Gregory Johnsen writes: In Yemen, Obama appears to be headed down exactly the road he has been trying to avoid for the past two-and-a-half years: getting sucked into a war from which there is no easy exit.
Miller’s article in today’s Washington Post gives us some insight to the thought process that is making this drift possible.
“But officials said the campaign is now also aimed at wiping out a layer of lower-ranking operatives through strikes that can be justified because of threats they pose to the mix of U.S. Embassy workers, military trainers, intelligence operatives and contractors scattered across Yemen.”
In other words, the US has inserted, trainers, operatives and contractors into Yemen in an effort to erode the threat presented by AQAP, but those trainers, operatives and contractors attract attacks from Yemenis who are upset with a foreign military presence (no matter how small) on their land. And then when these trainers, operatives and contractors come under attack as they have recently in Aden and Hudaydah the US feels the need to respond and so it widens the target list even further – which then drives even more people into the arms of AQAP.
This is not going to end well. At this point, how does it end[?] The US has tried 2.5 years of drone and missile strikes in Yemen — and despite the individuals it has killed — AQAP continues to grow and appears just as eager and able to strike at the US. So, what happens, if a “missile surge” doesn’t work in Yemen?
What then does the US do?
I have argued for several years now that the US needs to draw as narrow of a circle as possible when it comes to targeting AQAP in Yemen. I worried then as I do now, that any expansion of targeting in Yemen would find the US in a war that it could never kill its way out of. And indeed that, I fear, is what is taking place right now. In an effort to destroy the threat coming out of Yemen, the US is getting sucked further into the quicksand of a conflict it doesn’t understand and one in which its very presence tilts the tables against the US.