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The Yemen Catastrophe: Beset by Contradictions of Will and Intellect


The Yemen Catastrophe: Beset by Contradictions of Will and Intellect

Richard Falk

Any attempt to provide a coherent account of the political strife afflicting Yemen is bound to fail. The country is crucible of contradictions that defy normal categories of rational analysis. If we look beyond the political fog that envelops the conflict the tragic circumstances of acute suffering imposed on the civilian population do emerge with stark clarity. Long before the outbreak of civil warfare, Yemen was known to be the poorest country in the region, faced with looming food and water scarcities.


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Much of the world is awash in "media culture." When I studied screenwriting, I was taught that the key to a solid script is a simple story line. In it, usually a male would-be hero takes a journey, comes of age, or faces a challenge he must overcome. Opposing him is some enemy or oppositional force. As Robert Parry relentlessly informs, it is chiefly this type of storyline that drives so much of the mainstream media's narratives when it comes to foreign relations, foreign conflicts, and overall analyses of the general scheme of things.

As George Lakoff has painstakingly explained (nor is he alone in this field of endeavor), the human brain maps its own response networks and particular memes, words, and images trigger familiar, predictable reactions.

Today's spinmasters are not amateurs. If they don't study Neuro-linguistic programing, their benefactors have the funds to finance those who do. What's served up to the masses become storylines that are as easy to digest as fast food is to consume. Neither provides anything substantive in the way of nutritious food... or food for thought. But these simplistic narratives, touted often, are taken for what IS true. And when the story line features good guys (white hats) and bad buys (black hats), THAT becomes the orthodoxy most conform to.

It's very insidious and similar storylines (and cognitive frames) reinforce one another. They come from fundamentalist religious pulpits where Holy War posits that there is a team on "god's side," and another team that is evil and opposing it.

In sports, the team premise has become its own virtual religion. In my part of the nation, it's idolized through the Gator football team.

In advertising, it's brand name and as most of us realize, the advertising world now brands presidents and parties and that, too, is sold to the public through the prism of two teams.

Transcending these oppositional frames to actually grasp the big picture is rare in writers, journalists, analysts and most persons. But it's the only way to experience the holistic Truth.

In this paragraph, Mr. Falk hits on what Robert Parry often points out:

"What makes it even more difficult to make sense of developments in Yemen is the geopolitical tendency, as abetted by the media, to reduce incredibly complex national histories and the interplay of multiple contending forces to a simplistic story of Sunni versus Shia rivalry for the control of the country. Such a prism of interpretation, above all, allows Saudi Arabia to portray once again the strife in Yemen as another theater of the wider region proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies against Iran, which is a guaranteed way of securing U.S. and Israeli backing."

Mars rules (endless warfare) and disaster capitalism (the love of mammon over and above all else) both rely on another power: that of a fraudulent mass media endlessly emitting partial truths or no truth at all.


Add in the weapons contractors, the MIC, Monsanto, Big Pharma, Big Coal, Big Oil, and the banksters... and you've got A Plan.


"If considered more objectively we begin to understand that this sectarian optic obscures more than it reveals, and not accidentally."

Elegantly worded, Mr. Falk, as part of a beautifully nuanced analysis.

Mr. Falk also offers:

"Yet what seems clear is that much of the world is lulled to sleep, not taking the trouble to peer below this sectarian cover story."

I would propose that many feel like nurses inside trauma units these days. There is SO much pain and so much destruction and so many horrors that many of us feel impotent in the face of it all. What isn't happening through spreading war and warfare is often brought about through drought, floods, massive storms, and earthquakes.

I think there is a TRAUMA overload.

And on this:

"So while the West supports the Saudi fight against the Shia Houthis at the same time it does its best to weaken their most formidable domestic opposition, and in the process further alienates the Yemeni civilian population by its military tactics, which recruits more extremists committed to fighting against this second form of external intervention that finds no basis in international law and enjoys the tacit support of the UN Security Council."

It's a grave tragedy that most nations on that UN Security Council are major arms suppliers. And in this global economic downturn, the financially elite players are not interested in giving up the one cash cow that keeps on giving: weapons.

Years ago I taught junior high (and high) school English literature and I would read aloud from the famous story, "The Most Dangerous Game." (I think that was its name... memory falters.) The premise is that a wealthy man goes to a remote island and any boaters so unfortunate as to land on his shores become HIS great game. He hunts them down. In his mind, animals are not bright enough and therefore not much of a challenge.

The Saudi kings and other rich tyrants seem to harbor this same mental disease. I think their purchase of billions of dollars in weaponry inclines them to locate human targets for their "practice." In my mind, that's what Yemen constitutes to these sociopaths in high places.

Lastly, thank you for giving a damn about your (poorest) fellow man, Mr. Falk. Not enough journalists do!


Indeed... but it is a media-contrived state. Life has always had its dangers but, especially for those between Canada and Mexico, the real dangers are relatively normal.

It's just too convenient to those in power that everyone be very very frightened about whatever seems most plausible... the Taliban invading DisneyLand or whatever. The Republican race-to-the-bottom is a macabre demonstration of the principle. Everyone from Obama to hard-working law-abiding immigrants are pure evil beings, dedicated to turning the entire nation into hell on Earth. Does one laugh or cry? How long till war is declared on Martian terrorists now that they've discovered more about water up there?


This analysis of the situation in Yemen is probably one of the best I have read to date. Falk makes a passing reference to a solution that seems to be emerging in a number of situations globally: a quilt of tribal or ethnically distinct sovereign nations whose allegiance is to the well being of their own people as opposed to supporting a self-serving regime dedicated to extracting wealth until the entire nation collapses from internal rot. This is the fallacy of the "nation-state" paradigm westerners are so infatuated with--that somehow it presents the only viable alternative to governance. There are plenty of examples demonstrating the weakness of the underlying argument, that without powerful nation states humanity is doomed to continuous conflicts among small power bases struggling for primacy. Right here in the US, Native Americans are claiming their right to operate as sovereign states and seem to be perfectly capable of collaborating with each other to pursue common interests.


I could not disagree more. Are you perchance another climate change cum chaos denier equipped with the rhetoric that "there have always been droughts and storms"? What part of a newly activated ring of fire do you not get? And that ring of fire works as a fit metaphor for the contagious spread of wars.

While one might say that there have always--at least on patriarchy's 4000 year "watch"--been wars, the premise uttered during W.W. II was that the nations of the world would learn from the madness NEVER to go to war again.

With Iraq likely suffering over one million casualties and probably 4 million turned into refugees, and with Syria's death toll probably exceeding 250,000 and emitting millions of refugees, and Libya's govt. infrastructure collapsed, and Yemen's a "failed state" with 80% hunger rate, and Goddess knows how many killed by "accurate drone targeting" in Afghanistan, you ACT as if this kind of carnage is ordinary.

Things ARE awful.

The monthly toll of floods, fires--ones defined as the worst ever seen by professional firefighters, drought, massive storms, added to the ravages of warfare, added to the inequities of a global financial system run FOR the 1%... amounts to phenomenal suffering. Much of it artificially produced by BAD actors who have corrupted otherwise potentially workable govt. systems.

You seem to suffer from an empathy deficit in the way you've sought to diminish the value of my position and all of the evidence in support of it. But like I have long asserted, MOST who post here during workday hours are on payroll to do so and their opinions are as artificially constructed as are those messages relayed 24/7 across the corporately captured media, a focal facet of the military-industrial-MEDIA complex.


See how it works? It keeps people from agreeing and coming together.

Any idiot knows that climate change is beginning to bite and no one is advocating complacency on that or any other front. But panic is not constructive and I am surprised if you cannot see that, how and why that is exactly what the powers that be want to sow.


If Dr. Falk is reading these comments, I would ask whether he can think of a way to create "regime change" in Saudia. From everything I've read, arRasul (saaws) would not recognise Wahhabiism as a legitimate species of Islam.