THE TRUMP administration, members of Congress, and many media pundits often speak and act as if the United States must choose between acting in its own interest and respecting deeper moral values. That’s a false choice.
Events on the world stage in recent months have offered abundant reminders that the United States’ cozy and corrupt relationship with Saudi Arabia and its tyrannical royal family is a bipartisan moral failure with real costs in human lives. In the name of perceived national interests, the U.S. has long engaged in an amoral realpolitik throughout the world, especially regarding the Middle East. In 2019, this includes Trump’s defiant support for Saudi Arabia, despite rising dissension in his own political party.
In recent months, some in Congress and throughout civil society are more openly questioning the U.S. relationship with the Saudi Arabian leadership, for two major reasons.
The first is the four-year-old military campaign in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and materially supported by the U.S. that has created the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis. By November, the war had caused—by Save the Children’s estimate—85,000 Yemeni children to starve to death. Sufficient food is arriving to Yemen, but the economic devastation caused by the Saudi-led campaign makes it impossible for many parents to buy enough food to feed their children, and conditions on the ground make distributing emergency food aid extremely difficult.