The Houthis Have Disrupted Capitalism and American Empire in their Defense of Gaza

Palestine Houthis
The Houthis Have Disrupted Capitalism and American Empire in their Defense of Gaza

Amidst Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza, much of the world has been frozen in horror, waiting for someone to do something to stop it, and so far, only Yemen’s Houthi rebels have made a serious attempt to force Israel’s hand. They have conducted countless raids and bombing campaigns on Red Sea shipping, and a new Defense Intelligence Agency report indicates that they are having immense success in their goal to shut down a key shipping lane to Israel.

According to the DIA, as of February, container shipping through the Red Sea has declined ninety percent since December 2023. Shipping through the Red Sea accounts for about ten to fifteen percent of global maritime trade, and these attacks are wreaking havoc on global shipping routes.

Seafarers are increasingly refusing to sail through the Red Sea, as the attacks have rattled an industry already experiencing a staffing shortage in the wake of COVID’s seismic impact on global shipping. Reuters interviewed fifteen crew members and shipping industry officials, and George Logothetis, executive chairman of privately owned U.S.-headquartered Libra Group said “we don’t like to profit off the pain of others. We won’t send our ships [to the Red Sea].”

Logistics platform project44 revealed that container ship sailings through the Red Sea dropped seventy-eight percent compared to last May, and the DIA notes that companies are traveling around Africa instead, which adds about eleven thousand nautical miles, one to two additional weeks of transit time and one to two million dollars in extra fuel costs. Because of the rising cost of insurance for Red Sea transit, crew bonuses to incentivize people to take this dangerous voyage and Suez transit fees, it has become less expensive for crews to take the extra eleven thousand nautical mile journey than to try to travel through the Houthi blockade. They have fundamentally altered global shipping lanes.

The Houthis are a Shia Islamist political and military organization that receives support from Iran’s government. They have been fighting a civil war in Yemen that has largely devolved into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. While many try to paint a concrete picture of the Houthis, either as barbaric terrorists practicing an extreme ideology, or courageous freedom fighters valiantly battling the world’s hegemon and its proxy states in the Middle East, but the fact is the Houthis have never really been able to fit into a neat little ideological box. They have a history of pragmatism that leads to a lot of coalitions that theoretically go against their ideological lean.

But they have long championed the Palestinian cause, and we find ourselves in a complex moment where attacking civilians on cargo ships is one of the most effective methods anyone is utilizing to try to halt the Israeli genocide of Gaza.

Certainly nothing Joe Biden and his State Department are doing is enough to stem the bloodshed. His “red line” is a farce that Israel has repeatedly crossed knowing they are dealing with a fundamentally weak and feckless U.S. administration who will not do what other presidents have done to try to rein Israel in. The pier he constructed to supposedly facilitate aid to Palestinians being intentionally starved by Israel was a world-historic joke that doubles as a perfect avatar for Biden’s failed foreign policy. The totality of American efforts to try to stop Israel’s genocide pales in comparison to the effectiveness of these constant low wattage attacks by the Houthi rebels.

The Houthis are even taking the fight right directly to the American empire. “This is the most sustained combat that the U.S. Navy has seen since World War II — easily, no question,” Bryan Clark, a former Navy submariner and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute told the Associated Press. “We’re sort of on the verge of the Houthis being able to mount the kinds of attacks that the U.S. can’t stop every time, and then we will start to see substantial damage. … If you let it fester, the Houthis are going to get to be a much more capable, competent, experienced force.”

The Pentagon has spent a staggering $1 billion countering Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. Bill LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said in April that each shot to destroy a Houthi drone costs about a hundred thousand dollars, and the Department of Defense is desperately searching for a more cost-effective option. That the United States is stretched thin as the Pentagon debates what to do with the mounting costs and extended stay of the USS Eisenhower, but the Houthis capability to attack the Red Sea remains undeterred, is one of the best examples you will ever see of how the corporate welfare program that is the defense budget actually puts American security at risk. The Houthis have also shot down two American reaper drones that cost $32 million each.

To be clear, all this chaos has not yet moved Israel in any meaningful direction, as no outside entity has been able to halt their ambition to kill as many Palestinians as possible, but the mounting pressure the Houthis are placing on global shipping and the American military will inevitably reach some kind of breaking point.

This is increasing the cost of goods and will undoubtedly lead to additional inflationary pressures that consumers will pay for, and the cost both in dollars and manpower is quickly becoming too much even for the bloated Department of Defense to bear. Something must change, and the Houthis have made it clear that their attacks will not stop unless there is a ceasefire, and they backed up this assertion in November during a temporary ceasefire when they halted these strikes for a week.

That the American government is willing to spend billions of dollars and let global trade get completely upended, instead of forcefully trying to rein in Israel utilizing the levers of empire like previous presidents have, just goes to show how dedicated the Biden administration is to letting Benjamin Netanyahu destroy the vaunted global order so he can carry out a barbarous ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza.

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