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US, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, official concerns about legal blowback [Reuters]

October 19, 2016

Just for variety. Published Oct. 10th at Reuters, I landed on it via – you’ll never guess – CFR. Yes, the prominent top-3 US think tank contributing to US foreign policy, with its many… early attempts at success, as captain Jack Sparrow might say. Of course when you’re playing pin the 1000-lb bomb on the donkey it is a little less funny, but leave that aside for a moment.

The article is a pretty sincere criticism of the policy of sending boatloads of weapons over to various pals in the middle east. In years past these have included leading lights such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, but today our network of allies in that part of the world centers around Saudi Arabia. And by “pals” that is pretty much literal – the relationship with the ruling Bush and Clinton families has been close.

So the budding recognition of this being a problem is very refreshing. It represents a pretty reasonable way out, for US policy planners, and here’s how. To admit the error of decades of inciting and materially supporting conflict under various ends-justifying-the-means excuses… Not realistic. But to focus the blame on someone else? That we can do. This was Saddam’s job, he fit the role magnificently. Maybe it will be SA’s turn? If you think about it, they’re the diametrical opposite of everything the US stands for, on an ideological level. Although in reality that probably isn’t entirely fair to the Saudi royal family and a little too kind to the decision makers behind US policy.

I just hope the strategists behind this don’t get too carried away and decide to do some kind of benevolent regime change. Stopping the flow of weapons would be entirely sufficient – nothing else that the US can do is really needed.

Also, realistically, with a Clinton presidency we’ll probably forget the need to blame it all on a third party, so SA will probably be receiving more billion $ shipments of planes and bombs and all will be back to normal. This episode is probably little more than a quick shakedown, so the various sides can sort out who’s boss. Regardless, it is an interesting diversion for the time being.


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