Home/Daniel Larison/The War on Yemen and Trump’s Iran Obsession

The War on Yemen and Trump’s Iran Obsession

Matt Purple comments on Trump’s backing for the Saudi-led war on Yemen and the benefits that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula reaps from it:

I doubt Donald Trump swept into the Oval Office hell-bent on making Yemen suffer; more likely is his advisors counseled him poorly and ahead he went. Washington’s foreign policy establishment is as error-prone and subject to groupthink as ever. Trump should ignore the gurus who have been wrong about so much and extract America from this dirty and shameful war. Prostrating ourselves before Saudi Arabia isn’t worth giving a leg up to our enemies.

I’m sure Trump has been badly advised in this matter, but the larger problem is that he has accepted a dangerously false view of the conflict that makes him think that he is hurting Iran by helping the Saudi-led coalition to wreck Yemen. As I feared, Trump and his advisers wrongly see the war on Yemen as an effort to combat Iranian influence. This is the lie that the Saudis have been telling for two years, and it is the propaganda line that so many in Washington are only too eager to endorse. Despite the fact that the Houthis are not actually Iran’s proxy and receive only minimal support from Tehran, Trump seems to buy into this falsehood wholeheartedly. That betrays both his ignorance about the conflict and his willingness to blame Iran for anything in the region that they don’t like. The obsession with Iran is leading the U.S. to continue its support for an atrocious and unnecessary war that now endangers the lives of millions of people. That is not just a fluke or the result of happening to heed some bad advice, but the product of bipartisan acceptance of dishonest Saudi framing of the conflict and a dangerous fixation on Iran and its supposed “expansionism.” Lousy analysis from the last few years years that Iran has been “on the march” in the region has helped pave the way for opportunistic and cynical client states to take advantage of our exceedingly gullible political leaders, and that has led to our government’s disgraceful support for the wrecking and starving of Yemen.

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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