The Trump administration is increasing U.S. military assistance to the Saudi coalition as its members launch an attack on the port of Hodeidah that is sure to be a disaster for the civilian population:

The U.S. military is providing its Gulf allies with intelligence to fine-tune their list of airstrike targets in Yemen’s most important port, one sign of the Trump administration’s deepening role in a looming assault that the United Nations says could trigger a massive humanitarian crisis.

The administration is defending this as a way “to minimize the number of civilian casualties and the harm to critical infrastructure,” but this can’t be taken seriously. This is how support for the Saudi coalition is always justified, and it is never borne out in how the coalition wages its war. The U.S. enables the coalition bombing campaign, and in so doing it makes it possible for the coalition to kill many more Yemeni civilians and commit many more war crimes. The U.S. isn’t just “reluctantly” going along with this attack. Our government is actively aiding in its execution.

The right and only way to minimize civilian casualties and harm to critical infrastructure in this situation is to oppose the coalition attack on Yemen’s major port. The U.S. government won’t oppose the attack, and instead it is looking for ways to help the coalition carry it out. Feigning concern for civilian casualties when you have already signed off on an operation that could claim as many as 250,000 lives in and around Hodeidah is not credible. The previous U.S. line was that attacking Hodeidah was unacceptable because of the devastation it would cause to Yemen’s civilian population. It was the only thing that the U.S. had told the coalition it would absolutely not tolerate, and now the Trump administration is throwing its support behind the offensive.

Scott Paul from Oxfam issued a warning earlier this week, and he concluded it this way:

A clear statement of opposition to the attack – naming the objective and singling out the UAE and its national forces – is the bare minimum we should expect.

The coming weeks will require the international community to be resolved for peace and all Yemeni parties to show the kind of flexibility and compassion for Yemenis that they have manifestly failed to demonstrate to this point. But we will learn sooner – perhaps even in the next few days – whether the US chooses to stand in the way of catastrophe or quietly enable it.

The U.S. will not only fail to meet the bare minimum standard Paul sets, but it has clearly decided that it will enable another catastrophe on top of the three years of enabling coalition crimes and abuses in Yemen.

Like the indefensible war of which it is a part, this attack cannot be justified. Attacking Hodeidah jeopardizes the lives of millions of Yemenis. It will result in the death and displacement of hundreds of thousands, and it will push many hundreds of thousands more into famine and death. We are on the eve of one of the greatest crimes committed in this century, and the U.S. is aiding and abetting the perpetrators.

The justification for going along with the attack is as insulting as one would expect:

“It’s a waste of time to point blank stop this operation without offering an alternative,” said Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute. “If somebody told the US in 2003, don’t go to Baghdad, what would we have said?”

In fact, many other governments warned the U.S. not to go to Baghdad and not to invade Iraq at all, and the administration at the time told them to jump off a cliff. Citing that example is not an argument for launching a similarly criminal and immoral attack, nor is it a valid excuse for acquiescing in the new crime. If our allies had been able to prevent the Iraq war, the U.S., the region, and the world would all have been better off. The U.S. is in a position to prevent its so-called “allies” from doing something horrible and reckless, and it ought to prevent it for the sake of the people of Yemen, for our own sake, and even for the sake of these reckless clients. Unfortunately, the Trump administration would rather condemn hundreds of thousands of people to die than offend its friends in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.