War, War Everywhere

It used to be easier, in the good old days, when our country tended to fight just one war at a time.  Forty years ago, “US Out of Vietnam” had a certain focus that is hard to recapture today, when our military power spans the globe as never before and we are intervening – or getting ready to intervene – nearly everywhere. 

Of course, there were plenty of US interventions in those days too, but they tended to be covert or exercised through proxies.  The Cold War and the existence of a powerful superpower rival served as a restraining influence.  Now, just when we thought we had a handle on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, we have to sign up for crash courses on Syria and Iran, then UKRAINE – and now YEMEN. Meanwhile, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan refuse to go away. What is an anti-war campaigner to do?  It’s hard to keep up.

US allies among the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Saudi Arabia, are bombing Yemen, with the US-allied Egyptian dictatorship prepared to send troops to join in the attack — all with many billions of dollars of US-supplied arms.  US weapons manufacturers are no doubt ecstatic. The Obama administration is cheering on the attack,  invoking – along with a unanimous trumpeting in the media – the alleged “Iranian-backed Shi’a” Houthi rebels.  This framing comes straight out of the Israeli-Saudi playbook and is utterly false, according to experts on Yemen. The Houthis do not need arms from Iran because Yemen is awash with US weaponry supplied to the deposed regime “for counter-terrorism.”

The military intervention is aimed at re-instating the deposed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was installed in Yemen through a 2012 “election” in which he was the only candidate and there wasn’t even an option to vote “No.” Hadi received an enviable 100% of the vote (or 99.80% to be exact, but who’s counting).  Hadi replaced an earlier US-Saudi client dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced out in 2011. The Saudi intervention now puts the US effectively on the same side as “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” which is the enemy of the Houthis.

YemenVicinityMap

The Madness of Funding the Pentagon to “Cover the Globe”

President Obama and Senator John McCain, who have clashed on almost every conceivable issue, do agree on one thing: the Pentagon needs more money. Obama wants to raise the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2016 by $35 billion more than the caps that exist under current law allow.  McCain wants to see Obama his $35 billion and raise him $17 billion more. Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees attempted to meet Obama’s demands by pressing to pour tens of billions of additional dollars into the uncapped supplemental war budget… Whether the enthusiastic budgeteers in the end succeed in this particular maneuver to create a massive Pentagon slush fund, the effort represents a troubling development for anyone who thinks that Pentagon spending is already out of hand… Instead of seeking yet more of it, perhaps it’s time for the Pentagon to abandon its costly and counterproductive military strategy of “covering the globe.”  … If one were to choose a single phrase to explain why General Dempsey thinks the Pentagon is starved for funds, it would be “too many missions.”  No amount of funding could effectively deal with the almost endless shopping list of global challenges the U.S. military has mandated itself to address, most of which do not have military solutions in any case.     More 

Egypt Set to Join Saudi Assault in Yemen

A day after Saudi Arabia and a coalition of nine other states began hammering the Houthis with airstrikes and blockading the Yemeni coast, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt said in a statement that the country’s navy and air force had joined the campaign and that its army was ready to send ground troops “if necessary.” The Associated Press, citing unnamed military officials, reported that plans for an Egyptian invasion were already underway, and many analysts had already concluded that airstrikes alone had little chance of pushing back the Houthis.   More

Saudi-led action relied on U.S. intelligence

Saudi Arabia told the Obama administration and Persian Gulf allies early this week that it was preparing a military operation in neighboring Yemen, and relied heavily on U.S. surveillance ­images and targeting information to carry it out, according to senior American and Persian Gulf officials… Rather than asking for direct U.S. military participation, the Saudis were “focused on .?.?. the type of additional resources and intelligence that we could render,” the senior administration official said. “This was all finalized yesterday,” the official said. But “we certainly knew heading into yesterday.”  More

US to give ‘logistical, intelligence’ support in Yemen

The United States is coordinating closely with Saudi Arabia and regional allies in the military action against Huthi rebels in Yemen, including providing intelligence and logistical support, the White House said. “President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council.  More