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Biden’s Yemen Trap

Posted on Monday, January 15, 2024
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by AMAC Newsline
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AMAC Exclusive – By Walter Samuel

biden and yemen

There is a touch of irony that the Biden administration has been driven to undertake air strikes against Yemen’s Houthi “regime” to prevent the collapse of global trade and higher inflation. It is yet another case of this White House being caught in a trap of its own creation.

The current crisis in the Red Sea, as well as the chaos it is causing within the Democratic party, are merely the latest example of this phenomenon, one in which Biden and his team are being punished for their “original sin” – abandoning the successful policy not just of Donald Trump, but Barack Obama as well, and handing Yemen over to Iranian proxies while alienating American allies.

The August 2021 Afghanistan debacle was not the first geopolitical rout orchestrated by the Biden administration in a mishandled effort to end a war. During the Trump administration, the Saudi campaign against Iranian-backed proxies in Yemen had become a cause celebre on the left. While there had been some disquiet during the Obama administration, the issue picked up steam as it became sucked into the domestic culture wars of the Trump years.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were perceived as pro-Trump because their leaders, unlike Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel, did not shun the President of the United States. As geopolitics came to be defined on the left as a clash between Trump and anti-Trumpism, the Saudis ended up in the evil category.

This is not to say that the Saudi government was or is a shining beacon of liberty. However, it was a longtime strategic ally and was engaged in a conflict in defense of the legal government of Yemen against extremists linked to Iran.

Much as Poland and Hungary ended up on Democratic hit lists as much for domestic reasons as for anything they did, pivoting U.S. policy in the Middle East from the Gulf States toward Iran became identified with the Democratic Party. Whether that was a wise policy took a back seat, an oversight the United States is now paying for. 

Not only did Biden’s actions cause the Saudis to cut their own deal with Iran via the good offices of Xi Jinping, but they allowed Tehran to establish a base on the Red Sea from which its proxies can launch ballistic missiles at Israel and fire upon American ships. This outcome was predictable, and the failure to foresee it arose from a failure to understand what the major interests of the parties in the region were.

The rivalry between Iran and the Gulf States, whatever its ideological origins, is about power. Iran, despite its vast oil resources, is fundamentally a military land power.

Economically, Iran cannot compete with the Saudis and Gulf states, but this is a double-edged sword. Being unable to export oil is a disadvantage to Tehran, but it would cripple Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Hence, Iran, by gaining the ability to shut down shipping and trade to everyone in the region, gains effective hegemony over its rivals as it can more easily afford the ability to lose exports.

The unifying element of Iranian policy has always been strategy, not ideology. In Syria, the Iranians backed the secular Assad regime, in Palestine the Sunni Hamas, and in Iraq, they have on occasion even cooperated with Sunni-extremist ISIS affiliates against Shia groups opposed to them. The main goal Iran has is to establish proxies in place that can execute a “strategy of denial” to their opponents.

In Iraq, it does not matter what religion the militia who surround U.S. military bases are, provided they can rain down missiles at will upon them. The same is true of the Houthis in Yemen or Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The conflict in Yemen was existential for the Saudis because a Houthi victory would leave Iran in a position to close the Red Sea at will. That would be a threat not just to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, but also, as we have seen, the United States and its allies.

The Biden administration, foolishly, seems to have assumed Iran would choose not to use this power because it wanted better relations with the United States. They assumed the Iranian regime was rational while failing to define what rationality meant.

It is hard to argue that Iranian policy right now is anything but highly rational. Having gained the ability to close the Red Sea to international trade, and thereby a weapon with which to inflict inflation on the United States and Europe, what could be more rational than for Iran to exploit the opportunity? Especially when there appears little risk in doing so?

Even assuming Tehran’s goal was a deal, negotiations, as Donald Trump or any businessman understands, reflect the leverage between the parties, and Iran would be behaving irrationally if it did not demand a more favorable deal to reflect increased leverage.

The reason every concession to Iran causes Tehran to increase rather than decrease its demands is precisely because its policy is rational, and the Biden team’s approach has not been. Now they are paying for their impotence.

The Biden administration also made a second error – they mistook what Iran wanted. They assumed that Iran wanted a deal with the United States, and believed that its perceived bid for regional hegemony was a means to that end. Instead, Iran’s goal was regional hegemony, the security of the regime, and world power.

A deal with the United States was a potential means to that end – provided, of course, that the deal neutralized U.S. opposition to the Iranian regime at home and abroad, without requiring any substantive changes in behavior. It was never an alternative to Iran’s goals, merely a possible tool to achieve them.

In the current international situation, Iran has been gifted something better. In the court of public opinion, Joe Biden is paying for years in which liberal elites across the West coddled anti-Western currents in academia, the media, and society. The result has been to create a situation in which Israel, and the United States, are blamed for the consequences of any conflict Israel is involved in regardless of who started it.

The irony of the calls for a cease-fire, whether they come from a grifting Kleptocratic African National Congress Government in South Africa or members of the Squad in the U.S. Congress, is that they provide Iran, Hamas, and the Houthis every reason to escalate the conflict and none to end it. The longer it goes on and the more Palestinians that die, the weaker anti-Iranian governments become at home.

Iran can see anti-Iranian figures within the U.S. Democratic Party and its counterparts in Europe being heckled as “Nazis” and accused of promoting “genocide,” and Iranian leaders have every reason to believe that the process will eliminate their enemies from future governments.

At this point, Biden’s base on the left will blame the Houthis’ actions on the war in Gaza, and therefore any consequences will be blamed not on the Houthis but on Biden’s failure to stop Israel’s so-called “genocide.” This means any inflation caused by the blockade will be blamed on Israel and Biden, not Iran.

This is why Biden’s belated resort to military force against the Houthis will fail. Tehran has already trapped him. Tehran can keep the war going in Gaza almost indefinitely, and if by some chance Hamas is defeated, they can have Hezbollah start a new war from Lebanon, thereby creating a new “Israeli Genocide.”

If the U.S. manages to somehow bomb the Houthis into oblivion, not only will the deaths be blamed on the United States, but Iran can restart the war by having militias assault U.S. military bases in Iraq and shut down the Persian Gulf instead.

Without hitting Iran hard enough to change the risk calculus, the current dynamics are so favorable for Iran that even the most conciliatory or moderate elements in Tehran would be hard-pressed to justify changing course. Their position is better today than it was two weeks ago, and there is every reason to believe it will be better two weeks from now than it is today. That is a recipe for escalation.

The true benefit of the Saudi/UAE campaign in Yemen was deniability. The unsavory reputation of those governments meant the United States could separate itself from the political blowback, leaving the war as a purely military matter. As Iran’s entire motivation was political, not military, this in turn reduced Tehran’s incentives to continue it. Donald Trump understood this, as, with hindsight, it appears Barack Obama did. Biden is now paying for his failure to grasp the same.

The real problem is that Biden is not the only one paying for his blunders. The United States is now committed to a geopolitical conflict that it can neither win nor end. The U.S. cannot win it because America’s opponents have endless reserves of other people’s children they can send to die and no moral qualms about it. The U.S. cannot end it because America’s opponents are more concerned with inflicting political damage at home in the United States and Europe than with who dies in the region.

Walter Samuel is the pseudonym of a prolific international affairs writer and academic. He has worked in Washington as well as in London and Asia, and holds a Doctorate in International History.

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PaulE
PaulE
1 month ago

Another article claiming things are the result of “blunders”. Nothing that has happened in this administration or Obama’s or Bill Clinton’s in terms of foreign policy “blunders” were mistakes. Failure to acknowledge the inherent nature of Democrat Party policies, which is all these Democrat Presidents were executing on the foreign policy side, are predominately centered around appeasement and an overwhelming desire to support those opposed to the United States.

Under Clinton, we appeased North Korea right up to after we allowed them to develop nuclear weapons. Today, they are untouchable because they have to the means to hit targets anywhere in the United States if desired.

Under Obama, we had the complete mismanagement of the Middle East, the creation of ISIS, the terrible Iraq deal and the terrible Iran nuclear deal. The last one which bank-rolled Iran’s nuclear weapons and ICBM programs with a wink and nod and handed them over $100 billion in cash. Obama shipped blankets and MREs to Ukraine when Putin rolled in and seized Crimea under his watch.

Under Team Biden, Obama’s third term, we dropped all economic sanctions against Iran, which resulted in $40 to $60 billion in oil sales to fund not only their nuclear efforts and resuscitate their failing economy, but also fund their various terrorist proxies in the Middle East and elsewhere. Biden handed Afghanistan over to the Taliban. Which numbered only 70,000 lightly armed followers at the time and gave them Bagram air base, which now belong to China and our other adversaries $85 billion in new arms. To put a cherry on top, at least so far as his first term isn’t over yet, Team Biden also paid $6 billion for 5 American hostages making taking U.S. citizens hostage the most lucrative game out there.

None of these are “blunders” as the author tries to pain them. This is who the Democrat Party truly is in terms of what you can expect from a foreign policy perspective. It doesn’t matter which Democrat sits in the White House. What you are going to get is pretty much the same thing. Oh, and I didn’t forget about Jimmy Carter. I just had to draw the line somewhere as to how far back in time to go to simply make the point that these are NOT “blunders”, but rather systemically how the policies of the Democrat Party are consistently implemented by ANY Democrat the American people are stupid enough to allow to sit in the Oval Office.

P.S.
Pay attention to what is discussed this week in Davos at the annual WEF. A number of U.S. administration and private sector citizens will be attending and nodding affirmatively to this year’s WEF agenda. The MSM will NOT cover this in any great detail, but you can watch a lot of it on-line. Educate yourself to how your government is going to be selling you out again this year, so you can plan accordingly to minimize the damage.

Thomas Ruwan
Thomas Ruwan
1 month ago

Joey is not the president nor will he ever be. Joey is following a script given to him or he will get in trouble. How many times has joey said that ? Obama is an illegal third term president and he is on a path to destroy our country. Joey is nothing but an installed puppet with stage 6 dementia .. and .. along with his puppet masters have committed numerous acts of treason.  Joey is not even remotely capable of writing an executive order. Doing a #1 and #2 in his pants and jammies .. frequently tripping over his own feet .. frequently getting lost even on the white house lawn .. mumbling incoherently .. frequently forgetting what city he is in .. shaking hands with invisible people … all this puts him in stage 6 of 7 with his dementia. Tell me joey is the president after doing a “biden voter fraud scheme” and “biden gaffes” search on youtube. Joey is not the president. 

Scott Schmidt
Scott Schmidt
1 month ago

The author gives too much credit to obiden. obiden is in charge of nothing. obama is running the current administration, and funding Iran began under obama during his official presidency, and was resumed now during his third term. obama, through Iran, is responsible for this current situation.

Patriot Bill
Patriot Bill
1 month ago

It seems nonsensical only if you try to apply logic. Listen, the sole purpose of this Biden regime is to destroy America by any means possible. When you fully grasp this, you can then see that conflicting interests do not matter.
I believe we have only this one last election before the regime dismantles our constitutional rights

uncleferd
uncleferd
1 month ago

I have to agree with many comments here about President Biden. He is the picture of nonfeasance, and has also been guilty of extreme malfeasance (his push for mass, illegal immigration is the most visible example).
If this awful, destructive scenario doesn’t teach people to consider their political candidates more carefully, then, nothing ever will.

tim corwin
tim corwin
1 month ago

small gripe….. I wish the media would stop saying “democratic” party. It’s the Democrat party. Nothing to do with being democratic at all. Just a name. Since their mascot is the donkey lets start calling it the Jackass party

Jerry
Jerry
1 month ago

Everything Biden touches turns to crap.

Ronald
Ronald
1 month ago

I watch as china joe talks, his lips move (with difficulty) BUT I hear bin obama talking. Look out, the real man is coming to the rescue…michelle??

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 month ago

Seed for WW3

tommy2sweet
tommy2sweet
1 month ago

You expected MORE from Biden!? Just pray we make it to the next election when Trump will SAVE us AGAIN!!

marty
marty
1 month ago

We’ve seen this all before. Iran raided our Embassy in the late ’70’s and grabbed 52 hostages and held them 444 days, returning them only when Ronald Reagan was taking his oath of office. Jimma Carter was a squishy President, gave us double digit Inflation and Interest rates (but a nice guy). O’Biden gave us 17.8 % inflation an a dozen jumps in Interest rates. (not a nice guy,and senile) ! Reagan cleaned-up Carter’s mess and gave us 2o+ years of good economy. TRUMP cleaned-up O’Bumbler’s mess (even though in early ’09 they said “the worst economy since the Great Depression” was over !! O’Bumbler gave Iran 2 plane-loads of CASH, O’Biden (Obama’s third term ?) tried to give them $6 billion !! ! Time again for TRUMP to bail us out again. They called Reagan a “Cowboy” , they call TRUMP crazy, but they got RESULTS and fearful RESPECT. God Bless #40 and @45 , #47.

Thinking
Thinking
1 month ago

Osama bin Laden was right America will destroy itself from within. ole Joe’s appeasement policy isn’t working. It didn’t work under O. Iran’s only objective is to destroy America and Israel. O and now ole sloppy Joe are letting it happen. From the first bombing of American bases in the Middle East by the Iranian backed Houthis, back in October of 2023, and ole Joe didn’t respond for weeks, was a sign to Iran ole sloppy is weak. Iran knows we are deeply in debt, our military is in disarray. They have never believed the Holocaust happened. Israel has been their arch enemy. And those pro global world countries and their leaders that made an agreement in Davos to push the moslims into world power positions, are not going to support America. I had to laugh that they said the Netherlands was also helping in the air attacks in Yemen. I have found out it was 1 officer.
Christianity has got to go. Trump understood that. The ultra left is in bed with the Davos plan, as well as the UN. Be careful who the people in Iowa vote for. Nikki Haley is dangerous for America. Remember she is pro UN while the UN is busy destroying America. From the Secretary on down. All this is interconnected with the troubles in the Middle East. Nostradamus predicted the next world war will start in the Middle East only sloppy Joe hasn’t read his writings.

James
James
1 month ago

This is truly the most bumbling fool I’ve seen in my 67 years.

Honey
Honey
1 month ago

Early on this article says Biden and his team are being punished for abandoning successful policies not just of Trump’s administration but of Obama’s.
I would much prefer it if Obama is given credit for nothing. I consider Obama an enemy of America and Americans.

William Hodge
William Hodge
1 month ago

Obiden with that silly grin on his face should be slapped in the face each time he goes out in public. He should be ashamed to even make eye contact with any American citizen.

BobP
BobP
1 month ago

Can someone please explain that if Walter Samuel is such a “prolific international affairs writer and academic, who has also worked in Washington as well as in London and Asia, and holds a Doctorate in International History” – then why does he need to use a pseudonym? I feel using a phony pseudonym cheapens the content of any & all of these unknown authors) opinion & reporting articles. I’m a Amac member and enjoy most of what they provide for us, but they are (perhaps) one of the only news reporting agencies that offer so many articles that were authored by unknown writers. Maybe it’s me; but I just don’t get it.

phoenix
phoenix
1 month ago

democrats love war. Because it kills people who believe enough in the USA to serve it. So they won’t have to kill them later.

Pat R
Pat R
1 month ago

I have to agree with PaulE’s summation. He is spot on as to Dem’s policy executions and not blunders.

MOSS
MOSS
1 month ago

Well said. Rational vs. irrational thought and action, well put. My hope is generalized inspection of other policy decisions as well.
Any motion in this direction is necessary as we acknowledge the failings of the current administration Please recognize the “failings” must be directed; an effort to dismantle these realities–POLICY MATTERS!

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

This is just another perfect example of how this administration fails to plan. From the day Biden took office and halted oil production, opened the gates at the southern border, to the Afghanistan withdrawl; this administration has show a complete failure on any policy.
Gates nailed when he told us that VP Biden was wrong on every foreign policy in the last 4 decades. As POTUS he has shown he is also wrong on every national policy.

JERRY D.
JERRY D.
1 month ago

you can’t see it but boracck nobummer is under the podium, on his knees telling joey obiden what to say,yeah right….

Thinking
Thinking
1 month ago

Now now, this is beyond the pale. Have any proof? Name calling is what people who have no argument do, or small children.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 month ago

Biden took Houthis off the list of terror organizations so there would be more room for “Ultra MAGA”. He considers Republicans as the threat.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Going through many of the comments, and the replies, I have to wonder who this ‘fart usa’ person is that keeps saying folks should lose their us citizenship.
Does this person really subscribe to AMAC?

Barbara
Barbara
1 month ago

I only read the first few paragraphs, but I want to congratulate the author on their use of grammar and the English language in general. So rare!

Myrna
Myrna
1 month ago

Today Biden denied that the USA is in a proxy war with Iran.

Jr.
Jr.
1 month ago

Blunder – a stupid or careless mistake. I would assume the author of this article meant a stupid mistake.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 month ago

You must be the captain of your middle school debate team. Mom is so proud!

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 month ago

You are truly an elementary wordsmith… elementary being the key word.

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

Yemen sucks

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

The USA should bomb the gaza strip and Yemen

Sean Rickman
Sean Rickman
1 month ago

Thanks to joey and company the world is a safer place,also a big thank you to”king pritzker”for making illinois safer when in fact it won’t solve illinois crime problem,and joey,you did not make the world a safer place.Our enemies love weakness.Niether will letting criminals receive a get out of jail card.

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

Operation rescue hired too many criminals and had to shut down.

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

South Carolina sucks

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

New York City

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

Ted Cruz for president

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

New Hampshire sucks

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

What are New York values?

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

Nikki Haley gets a C+

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

Ted Cruz would make an outstanding A plus president.

Roger Football
Roger Football
1 month ago

Trump and DeSantis won the top two spots in Iowa but both are overweight and that’s a problem.

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