Home/Daniel Larison/The U.S. Should Halt Its Support for the War on Yemen

The U.S. Should Halt Its Support for the War on Yemen

Ibrahem Qasim/Flickr: air strike in Sana'a, May 2015

Emma Ashford once again urges the Obama administration to halt its support for the war on Yemen:

In his last few months in office, President Obama should take advantage of his executive power to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen, and direct America’s diplomats to aggressively pursue a diplomatic settlement. This war is humanitarian disaster and a strategic failure; ending our support for it should be a no-brainer.

Ashford is absolutely right. I couldn’t agree more that Obama should withdraw the support he’s provided to the Saudis and their allies. The intervention has had predictably disastrous results, and there is growing evidence that the Saudis and their allies are likely guilty of committing crimes against humanity in Yemen. The U.S. should have never had any part in this conflict, and it should stop its involvement immediately. Unfortunately, there is no sign that the administration is interested in doing this.

As Ashford pointed out at our conference last fall, U.S. support for the war on Yemen is one of Washington’s latest misguided attempts to “reassure” the Gulf clients that the U.S. is on their side. U.S. officials keep recommitting the U.S. to this path with their effusive praise of the clients that are inflicting death and devastation on their poorer neighbor. When Secretary Kerry boasts just last month that “we have made it clear that we stand with our friends in Saudi Arabia,” that doesn’t leave any ambiguity about what the U.S. position on this war will continue to be.

Sen. Murphy described this position a bit more in his important speechlast week:

But in the wake of the Iran nuclear agreement, there are many in Congress who would have the United States double down in our support for the Saudi side of this fight in places like Yemen and Syria, simply because Saudi Arabia is our named friend, and Iran is our named enemy.

But as Murphy goes on to say, it is a serious mistake to “blindly back” the Saudis, especially when it means supporting their most destructive behavior. The problem is that Murphy is virtually alone in Congress in his willingness to say so publicly. Halting support for the Saudi-led war is a “no-brainer.” Regrettably, most members of Congress would rather have the U.S. back a failed intervention that is displacing millions and causing near-famine conditions for millions more than risk offending the Saudis and the other Gulf states fighting there. Because of a foolish desire to placate despotic clients, the U.S. has put itself in the absurd position of catering to their whims and subordinating our interests to theirs. That needs to stop, but I fear Obama has no intention of stopping it.

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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