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U.S. Complicity in the War on Yemen

Sens. Murphy and Paul are continuing their effort to restrict arms sales to the Saudis:

“If you talk to Yemeni-Americans, they will tell you in Yemen this isn’t a Saudi bombing campaign, it’s a US bombing campaign,” Murphy said. “Every single civilian death inside Yemen is attributable to the United States. We accept that as a consequence of our participation.”

Murphy acknowledged he likely lacks the support to halt US involvement and said he is instead pressing Congress to exercise more oversight.

Murphy and Paul deserve credit for persisting in their effort to challenge U.S. support for the war on Yemen, and I appreciate Murphy’s willingness to talk about U.S. responsibility for the war’s destructive effects. Regrettably, his view that there isn’t much support in Congress for ending U.S. involvement in the campaign is correct. Increased oversight would be an improvement, but in the end without significant pressure on the administration to end its role in the war more oversight isn’t going to do very much. That pressure is lacking for any number of reasons, but the two biggest reasons are that so few people are even aware of U.S. involvement of the war and even fewer regard it as something that needs to be stopped.

The U.S. has enabled the Saudi-led war from the start, and has aided the coalition in pummeling and starving Yemen as the horrifying consequences of the intervention have steadily increased. No one in the administration really thinks the war can achieve its stated goals, but Obama backed the war anyway in a deeply misguided attempt to “reassure” bad client governments that the U.S. was still on their side. If anything has demonstrated why the U.S. shouldn’t be on their side, it is the way that they have acted in Yemen for the last fourteen months, but the Obama administration has made the U.S. thoroughly complicit in their actions. We can see clearly from this intervention and U.S. backing for it how destructive and corrupting the desire to indulge client states can be, and it should serve as a warning of the sort of atrocious and indefensible policies that the U.S. enables when it backs its reckless clients to the hilt.

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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