Home/Daniel Larison/The War on Yemen and the ‘Self-Defense’ Lie

The War on Yemen and the ‘Self-Defense’ Lie

Western officials never seem to get tired of repeating transparent lies on behalf of Saudi Arabia:

Britain’s defence secretary said that Saudi Arabia was “simply defending itself” by bombing Yemen in a military campaign that has killed thousands of civilians and brought millions more to the brink of famine.

The claim that Saudi Arabia is “simply defending itself” by attacking Yemen is utter nonsense, and it is easily exposed as such. The Saudis and their allies were not being threatened from Yemen by the Houthis or anyone else when they initiated their bombing campaign and blockade against the country. There were no attacks on Saudi territory that warranted retaliation, nor were there attacks on any other member of the coalition. The coalition was organized with the express purpose of reimposing a discredited, unpopular leader on the country after he had been forced from power. From the start, the Saudi-led war was an aggressive campaign waged against the bulk of the population of Yemen by a group of outside governments. It was only after the Saudis and their allies began pummeling and starving Yemen that Yemenis began launching attacks into Saudi territory. The only people defending themselves in this war are Yemenis. The Saudi-led coalition has been and continues to be the aggressor, and the U.S. and Britain have enabled them in their aggression.

Fallon’s lie on behalf of the Saudis is much the same as the one then-Secretary Kerry told last year, and in both cases they are able to get away with making such plainly false statements to the press because the conflict is so rarely covered and so poorly understood in the U.S. and Britain. If our governments can get people in the U.S. and Britain to believe that they are helping the Saudis “simply defend” themselves, they can deflect attention from the war crimes the coalition has committed the and humanitarian crisis that the intervention has done so much to cause. It is important to understand that the “self-defense” justification for the war on Yemen is a lie, and the governments that repeat that lie are doing so to cover up for their own shameful enabling of an atrocious war.

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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