The Enduring Shame of Two Years of U.S. Support for the War on Yemen
This weekend will be the second anniversary of the start of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, and it has been even more disastrous and harmful than opponents feared it would be:
The United Nations warned this month that Yemen represents “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”
As it usually does, outside intervention in Yemen’s local conflict greatly intensified and prolonged the war. It has also caused enormous suffering for the civilian population through an indiscriminate bombing campaign and the systematic devastation of the country’s economy and infrastructure. The war and the coalition blockade have predictably produced a horrific humanitarian crisis that now threatens to claim the lives of millions of people if nothing is done to prevent famine. The failure of the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led intervention was both likely and foreseeable from the start: the coalition was pursuing highly ambitious and unrealistic political goals, but lacked the means to achieve them. After two years of senseless carnage and destruction, the coalition has clearly failed in all of its stated goals, and the only thing it has accomplished is to ruin Yemen and starve its people.
Throughout this disgraceful campaign, the U.S. has been unstinting in its assistance as the Saudis and their allies destroy their poorer neighbor. No American interest has been served by this, and none could be, since the people being targeted by the coalition’s bombs and blockade have never done anything to us and posed no threat to us. The U.S. has enabled a shameful and atrocious war, and it has all been for nothing. Worse still, the U.S. did this despite having no obligation to aid any of the governments waging this war. This was not something that our government was bound by treaty to do, but something that the previous and current administrations have chosen to do because they could.
The Saudi-led war on Yemen has always been indefensible and unjust because it was always much more likely to cause greater evils than it prevented (it and has caused some truly great evils), and it was always unnecessary. It has also proved to be a disastrous miscalculation by the Saudis and their allies, who are frittering away their resources on a war they can’t win but are too embarrassed to quit. Far from countering a serious threat to Saudi security, the intervention has created one by triggering retaliatory strikes inside Saudi territory. The Saudis didn’t face an “existential threat” from Yemen, but plunged recklessly into a war without considering the pitfalls of intervention, and the U.S. stupidly helped them to do that. Uncritically backing our reckless clients leads to disaster for the clients and enduring shame for us, and millions of innocent civilians are paying the price so that our government can “reassure” a few despots and indulge their paranoia.