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Boardman writes: "Since March 2015, the US has supported Saudi Arabia and its allies in their criminal war of aggression against Yemen, committing daily war crimes, especially against civilians, who are now suffering a cholera epidemic with more than 400,000 victims. Cholera is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholera and has been weaponized by the US, Japan (in World War II), South Africa (under apartheid), Iraq (under Saddam), and other states."

Woman gives her daughter rehydration fluid at a cholera treatment center in Sanaa. (photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)
Woman gives her daughter rehydration fluid at a cholera treatment center in Sanaa. (photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)

Biological Warfare: US & Saudis Use Cholera to Kill Yemenis

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

29 July 17

Chemical/biological warfare is the term used to describe the use of chemical or biological agents as weapons to injure or kill humans, livestock, or plants. Chemical weapons are devices that use chemicals to inflict death or injury; biological weapons use pathogens or organisms that cause disease. Pathogens include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins (poisons produced by animals or plants).
Library of Congress, Science Reference Services

ince March 2015, the US has supported Saudi Arabia and its allies in their criminal war of aggression against Yemen, committing daily war crimes, especially against civilians, who are now suffering a cholera epidemic with more than 400,000 victims. Cholera is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholera and has been weaponized by the US, Japan (in World War II), South Africa (under apartheid), Iraq (under Saddam), and other states. To be most effective, cholera must be spread through water supplies. That’s what’s happening in Yemen now. More than two years of bombing has largely destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure, water and sewage systems are destroyed, hospitals and clinics are destroyed, and the population of about 25 million has almost no protection against the spread of cholera. The UN says Yemen’s cholera epidemic is “the largest ever recorded in any country in a single year since records began.”

This may not be literal biological warfare, but it is certainly biological warfare by other means. This is biological warfare in reality, if not in law. This is biological warfare in one of the world’s poorest countries, supported across two American administrations, with no sign of letting up. US slaughter of civilians has been ratcheting up in recent months, not only in Afghanistan but in places like Iraq (Mosul) and Syria (Raqqa). This is what empires do, especially as their authority begins to wane..

And in Yemen, the US continues to support and participate in this panoply of criminal acts with little objection from Congress, most news media, or the general public. Few seem to care about the deliberate spread of a toxin that affects mostly children and that “causes a person’s intestines to create massive amounts of fluid that then produces thin, grayish brown diarrhea.” Where treatment is unavailable or impossible, cholera can be lethal in a matter of days. As a NOVA program on bioterror put it, “because cholera is readily treated with proper medical attention, it is less likely to be used as an agent of terror in the United States.” And since rehydration is essential to recovery, cholera is most effectively deployed in a place like Yemen where the water and sewage systems have been bombed into a state of high lethality..

There are laws against all this, not that it matters much..

At present, 124 nations are member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC), established by international treaty (the Rome Statute) to have jurisdiction over the international crimes of aggression, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The United States is not among the member states, having signed the original treaty and then withdrawn its signature. Sudan, Israel, and Russia also signed the original treaty, then withdrew. Yemen voted in 2007 to ratify the treaty, then re-voted to retract ratification. There are 41 other countries, including India, Pakistan, Turkey, and China, that have rejected the treaty..

The US did not sign the war crimes treaty until December 31, 2000, when President Clinton was a lame duck who had not asked the Senate to ratify the treaty. On May 6, 2002, John R. Bolton, the Bush administration’s Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, communicated the US position to the UN. Here is the full text of the letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan:.

This is to inform you, in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000. The United States requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary’s status lists relating to this treaty..

There was a time when the US, lacking “legal obligations” not to commit war crimes, might still have felt some moral obligation not to do so (as well as the capacity to overcome it, for example, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Now our national interests, usually undefined, put us in the company of thuggish police states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait in their unprovoked, savagely genocidal assault on a defenseless Yemeni population whose Houthi minority had the effrontery to want to be left alone and was willing to fight for that right..

There was a time, before there was a United States, that this country fought for the same right. We’ve long since become a country that doesn’t want to leave anyone else alone. Now we have a president who demands complete personal loyalty, and who’s more than happy to molest anyone who even appears to fall short, which happens to include the majority of Americans. This can’t end well.

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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+22 # ReconFire 2017-07-29 23:44
I've served my country for 6 yrs., and served my local community for 15 yrs., but it's times like these that I'm ashamed to call myself an American.
What a disgrace this country has become.
-13 # SenorN 2017-07-30 00:56
What's happening in Yemen is a tragedy and a travesty, and in this article, Mr. Boardman rightly condemns our complicity in enabling the violence and in committing negligent manslaughter by not helping to stop the cholera epidemic.
It is, however, outrageous that he encourages the casual reader and those who want to believe the very worst about our country to conclude we are calculatedly using cholera as a weapon. Surely, terrorists can very effectively use the title of this article as a recruitment tool as they point out it was written by an American journalist. I suspect they won't bother parsing the fine points of Boardman's accusations...
+18 # Wally Jasper 2017-07-30 09:14
SenorN, I'm quite sure no one wants to believe that our country could be guilty of such atrocities. But our country isn't the country we want it to be. The sooner we start opening our eyes and realizing just how routinely the US has forsaken its supposed high ideals of justice and democracy, the more able we will be to take back our country from the evil-minded profiteers who run US policy and restore our national conscience and an adherence to values of goodness.
+14 # librarian1984 2017-07-30 10:38
What about the fact we fire depleted uranium as schrapnel from our tanks into civilan population centers? Is that accidental?

What about our drone killings, the 3-4 thousand civilians we've killed in the ME in the past year?

What about selling billions in arms to terrorist states like Saudi Arabia and Israel?

What about conducting extensive war games along Russia's borders?

What about abetting the neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine and the subsequent slaughter there?

How limber is your thinking? Can you justify all these policies and somehow say the US is a moral country that uses its might for good?

Terrorism is state business -- and business is booming. In the past decade we've killed millions of Iraqis, while al Qaeda and ISIS have killed about 20 thousand. What amateurs!

America is drenched in blood and you are an apologist for it.

I have an idea. Surely we can all agree that no one should profit from war, death, killing, mayhem and destruction. Right?

LET'S MAKE WAR NON-PROFIT. Then see how long it continues.
+4 # lfeuille 2017-07-30 12:24
Of course it's calculated. The government knows it is happening and doesn't do anything to stop it. We shouldn't be taking sides in the Sunni/Shite conflict in any case, but when the side we CHOSE to support, even though it is responsible for
training and abetting the worst terrorists in the Middle East engages in such reprehensible tactics and we don't cut off support to them, we (that is the government and those who support and apologize for it, not dissenters) are just as responsible as they are.
+2 # Salus Populi 2017-07-30 15:42
The "very worst" about our country has been abundantly proved in the past.

When Bush Sr. authorized Desert Storm, the U.S. deliberately bombed the water purification plants and other health infrastructure in Iraq as part of that war -- a crime against humanity, under international law.

The follow-up sanctions, the most severe in history, which included not only pencils for school children but chlorine for water purification, was denounced by two U.N. rapporteurs in a row as the reason for their resignations, as genocide pure and simple.

As for the U.S., the Progressive Magazine published internal documents leaked to it [this was before the internet and Wikileaks] dating from 1991-2, that specifically anticipated pandemics of various water-borne diseases, and discussed the only possible negative effects as being the likelihood that Saddam Hussein could uses that effectively biological warfare as propaganda against the U.S.; the memos advised that the U.S. should have prepared a counter narrative for use in that event.

No concern at all was expressed as to the possible fate of the Iraqi civilians suffering under Saddam's dictatorship; rather, the memos enthusiasticall y predicted up to a couple of hundred thousand deaths from the anticipated pandemics.

The U.S., like all other empires in history, has no compunctions whatsoever about using the most depraved weapons available against anyone who dares stand up to it.
+2 # WBoardman 2017-07-31 18:39
SenorN accepts that the US is "not helping to stop
the cholera epidemic" – true enough.

But it's worse than that, much much worse.

The US continues to participate in the civilian bombing that created and perpetuates the cholera epidemic.

The US continues to support the naval blockade that prevents Yemenis from escaping from the cholera epidemic.

The US, closely involved in selecting bombing targets, has done little or nothing to protect civilians or civilian infrastructure effectively.

The US, involved in planning and directing the bombing campaign from the beginning, may well have knowingly and deliberately participated in the war crimes that produced the cholera epidemic.

The US has done nothing to prevent the cholera epidemic, nothing to mitigate the cholera epidemic, nothing to condemn the tactics that produced and prolong the cholera epidemic.

Given that it is well known that severe disruption of water and sewage infrastructure create the conditions for cholera to flourish and spread, it is had to believe American planners were unaware of the biological warfare effects of their actions, but knowingly took the risk with Yemeni lives anyway.

Perhaps there is some other, less guilty explanation.
Perhaps they were incompetent and didn't know what they were doing.
Perhaps they were gullible and believed whatever the Saudis told them about not targeting civilians.
Perhaps they were just following orders....
+16 # HCantanhede 2017-07-30 08:24
Such a horrifying account. How so very Christian. And the world just watches it - or rather, has no idea of it, in the grip of a mass media that simply does not give any importance to human life.
+9 # jwb110 2017-07-30 12:31
There may be a much finer line between chemical warfare and genocide. In Yemen it looks like both.
+1 # trilemmaman 2017-08-03 20:45
At the heart of the problem is an international law system that has unenforceable laws. The system is based on the supremacy of nation states (national sovereignty) instead of protecting human was the great ideal in creating our nation (with an enforceable bill of rights). The Constitution didn't live up to that ideal until after the civil war and the civil rights a hundred years later. Even now it does not act as though human rights belong to those who are not US citizens. The UN must be reformed to put the rights of "We The people" ahead of the governments whims in over 200 different countries.

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