Home/Daniel Larison/McCain and Graham’s Despicable Defense of the War on Yemen

McCain and Graham’s Despicable Defense of the War on Yemen

S.K.Vemmer/Department of State

The speeches in the Senate on the Paul-Murphy resolution of disapproval of the latest arms sale to Saudi Arabia were instructive in showing how thoroughly dishonest some supporters of the arms deal are willing to be. The worst offenders were John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who ranted and raved about the dangers of blocking arms sales to the Saudis and mostly tried to make the debate about Iran’s role in the region. McCain incredibly described the Saudis as a “nation under attack” because of incursions into Saudi territory that were provoked by the Saudi-led bombing campaign. Graham portrayed the Saudis as victims of Yemeni “aggression,” which has everything completely and obviously backwards. It requires swallowing Saudi propaganda whole to argue that the Saudis and their allies have been acting in self-defense, and that is what McCain and Graham tried to do. Both repeatedly asserted that the Houthis are Iranian proxies when the best evidence suggests that Iran’s role in the conflict has always been negligible, and then justified their complete indifference to the consequences of the Saudi-led war by complaining about Iranian behavior elsewhere. Needless to say, the humanitarian crisis brought on by the Saudi-led bombing campaign and blockade never once came up in their remarks, but I’m sure if they ever do mention it they’ll blame it on Iran somehow.

It doesn’t surprise me that McCain and Graham are taking the Saudis’ side in this. They complained that the U.S. wasn’t doing enough to help the Saudis when the bombing campaign began, and McCain is on record several times offering sickening defenses of Saudi behavior. The lie that Iran is a major player in Yemen’s conflict allows McCain and others like him to distract attention from the governments most responsible for wrecking Yemen, and it gives them a way to shift blame and avoid addressing the reality that U.S. clients are committing war crimes with active U.S. backing. Then again, what would we expect from John “Thank God for the Saudis” McCain and his sidekick?

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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