the House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: “Yemen on the Brink:
Implications for U.S. Policy” February 3, 2010
Mr. Chairman, 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
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?
Arabia’s 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.
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.
Ron Paul of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the premier advocate for
liberty in politics today. Dr. Paul is the leading spokesman in Washington
for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return
to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency. For more
information click on the Project Freedom website.
with the authorization of Dr. Paul.
Dr. Ron Paul