Before most Americans could even pronounce the name “Houthi,” much less tell you who they were, Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham were on a dais chastising President Obama for his unwillingness to bomb them into the ground.
Mere hours after the Saudis (armed with $90 billion in U.S. weaponry and more on the way) began pounding Shia Houthi rebel targets in Yemen, the two senators were lamenting that Washington had not been let in on the operation.
“The fact that the Arab coalition no longer trusts us, or feels they need to inform us as what they’re about to do, is chilling,” Graham said on March 26. “They no longer have confidence in the United States of America,” McCain enjoined. “The Saudis did the right thing.”
This has been a common refrain from the senior senators, who have become as predictable as the tides when it comes to blaming the president for “leading from behind,” or not showing the appropriate obeisance to certain foreign allies—whether Israel on the Iran nuclear deal or Ukraine in their struggle against Russia.
But that Obama should be admonished for a perceived laggardness in the Sunni Gulf states’ swift intervention in Yemen, in what has been called a battle for sectarian dominance in the region, shows how little these men think of the American public. After 14 years of fighting Sunni insurgencies with no end in sight (Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda everywhere, now ISIS), the idea the U.S. could be shamed into joining a coalition of countries espousing highly questionable motives and human rights records, in an intervention no one can rightly explain, should raise a few red flags.
And one question—what do we get out of it?