In the real-life version, nobody in this country knows where Yemen is located or even cares. In fact, before seeing all of the good the United States is performing in Yemen (thanks to the award winning journalism of 60 Minutes), almost no American had ever even heard of Yemen.
The Nov. 9 editorial “The crisis in Yemen” called attention to the effect of Saudi Arabia’s blockade on famine in Yemen. It mentioned the lack of media attention to the Yemeni tragedy, which includes “the fastest-growing cholera epidemic ever recorded” and “the world’s biggest food emergency.” It said that Saudi Arabia bears heavy responsibility for the crisis for its “ruthless but unwinnable war.” But it did not mention direct U.S. military complicity in this long and pointless campaign.
In addition to selling a vast arsenal of weapons to Saudi Arabia, our government’s military gave logistical guidance in the Saudi military headquarters in Riyadh and continues to provide intelligence to Saudi defense officials and aerial refueling during bombing runs. The Saudi-led coalition could not have conducted the two and a half years of bombing without the support of our military. In recent years, our military has carried out innumerable raids on the terrorist group al-Qaeda in Yemen, but al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have taken advantage of the Saudi-led campaign to seize territory and expand their activities in the Arabian Peninsula. There is a move afoot in the House and the Senate to end U.S. involvement in this tragic war. It is time to pass legislation to end it.
... "reveals that U.S. military forces were directly responsible for about 10 to 15 million deaths during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the two Iraq Wars. The Korean War also includes Chinese deaths while the Vietnam War also includes fatalities in Cambodia and Laos.
The American public probably is not aware of these numbers and knows even less about the proxy wars for which the United States is also responsible. In the latter wars there were between nine and 14 million deaths in Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sudan.
But the victims are not just from big nations or one part of the world. The remaining deaths were in smaller ones which constitute over half the total number of nations. Virtually all parts of the world have been the target of U.S. intervention.
The overall conclusion reached is that the United States most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in wars and conflicts scattered over the world.
To the families and friends of these victims it makes little difference whether the causes were U.S. military action, proxy military forces, the provision of U.S. military supplies or advisors, or other ways, such as economic pressures applied by our nation. They had to make decisions about other things such as finding lost loved ones, whether to become refugees, and how to survive.
Correspondent Scott Pelley's segment, "When Food Is Used as a Weapon," employed excellent on-the-ground reporting to highlight the famine and bombing victims of Saudi Arabia's brutal two-and-a-half year siege of Yemen. But its editors betrayed this reporting -- and their viewers -- by stripping the conflict of any geopolitical context, and letting one of its largest backers, the United States government, entirely off the hook.
As FAIR has previously noted (10/14/16, 2/27/17), US media frequently ignore the Pentagon's role in the conflict altogether. Pelly did not once note that the US assists Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign with logistical support, refueling and the selling of arms to the tune of $400 billion. The US also routinely protects Saudi Arabia at the UN from condemnation -- a shield that may have vastly prolonged the war, given that it signals the support of the most powerful country on Earth.
Meanwhile, Iran's involvement in the conflict -- which, even by the most paranoid estimates, is far less than the United States' -- is placed front and center as one side of the "war." The conflict is framed in hackneyed "Sunni vs Shia" terms, with Saudi Arabia un-ironically called the "leader of the Sunni world" and Iran the "leader of the Shia world." A reductionist narrative that omits that Sunnis have fought alongside the Houthis, and the fact that Saudi bombs kill members of the marginalized, mostly Sunni Muhamasheen caste, who are neither "led" by Saudi Arabia nor part of the "Shia world."
This cartoon dichotomy is the extent of the context. Saudi Arabia is rightly singled out as the primary aggressor (though a dubious comparative body count of 3,000 killed by Saudis vs. 1,000 by Houthis is proffered that is far lower than the UN's January 2017 estimates of 10,000 total civilians killed), but who the Saudis' primary patrons are -- the United States and Britain (and Canada, too) -- is simply not mentioned. One would think, watching Pelley's report, it was a purely regional conflict, and not one sanctioned and armed by major Western superpowers to counter "Iranian aggression."
To compound the obfuscation, 60 Minutes doesn't just omit the US role in the war, it paints the US as a savior rescuing its victims. The hero of the piece is American David Beasley, the director of the UN's World Food Programme, the organization coordinating humanitarian aid. "The US is [the World Food Programme]'s biggest donor, so the director is most often an American. Beasley was once governor of South Carolina," Pelly narrates over B-roll hero shots of Beasley overseeing food distribution.
Beasley, in his sit-down interview, bends over backwards to downplay Saudi responsibility, insisting at every turn that "all parties" are to blame:
"You see it's chaos, it's starvation, it's hunger, and it's unnecessary conflict, strictly man-made. All parties involved in this conflict have their hands guilty, the hands are dirty. All parties."
The spin that the crisis is the fault of "all parties" is understandable from a US-funded de facto diplomat, charged with providing some cover for a major regional ally. But the premise that "all parties" are causing the famine is never challenged by Pelley. It's taken as fact, and the piece moves on.
It's part of a broader trend of erasing American responsibility for the conflict and resulting humanitarian disaster. The Washington Post ran an editorial last week (11/8/17) and an explainer piece Saturday (11/19/17) detailing the carnage in Yemen, neither one of which bothered to mention US involvement. American complicity in the war is so broad in scope, it merited a warning last year from the US's own State Department they could be liable for war crimes -- yet it hardly merits a mention in major media accounts. The war just is, a collective moral failing on the part of "all parties" -- irrational sectarian Muslims lost in a pat "cycle of violence" caricature.
As momentum builds in Congress, animated by grassroots anti-war activists, to push back against the war and hold US lawmakers accountable, how the US contributes to the death and disease in the Arabian peninsula is of urgent political import. By erasing the US role in the war, CBS producers obscure for viewers the most effective way they can end the war: by pressuring their own lawmakers to stop supporting it. Instead, viewers are left with what filmmaker Adam Curtis calls "Oh, dearism": the act of feeling distressed but ultimately helpless in the face of mindless cruelty -- perpetrated, conveniently, by everyone but us.