Trump’s Saudi First Foreign Policy Strikes Again

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Trump administration bows before the Saudis once more over the war on Yemen:

The US has “slammed the brakes on” a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a limited ceasefire and increased humanitarian aid in Yemen over concerns about angering Saudi Arabia, two sources tell CNN.

One source familiar with the negotiations over the resolution tells CNN the US “has slammed the brakes on,” saying that “we can’t support a resolution at the moment.”

U.S. policy in Yemen has been dictated by Saudi and Emirati preferences for years, but Trump and his administration have taken this disgraceful subservience to new lows since he came to office. Trump’s outrageous Saudi propaganda statement from last week confirmed that he would happily lie to defend Saudi Arabia from any and all criticism, and now he is shielding them from international scrutiny and pressure at the U.N. He is not just serving as a Saudi mouthpiece, but acts as their lackey as well.

The draft resolution doesn’t even call out the Saudis and their allies, and criticizes the Houthis alone:

The resolution is not at all critical of Saudi Arabia, and in fact compliments Saudi action; it is critical only of the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran and have been fighting Saudi-led coalition forces while maintaining control of the capital, Sanaa.

Because Mohammed bin Salman “threw a fit” over the resolution, Trump gave in to the crown prince’s wishes yet again.

The administration is killing whatever momentum there was for a new Security Council resolution, and in doing so they have signaled to the Saudis and Emiratis that there will be no pressure on them from this administration to halt their offensive or end their bombing campaign. Stopping a new resolution at this stage will probably sabotage the efforts of the UN special envoy to organize peace negotiations, and it makes a mockery of the administration’s own calls for a ceasefire by the end of this month. Any move to bring the war to an end is going to anger the Saudis because they don’t want to end the war. Blocking a new resolution at the UN because it would upset Riyadh proves that the administration has no interest in halting the war or bringing the necessary pressure on the Saudi coalition to alleviate the suffering of Yemen’s population.

Trump inherited the policy of supporting the Saudi coalition in their attack on Yemen, but he has somehow managed to take Obama’s worst policy and make it far worse than it was. Uncritical, reflexive support for Saudi interests and preferences at the expense of everything else, including US interests, has been the defining trait of Trump’s foreign policy in the region. 14 million people in Yemen suffer and may die because he insists on putting Saudi Arabia first. The US shares responsibility for the destruction and starvation of Yemen, and Trump in particular owns this disaster because he has repeatedly chosen to indulge the war criminals in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi when he had every opportunity to cut them off. Passing S.J.Res. 54 is the only way that the Senate can send a clear message to the president that his indulgence of despots and enabling of crimes against humanity will no longer be tolerated.

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.

32 thoughts on “Trump’s Saudi First Foreign Policy Strikes Again”

  1. Hoping enough GOP senators will leave the fold is a long shot, but war weariness does have it’s way eventually. If the Senate fails, the house bring in another bill. If the entire GOP congress could just kindly drop dead, the Yemen debacle could be over before their bodies are cold.

    1. Once the new Democratic majority is seated in the House, they don’t have to pass a bill. All they have to do is NOT appropriate money for the misadventure in Yemen.

      1. I am not anywhere near competent at congressional procedures, maybe just better than most. War is triggered with an authorization bill, then if passed, is given a budget within an appropriation bill. The congress was able to defund vietnam combat appropriations, but that was prior to the War Powers act. What this bill does, I believe, is to exempt the Yemen war from the ever present war on terror authorization. When a carrier, for example, is in range of multiple theaters, it becomes difficult (security ya know) to allocate missions by budget, congress must exempt theaters, or so they may try. Congress attempted to exempt a “preemptive strike” on Iran in 2017 from the terror authorization already, and failed the votes(wont bother to show where the vote failed). That was attempted after trump withdrew from the Iran deal. Congress also attempted to pass a bill requiring trump to get authorization for preemptive strike on North Korea, also failed, for the same GOP reason. Now the tricky part, for an antiwar congress member, is after the fail and authorization is granted, do you vote to not fund “the troops”, and never get reelected? Or, stick to your (non) guns ? Lose/lose. Feel free to correct how I see how it works (or doesn’t), always willing to learn

        1. I should add, it is no surprise that war, thru our constitution, has been obfuscated thru many channels, where war isnt popular, say Kosovo, there is always the UN to fall back on. So too, our economic system has been so legally obfuscated that it is not difficult to vote, or spend, against ones own interest. That is where the myth of too big to fail comes from.

          1. Now, the way I understand it, this bill, if passed, would only restrict direct US military involvement, and does not, nor can it restrict arms sales. That would be a separate sanction/embargo type action. In other words, we can sell em, no right to tell em how to use em.

          2. I believe the House would have to specifically defund US military assistance expenditures in Yemen, such as refueling and recon, but that’s a nothingburger because the Pentagon has blanket funding in place and cannot be restricted by a budgetary omission. It would take a law.

          3. After reading today’s article on DoD auditing ( or non) and accounting, I find it improbable to limit the Pentagon thru spending. No one keeps track of the money anyway.

  2. My remix of all that: “”Trump is not just serving as a Saudi mouthpiece, but acts as their
    lackey as well… Because Mohammed bin Salman ‘threw a fit’… they can’t
    support a resolution at the moment… Blocking a new resolution at the
    UN because it would upset Riyadh proves that the administration has no
    interest in halting the war or bringing the necessary pressure on the
    Saudi coalition to alleviate the suffering of Yemen’s population.” Congress might well make a difference this week or at least after the newly elected democrats take their place.

    1. you going to try explaining to fucked off Americans why their cash (such as it is) is worth $X less than it was yesterday and prices explode upwards by $X?
      “Because Mohammed bin Salman ‘threw a fit’ ” Controlling Arabia is the only thing the Saudi royals agree on and if DC won’t help then…..

    1. In his view, he is helping the USA (the rich 1% at least) but his “plan” makes the USA even more hated and perhaps vulnerable than it is now.

  3. Trump is beginning to make me regret supporting him over Horrible Hillary…..I voted straight Democrat in the Mids. I wonder how much further he can make me regret his presidency…..

      1. Time was up when a while ago. Trump seems to have no real core values, just make money, have fun & watch out for friends and Family…. Who are his friends…?????

      1. Because they had ZERO chance of being elected…. The two party Duolopoly sucks.. What a choice, Trump or Clington…. America can and could do way better…. There is just no reason or excuse for such an abomonation of choice…….. The two herds of American sheep, one disguised as an Ass, the other trying to be as big like an elephant… It would be totally humerous, if it wasn’ t so blinking dangerous to everything that breathes, and many that don’t…

        1. True — if people won’t vote for someone, that someone has ZERO chance of being elected.

          And people who say they support good and oppose evil but who vote for evil instead of good because good supposedly has ZERO chance of being elected are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Excuses are like a**holes. Everybody’s got one and they all stink.

  4. Isn’t it great to live in the best democracy in the world, where the people’s wishes are always respected ?

  5. Why is it still not clear that thjs is OUR war. Saudis are caught in a trap of continuing it until a deal with US is found to guarantee access through Bsb Al Mandeb, or let them reckaim Al Mahra in the Souh Yemen to build port outside Bab Al Mandeb. Egypt is in the same situation. US and UAE hold all cards now, with the exception of the “president” whom they all claim to support. Saudis cannot cut deal with Houthis due to a whole slew of domestic fallout. Saudis will find the way out, and MbS visit to UAE is as far as outcome goes still shrouded in mystery. There is no love lost there. US put all its eggs in UAE basket. It is anybody’s guess what will happen there. But one thing is sure — we know exactly what will happen here. Nothing. Both parties are same. There are really no two parties when it comes to imperial ambitions.

  6. I think the main change in policy is to admit the obvious. The reason for US support for the Saudi royals is that they spend money on what US arms and bribe the right people in Washington. Trump has been very honest that this upholds the American ideal of profits first humanity somewhere on the bottom of the list. He’s not even trying to make the USA look good here which is his main difference with the Obama administration.

  7. I hope that Justin Raimondo is recovering his health and reflecting on Trump’s craven boot licking to the Saudi butcher regime exposed in Trump’s lying and warmongering anti-Iranian statement purportedly on Khasoggi’s murder. The first two paragraphs says it all.

    With Republican senators popping off about ending support for the war in Yemen and US arms sales to KSA, Trump is willfully continuing the arms sales and US support for the Saudi UAE led genocide when he could end the war with a wave of his hand. Now, the US is blocking a UN security council resolution to end the genocide in Yemen.

    All Justin needs to do is to read the first two paragraphs’s of Trump’s statement on Khashoogi to realize that Trump is completely committed to Israel’s agenda of supporting KSA and UAE in a regional war to overthrow the Iranian government.

    I hope the last two weeks have been a wake-up call for JR.

    I truly hope that Justin’s next column will recognize that Trump has now exposed his true mid east policy and it cannot be covered up any longer.

    1. Not sure what you mean. JR is Iranophobe. Even his reprint article from 2001 expresses very anti-Iranian sentiments.

  8. It’s often told that Houthis are backed by Iran , but I have not yet found anybody giving any evidence in support of this. Houthis are not using Iranian guns, so where’s Iran?

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