Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Rubio and the War on Yemen

Rubio backs the war on Yemen, and his only objection is that the U.S. is not more deeply involved in it.

A.J. Delgado lists the many places where Marco Rubio wants the U.S. to intervene for the current issue of TAC:

But wait, there’s more! Fifth is Yemen, where he’s also advocated intervention. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Rubio suggested that U.S. support for a fight against Shi’ite rebels there should not only include “U.S. logistical and air support” but “I think ultimately you could embed Special Operations Forces.”

Rubio’s support for a larger role U.S. role in the war on Yemen is in some respects the most revealing and damning position he has taken during his four years in the Senate. U.S. backing for this war is probably the most indefensible thing that the current administration has ever done, so naturally Rubio thinks it is a good idea. The biggest problem Rubio has with Obama’s policy is that he has not offered the Saudis enough assistance as they batter and starve an entire country. Rubio backs the unnecessary and atrocious Saudi-led war on Yemen, and his only objection is that the U.S. is not more deeply involved in it. Just as he did during the Libyan war, Rubio sees nothing wrong in helping to wreck another country and destabilize the surrounding region. The only difference if he were president is that more Americans would be put at risk in the process.

Like many hawks and neoconservatives, Rubio likes to emphasize the importance of “values” in his foreign policy arguments. His position on the war on Yemen is valuable in showing us how meaningless that rhetoric is. He likes to say that “moral clarity” is one of the “pillars” of his “doctrine,” but he has nothing critical to say when an abusive authoritarian U.S. client attacks a neighboring country and imposes a blockade that has been starving the civilian population of basic necessities and which is now creating famine conditions. That is what the proponents of “moral clarity” support in practice.

It’s worth adding here that Rubio’s Yemen position is different from that of most other members of Congress only in that he is eager to express his approval of the Saudis’ disastrous intervention while the rest are content to say nothing. Unlike most of his colleagues, Rubio is genuinely obsessed with foreign policy issues and has extraordinarily hawkish views about most of them, so there is no question that we would have an even more overactive foreign policy if he were somehow to be elected. Today he wants more U.S. involvement in Yemen, but tomorrow there will be another conflict that he will also think the U.S. “must” join in the name of “leadership,” and none of will have anything to do with the security of the United States. That’s the promise of Rubio’s “new American century.”