“The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i) – Nuremberg principles
I had to do a double take today when a story appeared in my newsfeed from the Guardian, titled “Questions mount over botched Yemen raid approved by Trump”. Seriously, since when does the liberal press give a god damn about Yemen? Apparently since Hillary lost the election it is now safe to talk about this monstrous war, which would have surely continued regardless of who was commander in chief.
Billed as yet another in a long line of “civil wars” sparked by the “Arab Spring”, the Saudi led invasion of Yemen has been met with resounding silence by the Western press. Typically, the war has involved the use of banned weapons and the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including not just roads, electricity and water, but homes and farms. These are war crimes by any measure, and while the official death toll so far is estimated to exceed at 10 000 plus 40 000 injured, a systematic blockade on food, fuel and aid means that 21 million Yemenis are now in need of humanitarian assistance. It is reported that a child dies in Yemen every 10 minutes of starvation or malnutrition.
Where the six year war in Syria has been acknowledged by the West as a regime change operation, the notional purpose of the campaign in Yemen has been to reinstate “legitimacy”, i.e., to restore the US-friendly government which was recently ousted by Shia Houthi rebels with the support of the majority of Yemen’s armed forces. ‘Restoration’, accompanied by the requisite changes to the Yemeni constitution would leave the “empty quarter” of the Arabian Peninsula, and significant oil and gas reserves in the Rub’ al Khali desert, under the effective control of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In short, this is just another case of Americans, British and French displaying their arrogant disregard for human life in the pursuit of empire.
Glenn Greenwald writes:
“In 2010, President Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September 2011 drone strike…Two weeks after the killing of Awlaki, a separate CIA drone strike in Yemen killed his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman, along with the boy’s 17-year-old cousin and several other innocent Yemenis. The U.S. eventually claimed that the boy was not their target but merely “collateral damage.””
Like much of the Nobel Peace laureate’s ironic legacy, the above mentioned incident received very little press at the time. What some might describe as reckless criminality, for example the murder of 35 innocent women and children using cluster munitions, appears to be perfectly acceptable when you’re following “due process” – never mind that this process may be little more than ready-aim-fire.
Five days ago US Navy Seal Team 6, using armed reaper drones for cover, carried out a raid on the heavily guarded home of an alleged al Qaeda collaborator in a mountainous village in remote central Yemen, killing 30 civilians, including at least eight women and seven children, ages 3 to 13. Among those killed was Anwar Awlaki’s 8-year-old daughter Nawar, who was shot through the neck and left to bleed to death. The raid had evidently been planned months in advance by Obama’s officialdom, but left for the incoming POTUS to approve and sign off on.
So why all the fuss? This war has been going on for years. Why has it suddenly become newsworthy?
Greenwald goes on to cite the late Yemeni writer Ibrahim Mothana, who told Congress in 2013:
“Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants. Unfortunately, liberal voices in the United States are largely ignoring, if not condoning, civilian deaths and extrajudicial killings in Yemen… During George W. Bush’s presidency, the rage would have been tremendous. But today there is little outcry, even though what is happening is in many ways an escalation of Mr. Bush’s policies.”
When it comes to war and peace, the left was silent under Obama, just as it was under Clinton in the 90s. Remember Yugoslavia? Sudan? Haiti? For eight years there has been no one to protest the starvation of Yemen, just as no one protested the coups in Ukraine and Honduras, the destruction of Libya, or the dirty war against Syria. All of this was conveniently swept aside by the liberal press while we celebrated gay marriage equality and insisted that black lives matter. Can you imagine if any of these war crimes had happened under Bush 43? I can. I was there in 2003 when we marched and burned flags in one of the biggest anti-war demonstrations in history.
The monstrous atrocities perpetrated under the guise of the War in Terror have been part of a political continuum which existed long before the inauguration of Donald Trump, Barack Obama or George W Bush. Make no mistake, Trump is evil, but there is something refreshingly authentic in his manner compared to the suave yet sinister Obama who pursued exactly the same policies, but with apparent grace and charm. I am reminded of this quote from historian Carroll Quigley:
“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy… Either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.”
It’s easy to scoff and jeer at the women’s march – literally nothing but an outpouring of politically correct outrage. It’s easy to call out the hypocrisy of Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim countries which the US has either threatened or directly attacked in support of the genocidal Saudi regime. But when it comes to protesting war I am the first to acknowledge we must all rally to the call. I suppose we should be grateful that the anti-war left has finally begun to stir from its 8 year hibernation, but we must also tread carefully. It’s important that we don’t allow our protest to be co-opted by liberals who have proven time and again that they stand for nothing; who would have eagerly embraced the warmongering Clinton and said not a word when she continued to prosecute the same foreign policy agenda as her predecessor. This is not about Trump. It’s about the whole rotten political establishment.
A final word of caution. Of course one should always call out hypocrisy wherever it is found, but when approaching liberal lefties, it is wise to exercise care and restraint. As tempting as it is to poke and prod, such creatures tend not to like having their darling little feathers ruffled, and have been known to attack viciously.