The U.S. Can and Must End the War on Yemen
William Burns calls on the president to end the war on Yemen:
There is, however, one war that Trump can still help end. The war in Yemen may seem distant to most Americans, but its humanitarian and strategic consequences are enormous.
The United Nations has called the situation in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than 3 million Yemenis have been displaced, nearly a quarter of a million have been killed and more than 15 million are at risk of famine. The conflict has contributed to the worst cholera outbreak in modern history, and it’s getting worse by the day.
Burns is right that the Trump administration could bring the war to an end. The U.S. has the leverage to push the Saudis and their allies to halt their campaign, if the administration were willing to use it. That has been true for the better part of three years under Trump, just as it was true under Obama before that. It would be the right thing to do for U.S. interests and for the people of Yemen. It would extricate the U.S. from an atrocious war that it has been illegally involved in for more than four and a half years, and it would help to halt a conflict that has cast Yemen into the abyss. Ending the war on Yemen would also reduce regional tensions significantly. Most important of all, it would create an opening to avert widespread starvation and to combat the country’s massive cholera epidemic.
In Yemen, there will be no grand victory parades or the kind of summitry that often animates Trump’s diplomacy, but ending the war there is both the right and smart thing to do for the United States and for the region. We should seize this opportunity.
Unfortunately, as we all know only too well, the president is not interested in doing the right and smart thing. He is determined not to end U.S. involvement and he refuses to cut off the arms sales and other military assistance that keep the war going. Congress tried to force him to do this several times earlier this year, and every time he has sided with the Saudi coalition by vetoing Congress’ resolutions. It is telling that the one war that Trump could end fairly easily is the one that he refuses to stop. The war on Yemen is one that most Americans oppose, and most members of Congress have voted repeatedly to end U.S. involvement in it, and it is the one that the president has defended no matter what.
Congress must keep pressing the president to end U.S. support for the war any way that they can. The U.S. is a party to the conflict, and our government is responsible for helping to fuel the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. That responsibility has to be acknowledged, and the U.S. needs to do what it can to repair the damage that it has caused.