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The Ridiculous Hawkish Arguments for Supporting the War on Yemen

James Jay Carafano must assume [1] that his audience doesn’t know anything about the war on Yemen:

Instead of turning our back on Yemen, the U.S. should focus on ending the war.

If U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition were withdrawn, that would go a long way towards ending the war by making it much more difficult for the coalition to continue waging it. Carafano frames stopping U.S. support for wrecking Yemen as “turning our back on Yemen,” which is about as misleading as can be. The U.S. has been turning its back on the civilian population of Yemen for the last three years by aiding and abetting the governments that have been bombing and starving them. He notably omits any mention of the coalition’s commission of numerous war crimes against the civilian population. The plight of the civilian population created by the coalition blockade is likewise nowhere to be found. If the U.S. were no longer enabling coalition war crimes and collective punishment, that would be the first time in years that our government would be seriously paying attention to the plight of the people of Yemen.

Carafano writes:

America is there for a reason: to keep the region from falling apart. The collapse of any friendly regime there is bad for us.

The first part of this is debatable, but when applied to Yemen it is clearly not true. U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war has been contributing to the country’s fragmentation. The war is causing the country’s devastation and division, and by supporting it the U.S. is encouraging those outcomes. There is no “friendly regime” in Yemen to be defended.The Hadi government has no legitimacy in the eyes of most Yemenis and has virtually no support anywhere in the country, and the coalition’s goal of reimposing him on Yemen will never be reached.

Helping the Saudis and their allies to pummel and starve a country that has done nothing to us is what is bad for the U.S. In addition to making ourselves complicit in terrible crimes and famine, U.S. support for this war has created conditions in which Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local ISIS affiliate have been flourishing. Backing the Saudi-led war on Yemen is harmful to U.S. interests and a shameful blot on our national reputation.

Carafano gets something else profoundly wrong:


The greatest threats to Middle East stability and security are Iran and transnational Islamist terrorists groups, principally the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. And it is precisely these forces that are fueling the Yemen war.

That is undoubtedly what the Saudis and Emiratis would have us believe, but it is simply not true. In Yemen, these are not the greatest threats to security and stability. Iran’s involvement has been and remains limited, and it is a gross exaggeration to say that their involvement is what is “fueling the Yemen war” when the coalition’s role in keeping the war going is a hundred times greater. Jihadist groups are benefiting from the instability and upheaval created by the war, but they are not the driving forces behind it. AQAP and ISIS are exploiting the situation for their own ends, but the war continues because the coalition insists on continuing it. The longer that the U.S. provides them with military assistance, the longer it will be before they acknowledge that their intervention has failed.

Carafano makes another misleading statement:

If Congress forces the administration to abandon our allies, Tehran, Islamic State group and al-Qaida would feel emboldened and likely double-down on expanding the war.

There is no reason to think any of this is true. First, these governments aren’t really our allies, and calling them that creates the impression that we owe them something when we do not. AQAP and ISIS have gained strength since the coalition intervened because the Saudi-led war has diverted attention and resources away from combating them. When the Saudi-led war ends, those groups should have a harder time operating. Cutting off U.S. support does not risk “expanding the war” at all. On the contrary, it will pressure the coalition governments to curtail their interference in Yemen and create an opening for a diplomatic solution. It is telling that hawkish defenses of U.S. involvement in this war rely on thoroughly misrepresenting the nature of the conflict.

The U.S. absolutely should “drive the other players toward a peaceful political settlement.” The first step in doing that is to stop being a party to the war and to end our military backing for the governments that have done so much damage to the country.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "The Ridiculous Hawkish Arguments for Supporting the War on Yemen"

#1 Comment By A Friend Indeed On March 6, 2018 @ 11:10 pm

“America is there for a reason: to keep the region from falling apart. The collapse of any friendly regime there is bad for us.”

“Friendly regimes”? Is Carafano insane?

Who exactly are the “friendly regimes” in the Middle East? The Saudis are a disgusting, corrupt dictatorship. They have oil that we no longer need. Israel is a parasitical client state, militarily worthless, that specializes in ripping off the American taxpayer and involving us in its quarrels. Egypt is led by a torturing dictator who (like the Israelis) likes our money, but otherwise (also like the Israelis) spits in our face. Turkey is an ally, at least formally, but even Turkey is going its own way. Who’s left? Jordan? Maybe Tunisia?

In short, we have no friends in the Middle East. We have dependents, leeches, rivals, and enemies. Oh, and Jordan. And maybe Tunisia.

We shouldn’t have gotten involved over there in the first place, and it’s past time that we got out.

#2 Comment By BadZ On March 7, 2018 @ 6:36 am

This was also pretty shameless: “Putin would interpret an American withdrawal as a green light for additional Russian meddling — the type that Moscow has brought to the Syrian civil war.”

Not to defend Putin but Russia hasn’t been meddling, it’s been fighting, in its own interest and that of its ally. It was meddling, by the US, Turkey, Saudi & others which got the civil war started and has kept it going all this time.

#3 Comment By Zagros Parsi On March 7, 2018 @ 10:40 am

Love your article, honesty and humanity.

#4 Comment By b. On March 7, 2018 @ 3:34 pm

Carafano and the other claqueurs of the war profiteering classes does not deserve to be cited and discussed as if opinionating in good faith.

“The collapse of any friendly regime there is bad for us.”

Bill Lind has valuable insight to offer – whenever he steps away from the grievance choir for a moment. It is the collapse of any *stable* regime, however compliant or disobedient in the eyes of US impunitivism, that is bad for everybody, even the US. The US has for decades, especially since the elective invasion of Iraq, pursued an intentionally destabilizing global campaign to erode not only the sovereignty of dozens of nations but the very concept of territorial sovereignty under international law. In practice, this has led to the utter failure of “nation building” (to the point of ending profit opportunities of the nation-building contractors and the private partners aiming to strip-mine opened markets), and has increasingly become a premeditated “scorched earth” solution. The US is creating the very “arc of instability” that served as a pretext for its interventions.

We need to remember, and state clearly, that the Saudi-UAE invasion of Yemen provides perfect cover for our own concurrent US operations on the same territory of the same nation – operations that have involved warships, cluster munitions, drones, bombers and bombs, cruise missiles, kill teams and other ground troops, and that by themselves account for a significant number of civilian casualties and destabilizing acts of war in Yemen.

If MbS wasn’t already providing cover for all of this, why, we might well have to “incentivize” him.

Meanwhile, money and profits are up for UK and US war profiteers. Once MbS runs out of oil surplus, and Saudi Arabia becomes a failed state in its own right, our claqueurs of US impunitivism will quietly move on from arguing for escalation and support for the campaign to “save Yemen”, to an even more important – and profitable – crusade to “save Saudi Arabia.”

Is there any subscription-paying, advertising-targeted audience – actual readers – that demand to be fed this kind of swill, or are the corporate media no longer actually servicing anybody but the war profiteering elites that own them?

#5 Comment By Clyde Schechter On March 7, 2018 @ 11:55 pm

“It is telling that hawkish defenses of U.S. involvement in this war rely on thoroughly misrepresenting the nature of the conflict.”

Well, has there ever been any neocon policy that wasn’t built on a solid foundation of lies? I can’t think of any.