When Do Alliances Damage U.S. Credibility?

Writing for Defense One, Daniel DePetris addresses the problematic nature of the United States’ ongoing support for Saudi Arabia’s  intervention in Yemen. While he acknowledges that the Houthis in Yemen are not blameless in the war, DePetris points out that the Saudi-led coalition has been responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths and destruction across Yemen.

Yet despite Saudi forces’ deliberate violations of human rights and international law, the Obama administration has continued to support the Saudis by approving arms sales, providing aerial surveillance, and  by the “blocking or watering down of attempts in the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish an independent international commission of inquiry,” DePetris writes.

DePetris argues that this situation is a clear example of when the United States ought to ask “at what point does an alliance begin to jeopardize the international credibility and good name of the United States of America?”

By essentially providing unaccountable assistance to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. government has signaled that Saudi forces are free to conduct the war however they see fit. Furthermore, supporting the Saudi intervention has not advanced any U.S. interests in the Middle East, DePetris maintains, but has caused the United States a great deal of reputational harm.

He concludes that “it is far past time for the U.S. to take a good and hard look at which alliances actually serve U.S. national security interests and which alliances need to be refined based upon that ally’s behavior. The U.S. cannot afford to give its allies a blank check.”

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