It’s not that war was ever a civilized enterprise. The very nature of it is mass murder. But modern high-tech bombing capabilities really bring it home that in war, nothing is sacred. There are international laws like the Geneva Conventions that mandate limits on military conduct but no judicial body that actually prosecutes offenders, at least any from the major military offenders like the US, NATO, Israel, Syria, Russia, Pakistan, India, the Saudi Arabian coalition in Yemen.
It’s routine to commit war crimes like bombing ambulances, hospitals, residential areas, market areas, mosques, children playing, wedding parties, schools—& it’s just as routine for a UN investigation to find that human rights & war crimes “may have been” committed. A war crimes tribunal can’t do much with equivocations.
Yesterday, fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition–armed by the UK & given logistical support by the US–made repeated bombing passes over a community center in Sana’a, Yemen, where a funeral wake was being held. The death toll isn’t final but so far 140 mourners were bombed to death & over 550 were injured. Hospitals were so overwhelmed that media broadcast appeals for all off-duty doctors to come help. Bodies were charred, shredded, dismembered beyond recognition—including those of children. Bombing doesn’t make massacres less grotesque but only more efficient.
The US said it was “deeply disturbed” by the airstrike & “may” consider cutting its support to the Saudi-led bombing which has gone on since March 2015. The US spokesperson says they’ll initiate an immediate review & adjust their support to accord with “US principles, values, & interests.” Like the US principles employed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, or those they bankroll for Israel in Gaza? Does that mean the US will stop bombing ambulances, hospitals, wedding parties, mosques, schools in those countries?
When asked about the bombing massacre, a Saudi coalition official denied carrying it out & attributed it to “other causes.” Like evil fairies from outer space? Here the Saudis are borrowing from the handbook of Obama who proclaimed an end to the Iraq war whilst deploying thousands of troops & mercenaries there. They’re also imitating Assadists who repeatedly insist Russia & Syria are not carpet bombing cities but that the damage is done by missiles from “US-backed head-chopping jihadists.” According to their Assad apologetics, Russia didn’t bomb that UN aid convoy; “jihadists” did.
Many who support Syrian & Russian bombing of Syrian civilians are denouncing the US & Saudi coalition for the massacre in Yemen. As they should. Now if they can just generalize their opposition to militarism & understand that bombing civilians to smithereens is never going to be recognized as a method for human liberation from tyranny.
Photo is the community center where the wake was held. Is such violence acceptable in Aleppo though not in Sana’a?
Our deepest regrets to the people of Yemen that the international antiwar movement is too divided & too weak to stay the hand of US, UK, & Saudi coalition militarism.
(Photo by Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images)