There is no way around it: legally and morally, the Government of the United States is an accessory to crimes against humanity, or if you prefer, war crimes.
Of course, the war is not ours; it’s the one being promulgated in Yemen by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
There are various intervening entities like the Saudi and Emirati Air Forces that serve as “cut-outs” disconnecting America from the bombing that has killed, by UN estimate, more than 500 Yemeni children in the past year alone.
But the disconnection is bogus. Many of the Yemeni kids were killed by bombs made and supplied by the United States, dropped from US-made planes refueled by American air tankers, and guided in part by intelligence supplied by Americans.
For that crime alone, Virginia Gamba, the U.N. Special Representative for children abused in wartime, wants to put Saudi Arabia on an official shaming list of countries that wantonly kill and maim children. Ms. Gamba wanted to list the Saudis a year ago when their air attacks were killing and maiming at a slightly lower rate than this year. But then-Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon wouldn’t allow it.
Ban was cowed by the Saudi threat to pull back all their aid to the UN if their deeds were so displayed. Now, the new Secretary General Antonio Guterres is facing both the old threats, Virginia Gamba’s public denunciation and the Saudis’ potential withdrawal of hundreds of millions of dollars in UN contributions.
You know what? I’d bet President Trump would threaten to do the same if Ms. Gamba named the USA as an accessory. She should anyway.
According to legal definitions, an “accessory” is “one who aids or contributes to a crime. One who, without being present at the commission of an offense, becomes guilty of such offense, not as a chief actor, but as a participant.”
Arming, advising, guiding and providing logistical support to the Saudi coalition attacking Yemen would seem to qualify our country as an accessory.
And not just in killing kids by bombing them. The US has supported the Saudis closure of Yemen’s main civilian airport and the naval blockade that has all but shut down Yemen’s main northern port of Hodeidah.
The effects of these policies are: the sick and injured can’t get out, and food and medicine can’t get in. Both of the latter are desperately needed.
Food? The UN estimates 7 million people in Yemen are currently threatened by famine. 2.2 million children have been diagnosed as acutely malnourished.
Medicine: the Saudi war has made millions of Yemenis sick. Among the targets of the Saudi and Emirati warplanes have been hospitals and clinics, and among the “collateral casualties” has been the Yemeni infrastructure, especially water and sewer systems. Their effective obliteration has loosed the worst cholera outbreak in recorded history. In four months since April, an estimated half a million people in Yemen have been infected.
The combination — widespread acute malnutrition and a virulent cholera epidemic — could lift the child-death-count in Yemen from many hundreds to hundreds of thousands, or even, say doctors from the World Health Organization, a million or more. Accessorize that!
And this: in Southern Yemen, as part of a US-led campaign to exterminate the Yemeni-based terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Emiratis have set up a system of prisons with torture chambers.
American intelligence agents are often allowed to interrogate prisoners. According to a well-documented investigation led by AP Cairo Correspondent Maggie Michael, torture never begins till the Americans leave the room.
Does this mean they don’t know what’s going on? No way, says Michael. The physical signs of torture are too unmistakable.
As the law says, accessories are guilty of the crime whether or not they are present at its commission.
The US Government quite rightly holds Russia responsible for every crime it enables Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to commit. Anybody got a mirror?
This Coming Week on Here & There: Civil War in Yemen, Not Enough Water in the San Luis Valley, and a Religious Cult’s Pattern of Abuse.
Maggie Michael’s gripping reportage from Yemen begins our HERE & THERE week on Monday. On Tuesday, a much happier story, told by University of Colorado environmental scholar Kelsey Cody, about how water shortages in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado have taught people to work together to share water and power.
Wednesday is a Santa Fe City Council meeting day so no H&T, but Thursday we return with Mitch Weiss, AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and a follow-up to his original story of how the Word of Faith Fellowship cult exploits and virtually imprisons its converts.
Mitch’s new story reveals how the Word of Faith Fellowship has been luring young Brazilians to their base in North Carolina and making them economic slaves as well as virtual prisoners. This time Mitch has fired up the Feds as well as state and local authorities to think seriously about prosecutions.
Welcoming back our resident artist, Amy (The Mongolian Traveler) Marash