Obama’s War on Yemen
by Stephen Lendman
Iraq war rules of engagement (ROE) were explicit. They ordered killing every military-aged Iraqi on sight. Afghanistan policy is similar.
Drone wars reflect it. Baseless suspicion leaves innocent civilians vulnerable. Point and click death awaits them. There’s no place to hide.
Obama’s waging drone war on Yemen. He’s done so throughout his tenure. It’s largely under the radar. Hundreds have been indiscriminately killed. Media scoundrels virtually ignore it.
Predator drones are instruments of state terror. They sanitize killing on the cheap. Remote warriors work far from battlefields. Studies show most targets are innocent civilians.
A joint New York University/Stanford University report found only 2% of those killed were considered high-value. The dominant narrative’s false. Mostly noncombatants are killed. Firsthand evidence proves it.
Obama authorized stepped-up strikes on Yemen. Stars and Stripes is an official Defense Department publication. On August 7, it headlined “US authorizes drone attacks in Yemen after terrorism alert.”
Previous articles discussed it. So-called terror alerts are fake. Bush officials color-coded them. They did so to heighten fear. They lack credibility. Obama continues what Bush began.
Terror alerts are strategically timed. They distract. They change the subject. They try convincing Americans that NSA spying’s warranted. They divert attention from what matters most. They proliferate Big Lies.
According to Stars and Stripes:
“The Obama administration authorized a series of drone strikes in Yemen over the past 10 days as part of an effort to disrupt an al-Qaida terrorism plot that has forced the closure of American embassies around the world, US officials said.”
They “said the revived drone campaign – with five strikes in rapid succession – is directly related to intelligence indicating that al-Qaida’s leader has urged the group’s Yemen affiliate to attack Western targets.”
Officials acknowledged “no indication that senior al-Qaida operatives in Yemen have been killed in the drone strikes.”
Innocent civilians pay the price for Washington’s imperial lawlessness. CIA chief John Brennan calls targeted killings “legal, ethical and wise.”
Rule of law principles don’t matter. Advancing America’s imperium alone counts. Mass murder’s a small price to pay.
Yemen’s strategically located. It’s near the Horn of Africa. It’s on Saudi Arabia’s southern border, the Red Sea, its Bab el-Mandeb strait chokepoint, and Gulf of Aden connection to the Indian Ocean.
In May, Obama addressed Washington’s drone/counterterrorism policy. He did so at the National Defense University.
After he took office, he said, “we stepped up the war against Al Qaeda. We relentlessly targeted (its) leadership.” He lied calling drone use “heavily constrained.”
“Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured,” he said. Polar opposite is true.
New York Times editors praised him. They called his speech “the most important statement on counterterrorism since the 2001 attacks.”
“For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future.”
Obama’s words were hollow. Perpetual war is official US policy. Times editors support it. Don’t expect them to explain.
Obama lied claiming “(w)e unequivocally banned torture, affirmed our commitment to civilian courts, (and) worked to align our policies with the rule of law.”
Official US policy is “unequivocally” opposite. It’s more than ever so under Obama. He represents the worst of rogue leadership. He remains unaccountable. A previous article called impeaching him a national imperative.
He claims America “is still threatened by terrorists.” He omitted explaining they’re state-sponsored.
One’s cited are fake. They’re invented for strategic advantage. They’re pretexts to wage permanent direct and proxy wars. Yemen’s a prime target.
On August 12, Theology Professor Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite headlined “Drones in Yemen: Fear as foreign policy,” saying:
Obama “authorized stepped up drone attacks in Yemen.” He’s been “pound(ing) ‘suspected militants’â€¦for nearly two weeks.”
“At the same time, (he’s) preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on August 28.”
MLK deplored violence. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools,” he said.
“What might (he) say about drones and US foreign policy,” asked Thistlethwaite?
“(H)e might draw our attention to the relationship of violence and weakness, and the dangerous spiral these create,” she said.
He once wrote:
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.”
In other words, violence begets more of it. Wars assure new ones. An endless destructive cycle persists.
Stepped up drone attacks on Yemen encourage “the very thing it seeks to destroy,” said Thistlethwaite. Doing so is rooted in “weakness.”
“Tragically, our foreign policy seems driven more and more by this kind of reactive violence. The drone strikes in Yemen are part of a pattern of US response to perceived terror threats.”
It’s counterproductive, wrongheaded and lawless. Obama claims otherwise. He lied saying America’s wars are a “last resort.”
They’re launched when other alternatives have been exhausted, he claims. They’re waged in “self-defense.”
America’s a warrior nation. It’s always been one. Permanent war reflects official policy. Last resort/self-defense claims don’t wash.
Drone killings in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere “increase resentment and even rage against the United States,” said Thistlethwaite.
So do ground killings by US forces. They mobilize anti-American support. They create “future terrorist recruits.”
Just War theory requires conformity with philosophical, religious and political criteria.
It means abiding by rule of law principles. It involves moral obligations. It means prioritizing peace.
Drone wars are unconventional. They violate Just War theory, said Thistlethwaite. She quoted Yemeni activist Farea al-Muslimi saying:
“When there is a normal war, people can hide, or they can stay away from the military – they can make choices and be careful.”
“But when drones come, you just don’t know when you’ll be next. The fear is incredible.”
One of his earlier tweets said:
“Since the policy took effect, AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) has been successful as never before.”
“Those who have lost relatives to drone fire make up a whole new generation of AQAP recruits.”
In April, al-Muslimi told Senate Judiciary Committee members:
“I was torn between the great country that I know and love and the drone above my head that could not differentiate between me and some AQAP militant.”
“It was one of the most divisive and difficult feelings I have ever encountered.”
“It is the worst feeling I have ever had. I was devastated for days because I knew that the bombing in my village by the United States would empower militants.”
Thistlethwaite said Washington “exaggerate(s) (and) politicize(s) fear of terrorism.” Its drone policy “is based on weakness not strength.”
It’s “accelerating the very resentments and desire for revenge that fuel terrorism.”
It’s “profoundly morally corrupting for the people of a nation to buy an illusion of safety at the price of drilling fear into the people of other nations, the vast majority of whom are actually victims or at risk of being victims of terrorists.”
Americans are manipulated to live by fear. It’s fabricated for political advance.
Honoring MLK requires abiding what he stood for. He called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”
It’s the leading exponent of “deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.”
America “should immediately stop (all) drone attacks,” said Thistlethwaite.
It should “work cooperatively with other nations to build the networks of law enforcement, political engagement and respected justice systems that actually work to reduce the threat of terror.”
It should prioritize the opposite of official US policy. “Peace and real security will never be achieved by drones,” Thistlethwaite, added. Nor by permanent wars to advance America’s imperium.
Peace is its own reward. MLK was right saying “(w)e must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” There’s no in-between.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.