by Ron Paul: Economy
Flounders, Despite the Stimulus
before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: “Yemen
on the Brink: Implications for U.S. Policy” February 3, 2010
I am extremely concerned over current US policy toward Yemen, which
I believe will backfire and leave the United States less safe and
much poorer. Increasing US involvement in Yemen may be sold as a
fight against terrorism, but in fact it is more about expanding
US government control and influence over this strategically-placed
nation at the gateway to Asia.
administration, according to today’s testimony of Assistant
Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, has dramatically increased foreign
aid to Yemen, from $17 million in FY 2008 to $40 million in FY 2009,
to $67 million for FY 2010, to, according to the president’s
recent budget sent to Congress, $106 million for FY 2011. That represents
an incredible six-fold increase in US aid to Yemen over just four
years, at a time when the US economy continues to falter.
When I look
at the US assistance plan for Yemen I see that it is primarily focused
on nation-building. That is the failed idea that if the United States
sends enough money to a foreign government, with which that government
purchases US-manufactured weapons and hires US-based consultants
and non-governmental organizations, that country will achieve a
strong economy and political stability and in gratitude will become
eternally friendly to the US and US interests. I have yet to see
a single successful example of this strategy.
Assistant Secretary Feltman’s statement, “Priorities for
U.S. assistance include political and fiscal reforms and meaningful
attention to legitimate internal grievances; better governance through
decentralization, reduced corruption and civil service reform; human
rights protections; jobs-related training; economic diversification
to generate employment and enhance livelihoods, and strengthened
natural resource management.” How can we believe that the US
government can achieve abroad what we know it cannot effectively
achieve at home? We are going to spend millions of dollars to help
create jobs in Yemen as we continue to shed jobs in the United States?
Yemen is a
country mired in civil conflict. The Shi’ites in the north,
who make up a significant percentage of the country’s total
population and a majority in their region, have been fighting against
what they see as the discriminatory policies of the Sunni-based
government in the capitol, Sana’a, for years. Yemenis in the
south, who up until 1990 were a separate country, likewise oppose
the central government and threaten to escalate this opposition.
Added into this mix are elements of what are called al-Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), some of whom are left over from the
US-supported fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan
in the 1980s, and others have been radicalized by their exposure
to Wahhabi extremism in US-allied Saudi Arabia. Still others in
AQAP are veterans of the insurgency against US occupation of Iraq.
We cannot forget either those Yemenis who were held for years by
the United States without charges at Guantanamo Bay. How many of
those were innocent of terrorist actions or intent but became radicalized
under such conditions?
concern over the Shi’ite unrest in north Yemen has led to unsubstantiated
claims of Iranian involvement in an attempt to draw the US into
a regional problem that has nothing to do with the United States.
Saudi Arabia has struggled with unrest among its own Shi’ite
population and is determined to prevent any spill-over. There are
some here in the US who repeat false claims of Iranian involvement
in the hope of expanding the US military presence in the area. Others
in the United States irresponsibly call for a US pre-emptive war
in Yemen. We should be clear on this: expanded US involvement in
Yemen plays into the hands of bin Laden and his organization as
has been made clear on many occasions. Luring the United States
into a conflict in Yemen by falsely advertising it part of a war
on terror will certainly radicalize the Yemeni population against
the United States. It will weaken our over-extended military and
it will further destroy our economy.
the US-backed central government in Sana’a stands to gain by
claiming its internal problems are part of a global crisis that
requires US intervention. The central Yemeni government has much
to gain by making its battles and its problems our battles and our
problems. But that gain will come at the expense of US soldiers,
US security, and the American economy. I wonder how long it will
be before the US establishes a permanent base on the strategic territory
I hope, as
we begin to debate the foreign affairs budget for next year, that
we may yet change course from that of the last administration, where
the failed policies of interventionism, militarism, and nation-building
have left the United States in a diminished position in the world.
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.