21 Talking Points on US Backed War in Yemen (Updated with Context and PDF)

I prepared the Fact Sheet below to distribute at a film being shown at the High Falls Film Festival.   ‘Yemeniettes‘, a documentary film made by a Lebanese film company, follows a group of teenage girls who win a regional science contest from their enthusiastic invention to a local contest in Sana’a and then on to Doha, and then through the events that follow their winning this international contest.  It is a delightful scenario with many unspoken contradictions, Though a level of the background violence is reflected in the film it mostly focuses on these very liberal Yemeniettes with their innocent capitalist (as well as nationalist) aspirations.

Sadly, current events have overrun the context of this film and it seems unlikely there will be any more Yemeniettes (or Yemenis of any stripe)  entering,  much less winning, regional science contests any time in the foreseeable future.  This is pertinent because the United States is providing all kinds of support to our Saudi allies in their war effort.   If you enjoy this film, you should understand that.

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  1. This US backed, Saudi led campaign is an intrusion into the internal politics of Yemen
  2. This US backed, Saudi led campaign has embroiled Yemen in an unnecessary civil war
  3. The US backed, Saudi War against Yemen constitutes a Crime Against Peace and is the site of numerous War Crimes

We in the US are complicit in the Saudi crimes against the People of Yemen!

 

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Syria and the Syrian Refugees

I had a very interesting experience last night.  I was asked to sit on a panel on the ‘Syrian Refugee Crisis’ at a college about 50 miles from home where there would be 2 other speakers, both professors at the school.   One was a philosophy professor who spoke about the ethics of war, and the other a historian who spoke about the European response, and especially the German response to the flood of refugees.   They invited me to give some background on Syria.

Syria, over the last half century, has taken in more refugees from the region and treated them better than any other country in the region.   They have a couple of million Palestinians living there and took in at least 1.5 million Iraqis.   The children were welcomed in schools and basic medical care was provided. Sadly, Syria is now the source of refugees.   The majority of displaced Syrians remain inside Syria where they are supported by the Syrian government,  Even so, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are flooded with refugees, and thousands more are crossing into Europe   Most would prefer to return to their homes in Syria.

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Storming Yemen

For nearly a decade the United States has used drones to target and kill suspected members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen.   Among others, US drones have killed busloads of civilians, guests attending weddings, taxi drivers, diners at a birthday party, people attending funerals and men attempting to reason with AQAP members.   When we complained about these practices, in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and other places, one response was that it was better than carpet bombing like we did in World War II.   That always seemed rather odd because World War II was a war, and the cities carpet bombed were ‘enemy’ cities.

I would say that, well, the places where the killer drones are operating are not places where it would be possible or ‘legal’ to carpet bomb.   There would be no way to explain such a serious divergence from humanitarian law, the laws of war.   They’ve made a fine point about targeting a globally dispersed enemy force, a point that I strongly disagree with though many are ready to buy it.   One would think it would be beyond imagination to justify heavy bombing, carpet bombing in the same circumstance.

But Yemen has turned the world of ‘legal’ warfare on it’s head.   Since last March, a Saudi led coalition of Gulf Emirates with US technical and political backing have been ferociously bombing Yemen

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US Alliance With Syrian Kurds Can be Costly

The US media has made a very big point that the Kurds are the only viable force on the ground  in Syria capable of fighting ISIS.   This is a convenient half truth.    In fact, the strongest force on the ground in Syria is the Syrian Arab Army, which is often portrayed as a kind of personal militia of the President.   This is far from the truth.   The Syrian army is a national army drawn from the population and tasked with protecting the people, and they have fought the longest war to save their nation.    The US determination to delegitimize Syrian President Bashar Assad has led to some very distorted analysis of events on the ground as well as poorly framed battle plans and unstable alliances.

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Democracy Now Propaganda for the Left

Here is the link:  http://www.democracynow.org/2015/10/30/russias_entry_into_syria_worsens_deadly And here is what I said about it: Democracy Now! featured an embarrassingly awful interview with a woman from Physicians for Social Responsibility and a Syrian doctor from East Ghouta who was using a pseudonym to protect himself.   One wonders how important the name is, if his face, his place of origin and his occupation […]

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