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Boardman writes: "If ANY presidential candidate has said anything substantive in opposition to the US participation in the war on Yemen, it's not easy to find. It's not easy to find a presidential candidate in opposition to America's 14 years of continuous war in the Middle East and Africa."

A Houthi militant sits amidst debris from the Yemeni Football Association building, which was damaged in a Saudi-led air strike, in Sanaa May 31, 2015. (photo: Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters)
A Houthi militant sits amidst debris from the Yemeni Football Association building, which was damaged in a Saudi-led air strike, in Sanaa May 31, 2015. (photo: Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters)

US & Saudi Arabia War Crimes Keep Killing Yemenis

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

30 August 15


Is there anyone who believes that Yemeni Lives Matter?

audi ground forces invaded Yemen for the first time in this war on August 27. Officially, the Saudi government characterizes the invasion as an incursion that will be limited and temporary. The Saudi government made similar representations about their terror-bombing of Yemen that began March 26 and has continued on a near-daily basis to the present.

Other foreign troops have invaded southern Yemen in support of the ousted Yemeni government.

At the same time as the Saudi invasion, the ousted Yemeni government, now talking tough from the safety of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, says it won’t enter into any peace talks until the other side, which has no air force and no navy, surrenders its weapons and withdraws from disputed territory. This “demand” is consistent with the corrupt UN Security Council resolution that passed in April, with the support of the US and other countries then waging war on Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s aggression against Yemen, the poorest country in the region, has been catastrophic for Yemen, which is all-but-defenseless. Backed by eight other Arab dictatorships and the US, the Saudi alliance has committed uncounted war crimes and crimes against humanity. The onslaught has killed more than 4,300 people (mostly civilians), subjected roughly half the Yemeni population to severe hunger and water scarcity, and laid waste to World Heritage sites among the oldest in the world.

The US-led naval blockade, an act of war, has cut food imports to Yemen, which is not capable of growing enough food to feed its population. The head of the UN World Food Program reported on August 19 that Yemen is on the verge of famine, making the US naval blockade a potential crime against humanity. The UN humanitarian chief has reported to the UN Security Council that “the scale of human suffering is almost incomprehensible.” As reported by ABC News:

He said he was shocked by what he saw: Four out of five Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced, and people were using cardboard for mattresses at a hospital where lights flickered, the blood bank had closed and there were no more examination gloves.

Like most mainstream media, ABC News delivers the suffering with relish, but has a hard time telling the war story straight, resorting to euphemistic evasions such as: “at least 1,916 civilians have died in the Yemen conflict since it escalated on March 26.” [emphasis added] That’s just dishonest. On March 25, the “Yemen conflict” was primarily a civil war (with ISIS and al Qaeda thrown in).

US leadership cultivates a new generation of war criminals

On March 26, the US-backed Saudi alliance turned the “conflict” into an illegal international war, launching saturation bombing of defenseless populations in coordination with the naval blockade designed to starve the rebels into submission. The “conflict” did not, as ABC wrote, escalate itself – the US and Saudi coalition started a new, undeclared, criminal war for which the leading war criminals of eight countries (starting with President Obama) will likely never face accountability, any more than Obama was willing to hold Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the Iraq war criminals to account.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights observers report war crimes being committed on all sides.

An Amnesty representative said: “All the parties to this conflict have displayed a ruthless and wanton disregard for the safety of civilians.” “All the parties” includes the rebels and the Yemeni-government-in-exile in Saudi Arabia, of course. But it also includes the US, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Senegal, Pakistan, and Somalia. If any of these countries has a peace movement, there is little evidence of it.

US sponsorship of the criminal war on Yemen also includes the provision of US cluster bombs, which have been outlawed by most of the world’s civilized nations. More than 100 countries have signed the international ban on cluster bombs, but the US – like China, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel – are not signatories. The US did not participate in negotiations at all. The primary value of cluster bombs is that they kill civilians, and go on killing them long after wars end in places like Cambodia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Iraq.

Human Rights Watch on August 26 called on the US-back Saudi coalition bombers to stop using cluster bombs in Yemen. A human rights research said: “Cluster munitions are adding to the terrible civilian toll in Yemen's conflict. Coalition forces should immediately stop using these weapons and join the treaty banning them.”

The reality of suffering is way ahead of the reality of US war crimes

The five-sided fighting in Yemen continues without surcease, and media coverage seems to be picking up on the suffering (perhaps following the “if it bleeds it leads” creed, though Yemen doesn’t often lead the news). On-the-ground coverage is hampered by a virtual prohibition of reporters in the country, where, if they get there, they become targets. This is Saudi alliance-enforced policy, supported by the US, along the lines first implemented in the glorious US victory over Grenada.

Alex Potter is a 25-year-old nurse and photographer from Minnesota who moved to Yemen in 2012. Her photo album of Yemen beautifully and poignantly illustrates the destruction wreaked on the people and places of an ancient part of the world. The album speaks for itself, published on an NPR website. The NPR-written text and Potter’s quotes heartrendingly describe the suffering of mostly innocent people.

But the NPR text treats the catastrophe more like a natural disaster than an actual war that actual people have decided to wage at any cost:

Yemen is at war. Rebels from the Houthi minority group took control of Sanaa and other parts of the country six months ago. Saudi Arabia backs the government that was forced out and has launched airstrikes against the Houthis. Other actors – al-Qaida and ISIS – make it even more complicated.

And in June, the unthinkable happened. The densely populated Old City [of Sanaa], where people have lived for more than 2,500 years, was attacked. Locals blamed an airstrike.

That is less reporting than it is propaganda. “Yemen is at war” is as sanitized as “Yemen had an earthquake” – and it is fundamentally dishonest. Until March 26, “Yemen” was not at war. Yemen was in the midst of the latest of its chronic civil wars over decades. The rebels were apparently winning. So the Saudis took the Yemeni government into something like protective custody and, with US connivance and several allies, started waging undeclared air war on a population and military forces with no air force and little effective air defense. NPR must know all that, and chose not to make it clear.

To say that “locals blamed an airstrike” is almost an obscenity of journalism, as if there’s some other, unmentioned possibility. It’s as if NPR is saying: what do we know, we’re only reporters, and only one of us was on the scene. You’d certainly never know from NPR that the desolation so vividly shown is the direct result of choices made by American policy makers (among others).

The people Potter’s photographs show have nowhere to go. The text mentions that “Doctors Without Borders has called this a ‘war on civilians.’” What NPR fails to tell you is that Yemenis have nowhere to go primarily because there’s a US naval blockade keeping their country contained like an open air prison, enforcing a killing ground which the Saudis and others can – and do – bomb at will.

New war, continuous war for 14 years – NOT presidential issues?

If ANY presidential candidate has said anything substantive in opposition to the US participation in the war on Yemen, it’s not easy to find. It’s not easy to find a presidential candidate in opposition to America’s 14 years of continuous war in the Middle East and Africa. Years ago, Rand Paul criticized the extensive drone war Obama was waging in Yemen. Paul was correct that the US drone war was illegal and destabilizing for Yemen, but neither point was taken. Yemen’s destabilization by drone contributed to today’s reality, an illegal, multinational, interventionist war on a country in which the “wrong” side was winning a civil war.

In April 2015, when US-supported bombing of Yemen was three weeks old, Paul criticized US war policies in general, especially as advocated by other Republicans:

There’s a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now – maybe more…. This is something, if you watch closely, that will separate me from many other Republicans. The other Republicans will criticize Hillary Clinton and the president for their foreign policy, but they would have done the same thing – just 10 times over!… Everyone who will criticize me wanted troops on the ground, our troops on the ground, in Libya. It was a mistake to be in Libya. We are less safe. Jihadists swim in our swimming pool now. It’s a disaster.

Paul went on to say that he supports unspecified “military action” against ISIS, which is operational in at least three countries now (Syria, Iraq, and Yemen). Paul did not address the terror-bombing of the Houthis and others in Yemen.

Democrats appear to be no more interested in American war-making in Yemen than Republicans, even though al Qaeda has been growing stronger there as a result of the US-backed bombing weakening the Houthi government. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula now controls part of the City of Aden, parts of which are also controlled by the rebels (conflicting reports) and forces fighting for the government-in-exile in Saudi Arabia (these forces include Moroccan troops).

For anti-war activists, Bernie Sanders is generally thought to be the best bet, even though his record is fairly weak (compared to Dennis Kucinich, for example). World Socialists take a dim view of the democratic socialist candidate’s positions on war/peace issues, calling him the “silent partner of American militarism.” Even more bleakly, Black Agenda Report’s Margaret Kimberley agues that “Sanders’ candidacy is as grave a danger to the rest of the world as that of his rivals.” In CounterPunch, Sam Husseini takes Sanders to task for his support of Saudi Arabia even as it pummels Yemen. One activist group,, has an online petition with 25,000 signatures so far, calling on Sanders (a longtime supporter of the F-35 boondoggle) to denounce the madness of militarism:

Senator Sanders, we are enthusiastic about your presidential campaign’s strong challenge to corporate power and oligarchy. We urge you to speak out about how they are intertwined with militarism and ongoing war.

Martin Luther King Jr. denounced what he called “the madness of militarism,” and you should do the same. As you said in your speech to the SCLC, “Now is not the time for thinking small.”

Unwillingness to challenge the madness of militarism is thinking small.

Sanders has yet to respond publicly to the current RootsAction poll. In December 2013, the senator’s “Bernie Buzz” online newsletter reported on another RootsAction poll. That one found that 81% of RootsAction’s 19,131 members were in favor of Sanders running for president (9% opposed). Currently, his presidential campaign website lists ten major issues – NONE of them are “war,” peace,” “militarism,” “military spending,” “foreign policy,” or anything of that sort.

Until at least one of the candidates for “leader of the free world” says loudly and clearly that the US will back off trying to run the world at the point of a gun, Americans will just have to continue living with presidents who think small about making war against anyone who annoys the US by challenging our elitist “national interests” for any reason. And that will mean continuing to outspend the rest of the world on weapons of war. And that will mean continuing to spend more than half the US budget on war and the consequences of war. And that will leave little room for any putatively “socialist” candidate to do much more than nibble at the core corporate socialism that is the heart of the American economy.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+41 # Dongi 2015-08-30 12:48
Powerful article. Sanders should pay attention to the evils of militarism and come out against war and excessive military spending. Where else is the money coming from to repair the infrastructure of America?
+31 # Radscal 2015-08-30 15:05
Indeed. I'd posted to Sanders' website my concerns about his inconsistency on US foreign policy. I didn't know about the roots action petition, but I'll be signing on now.

The horrors US foreign policy are bringing to so many people in so many places are inexcusable, and I feel personal responsibility, as I believe we all should.
+2 # WBoardman 2015-09-02 12:32
Powerful Yemen segment on DemocracyNOW 9.1.15,

Despite Global Ban, Saudi-Led Forces Kill Dozens in Yemen Using U.S.-Made Cluster Bombs

Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi Arabia of using U.S.-made cluster munition rockets in at least seven attacks in the Yemeni city of Hajjah between late April and mid-July. Dozens of civilians were killed or wounded, both during the attacks and later, when they picked up unexploded submunitions that detonated. Neither the United States, Saudi Arabia or Yemen have joined the global convention banning the use of cluster munitions. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch criticized the U.S. stance on cluster munitions. "The U.S. thinks that cluster munitions are legitimate weapons," Roth said. "The U.S. still hasn’t signed onto the landmines treaty. So, the U.S. is very much behind the rest of the world."
+29 # Activista 2015-08-30 13:51
"US naval blockade keeping their country contained like an open air prison, enforcing a killing ground which the Saudis and others can – and do – bomb at will. ..."
these are USA planes and logistic support that make this another US war crime possible.
+13 # Activista 2015-08-30 13:59
There are many excellent references (URL) in this article - let's learn:
and others ...
+19 # jimmyjames 2015-08-30 15:12
Dear God I hate my country. I am thoroughly ashamed to call myself an American. Our nation has become and/or party to, the most egregious crimes against humanity, and there seems to be no end in sight. Retribution may be swift and horrible, and many innocent Americans will die and suffer as a result. Damn America - I hate you!
+25 # jimmyjames 2015-08-30 15:43
Listen guys......most, if not all the wars and suffering that has gone on in the world in the past decades has been a result of American intervention, either directly or indirectly. We are the most feared and least respected nation on earth. To make matters worst, our aggressiveness has been for corporate profits to make you and I and the rest of world poorer while the rich got richer. We have become suckers in the rich game and I swear we will someday suffer because of it. God help us because we have lost our ability to help ourselves....
+2 # harleysch 2015-08-31 09:18
While your statement is generally true, the situation has become significantly worse under Bush, Jr. and Obama, as the acceptance of "regime change", use of drones, and deadly sanctions characterizes the view in both parties, and among Main Stream media.

Boardman's report is a powerful reminder that those of us who oppose the unilateralism of the Anglo-American Empire must not depend on any one candidate, but must do everything possible to mobilize public opinion against these atrocities. This is not an easy task, but a necessary one.
+21 # Jayceecool 2015-08-30 15:22
The average American is too ignorant to know that our resources are not unlimited, and thus continues to elect the militarists that control our government...ra ther than confront our domestic needs. That's how we get the leadership we deserve.
+4 # Johnny 2015-08-30 17:07
Yes, Americans are ignorant, but they do the best they can with the information the totally Zionist controlled media allow them to have.
+3 # WBoardman 2015-08-31 12:30
Even if it's true,
denigrating "the average American"
is at best useless, at worst alienating.

In my experience, most people, however badly informed,
still understand that we're in really bad times.

Fox and Rush tell them why, dishonestly, all the time.

We should respect them and give honest explanations
of what we understand to be wrong.
+26 # Carol R 2015-08-30 15:57
Here is what lBernie Sanders has to say regarding our wars that never end:

"War and Peace: I voted against the war in Iraq, and that was the right vote. We must be vigorous in combatting terrorism, but we can't do it alone. We must be part of an international coalition that includes Muslim nations which not only defeats ISIS but which works hard to create conditions for lasting peace. I will vigorously oppose an endless war in the Middle East."
+12 # Helen Marshall 2015-08-30 16:36
OK, Bernie, waiting for you to do that.
+5 # vicnada 2015-08-31 08:01
Thanks for this Carol R. My question is, "Why hobble the candidate most likely to do something about this when he gets into office? Why not understand that he is powerfully voicing our need for change on at least one dozen critical fronts?" There is only so much oxygen, so much verbal firepower that can be distributed in campaign sound-bites. And if people "Feel the Bern", it's precisely because Sanders is disciplined, focused and clear about what he needs to do if he is going to be elected.
0 # WBoardman 2015-08-31 12:32
vicnada, please explain "hobble" ;-)))
+15 # Doc Mary 2015-08-30 16:41
I remember when Martin Luther King came out against the war in Vietnam - he was criticized for not sticking to civil rights ... as if this wasn't a civil rights issue, with more black kids getting sent to the war, and more dying, and beyond that, the moral issue of why the heck we were there in the first place.

But he stuck to his message.

And look what happened to him.
+5 # dquandle 2015-08-30 18:04
So Sanders should keep quiet and inactive about US imperial wars, and continue to support militarism and the arms industry in order to keep himself from getting killed...?
+1 # tedrey 2015-09-05 07:13
No, but he should consolidate his gains on the domestic front before opening up what will be an equally ferocious battle on the military/foreig n front. By then, if he has a sufficient grassroots army with him, he can win. Premature engagement is not to his, and our, advantage.
+5 # Johnny 2015-08-30 16:51
Actually, it is not hard to find a presidential candidate who speaks against U.S., Turkish, Israeli, and Saudi terrorism in the Middle East. True that Sanders, Clinton, Trump, Walker, et. al. enthusiasticall y endorse the Holocaust so they will receive AIPAC money, but Jill Stein openly opposes the Holocaust.
-1 # vicnada 2015-08-31 08:05
Quoting Johnny:
True that Sanders, Clinton, Trump, Walker, et. al. enthusiastically endorse the Holocaust so they will receive AIPAC money, but Jill Stein openly opposes the Holocaust.

It's clear to me that you don't mean "endorsing" killing a population by gas and ovens although that is what your words actually say...
+14 # djnova50 2015-08-30 16:57
Mr. Boardman, Bernie's main issues are all about US. He understands that our country needs fixed before we should be worrying about foreign affairs. Something that I read a while ago indicated, to me, that Bernie Sanders is against endless war in other parts of the world.

The U.S. has become a bully nation. Perhaps, under Bernie's leadership, that image can begin to change.
+13 # tedrey 2015-08-30 18:50
The other candidates would love to have Bernie Sanders take premature positions on the wars before solidifying his grassroots on domestic matters. Once it is widely realized that what he's calling for domestically is what a majority of people want, it will be time for him to point out that the wars and the military budget stand in the way.
+5 # Merlin 2015-08-31 03:36
tedrey 2015-08-30 18:50

Spot on, in my view. Some time ago I stated my view of his campaign and its course. There is an "opening," a "middle game" and an "end game", as in chess. This is the "opening," as you eloquently state. The "opening" sets the stage for the tactics of the "middle game." As you state, when Bernie has the strength, name recognition and the people behind him in sufficient numbers, he will address foreign policy issues. Now is not the time to do that in my view.

I may be wrong, but I believe that Bernie will address the foreign policy issues from a Progressive point of view, and the fears now being expressed will prove unwarranted.
+2 # WBoardman 2015-08-31 12:38
djnova50 – yes, of course Bernie's issues are
overwhelmingly domestic, and they'r good issues
and all that. But this limitation, while perhaps tactically
or even strategically sound, comes with a high price,
which is America's role in the world.

Yes, Bernie seems to lean in a peaceful direction, and
perhaps that will be enough for the nomination....

But someone is bound to start beating him up on
foreign policy issues and he needs to be ready to
push back hard (and maybe he is).

Still, more than half US expenditures are for war,
its preparation, and aftermath – that's a pretty big
elephant in the room to ignore.

tedrey points out a possible good outcome.

merlin as well.

If it all works out this way.... ;-)))

It occurs to me that – however unlikely –
the open field on foreign policy
leaves Bernie vulnerable to being
outflanked on the left –
probably not by Hillary, but O'Malley or Chaffee
and would that matter?
+13 # ChrisCurrie 2015-08-30 17:27
Prior to the implementation of George W. Bush’s policy of waging a NEVER-ENDING worldwide preemptive “War on Terror”, it was a common international practice to deploy UN Peacekeeping Forces to “hot spots” throughout the world to calm things down, help protect the innocent, and establish a effective framework for lasting peace in that area. And, for the most part, those UN Peacekeeping forces succeeded in accomplishing those objectives.

But rather than returning to that time-proven approach for successfully resolving such problems, President Obama (and Hillary Clinton) chose instead to continue G. W. Bush’s foreign policy of waging a NEVER-ENDING worldwide preemptive “War on Terror.” And they “upped the ante” by significantly expanding the use of deadly “drone attacks” (each of which is essentially and “act of terrorism”). As some US military generals have pointed out, those tactics have in fact created more anti-US terrorists than they have killed, and they have contributed to creating a bloody anarchy in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya (whose refugees have been risking their lives to flee into Europe).

What we REALLY need to do is to REJECT Bush’s foreign policy of waging a NEVER-ENDING worldwide preemptive “War on Terror” and instead arrange for a UN Peace Keeping Force solution to be implemented in the Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya. UN Peace Keeping Forces have a long track record of successes for resolving such problems.
+6 # futhark 2015-08-30 19:39
A perpetual "War on Terror" is, in realty, a "War of Terror". That needs to be acted upon by policy makers. The ethics of it are not at all complicated. Any 3rd grader who has been bullied on the playground and has concocted schemes of revenge could explain it.
+6 # Radscal 2015-08-30 21:01
"What we REALLY need to do is to REJECT Bush’s foreign policy of waging a NEVER-ENDING worldwide preemptive “War on Terror”

Yep. It would have been nice if Obama had rejected that policy. I sure hope Bernie will.
+7 # Carol R 2015-08-31 04:00
I just read the following in the South China Morning Post;

The Chinese military’s flagship drone Rainbow 5 made its debut on state television on Sunday, showing off new weapons and the latest technology to “change the game in airstrikes”.

So now our drone buildup has spread to China. What country will next have drones? It is horrible and will spread. The U.S. should be spending money to help others...STOP THE KILLING!!
0 # WBoardman 2015-08-31 12:47
Carol R – the drone is already a global weapon.

By 2012, Russia, China, India, and Israel were among
the countries with drone weapons:
0 # tedrey 2015-09-05 07:20
But have any countries other than the US USED them in drone warfare yet? (I'm trying to find out.)
+10 # 179bennettave 2015-08-30 17:38
The media as well as progressives, including Bernie, are silent about this ongoing atrocity in Yemen. Most people are unaware that US citizens flying to Yemen must be cleared by Saudi security before they can enter Yemen. What a disgrace.
We need a progressive leader like MLK who understood the interrelationsh ip between militarism and racism. The daily gun violence in the US mirrors the war crimes the US is committing in Yemen. We reap what we sow.
+4 # lewagner 2015-08-30 18:20
I'm afraid that bigger violence than the "daily gun violence" being portrayed on Reality TV is about to erupt.
The American people will be seeing the REALITY of what our government has been doing to people in how many dozens of countries since WWII, not just a little "mirror" of it.
All that Jade Helm military equipment is primed and ready, just like the Twin Towers were on 9/11.
Nah, it's just for National Guard drills, they tell us. They're going to park it all back in the garages on September 15. Sure they are.
+7 # MidwestTom 2015-08-30 18:51
Rand Paul has promoted completely leaving the Middle East.
+3 # futhark 2015-08-30 19:36
"If ANY presidential candidate has said anything substantive in opposition to the US participation in the war on Yemen, it’s not easy to find."

Senator Sanders needs to speak to this issue without delay. The only alternative I can see is voting Green Party for the 3rd consecutive election. I'm pretty certain that the Green Party nominee will not disappoint on this issue.
+7 # Merlin 2015-08-31 03:57
futhark 2015-08-30 19:36
"Senator Sanders needs to speak to this issue without delay."

My view is that this is too early to do that. In my view, Bernie needs to be the leading candidate in the majority or states. The American public is ignorant and misinformed (by our government and the corporatist controlled media) and they are pretty much apathetic regarding foreign policy. They are concerned about domestic issues and how those issues are affecting them personally.

Yemen? Ukraine? Even Iran! Only the informed, like RSN readers can see and understand the importance of these places and the horrors going on there. Foreign policy (which Sanders has absolutely no control or affect on,) are part of the "middle game" that I mention above (Merlin 2015-08-31 03:36).

Lets concentrate on getting Bernie solidly through the "opening" part of this campaign. Lets get him huge amounts of people who wildly support him because of the domestic issues he so strongly speaks to. Then, some months down the road, he can expound on his foreign policy beliefs. At that point "the middle game" will be in full swing, and the people will listen to him and lose their apathy about foreign policy.

Campaign strategy is a sticky business in my view, and so far the Sanders campaign has done everything right. And that includes pushing foreign policy issues to the back burner, until it is advantageous to talk about them.

Patience is prudent at this time, in my view.
0 # Aletho 2015-09-03 12:31

Lincoln Chafee?

Of course we don't know about THE peace candidate. You can't even find his name at Reader Supported News.

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