The United States has also kept warships in the region to guard a sea lane through which four million barrels of oil pass each day. There, in the narrow strait at the mouth of the Red Sea, the dizzying mix of warships, cargo vessels and insurgent forces this week yielded precisely what the Obama administration had spent 18 months trying to avoid.
The American strikes, launched at rebel-held territory, came after two unsuccessful missile attacks on the Mason in four days, the Pentagon said Thursday, and were intended solely to protect American forces and other shipping in Bab el Mandeb, the strait separating Yemen from Eritrea and Djibouti.
More attacks would invite further retaliation, Peter Cook, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. American and allied warships will continue to patrol the strait, he said, but “we don’t seek a wider role in the conflict.”
That may be the case, but the United States now finds itself facing a dangerous situation in a narrow stretch of water where even small incidents run the risk of inciting a broader conflict.
After the American strikes, Iran said it was sending two warships to the strait, presumably to support the Houthis, an indigenous Shiite group with loose connections to Iran. Saudi Arabia has portrayed the Houthis as an Iranian proxy force and has said that it needed to intervene in Yemen to protect Saudi national security by preventing the rise of a belligerent militia on its southern border.This commitment to Bab el Mandeb cannot be easily undone. The U.S. is now "out of the closet" in Yemen; at the same time, it is talking about a shooting war with Russia over Aleppo.
What is fascinating about this full embrace of total and perpetual war by the rulers of the "indispensable nation" is that it comes absent any evidence of support from the American masses. The organs of the mainstream media -- The New York Times, CNN -- have been cranking out noise directly from Central Intelligence, day in and day out, for months -- no, years. To no avail. People do not want to go to war with Syria, and definitely not Russia, no matter how many times little Omran Daqneesh's bloody face is flashed.
Combine this with the onrushing election of a president who is likely the most unpopular -- the only other contenders that spring to mind are Nixon 1968 and John Quincy Adams 1824 -- and you have a recipe for a lot of instability. Because you know Hillary is a warhawk.
The system is so rancid and distended I don't see how it can be maintained. A correction is called for pronto. And that is the point of politics, to provide such a correction. Is the GOP civil war correction enough? I don't think so.
Electorally, the best that could be hoped for would be record low turnout and 5% for each third-party presidential candidate, giving Greens and Libertarians federal matching funds. Militarily, there needs to be a singular, exemplary defeat along the lines of the fall of Saigon. Maybe in Kabul, or possibly a messy civil war between U.S. proxies in Mosul following the rout of the Islamic State?