The Pathetic US Response to the Latest Saudi Massacre

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The U.S. response to the massacre of dozens of children and other civilians earlier today was predictably feeble:

The U.S. State Department called on Thursday for the Saudi-led coalition to investigate reported air strikes in Yemen that killed dozens of people, including children.

“We are certainly concerned about the reports that there was an attack that resulted in the deaths of civilians. We call on the Saudi-led coalition to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a press briefing.

Any investigation conducted by the Saudi coalition into this attack will be neither thorough nor transparent. There is no point in calling for an inquiry by the perpetrators of the crime. We already know that they will determine that they did nothing wrong. We know this because the coalition governments always find that their pilots did nothing wrong, and if that weren’t enough the Saudi king offers blanket pardons for any crimes that his forces might commit in Yemen. Coalition forces know that they won’t be punished by their own governments if they commit crimes against Yemeni civilians, and their governments know that Washington won’t penalize them, either. The Trump administration can’t even muster pro forma condemnation of the senseless slaughter of schoolchildren, so they certainly have no intention of pressuring the coalition to scale back its bombing campaign.

The Saudis and their allies have strenuously opposed independent, international investigations into war crimes committed by all sides for years. They know that an independent inquiry would expose them as serial violators of international law. The administration feigns concern about these violations, but does nothing to hold the coalition governments accountable for their crimes because our government is complicit in the commission of those crimes. That leaves it up to Congress and the public to challenge and end our indefensible policy in Yemen.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.