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Caitlin Johnstone

Jan 14, 2024

The US has carried out another air raid on Yemen, with targets reportedly including the international airport in the capital city of Sanaa. This comes a day after US and UK airstrikes on Yemen in retaliation for Houthi attacks on Red Sea commercial vessels.

For weeks Yemen’s Houthi forces have been greatly inconveniencing commercial shipping with their blockade, with reports last month saying Israel’s Eilat Port has seen an 85 percent drop in activity since the attacks began. This entirely bloodless inconvenience was all it took for Washington to attack Yemen, the war-ravaged nation in which the US and its allies have spent recent years helping Saudi Arabia murder hundreds of thousands of people with its own maritime blockades. 

Yemen has issued defiant statements in response to these attacks, saying they will not go “unanswered or unpunished”. 

The Biden administration’s dramatic escalation toward yet another horrific war in the middle east has been hotly criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who argue that the attacks were illicit because they took place without congressional approval. This impotent congressional whining will never go anywhere, since, as Glenn Greenwald has observed, the US congress never actually does anything to hold presidents to account for carrying out acts of war without their approval. 

But there are some worthwhile ideas going around.

After the second round of strikes, a Democratic representative from Georgia named Hank Johnson tweeted the following:

“I have what some may consider a dumb idea, but here it is: stop the bombing of Gaza, then the attacks on commercial shipping will end. Why not try that approach?”

By golly, that’s just crazy enough to work. In fact, anti-interventionists have been screaming it at the top of their lungs since the standoff with Yemen began. All the way back in mid-October Responsible Statecraft’s Trita Parsi was already writing urgently about the need for a ceasefire in Gaza to prevent it from exploding into a wider war in the region, a position Parsi has continued pushing ever since.

As we discussed previously, Israel’s US-backed assault on Gaza is threatening to bleed over into conflicts with the Houthis in Yemen, with Hezbollah in Lebanon, with Iran-aligned militias in Iraq and Syria, and even potentially with Iran itself — any of which could easily see the US and its allies committing themselves to a full-scale war. Peace in Gaza takes these completely unnecessary gambles off the table.

And it is absolutely within Washington’s power to force a ceasefire in Gaza. Biden could end all this with one phone call, as US presidents have done in the past. As Parsi wrote for The Nation earlier this month:

“In 1982, President Ronald Reagan was ‘disgusted’ by Israeli bombardment of Lebanon. He stopped the transfer of cluster munitions to Israel and told Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in a phone call that ‘this is a holocaust.’ Reagan demanded that Israel withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Begin caved. Twenty minutes after their phone call, Begin ordered a halt on attacks.
“Indeed, it is absurd to claim that Biden has no leverage, particularly given the massive amounts of arms he has shipped to Israel. In fact, Israeli officials openly admit it. ‘All of our missiles, the ammunition, the precision-guided bombs, all the airplanes and bombs, it’s all from the US,’ retired Israeli Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Brick conceded in November of last year. ‘The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting. You have no capability.… Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.’ ”

In the end, you get peace by pursuing peace. That’s how it happens. You don’t get it by pursuing impossible imaginary ideals like the total elimination of Hamas while butchering tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians. You don’t get it by trying to bludgeon the middle east into passively accepting an active genocide. You get it by negotiation, de-escalation, diplomacy and detente. 

The path to peace is right there. The door’s not locked. It’s not even closed. The fact that they don’t take it tells you what these imperialist bastards are really interested in.

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