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Boardman writes: "On December 13, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power offered up yet another stark exercise in imperial deceit, shedding crocodile tears for those suffering in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, while continuing her strategically amoral silence about much greater suffering in the country of Yemen."

Syrians comb through the debris of a house reportedly damaged by an airstrike carried out by the U.S.-led coalition in Kfar Derian, a village in northwestern Syria. (photo: Sami Ali/Getty Images)
Syrians comb through the debris of a house reportedly damaged by an airstrike carried out by the U.S.-led coalition in Kfar Derian, a village in northwestern Syria. (photo: Sami Ali/Getty Images)

US Criminal Hypocrisy at Work in Syria and Yemen

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

20 December 16


US weeps for a city, all the while backing genocide for a country

n December 13, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power offered up yet another stark exercise in imperial deceit, shedding crocodile tears for those suffering in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, while continuing her strategically amoral silence about much greater suffering in the country of Yemen. The basis for this unconscionable choice is simple. Russia, Syria, and Iran are attacking Aleppo. The carnage in Yemen is led by Saudi Arabia, allied with eight other Sunni Muslim states (supported by another seven countries including Canada, UK, France, and Turkey) – but this 16-state war of aggression would be impossible without the exceptional 17th enemy of Yemen, the US: there would be no genocidal war of attrition on the poorest country in the region without US approval, US weapons, US intelligence gathering, US attack planning, and constant US tactical military participation.

Ambassador Power began her lengthy remarks to the Security Council with a litany of civilian sufferings, here representing Aleppo, but indistinguishable from the attacks on civilians in Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul, Raqqa, or a dozen cities in Yemen. Her deployment of abstract and pitiable events was useless as evidence, but she wasn’t making an argument so much as an emotional appeal:

This is what is happening in eastern Aleppo. This is what is being done by Member States of the United Nations who are sitting around this horseshoe table today. This is what is being done to the people of eastern Aleppo, to fathers, and mothers, and sons, and daughters, brothers, and sisters like each of us here….

Referring to “Member States,” Power apparently misspoke, since the Russian Federation is the only Security Council member known to be supporting the Syrian government’s siege of Aleppo (later she added Iran and Syria, who were not at the table). Or perhaps Power, in a Freudian slip, was also obliquely referencing those Security Council members engaged in war crimes in Yemen: Senegal, France, UK, and US. Her remarks were not designed to take the moral high ground, but to execute a political hatchet job:

It is extremely hard to get information, of course, out of the small area still held by the opposition. You will hear this as an alibi as a way of papering over what video testimony, phone calls, and others are bringing us live. You will hear this invoked – that it is hard to verify. It is deliberate….

War in the Middle East is waged without much regard for the laws of warfare on any side. The norm is set by tribal customs of revenge, brutality, and extermination. What is happening in Aleppo is little different from what is happening in Mosul. Civilians get little special treatment, while the families of the fighters are targeted for execution. The patterns may vary. In Aleppo, the “rebels” (who are mostly from the ranks of al Qaeda or ISIS, even though the US backs them) keep civilians from leaving the city, using them as human shields and, when killed, as political point makers. Civilians who do escape then face reprisal from Syrian forces, including arrest, imprisonment, and torture. The US knows all about that, having shipped recalcitrant Guantanamo prisoners to Syria for “interrogation” by the Assad government (Power referred to “the same prisons where we know the Assad regime tortures and executes those in its custody,” but kept mum on how “we know” this). American rendition of victims to Assad’s care and feeding was official policy back in the days before the US decided to demonize Assad (and, by so doing, make any political settlement in Syria all but impossible without the US losing face). In Mosul, in northern Iraq, where the US-backed siege of that city has ground to a standstill after two months, it is the US playing the role of the Russians in Aleppo, as the US bombs civilians in Mosul. Mosul is still partly held by ISIS, which kills civilians when it’s not holding them as human shields. Some ISIS fighters have reportedly fled Mosul, where they were enemies of the US, and gone to Aleppo, where they get US support. Despite the chaos, Power asserted:

It would be easy for independent investigators to get in along with food, health workers, and others; but instead, the perpetrators are hiding their brutal assault from the world willfully….

This is complete obfuscation from the US Ambassador. Sure, it would be easy to send help into a city if there were no fighting. There have been numerous ceasefires. No one has honored them long. And this is only a medium-sized city, much easier to cut off and isolate than an entire country. But Yemen has been so isolated and cut off that the UN observers warn that more than half of Yemen’s population of 28 million is facing a near threat of famine. Currently, hunger in Yemen kills 1-2 people per 10,000 per day, while the official measure of famine is more than 2 people per 10,000 per day. Saudi Arabia, the US, and others have blockaded Yemen for almost two years. The Saudi-US air campaign has targeted ports and docks, all but cutting off food supplies from a country unable to feed itself in the best of times. These are war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is collective punishment of the civilian population for no reason other than it happens to be there and can’t escape. The US does not talk about this; the US hardly admits its involvement in killing Yemenis; the US hasn’t even succeeded in blocking the sale of cluster bombs (illegal in most nations of the world) to Saudi Arabia and its allies. Power is right: “The perpetrators are hiding their brutal assault from the world willfully.” And in a three-card monte move, she said:

The regime of Bashar Al-Assad, Russia, Iran, and their affiliated militia are the ones responsible for what the UN called “a complete meltdown of humanity.” And they are showing no mercy. No mercy despite their territorial conquests – even now, no mercy….

On April 14, 2015, almost two years ago, while the Saudi-American aerial blitzkrieg was only weeks old, the UN Security Council voted 14-0 (Russia abstaining) to demonize the rebel Houthis, to impose sanctions, and to ignore the early war crimes being committed by Member States, including dropping cluster bombs on civilians and blockading Yemen from importing food, medical supplies, and other basic human needs. Not until December 19, 2016, did the Saudis even admit to dropping UK-made cluster bombs on Yemen. For almost two years now, no one has shown Yemen any mercy. Despite the territorial gains in Yemen by al Qaeda and ISIS, the UN, the US, the Saudis and their allies have yet to take responsibility for their war, much less consider any mercy. While Saudi-US forces continue to attack the Houthis, the Saudi-backed overthrown government in Yemen continues to suffer attacks on its forces in Aden by ISIS suicide bombers (at least 52 soldiers killed December 18). The same day as that bombing, the US State Department issued a vapid communiqué on Yemen expressing “condolences for the deaths of Yemeni soldiers,” without mentioning ISIS and without suggesting that a peace process might be promoted by stopping the bombing or lifting the blockade. But in the world of Samantha Power there is only one atrocity worth mentioning:

Our shared humanity and security demands that certain rules of war hold, the most basic. And it is up to each and every one of us here to defend those rules. To the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran – three Member States behind the conquest of and carnage in Aleppo – you bear responsibility for these atrocities. By rejecting UN-ICRC evacuation efforts, you are signaling to those militia who are massacring innocents to keep doing what they are doing. Denying or obfuscating the facts – as you will do today – saying up is down, black is white, will not absolve you.

In effect, Ambassador Power is saying something like “up is black here.” Aleppo was once a quiet, diverse, international city with a mixed, vibrant culture (official population of 2.3 million in 2004). That began to change with the rise of Syrian rebellion against the Assad government. Rebel fighters attacked Aleppo in 2012, but controlled only half of it. East Aleppo became a stronghold of “moderate” and jihadi fighters, who also fought each other. The civilian population began to flee, when it could. In mid-2016, Assad’s forces encircled East Aleppo, putting about 250,000 people under siege. By mid-December, much of East Aleppo had been re-taken by Syrian government forces working with Syrian Kurds, who work with US support in eastern Syria. Allocating atrocities among these combat forces requires a more honest understanding of recent history and a finer moral intelligence than demonstrated by US policy or its flamboyantly falsifying spokesperson, Power.

On December 19, the Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution “demanding immediate, unhindered access for observation of monitoring civilian evacuations from Aleppo.” The meeting lasted two minutes. The resolution appears to limit its concern to an estimated 150,000 Aleppo civilians (Power estimates 30,000-60,000). Syria had an estimated population of 23 million in 2013. The UN today estimates 13.5 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance, including almost 5 million trapped in siege-like conditions other than in Aleppo, where the Russians are not involved and the US is not much interested.

And when it comes to “denying or obfuscating the facts,” who has done that more defiantly and destructively for a longer period of time than the US? Not only in Syria and Yemen, but Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Honduras, El Salvador, Gaza, Cuba, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam – how far back does one need to go? Bear River, Sand Creek, Wounded Knee? Further? Stono River, South Carolina?

The US should have sought absolution years, decades, even centuries ago, but that has not been part of our national character. The US has lived for a long time believing up was down, but not that black was white. And US belief in “certain rules of war” has largely applied to others, but not to the US if inconvenient. Over the top as that passage was, Samantha Power went still higher:

Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, now, Aleppo…. It should shame you. Instead, by all appearances, it is emboldening you. You are plotting your next assault. Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about or justify?

That is the passage most quoted in news reports, but only occasionally challenged. Ambassador Power’s list of “events in world history that define modern evil” is strangely tame despite its murderousness. Saddam Hussein’s Arabs gassing Kurds, Rwandan Hutus slaughtering Tutsis, Serbian slavs murdering Bosnian Muslims – these are brutal ethnic cleansings with almost no relevance to Aleppo, where the dividing line is more political than ethnic. And to the extent that the fight is between Shia extremists and a more tolerant mixed society (under a dictator, to be sure), the US is on the side of the religious extremists.

As for events defining modern evil, one need not go back to the Holocaust, Coventry or Dresden, Hiroshima or Nagasaki for mass slaughter of civilians. My Lai can stand for the myriad atrocities of Vietnam. Fallujah was one of the top war crimes in Iraq, along with the Blackwater slaughter in Baghdad. When Amnesty International documented ten atrocities that killed 140 civilians in Afghanistan, the US military did not deny it. The Pentagon merely restated its unenforced policy: “The Department of Defense does not permit its personnel to engage in acts of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of any person in its custody.” Not in custody? Well, good luck.

Samantha Power asked the Russians, rhetorically, “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about or justify?” And the Russians mocked her for acting like Mother Teresa.

She hasn’t asked those questions of her fellow Americans. She likely knows the honest answers would be no, no, and yes. There is nothing official America will not lie about or justify. Isn’t that why we torture and imprison people more or less randomly? Isn’t that why we have presidential assassination by drone strikes? Isn’t that why we enjoy our proxy genocide in Yemen? Isn’t that how we make America great again?

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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+27 # DongiC 2016-12-20 18:12
The United States has become an empire and like empires of old we make our own rules that everyone else (except Russia) has to obey. We also control the truth which is what we say it is. Now, we have an emperor type as president. The drama continues to unfold.
+5 # Skyelav 2016-12-21 03:00
An Emperor who is the enemy of the Military suck-a-tit Oligarchs... so far.
+9 # wrknight 2016-12-21 08:50
Maybe. That remains to be seen. So far Trump has said nothing that I consider credible.
+9 # jdd 2016-12-21 09:01
Absolutely bogus non-sequitur, While it is easy to denounce the raving lunatic who is now the US ambassador to the UN, how convenient to leave unnamed, Barack H. Obama, who has presided over and directed the most vile and vicious csmpaign to destroy both Syria and Yemen since at least 2011, forcing Tulsi had to introduce a bill to bloc Obama's support for ISIS/Al-Nusra. Not to mention to unconstitutiona l and illegal drone warfare assassination bureau run out of the White House every Tuesday. For whatever else Trump may be, he was clearly opposed to the Obama/Clinton policy and was viciously attacked by the Establishment for advocating collaboration with Russia to crush ISIS, even as Clinton repeatedly called for her insane "no-fly zone," to save the terrorists. Trump's proposed detente is THE crime for which he has not and will not be forgiven, as the Anglo-American financial empire presently rests on demonization of Putin and China's Xi collapses in Europe as well. For RSN to portray otherwise is itself the hypocrisy as great as that of Samantha Power.
+10 # WBoardman 2016-12-21 10:49
jdd writes:
"For RSN to portray otherwise is itself the hypocrisy as great as that of Samantha Power."

But it's not clear (to me) what the intended antecedent is.
The comment seems not to relate to the article.

For what it's worth, I wholeheartedly agree that Trump's
suggestion of relaxing relations with Russia is an
unforgivable offense to entrenched neo-cold warriors,
no matter how much good it might do for the rest of us.

The DC dust-up over that is likely to be the best show
in town, but not the only one.
+7 # Anonymot 2016-12-21 12:21
I agree with what JDD says except his last sentence is not comprehensible in context with the rest. Boardman's comments are clear and right on target.

As a firm supporter of Sanders, I really wish someone who knows him could tell him that if he cannot broaden his vision to be clear and specific on foreign affairs his standard stump speech will not wrest control of the Democrat Party away from the temporarily shell-shocked CIA mindset.
+6 # David Starr 2016-12-21 10:00
Not meaning to sound picky, but the U.S. had been an empire since the very beginning. Jefferson said that the U.S. is so well formed as to expand empire and self-government . Washington called the U.S. an empire of liberty.

What is happening in Yemen and Syria is an extension of that mentality.

The U.S. has been an empire with democratic characteristics .
+1 # Kropotkinesque 2016-12-20 19:54
Mr. Boardman:

Again you have rendered a fine piece. Despite I am an arch curmudgeon, I cannot submit your piece's substance to criticism beyond some picky points of marginal significance. So, I will forego putting any critical observations save one:

Please, please, at least halve your paragraphs' lengths. Their thickness boggles the eyes, oppresses attention.

Thank you.
+26 # harleysch 2016-12-20 23:49
Samantha Power is a war criminal. In addition to the points made by Boardman in this fine article, one could show how much of what she claims about Aleppo is propaganda, designed to protect the barbarians of Al Nusra, and the U.S.-backed "moderate forces."

Most of her claims about Syrian-Russian atrocities come from the London-Based Syrian Observatory. And much of the Observatory claims have been refuted by one western journalist who has spent substantial time in Syria, Eve Bartlett.

War itself is an atrocity. Without U.S., Saudi, Qatari and other Gulf States support for the "rebels" in Syria, the civil war would have ended years ago.
+15 # harleysch 2016-12-20 23:52
See interview with Eva Bartlett in Consortium News, "Extracting Aleppo from the Propaganda."
+10 # Majikman 2016-12-21 01:28
you can also see her on utube on Jimmy Dore
+8 # Radscal 2016-12-21 16:25
Right on. Ms. Power says, "It is extremely hard to get information, of course, out of the small area still held by the opposition."

Why is that? Oh, that's right, our "moderate rebels" kicked off their Syrian adventures by kidnapping and/or chopping the heads off of Western journalists.

This left a vacuum which has been filled only by Western-backed, pro-Jihadi propagandists.

Moon of Alabama wrote (another) excellent article exploring that with terrific links:
+24 # Salus Populi 2016-12-21 03:15
Has the Assad government decapitated Western hostages? Has it burned alive a captured pilot?

Has it executed a captured prisoner, then eaten his liver on television? Has it shot a twelve-year-old boy after convicting him of blasphemy for mentioning the name of Muhammad while refusing to give his hard-earned money to an older boy?

Has it hanged a six-year-old boy? Has it gassed its own constituents in order to create a false flag?

The opposition to Assad's regime has done all of this and more. According to WikiLeaks, this savage and merciless band of brigands was partially trained and developed by the U.S.; despite denials, overthrowing Assad to replace him with a more malleable, if clerical fascist, regime remains U.S. policy, and if allying with al-Qa'idah-affi liated forces is what it takes, then so be it.

Just a couple of years ago, Sen. McCain posed for a photo op with the leaders of the recently renamed Nusrah Front, which is essentially the Syrian branch of our CIA-trained terrorists, for the crime of supporting which brings one a long prison sentence for aiding our Official Enemy.

No one even suggested that McCain was guilty of that Class A felony; therefore we may take it as given that the top leadership of the U.S. has no compunctions about consorting with al-Qa'idah terrorists.

And why should they? The "terrorists" are doing the job they were created to do, namely destroying Israel's enemy Syria.
-15 # Salburger 2016-12-21 04:46
The hypocrisy is real enough, but when boardman claims the suffering in Yemen is worse he demonstrates his own biases
+11 # Majikman 2016-12-21 08:21
No, Salburger, YOU do.
-8 # Philothustra 2016-12-21 10:37
My goodness, look at aLL the thumbs down for pointing out the obvious. Deaths in the "Syrian civil war vary between 312,000 and 470,000." it is not really a civil war but a superpower struggle and Sunni-Shia religious fight; Yemen is a real civil war but its being played out by proxies (for Iran, US), and total deaths are in the area around 15,000 so far. The destruction of Aleppo alone, a consequence of a bungled US policy, is far worse.
The only real beneficiaries are Bibi and Putin; all the civilians are tragic human casualties. And anyone rootin' for Putin and his pal Trump is mad...
+6 # wrknight 2016-12-21 15:22
It started off as a civil war. Then a bunch of deluded, religious zealots saw the opportunity to take over and win the country for themselves. Then others, including U.S. politicians, saw the opportunity to make political points for themselves and turn what started off as a civil war into profits for the arms industry at taxpayer expense.
+7 # Radscal 2016-12-21 16:32
There was a legitimate opposition in Syria. They were played by the US State Department and US-sponsored NGOs who encouraged protests. Included in the protests were snipers who shot to death both unarmed police and the legitimate protesters.

Assad responded by sending armed forces in (which no doubt was the AAZ plan so as to rationalize their "civil war").

As early as 2012, the Pentagon estimated that 80% of the "rebels" were foreign invaders. So it appears this was never a "civil war."
+9 # WBoardman 2016-12-21 11:04
Salburger suggests it's a bias to consider Yemeni suffering
as greater than Aleppo suffering.

On a one-to-one basis, that is of course true,
there is no reasonable moral balance scale for suffering.

But a corollary of Salburger's charge is less tenable:
that the suffering in Aleppo (a city of 2 million once,
with a besieged civilian population not of maybe 60,000,
(Power's high end estimate) who are now getting out
is somehow equivalent
laying siege to a country of 28 million people
who have no escape, and no defense against
daily aerial bombardment.

The difference in scale is clear,
and the terms of the scale are set by Power's remarks.

Ultimately, it's a stupid argument.
since there's no moral basis for any of the killing.
+6 # Majikman 2016-12-21 17:46
What Salburger also fails to consider is that Israel is giving medical care to the Syrian "rebels", while the Yemenies haven't enough food, let alone medical care.
+15 # Anonymot 2016-12-21 05:58
Ah, the Middle East. In the beginning there were couples: Adam & Eve, God & Moses. They were swapped out for trios: Three Wise Men, Mohammed, Ali, & Abu Bakr.

In our time there are also trios (with many helpers as befits a Great Bureaucracy): Cheney, Rumsfeld, & Wolfowitz, then Hillary, Rice, & Powers.

Since it's Christmas and Chanuka time I wonder if our two trios couldn't join as a choir and sing the "Great Hymn To War" they have created. I'm sure Netanyahu would be happy to Direct and Brennan, Clapper, and Petraeus could be Page-turners.
+9 # pietheyn07 2016-12-21 08:04
"The fight is between Shia extremists and the more tolerant mixed society". Shouldn't that read "Sunni"?
+11 # wrknight 2016-12-21 09:01
I believe you are right that Boardman mistakenly said Shia extremists. The last I recall, Al Qaeda, ISIS and the others were Sunni.

But the point he makes is right on.
+8 # WBoardman 2016-12-21 12:03
pietheyn07 and wrknight are quite right.

Sunni they are.

The management regrets the error. ;-)))
+6 # WBoardman 2016-12-21 11:55
Philothustra changes the terms of comparison,
set by Power,
thereby responding to an argument that was not made.

Then there are Philothustra's dubious assertions:

* Syria "not really a civil war" ?? Really? Without the
underlying, initiating civil war, Syria doesn't get to
its present stage, which is way more complex
than just a superpower struggle.

• Iran has an interest in Yemen, but the blind assertion
that it's some sort of Iranian proxy war is a well-
established canard for which there is no credible

* Suggesting that Yemen is a proxy war for the US is
just as wrong, but in a different way – the US is a
participant in the war on Yemen, and has been since
the Saudi first strikes in March 2015.

Ancient civilizations are taking a beating in both Syria and Aleppo and having a preference for one over the other
seems morally obtuse.

Yemen remains largely incomprehensibl e without taking
into account the long history of Houthi independence and
resistance and unwillingness to be anybody's proxy.
+5 # harleysch 2016-12-21 13:06
Again, very important -- and necessary -- clarifications by Boardman. They are necessary because the major media keep repeating the lying "talking points" of the Obama administration and the CIA, which are following the pattern of lies initiated by the Bush-Cheney administration.
+5 # Majikman 2016-12-21 14:04
This report came out Dec 17 when Sryian army successfully routed ISIL from Alleppo:

Of course Power is screeching about Syrian atrocities.
+6 # Johnny 2016-12-21 14:20
A local rebellion? The mayhem in Syria began when snipers sponsored by the U.S., Israel, Turkey, and the Arab monarchies began killing police and demonstrators during street protests. The U.S., Israel, Turkey, and the Arab monarchies used the efforts of the legitimate government to stop the violence as a pretext for openly arming, training, and funding foreign terrorists and sending them into Syria to overthrow the legitimate government. Some "civil war."
+4 # Majikman 2016-12-21 18:20
And further reporting on the lying by our sorry ass, murderous government.

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