Trump said a lot of harmful and dangerous things in this U.N. speech today, but it is also worth noting the things that he chose to leave out. Many observers have already pointed out how the worsening crisis in Myanmar and the military’s large-scale ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya didn’t rate a mention in the speech, but then I suppose Trump wouldn’t have anything constructive to say about the violent mass expulsion of a Muslim population in any case. The most obvious omission in the speech was also the most predictable: Trump said nothing about the Saudi-led war on Yemen or its role in causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and when he did mention Yemen at one point it was perversely to claim credit for providing humanitarian aid for the catastrophe that our government has helped create.
There was no attempt to justify ongoing U.S. support for the war, and there wasn’t even any acknowledgment that the Saudi-led war effort was happening. Trump’s enthusiasm for the Saudi relationship means that he isn’t going to call attention to the disaster the Saudis and their allies have created with our help, and the only other time he referred to Yemen was to use it to criticize Iran. Iran is faulted for supposedly fueling “Yemen’s civil war,” which exaggerates their involvement, but there is no mention of the Saudi-led coalition’s role in escalating the conflict and wrecking the country for over two years. It is a given that the Saudis and Iranians are judged by two very different standards by this administration, but emphasizing the minimal Iranian role in Yemen while completely ignoring the massive, devastating role that the Saudis and their allies (and the U.S.) have had is as bad as it gets. As usual, those most responsible for the suffering of the people of Yemen weren’t held responsible, the war on Yemen was ignored, and Trump’s Iran obsession won out.