Before I head out for the weekend, I thought I’d leave you with the news that America has launched its glorious campaign to help destroy Yemen:
The U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes on Thursday to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces, retaliating after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer, U.S. officials said.
The strikes, authorized by President Barack Obama, represent Washington’s first direct military action against suspected Houthi-controlled targets in Yemen’s conflict.
Still, the Pentagon appeared to stress the limited nature of the strikes, aimed at radar that enabled the launch of at least three missiles against the U.S. Navy ship USS Mason on Sunday and Wednesday.
“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
Whew. Lucky for the Yemeni people, then, that American military operations never experience mission creep and that American ordinance is engineered to lovingly caress the cheeks of any civilians it hits.
You may have noticed that quote says the Mason was fired upon on Sunday and Wednesday, and well, yeah. Even though I reiterate my view that it makes very little sense for the Houthis or their allies in the Yemeni military to rope the US into this war directly, it seems pretty clear after this second attack that’s what they’ve done. Fool me once and all. Even the argument that the rebels accidentally fired on the Mason (or, in other words, they didn’t know they were shooting at an American vessel) starts to seem a bit unbelievable when it happens a second time.
Destroying the coastal radar should make firing any more missiles at ships in the Red Sea area pointless. It’s possible, though I’m totally speculating here, that the rebels would pick a fight with the US in the hopes that the US would then crowd the Saudis out of the “bombing Yemen” business. They’d hope that Washington might be willing to talk, whereas it may seem like the Saudis are only prepared to start negotiations once everybody in rebel-held Yemen is dead. But that seems too clever, and the more likely explanation is that firing on the Mason was just a mistake.
Anyway, instead of cutting back its support for the Saudi bombing campaign, the US has now joined in. Progress!