Michael believes that human rights and international humanitarian law should be taken into consideration when the U.S. sells arms to other nations. Michael has voted against the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia multiple times due, in part, to human rights concerns in the war in Yemen. Michael also voted to limit U.S. military support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
Sales of weapons should reflect the values we want to see in the world, including respect for civilian lives and schools, hospitals, and other institutions that serve non-combatants. I have been horrified by how our weapons of war have been used by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the conflict in Yemen. The toll taken in the lives of innocent men, women, and children has been extraordinary, and must be stopped. In the Senate, I have fought alongside colleagues on both sides of the aisle to end sales to countries that have engaged in human rights violations, including the Philippines, Nigeria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and others. Unfortunately, it is clear that the use of weapons is not being adequately monitored by the Trump Administration.
Arms sales are not simply a commercial transaction but an act of foreign policy. The US has a responsibility to ensure that what we sell doesn’t contribute to humanitarian crises and human rights abuses.
Potential arms transfers should be vetted and conditioned on recipients’ human rights records. This means applying the Leahy law to arms sales and greater scrutiny to sales in high-risk or conflict areas, and knowing how American weapons are used once they leave our shores. When conditions on the ground change, so should the conditions on our sales — which may mean a willingness to reject transfers that don’t reflect our values.
Transparency around potential transfers must also be improved, and affected stakeholders in both the US and the recipient country should be consulted for their views.
We need not be overly concerned that some partners will turn to others for their weapons on the basis of these minimal requirements: partners prefer to buy American goods for their quality, interoperability, and “total package” approach of training and maintenance. If our partners cannot abide by basic human rights standards, it’s better they find others to supply their arms. There’s scant evidence that more responsible arms transfers would damage the American economy or cost American jobs. We know from recent experience that the costs of not fully taking partner behavior into account are much higher.
Once elected president, I would reverse the Trump Administration’s decision to revoke its signature of the Arms Trade Treaty. Additionally, I would ensure the U.S. has a high, clear standard for foreign military sales to prevent U.S. weapons from being used to commit human rights violations. I support ending U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen.
The Saudi-UAE prosecution of the Yemen war has caused an outrageous number of civilian casualties – many of them women and children. That is why I have supported legislation to end US weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as an end to U.S. military refueling for Saudi coalition planes, which allows them to loiter longer, enabling them to hit more targets. More recently the Trump administration has tried to move a number of military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates despite Congressional concerns. I will work with my colleagues in Congress to oppose these sales. We must make clear to other countries that we will not condone or support human rights abuses – particularly using American products. And we must do more to ensure that the weapons we sell do not end up in the hands of human rights abusers, and even America’s adversaries. We must invest in robust mechanisms to keep a check on the weapons we sell.
Human rights must be an essential factor in determining which countries are eligible to receive arms from the United States. The Trump Administration’s refusal to consider these factors, as well as its determination to circumvent critical Congressional oversight of arms sales, is a foolish and shortsighted mistake that will only serve to further undermine America’s credibility and international leadership. As president, I will recommit the U.S. to the ATT and restore human rights as a principal consideration in each potential overseas arms sale. And I will also end U.S. military support for the Saudi-UAE coalition campaign in Yemen, which lacks the support of Congress and contributes to unspeakable human suffering in Yemen and destabilization of the region.
The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty is dangerous and irresponsible. We must strengthen these treaties, not end them.
When Bernie is in the White House, we will work diplomatically with the international community to promote peace and uphold human rights.
Bernie is proud to have been one of the leading sponsors of the resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen. When we are in the White House, we will ensure the U.S. is not supporting foreign wars, which have done more to create a humanitarian crisis than to establish peace.
Congress and the President must be vigilant to ensure that we are not selling arms to countries that are in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Specifically, we should halt the sales of arms to countries and coalitions like the Saudi-Emirati coalition that is using US weapons to harm children and civilians in Yemen.
We must not let President Trump invoke emergency powers to bypass congressional review of weapon sales for Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. President Trump’s veto of a measure to end U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia’s Yemen war effort is unconscionable.
Reform of our conventional arms transfer policy must not make it easier for American companies to sell weapons to countries that commit human rights abuses. The old policy prohibited arms transfers to countries that commit “attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians;” the Trump administration’s new policy bars transfers that are “intentionally” directed, a weaker standard. I would reverse this.
I oppose President Trump’s recent move to withdraw the United States from the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. His kowtowing to the National Rifle Association on this issue is disgusting.
President Trump has a robust record of success and we allow that record to speak for itself www.promiseskept.com.
We can start with a simple premise: defense industry profits should not outweigh the lives of innocent civilians. Take Saudi Arabia, for example. A Saudi-led coalition has bombed thousands of Yemeni civilians and potentially allowed the transfer of U.S. weapons to violent extremists. The Saudi regime even ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, merely because he was critical of the government. And yet the Trump Administration has continued to support arms sales to Saudi Arabia because it’s good for American defense contractors’ bottom line.
I have voted to disapprove of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and to halt U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, and I will continue to do so. But we also need to end the stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy. That’s why I introduced the Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, which would limit the influence of contractors on the military and provide additional transparency into their actions.
The situation in Yemen is heartbreaking, and the US should absolutely end its involvement in the conflict. Outside of ending sales of arms to the countries exacerbating this crisis, we also need to end other support. Intelligence, refueling, and training operations should all end immediately. Saudi Arabia currently assumes our support; we need to show them that we expect our allies to respect human rights and not commit war crimes.