Many of you have heard about the stunning archaeological site in Yemen found by a German team that gives us three ancient altars from Lehi’s day bearing the name of the Nihm tribe, close to the ideal site proposed for the ancient place name Nahom (1 Nephi 16:34). The lands of the Nihm tribe, sometimes spelled Nehem, to this day are still in that general region, around 25 miles northeast of Sanaa, the capital. This is a place I would love to visit, and I hope many of you share that desire.
Sadly, precious few have been there. I can only recall one person apart from a Yemeni friend in Hong Kong who has traveled to Yemen, and that would be Warren Aston who did field work in Yemen and Oman in his quest for knowledge about Lehi’s Trail. Warren Aston is the author of the best book I’ve read relating to external evidences for the Book of Mormon, Lehi and Sariah in Arabia. (Related to that is the best DVD: Lehi in Arabia, a must-see documentary.)
Mormons ought to be highly interested in Yemen and its peoples, including the Nihm tribe. I’d love to go there, but right now travel is impossible. Yemen has become a dangerous place in recent years with civil war and heavy bombing from one of our putative allies, Saudi Arabia.
Saudia Arabia just imposed a blockade on entry points to Yemen that has cut off badly needed humanitarian aid. Without outside help, the war-torn country faces starvation. As reported in the New York Times, Mark Lowcock, the UN’s coordinator of humanitarian aid, Yemen could face a disaster in which millions die unless external aid is provided. The EU’s commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that Yemen “is suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than two-thirds of its population in need of humanitarian assistance.” Stunning.
Feeding the “Military-Industrial Swamplex“
Michael Krieger, a Wall Street finance guy who became disgusted with the industry and quit, now blogging at Liberty Blitzkrieg, called my attention to the disaster in Yemen and to our role there as well, through our good buds in Saudi Arabia. Our role? What could our role possibly be? Michael delicately puts it this way in his recent post on Yemen:
What we’re looking at here is potentially the worst famine in decades, and it’s important for decent U.S. citizens from across the political spectrum to admit our government’s hands are soaked in blood.
Soaked in blood? I’m afraid he has a point. He backs it in part with this quote from The Intercept:
Saudi Arabia relies heavily on the U.S. military for intelligence sharing, refueling flights for coalition warplanes, and the transfer of American-made cluster bombs, rockets, and other munitions used against targets in Yemen.
Congress, however, has never authorized U.S. support for the war, which has caused 10,000 civilian deaths and has spiraled in recent months into one of the worst humanitarian crises of the century. For two years, Saudi Arabia and its allies have imposed a sea and air blockade around Yemen. Now, more than 7 million Yemenis face starvation and thousands, mostly children, are dying from cholera. Coalition warplanes have repeatedly struck crowded markets, hospitals, power plants, and other civilian targets.
Several members of Congress indicated an interest in the issue, noting that the Obama and Trump administrations’ reliance on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force [AUMF] to justify U.S. involvement in the conflict is absurd. That authorization, after all, was designed to fight the terrorist groups responsible for the September 11 attacks, not to intervene in Yemen’s civil war.
For 16 years, the executive branch has pointed to the AUMF as legal justification for its involvement in conflicts across the Middle East and Africa, a strategy that is legally questionable. But the use of the AUMF in the Yemeni context is especially bizarre given that the AUMF’s target is Al Qaeda, and the group AQAP — Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – is fighting alongside the U.S.-Saudi coalition against the Houthi rebels.
For those of you who thought we were draining the swamp, we’ve just shuffled a few swamp creatures while continuing on the same warlike course we grew numb to during the daily bombings around the world under the Obama Administration and during the assaults on other nations during the Bush years.
As one of my good friends put it when I once dared to criticize our invasion of and endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., “at least we were doing something about the problem of terrorism!” Indeed.
And now we are once again truly doing something about the problem of terrorism, though perhaps a tad more counterintuitive in appearance, by joining forces with the one nation most directly linked to 9/11 whom we provide with weapons and never, ever invade, and by simultaneously joining forces with Al Qaeda (!) to help carpet bomb civilians in Yemen. Please don’t confuse a lack of patriotism with my discomfort with the Military-Industrial Swamplex. (Hey, I like that phrase! You heard it first here.) One can love a spouse but dislike the cancer taking his or her life. You don’t have to love and feed the cancer. In fact, the loving thing, the patriotic thing, is to excise it or do whatever possible to curtail its growth. Some of you thought we’d be draining the swamp in Washington. So sorry about that delusion!
As a patriotic American who lives his country and believes the Constitution should be followed and was a relatively inspired and precious document that could help preserve our liberty and rights if followed, I think it’s time we get out of selling weapons to the Saudis, get out of giving weapons and support to terrorist groups (who often start as apparent allies in the first place and then use our weapons against our real or putative allies and eventually against us), get out of being the world’s policeman when we can’t even tell good guys from bad anymore, and immediately find ways to get aid to Yemen.
This graph from the Washington Post shows the explosive growth of weapon sales to the Saudis:
Krieger on the Liberty Blitzkrieg site points out that we are involved in a clearly unconstitutional and illegal war effort in Yemen that has killed many thousands and could soon result in millions dying. But our elected officials — your Congressmen — have been largely silent. They don’t want to even discuss this. Give it a try and let me know what you experience! Watch the video on Michael’s site for a preview of what you might encounter.
As reported in the Washington Post, “The shameless arms supplies to Saudi Arabia … may amount to lucrative trade deals, but the U.K. risks aiding and abetting these terrible crimes,” said James Lynch, head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International. Lucrative for the winners, devastating for the people being carpet bombed and now starved.
Yemen should matter to Congress, but it doesn’t. But if it matters to you, we can change that. Let’s change that now.
Let’s stop aiding the carpet bombers of Yemen. Let’s quit flooding the world with weapons. Let’s get aid to Yemen. And may we, in a short while, be able to visit and maybe even strengthen that precious land and its more precious people.