5-20: Yemen and the Mushroom Shaped Cloud

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Proliferation of WMDs

Russ Wellen, authored a recent piece on America’s siding with Saudi Arabia in Yemen’s civil war. His blog claims that he “has long been puzzled by a national security strategy on the part of a superpower such as the United States that leaves tens of millions of its own citizens at risk of dying in a nuclear attack.” Here are some affiliations he has that may interest you. “Wellen edits the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points. He also holds down the “Nukes and Other WMDs” desk for the Faster Times. In addition, he’s associate editor of Scholars & Rogues.” My kind of guy.

Why Yemen?

Wellen discusses–questions, really–why America was so quick to offer military aid to Saudi in their interference in the civil war going on in Yemen. He specifically mentions drones, and quotes from colleague Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy) thus: “make no mistake, the United States is a combatant in this intervention.” Zenko continues:

U.S.-operated drones are supplying targeting intelligence to Saudi forces in Yemen, which goes well beyond the definition of logistics and intelligence….In addition the U.S. is providing aerial refueling for Saudi fighter aircraft.

Wellen concludes: ” as always, it’s the civilians who bear the brunt of U.S. efforts to keep Iran in its place.” What is Iran’s place? Is it not a sovereign nation? Although it meddles militarily in internal affairs in other Muslim countries, I can’t think of a time that Iran has actually declared war on any country. Maybe the Crusades? What is Iran’s place?

Iran is situated along side Iraq and Saudi Arabia. That makes three oil rich countries in tandem. Among the three America is in cahoots with Saudi, which places Iraq and Iran in a close tie for last place in American eyes.

Why Saudi Arabia?

That’s easy. Although the price of oil varies, as do all commodities, Saudi at least attempts to keep it stable. That’s one. I’m not really sure which is more important, but number two, our friends the Saudis purchase billions and billions of dollars worth of military stuff from us every year. That keeps scores of congresspeople and thousands and thousands of Americans who work in the defense industry happy.

Today Saudi Arabia is using made-in-America bombers to destroy targets in Yemen. At the risk of sounding cynical, the more bombs they drop, the more bombs they have to buy. The more planes they fly, the more spare parts they need. Saudi Arabia is a huge trading partner with the United States.

Mushroom Cloud

There is a folk song from the 1950s that still bears relevance. “The Merry Minuet” names countries that do not like each other (then)–one can change the countries and the song remains relevant. The moral of the satire is that, if perpetual hostility remains the norm, then nuclear annihilation will be the conclusion.

There’s rioting in Africa / There’s strife in Iran. / There’s hurricanes in Florida / And Texas needs rain. /

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls / The French hate the Germans / The Germans hate the Poles. / Italians hate Yugoslavs / South Africans hate the Dutch. / And I don’t like anybody very much.

But we can be happy and tranquil and proud / ’cause man’s been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud. / And we can be certain / That some lovely day // Someone will set the spark off / And we will all be blown away.

Has the world changed much since then? I don’t think so. I think it has gotten worse. Has war changed? I think so. It has gotten worse. During wars gone by, soldiers fought soldiers and soldiers died. Today ground troops engage ground troops and soldiers die. But aerial and missile warfare has changed the face of war.

The statistics in the following article are from 2014 (http://www.rt.com), but they are indicative of the incredible numbers of civilian deaths in modern wars.

The number of civilians killed in Iraq in 2014 doubled from 9,743 in 2013, while compared to 2012, the number has grown nearly four times, Iraq Body Count reports.

“These numbers do not include combatant deaths, which even by the most cautious tallies have also seen a sharp rise in 2014,”

Last year’s is the highest death toll since 2006-07, and IBC links it to the rise of Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL) as a major force in the conflict, the Iraqi military response and the bombing campaign by US and coalition air forces.

Iraq Body Counts’ estimates:

Baghdad: 4,767 deaths

Anbar: 3,623 deaths

Salak Al Din: 2,550 deaths

Ninewa: 2,367 deaths

Baghdad has become the deadliest Iraqi city for civilians, where 4,767 civilians have been killed in violence. In Anbar province the death toll reached 3,600 with half of them – 1,748 people – being victims of the Iraqi military daily air strikes, the report says.

And that’s just Iraq, to which Peter, Paul, and Mary would ask:

How many deaths will it take ’til we know / That too many people have died?


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