dollar contracts with the Department of Defense to create weapons. So that's something that we've been trying to to get more involved in, this year especially.

BEN NORTON: While they may have been heckled a bit during their protest, the SDS co-president said the student activists have received support from people not just on their campus, but inside Yemen as well.

EMELINE ARMITAGE: The amount of support we've gotten has greatly outweighed the amount of backlash we've gotten. From students we have gotten a lot of support, just thanking us for doing that, thanking us, like, "Oh, I didn't know about this."

We have gotten a lot of international support, like some messages from Yemen, which has been really cool; messages around the world, which has been awesome. And I think that, at the end of the day, it's not about us; it's not about Samantha Power; it's not about Hopkins. It's about raising awareness about what's going on, raising awareness about what the United States has been doing. And I think in that sense we've been able to accomplish our goal.

BEN NORTON: Reporting for The Real News, I'm Ben Norton.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Why Black Lives Don't Matter: A Radical Interpretation of U.S. History
Economic Update: Struggling Against the System
Laura Flanders: Workers, Wildcats & New Models for Labor Organizing
Cuba has a New President: Is he 'Fidelista' or 'Raulista'?
India's Far-Right PM Modi Meets Protests in London
Israeli Forces Kill 4 Palestinians, Injure 40 on Israel's Independence Day
Infamous Mercenary Erik Prince Being Considered to Build Trump's Foreign Army for Syria
Leaders of China and Japan to Meet -- Could Be a Game Changer
Marc Steiner Show: Chelsea Manning
House Raid Illustrates How Baltimore Police Refuse to Take Black Residents Rights Seriously
The Baltimore Bureau Podcast Show: April 20, 2018
Korean Peninsula in Historic Peace Talks - Thanks to Activists, Not Trump
Teacher Strikes Continue to Spread - A Symptom of Public Education Underfunding
IMF Says 2018 Economic Outlook is Rosy, But Austerity is Still Needed
Debunking the Myth of American Exceptionalism, with David Swanson
New Student Movement Seeks to Change Hopkins from Within
Corbyn: Does Strike on Syria Justify Bombing Saudi Arabia over Yemen?
Fighting the Oligarchy Inside the Democratic Party
Lopez Obrador's Lead Widens in Mexican Presidential Race Thanks to Trump
Justin Trudeau Vows to Bail Out Profitable Oil Company, Kinder Morgan
Global Warming's Impact on Ocean Currents to Amplify Sea Level Rise
State's Attorney's Race: Thiru Vignarajah on Freddie Gray and Gun Trace Task Force
Defense Stocks Soar as Trump Wages War on Syria
Philippines' Duterte Uses 'War on Terror' Tactics to Crack Down on Leftists
Philippines' Drug War Kills Poor Addicts, Not Rich Dealers
Col. Larry Wilkerson on Syria: War Powers are the 'Surest Way to Tyranny'
Senior Bernie Advisor says 'Bullshit' to Cuomo Campaign Claim It's 'Lockstep' with Sanders
The Perils of Being a Prosecutor and a Politician
France Joins US in a 'Poker Game,' Targeting Iran and Hezbollah
Activists Offer Palestinian and Kurdish Solidarity,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting