December 14, 2018
REAL NEWS

I spent many years in journalism, from the Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald to the Washington Post. And for the many years since I’ve continued to read the papers nearly every day. I don’t remember ever coming across a better specimen of reporting than the one from which the following excerpts come. I hope they will lead you to the full text here.

Jeffrey E. Stern's essay is a masterpiece of journalism, beautifully written and desperately needed --- particularly by that majority of Americans who have not yet grasped the point that we are the most warlike nation on earth. Do pass it along to your friends, to your congressman. Even to your “president,” for all the good that would do.

In 2015, the United States sent an aircraft carrier, a guided-missile cruiser and seven other warships to help the Saudis enforce the blockade. As the Saudis began running sorties into Yemen, United States Central Command began flying American Stratotankers on refueling missions every day, until last month, allowing Saudi jets to loiter in the sky for longer in search of targets, rather than having to plan strikes in advance. Perhaps most crucial, America has sold the Saudis billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech weapons to help them counter Iranian influence to their south....

Jagged pieces of bomb flew thousands of miles per hour outward, and Rabee’a — still celebrating his success — was almost fully decapitated. The top half of his face was removed, leaving just an open lower jaw; the heat of the blast burned most of his clothes off and charred his skin, so he was left naked, his genitals exposed, his body actually smoking. Next to him, his cousin Al-Qadi, the judge, was burning alive, his blood vessels expelling water and his body inflating. He began to scream....

Dr. Abotaleb has seen his own son. Just 20 years old, he was brought to the hospital blackened almost beyond recognition, after the car he was in was hit by an airstrike. Abotaleb found some grace in the severity of the burns — as he operated, he was able to imagine that the young man wasn’t his son. The illusion fell apart when he saw a scar he recognized on the patient’s big toe. Abotaleb couldn’t save him. He operated on his own brother, hit in a different strike, one that killed his other brother and his father, too. So now Abotaleb tries to banish feeling when he’s at work. He thinks of it as making his heart like stone. And when he’s done, he goes home and cries with his surviving children....

That morning in September 2016, when he arrived at the emergency department, he found the corridors lined with dying patients and desperate family members from a different airstrike, one that happened closer by in Sana. People yelled for him as he walked by, trying to hold his attention. Abotaleb tries to resist these appeals. He tries instead to focus on the patients he has a chance of saving. He does not count on miracles; even miracles require equipment, and because of the American-backed blockade, he was running low on pretty much every critical resource and diagnostic tool that a normal hospital needs to function, let alone one that sees regular mass-casualty events from bombs designed to dismember people hundreds of yards in every direction....

When the Saudis buy weapons, they prefer to use the Foreign Military Sales program (F.M.S.), meaning that the United States Department of Defense serves as their broker. For a 2 percent administrative fee tacked on to the purchase price, the Pentagon handles the logistics and liaises with the private companies to fulfill the order. F.M.S., the mission of which is to “strengthen the security of the U.S. and promote world peace,” is actually overseen by the State Department, which reviews all requests....

Fahd moved his head closer, and then my hand was against his face, and I could feel hard bits of metal rolling around beneath the cartilage of his jaw. He guided my hand up to his temple, where some misshapen thing slid around beneath the skin, as if trying to escape my fingers. He pulled his eyelid down to show where the steel still was. And it struck me that this was a surreal way to encounter American ordnance, at the end of journey that began in the American Southwest and brought it all the way here, in this remote part of a desperately poor country, to the face of a man who, for just a moment two years and one month ago, thought he had something to celebrate.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at December 14, 2018 07:13 PM
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Don't good intentions count for at least a little something? Trump may have been told by his advisers that Isis will conquer the whole Moslem world/Middle East if we don't stop them in Yemen (or wherever).

Posted by: Liberati on December 16, 2018 6:26 PM

Uh, Liberati? I do hope your comment about good intentions was merely sarcasm.

I don't mind it much when good intentions pave the road to hell. But when body parts — bloody, broken, and shredded — are attached to those intentions, it's another matter. Those intentions should be taken and firmly pounded up the rectum of the President who permits them to continue.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on December 17, 2018 10:13 PM
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