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The War on Yemen and Trump’s Iran Obsession

Matt Purple comments [1] on Trump’s backing for the Saudi-led war on Yemen and the benefits that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula reaps from it:

I doubt Donald Trump swept into the Oval Office hell-bent on making Yemen suffer; more likely is his advisors counseled him poorly and ahead he went. Washington’s foreign policy establishment is as error-prone and subject to groupthink as ever. Trump should ignore the gurus who have been wrong about so much and extract America from this dirty and shameful war. Prostrating ourselves before Saudi Arabia isn’t worth giving a leg up to our enemies.

I’m sure Trump has been badly advised in this matter, but the larger problem is that he has accepted a dangerously false view of the conflict that makes him think that he is hurting Iran by helping the Saudi-led coalition to wreck Yemen. As I feared, Trump and his advisers wrongly see the war on Yemen as an effort to combat Iranian influence. This is the lie that the Saudis have been telling for two years, and it is the propaganda line that so many in Washington are only too eager to endorse. Despite the fact that the Houthis are not actually Iran’s proxy [2] and receive only minimal support from Tehran, Trump seems to buy [3] into this falsehood wholeheartedly. That betrays both his ignorance about the conflict and his willingness to blame Iran for anything in the region that they don’t like. The obsession with Iran is leading the U.S. to continue its support for an atrocious and unnecessary war that now endangers the lives of millions of people. That is not just a fluke or the result of happening to heed some bad advice, but the product of bipartisan acceptance of dishonest Saudi framing of the conflict and a dangerous fixation on Iran and its supposed “expansionism.” Lousy analysis from the last few years years that Iran has been “on the march” in the region has helped pave the way for opportunistic and cynical client states to take advantage of our exceedingly gullible political leaders, and that has led to our government’s disgraceful support for the wrecking and starving of Yemen.

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3 Comments To "The War on Yemen and Trump’s Iran Obsession"

#1 Comment By Free Michigander On March 16, 2017 @ 6:50 pm

There’s no doubt that the interventionists are Bush IIing Trump. They’re accomplished puppeteers, they studied him closely in the primaries, and they figured out how to push his buttons. The strategy seems to be to stampede him into as many irrevocable commitments as possible before his instinct of self-preservation kicks in. Yemen is an example, and a very unfortunate one.

Of course I also thought Bush II had good instincts but was led astray. In retrospect I think it’s closer to 50/50 because of Bush II’s personal weaknesses.

Unfortunately Trump has many of those same weaknesses. But there’s reason to have more faith in Trump over the long term than Bush II. Trump demonstrated a fearlessness, an imperviousness that Bush II never had. He needs to temper that with a lot more knowledge and wisdom than we’ve seen so far, but that’s no reason to give up on him. At least he hasn’t been like the hapless, clueless Obama, who hired Hillary right out of the gate.

It’s the first year of his presidency. We haven’t even seen mayflies yet.

#2 Comment By rayray On March 16, 2017 @ 7:41 pm

@Free Michigander
The idea that Trump is fearless is only relevant if there is reason or principle behind the fearlessness, rather than blind ignorance.

And he is outrageously unlikely to ever gain the knowledge and wisdom of which you speak, (if hasn’t deigned to get a whit of it by 70 years old it’s not likely to occur now), so we will be stuck with his “fearlessness”.

“Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.”

#3 Comment By peanut On March 17, 2017 @ 6:35 am

“There’s no doubt that the interventionists are Bush IIing Trump. They’re accomplished puppeteers, they studied him closely in the primaries, and they figured out how to push his buttons. The strategy seems to be to stampede him into as many irrevocable commitments as possible before his instinct of self-preservation kicks in. Yemen is an example, and a very unfortunate one.

Of course I also thought Bush II had good instincts but was led astray. In retrospect I think it’s closer to 50/50 because of Bush II’s personal weaknesses.”

The tsar is so good, it’s just the officials that lead him astray!