War drums are beating in response to an attack on Saudi Arabian oil fields by Iran. Although, Yemen’s Houthi Rebel faction has claimed responsibility. The United States and Saudi Arabia have not explicitly blamed Iran—who backs the Houthi Rebels—but they do claim that it was Iranian weapons and an Iranian launch point, although they have neither offered up any evidence for this nor have they determined the exact launch point.
And yet, a fact that is entirely ignored by the mainstream media is this: Saudi Arabia is responsible for the wholesale slaughter and starvation of the people of Yemen. So why is it that we only care when Saudi Arabia’s oil fields are attacked by the Yemeni Houthi Rebel faction?
The simple answer is that oil prices will go up. The complicated answer has to do with Middle East regional power struggles—something most Americans are not inclined to listen, let alone understand.
It was Saudi led and backed airstrikes that have driven so many men, women, and children to the brink of starvation. The war in Yemen has been called tantamount to genocide. But like so many genocides, there is much lip service regarding what we could or could not do but never even the moral courage to use the title.
The title of genocide—after all—carries weight. The kind of weight that demands action; action not useful or desirable to super powers. That is why when genocide was happening in Rwanda during the ’90s, there were careful semantical games played by the Clinton Administration in order to avoid describing it as genocide or ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, 800,000 Tutsis died at the hands of their Hutu neighbors in 100 days.
One of the defining moments of the late 20th century was UN soldiers standing and watching as Serbian troops separated Croat men from the women and children in order to kill them. Another stain on the less-than-prestigious record of the UN’s response to genocide and mass slaughter.
There are many more examples of this but I only have the space to name a few. There was the US-backed mass killings of civilians in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the genocide of 80,000 people in East Timor, Darfur, the Rohingya genocide which is still ongoing, and the list goes on.
The point is that when genocide, human rights violations or any other kind of terrible, unforgivable atrocities are being committed under our watch, the United States does not intervene unless there is some kind of benefit. And the so-called justification of the invasion of Iraq should make very clear that if foreign intervention is at all beneficial to anybody, it certainly does neither the people of the country we are acting on behalf of nor the American people any good.
It is the depressing reality that international politics really just boils down to money, resources, and interests. There are no friends in international politics. But that doesn’t mean that we have to sit back and watch the horror unfold.
One of the best things we can do is be skeptical of slanted coverage and understand that there is a history here that existed long before those oil fields were burning and will continue long after they are extinguished.