Paul O’Brien reviews the terrible conditions in Yemen and castigates the administration for its role in creating them:
The responsibility for Yemen’s descent into wanton destruction lies not with the United States, but with Yemen’s government in exile, the Houthis, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and other Yemeni political and military leaders; they are each pursuing their own short-sighted interests at the expense of an equitable and inclusive peace. But thanks to the U.S. government’s deep involvement in what many Yemenis call the “Saudi-American” military campaign, American hands are far from clean.
I agree with O’Brien’s call to halt U.S. support for the campaign and to pressure the coalition to lift its blockade on the country, but as he points out elsewhere in his article the administration hasn’t been inclined to do any of this. U.S. officials express their “concern” over the latest bombing of civilian targets or the growing humanitarian disaster engulfing the country, but then U.S. policy remains exactly the same as it has been since late March. As the U.S. has done since the campaign began, it voices alarm at the tactics used in a campaign for which it provides the arms, intelligence, and fuel and acts as if it is a mere spectator to the actions of its clients.
O’Brien is urging the administration to bring its actions in line with its largely empty rhetoric, and he’s right to do so, but it has become hard to miss that the administration’s feeble protests have been made to create the impression that the U.S. can’t be held responsible for the war it is enabling. As evidence of Saudi war crimes becomes harder to deny or ignore, the administration seems even less inclined to have an honest accounting of the war’s costs, which is why it acquiesced in Riyadh’s squelching of an independent investigation into war crimes in Yemen. It is correct to pin most of the responsibility for the war on the main belligerents, but insofar as the U.S. is making the Saudi-led campaign possible with its considerable support the U.S. has a significant share of the blame for wrecking Yemen.