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Houthi Attacks Threaten Global Trade, Biden Falters

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Clear Facts

  • The Houthi attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea have disrupted global trade, raising prices, and making products more difficult to come by.
  • Shipping at the Bab el-Mandeb Strait is down 54% over the past month, with metric tons of trade coming through the strait down by more than 50%.
  • The Biden administration has allowed the Houthi attacks to continue, despite having the world’s greatest naval and air power at its disposal.

You’re either a globalist neocon interventionist, or you are a pacifist who will sit idly while attacked. Is that the false choice we want to navigate as conservatives?

After years of wasting time, talent, and treasure on urban renewal projects in Baghdad and Kabul, the U. S. military is exhausted and the public’s resolve is depleted when it comes to deploying the military overseas. And rightly so. When we finally divested from the 20-year debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan, we immediately barreled headfirst into another long-standing ethnic territorial dispute in eastern Ukraine.

As such, there are understandably reactionary forces who will oppose any use of the military even when it’s justified. The idiocy of the neocon grift is driving some on the right to treat the Houthi attacks on shipping lanes as another foreign policy debacle we must ignore.

Except we cannot ignore it.

Until the half-hearted airstrikes last week, the Biden administration allowed a two-bit, goat-molesting, cholera-ridden group of primitives in Yemen to shut down global shipping in the Red Sea, endangering global trade, raising prices, and making products more difficult to come by.

Biden’s passive approach to the Houthi declaration of war on shipping is not merely an exercise in weak foreign policy, emblematic of a Defense Department whose Cabinet secretary was hospitalized with nobody in the chain of command aware of his dire situation. It is yet another subterfuge to ensure the cost of living domestically remains high. There is simply no other way to interpret how the Houthis can continue their piracy operations in the face of our $1 trillion annual defense spending with the greatest naval and air power the world has seen.

According to Port Watch, the seven-day moving average of shipping at the Bab el-Mandeb Strait is down a whopping 54% over the past month. Metric tons of trade coming through the strait are down by more than 50% as shipping costs from China to Europe surge uncontrollably.

Why would we need a coalition of 13 countries to deal with a bunch of cavemen?

At the current trajectory, if the Houthis are not stopped, shipping at this critical outlet of the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden will grind to a halt.

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The Houthis have attacked more than two dozen ships in the Red Sea since November. This has forced most ships to reroute around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. Given that roughly 30% of global container shipping carrying over 1 billion tons of goods worth $1 trillion per year sails through the Suez Canal, this disruption will harm consumers and producers worldwide.

In recent years, more than twice the tonnage of cargo has traversed the Suez Canal as the Panama Canal, which, incidentally, is also suffering from reduced shipping volume due to a severe drought.

Rerouting shipping around the horn of Africa adds up to 22 days of travel for fuel tankers traveling from the Middle East to Europe. Ikea announced that the de facto shipping embargo through the Red Sea “will lead to delays and may limit the availability of some products.”

Thus far, the Houthis have used anti-ship ballistic missiles, drones, attack helicopters, and old-fashioned piracy tactics to harass and even capture ships traveling the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. The Houthis have even directly challenged U. S. warships in the region, yet the U.S. Navy has so far declined to launch a sustained counteroffensive against Houthi infrastructure.

On January 3, the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom released a statement warning that they are “determined to hold malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks.” The alliance was designated “Operation Prosperity Guardian.”

But these threats ring hollow given how much leeway the Biden administration has given the primitive terrorists for nearly two months. Why would we need a coalition of 13 countries to deal with a bunch of cavemen? For an small fraction of the cost of our aid to Ukraine, we could wipe out their capability to launch these attacks. Why else have such an expensive and robust military?

Last week, Biden ordered the military to lob a few missiles at Yemen, a move reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s vanity bombing of an aspirin factory in Sudan on August 20, 1998, following al-Qaeda’s attack on the U. S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. None of this has deterred the Houthis, as they launched a missile at the U.S.-owned, Greek-operated Chem Ranger on Thursday. That followed a pair of attacks on the U.S.-owned Gibraltar Eagle and the Genco Picardy earlier in the week.

Even Biden conceded, “Are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.”

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Clearly, the Biden administration doesn’t want to antagonize its Iranian friends, who are sponsors of the Houthis. Also, because the piracy is primarily targeting Israel, the Biden administration likely believes that the Houthi attack could become an ancillary benefit in grinding Israel’s offensive in Gaza to a halt.

Don’t discount the fact that the Biden administration is also embracing the opportunity to harm American consumers along with Israelis. Roughly 10% of all global oil transports pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. A little more than half of all liquid natural gas trade moves east through the Suez Canal. As we saw with the onset of the Ukraine-Russia war, the left views an oil crisis as an opportunity to wean us off sustainable and prosperous living in favor of its dystopian dream of carbon-free — aka human-free — living.

Early indications show that the U. S.-led coalition letter was all bluster. The crew of a Singapore-flagged ship sailing through the straits earlier this month transmitted a message “no link to Israel” in order to protect themselves. Singapore happens to be one of the coalition members. They are clearly trying to appease the Houthis and Iran by isolating Israel and complying with their demands.

Enough of this. Congress needs pass a binding resolution to establish a kill zone perimeter within the straits authorizing the destruction of any Iranian asset that comes near a cargo ship. We don’t need to get involved in the land-based Islamic civil war among the Houthis, the Saudi-backed Hadi government, and al-Qaeda in Yemen itself, as the Wall Street Journal editorial board and neocons are advocating. But we also must not become a bunch of weak pacifists in response to the inane Wilsonian policies of past Republican leaders.

Our trillion-dollar military is now immeasurably superior to the small forces that existed when Thomas Jefferson dispatched the Navy to vanquish the Barbary pirates, while the Houthis are not any less primitive than their early 19th-century North African predecessors. If we can’t keep the shipping lanes open 200 years later, why go deeper into debt to keep funding this military?

Clear Thoughts (op-ed)

The Houthi attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea are disrupting global trade and raising prices, yet the Biden administration has allowed these attacks to continue, despite having the world’s greatest naval and air power at its disposal. This passive approach is not just weak foreign policy – it’s also a subterfuge to ensure the cost of living domestically remains high.

Shipping at the Bab el-Mandeb Strait is down 54% over the past month, with metric tons of trade coming through the strait down by more than 50%. If the Houthis are not stopped, shipping at this critical outlet will grind to a halt, harming consumers and producers worldwide.

The United States and its allies need to take decisive action against these primitive terrorists. Congress should pass a binding resolution to establish a kill zone perimeter within the straits, authorizing the destruction of any Iranian asset that comes near a cargo ship. We don’t need to get involved in the land-based Islamic civil war in Yemen, but we must not become weak pacifists in response to the inane policies of past leaders.

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Our trillion-dollar military is immeasurably superior to the small forces that existed when Thomas Jefferson dispatched the Navy to vanquish the Barbary pirates. If we can’t keep the shipping lanes open 200 years later, why go deeper into debt to keep funding this military?

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. edith

    January 27, 2024 at 7:07 pm

    Can’t something be done to help our troops before Biden gets them all killed? We need someone to handle the Houthis. Next in command or something. Who can take control Biden is not able to do anything for America.

  2. LMB

    January 27, 2024 at 7:55 pm

    If there was ever a time to nuke a country again, now is the time!!! Yeah, call me crazy, but the problem is solved and it would be a warning to the other Islamic Terrorists that their BS will no longer be tolerated!!!

  3. Samson

    January 27, 2024 at 8:42 pm

    Easy fix, go in there and wipe them all out! First we need to get rid of Biden before he totally destroys the country.Trump did not have enough time to fix all the damage done from Obama now we got another 4 years of Biden destroying our country. We need to get Trump back soon or America will not be here.

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