Home/Daniel Larison/The Iran Obsession and the Despicable War on Yemen

The Iran Obsession and the Despicable War on Yemen

Mohamad Bazzi comments on the role of the Trump administration’s Iran obsession in continuing its support for the Saudi coalition war on Yemen:

Blinded by its obsession with Iran, the Trump administration is perpetuating an unwinnable war and undermining the likelihood of a political settlement.

As I have been saying for well over a year, the administration’s Iran obsession poisons everything. Treating Iran as the source and cause of all the region’s woes isn’t just shoddy analysis, but it also becomes a rationalization for lots of terrible policy decisions that have serious costs for the U.S. and for the other countries involved. We are seeing that happen with the administration’s Syria policy, and we have been seeing it in Yemen for the last twenty months. Trying to blame Iran for the conflict in Yemen is wrong as a matter of fact, but that naturally hasn’t stopped the administration from casting blame on a government that has very little to do with the war there while whitewashing the abuses and crimes of the governments that the administration arms and supports.

Iran’s role in Yemen has been minimal all along, but Trump administration officials have made a point of exaggerating it and focusing on it to the exclusion of almost everything else. The fixation on Iran is unfortunate for several reasons. It promotes serious misunderstanding about the causes of the war and who is responsible for Yemen’s current plight. It distracts attention from the governments that are regularly committing war crimes against the civilian population. Finally, and most damning of all, it treats Yemeni civilians as expendable pawns in a quarrel with Iran that has nothing to do with them or their country. Helping to destroy and starve Yemen in a vain effort to combat Iranian “expansionism” is one of the most perverse and despicable policies of our time, and it is all the more so because there is no such expansionism to oppose. Even if there were, it wouldn’t justify what our government is helping the Saudi coalition do to Yemen, but the fact that there isn’t makes the policy that much worse.

Since the Trump administration isn’t going to do anything to rein in the Saudis and Emiratis, Bazzi concludes that Congress will have to do it:

The only realistic check left is in Congress, where more voices are asking why the world’s most powerful country is helping to perpetuate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

That’s right, and that is why the House needs to pass H.Con.Res. 138 as soon as possible.

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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