Rethinking our way deeper into Yemen

Hey, remember all the way back on, uh, Saturday, when Saudi Arabia triple-tapped a funeral home in Yemen and the Obama administration was all “We are officially rethinking for the 50th time whether our role in enabling Saudi war crimes is worth the less-than-zero benefit our participation has had for American national security”? Well, get ready for a rethinking of the rethinking, because today this happened:

Two missiles targeted a US warship off the coast of Yemen on Sunday but missed the vessel and hit the water instead, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The missiles were fired at the USS Mason from Houthi-controlled territory in war-torn Yemen, Capt. Jeff Davis said, adding that the guided-missile destroyer deployed “onboard defensive measures” and was undamaged.

The Houthis, of course, deny firing anything at the Mason, but, my fellow Americans, in the larger sense this new act of aggression, aimed directly at our own forces, again brings home to all of us in the United States the importance of the struggle for peace and security in southeast Asia Yemen. Aggression by terror against the peaceful villagers of South Viet-Nam Saudi Arabia has now been joined by open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America.

The determination of all Americans to carry out our full commitment to the people and to the government of South Viet-Nam Saudi Arabia will be redoubled by this outra–you know what, I’m sorry, I got carried away there for a second.

Let’s try this again. The Houthis deny firing anything at the Mason. It would be monumentally stupid for the Houthis to take even a pot shot deliberately at an American vessel, particularly given that the US was maybe really rethinking its role in Yemen. And while I grant you that people and countries and illegitimate juntas do monumentally stupid things all the time, this would be pretty high up there on the list of all-time self-defeating moves. Yet the Navy’s position seems clear: the Mason was deliberately targeted. And yet, a little less than an hour and a half before CNN published that piece, USA Today ran a much different interpretation of events:

Two missiles fired from rebel-held territory in Yemen landed near a U.S. warship in the Red Sea, the U.S. Navy said Monday.

Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for U.S. Navy Forces Central Command, said it was unclear if the USS Mason — a guided missile destroyer — was specifically targeted, but the missiles were fired in its direction in the space of an hour from 7 p.m. local time Sunday.

The Wall Street Journal carried the earliest report of the incident I can find in US media, from around 1 this morning, and it too didn’t say anything about the Mason having been targeted deliberately. So I’m trying to figure out how the US government managed to determine that the Mason had been intentionally fired upon in the less than 90 minutes between the USA Today report and later reports like the ones from CNN and Reuters.

Somebody in the junta government, either the Houthis or some element of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government, has been firing ballistic missiles at targets inside Saudi Arabia since Saturday’s funeral home strike, so we know they could have fired on the Mason. But Yemen’s military uses Cold War-era Scud missiles, which weren’t especially well-known for their accuracy to begin with and are now decades old. And if these are Houthi fighters doing the shooting themselves, who knows if they have any training at all in firing these weapons. There are a lot of ways, then, that this could have been an unintentional launch in the Mason‘s direction. And while I usually try to stay away from conspiracy theorizing around this place, there’s also significant “false flag” potential here. Er, what I mean is, how, um, fortunate, for the Saudis, that this incident took place right in the aftermath of the funeral home debacle when America finally seemed like it might have reached its limit in terms of Saudi war crimes. Just a real stroke of good luck there, I guess.

But regardless of anybody else’s misgivings, it sounds like the Pentagon has its story and is sticking to it. And that likely means the US is going to continue supporting the Saudi operation and may even escalate that support.



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