Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Senate Skeptics are Right: End Missile Sales to Saudi Arabia

By Geoff Lamear, The American Conservative

American neutrality in the Middle East would serve U.S. interests and make the region more stable.

In response to the proposed sale of U.S. missiles to Saudi Arabia, Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders are leading a bipartisan effort to oppose the sale. This is still a fight of David and Goliath, as Congress has never successfully stopped an arms sale. It’s time for that to change.

While President Biden has pledged to end support for “offensive operations,” U.S. support for Saudi Arabia has continued under the guise of defense. There have been advances, namely a halt on new SDB smart-bomb sales. But the U.S. has relabeled, not halted, the support, which could end Saudi involvement in the Yemeni war altogether. The U.S. continues logistical support for Saudi warplanes and helicopters, the chief means through which the Saudis conduct their offensives.

Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity isn’t threatened. The country is actively engaged in an offensive war of its own choosing, and the U.S. tipping the scales in Saudi Arabia’s favor just perpetuates that war. U.S. neutrality, by contrast, would bring Yemen closer to a negotiated peace. As Saudi Arabia has been forced to deal with diminished U.S. support since April, it has begun brandishing diplomacy instead of bombs.

U.S. support for the Saudis is a game-changing condition for both sides. As long as the U.S. tips the scales, its interests will be targeted, as they were when Houthi rebels seized the U.S. embassy earlier this month. The threat to American interests extends to oil markets. U.S. involvement legitimates oil infrastructure as strategic targets. By sticking to the sidelines, the U.S. would make targeting those sites militarily useless and safeguard America’s economic interests in the process.

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