What the War in Yemen says about Today’s Media
By Fatimah Alyaquob
Vietnam. What happened? Why didn’t the US win? There are obviously many reasons, but perhaps the main one is the people. The people stood up. Why did they stand up? Because the media stood up. When the media and the people come together, the world can be turned upside down. Again and again, the people were told by authorities that the US was succeeding in Vietnam, but images and videos shown by brave journalists suggested otherwise. It was during the Vietnam war that the media grew the potential to have more credibility than governmental officials.
So what happened to that credibility? Why does it seem as though the media has forgotten what their job is? Though the news might not be as “fake” as the American president loves to call it, it certainly isn’t completely accurate. The American people are thrown into an ocean of breaking news every single day, and the news which is displayed on people’s screens is the news they will give attention. When attention isn’t directed to areas of the world where innocent civilians are suffering, the journalistic media is not fulfilling its job.
The Yemen Civil War began in 2015 under the Obama administration. When Houthi rebels rose against their central government, the Saudis began a bombing campaign with the intention of defeating the rebels and restoring the Yemeni government. But it isn’t far from obvious that the targets of this military campaign aren’t exactly militaristic. In early August of 2018, the Saudi military bombed a school bus killing 51 people, 40 of them children. Earlier in 2018, a Yemeni market was bombed by the Saudis, killing 97 people. In 2016, a Yemini funeral was bombed, killing 140 people. If these incidents aren’t war crimes, then what is a war crime? It seems as though America has no place in this conflict, expect for the pressing factor of which country is the supplier of arms to the Saudis:The United States of America. The deaths from the bus, the market, the funeral, and many more were caused by US made bombs. If it were not for America, this war would not be nearly as destructive.
According to the United Nations, the world's worst humanitarian crisis is in Yemen. Country-wide mass starvation has hit, causing the one of the world’s worst famines. The country’s water treatment plants have been destroyed, leading to the world's largest cholera outbreak since records began. Mark Lowcock, the Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination of the UN declared, “the situation in Yemen right now looks like the apocalypse... Unless the situation changes we are going to have the world’s worst humanitarian disaster for fifty years”. This disaster would not be happening if it were not for U.S. involvement, yet this issue is barley covered in American media. And again and again, U.S. officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have stressed that all is well in Yemen.
The U.S. lost in Vietnam because the people knew the war was immoral, not because the government told them so, but because they saw that the war was immoral. The media has a responsibility to report on the issues that all people of the world face, otherwise destitute countries like Yemen will continue to lose lives of innocent civilians. History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes. The unfortunate case in Yemen is somewhat similar to what occured in Vietnam, but what is not similar is the response of the American media and the American people. The media must report unethical US actions to the public, and the public must protest injustice.