Amid reports casting doubts on the valuation of a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the Senate on Tuesday considered a resolution by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., which would prevent any such deal from taking place.
The joint resolution was not passed, but Sen. Paul gave an impassioned apology for it.
Diverging from policy under both Republican and Democratic administrations, Paul argued on the Senate floor that rather than advancing American interests to end everlasting conflicts in the region, giving arms to Saudi Arabia would only prolong conflicts.
"This may make the situation with Iran worse," he argued, rather than helping the U.S. keep Iran in check. He continued, "What do you think Iran thinks when Saudi Arabia gets weapons? They think to themselves, 'well, if the Saudis are getting more, we need more.' ... We are fueling an arms race in the Middle East."
Paul also argued against the deal on behalf of Israel. "Saudi Arabia is no friend of Israel. Do they cooperate with Israel some? Yes. But their missiles are pointed at Tel Aviv."
Paul's other main argument involved Yemen.
Yemen is a nation ravaged by war, man-made famine, and a cholera epidemic, but it is often forgotten. "Everybody is listening to some silly show trials and silly stuff going on in committee. Nobody is talking about this stuff [Yemen] at all. They say it is worse than Syria. Many people have fled Syria, hundreds of thousands have died, and now many are predicting Yemen may be worse."
In his view, the Yemen conflict — tragedy, really — is only prolonged by Saudi Arabia, which backs the regime and has repeatedly bombed civilians.
The position of non-intervention was represented well yesterday, even though it lost the vote on Saudi arms. In the end, Paul exhorted the public to remember this conflict: "It's being done without your permission, but with your weapons."