Fighter plane in the air

The Pentagon announced on September 20 that it would be sending hundreds of troopsto Saudi Arabia after attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. The attacks, which took place on September 14, “knocked out more than half of the [oil] output from the world's top exporter – five percent of the global oil supply,” according to Al Jazeera.

While Washington and Riyadh have provided little evidence that Iran is behind such an attack (Saudi Arabia even admitted the evidence provided to them via U.S. intelligence “wasn’t definitive”) the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom have all deemed Iran to be the culprit.

The Iranian government denies it is behind the attack; Houthi rebels in Yemen, meanwhile, have already sought to take credit for it.  While some American officials claim that the Houthis do not have the capacity to carry out such an attack (U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in fact, blatantly argued that it didn’t even matterwhether they did), a UN report from earlier in the year on the Houthi rebels noted that Houthis now have stronger drones capable of targeting Saudi Arabia.

In any case, the United States, in sending troops to Saudi Arabia and placing new sanctions on Iran,has taken action without further investigation. While the U.S. has said that such measures are taken in defense, it is hard to believe that many other countries could so casually send so many troops for the purposes of “defense” without being accused of serious aggression.

Considering the stakes, why does it seem that just repeating a given statement enough times, true or otherwise, is enough for the United States to treat and act as if something is fact?

Saudi Arabia, one of America’s major allies in the region, furthermore, has been known for its human rights violations, especially in Yemen, where many have been killed by airstrikes and frequent bombings by the Saudi government.  The blockades placed on Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition  have also led to famine, resulting in the deaths of 85,000 children as of 2018. Ultimately, the United States has been a more-than-willing collaborator in these crimes: many major arms companies in the United States, which certainly have a close relationship with the American government, in fact profit substantiallyoff such an arrangement.

While the war in Yemen is horrendously under-reported in the United States, it’s important to note that Americans largely do not support working with Saudi Arabia. Only twenty-two percent of Americans viewed Saudi-Arabia as an ally, according to Business Insider. Congress voted in Spring 2019 to end U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia; however, Trump vetoed the bill.

Despite such poor public opinion of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, Trump seems perfectly fine in not only collaborating with Saudi Arabia, but even answering to them: in light of the attack on the oil facilities, Trump tweeted on September 15that the administration was “waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of [the] attack, and under what terms [it] would proceed!”

While it’s hard to decipher Trump’s exact intentions with such a statement, such online jabs could have serious repercussions for thousands of innocent people.

And while the United States argues publicly it does not want outright war with Iran, it’s important to note that American sanctions are already targeting, if not strangling, Iran. This is because many American sanctions target Iran’s largest export, crude petroleum oil. By May 2019, Iranian oil exports had been more than halvedby sanctions; as of August 20, 2019, the United States was removing about 2.7 million barrels of Iranian oilfrom the global market daily. Many banks and companies around the world, moreover, have become hesitant to do business with Iran, fearing further economic measures from the United States.

Those suffering the most from the sanctions, ultimately, are the people of Iran: the costs of basic foods, even, have gone up significantlyin recent times, and the wages of Iranians have largely not kept up. The situation has deteriorated to the point that cancer patients in Iran are dyingbecause the sanctions have made shortages of medical equipment and other essential goodsmore common.

As Americans, we have to ask ourselves: what kinds of human suffering are we inflicting and normalizing upon the world in the name of “American defense”? Does taking action against Iran on more-than-flimsy evidence not remind us of the war in Iraq?

Perhaps it’s fair to argue that aggression is simply American.