In an earlier post, I insisted that “our” war with Iran was not yet over. And it isn’t. You may have forgotten all about the war we started with them. But rest assured, they haven’t.
Exhibit A: Saturday’s missile attack on a government military base in Yemen. The New York Times, a bit behind the times in this case, lists the casualties as rising “to at least 76.” That was yesterday. Seven hours ago, it was 111. I’m guessing it’ll go up.
Another thing the Times neglects to mention is our connection to this attack. A casual reader would see no connection at all, and the Times article is written to abet his ignorance. A less casual reader would grasp that the attack was likely launched by the Houthis, backed by Iran, and that it hit our allies, the Yemenis and Saudis. Which suggests that it was in some sense an Iranian attack aimed at us, and a harbinger of things to come.
You might at this point reasonably object that the Yemenis and Saudis are not your allies. I get it. They’re not mine, either. Neither were the Nicaraguan contras or the Salvadoran rebels at El Mozote. Neither is COGAT. But try telling any of this to the people who rule us. You won’t very get far, unless you write your message on your tax returns–in which case, you’ll get at least as far as a federal prison.* Or unless you make a loud enough noise that you scare your listeners by its volume.
Otherwise, you face a real problem of complicity. Like it or not, we’ve all involuntarily been enrolled in the “us” that is the United States. And like it or not, the United States is deeply complicitous in the war in Yemen. Which means that we are. Some leftists are even calling the Saudis and Yemenis a US-backed coalition. I’m not much of a leftist, but it sure is a convenient way of putting things.
Here’s what “we’ve” been doing over there:
Since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015, the United States gave its full support to a relentless air campaign where Saudi warplanes and bombs hit thousands of targets, including civilian sites and infrastructure, with impunity. From the beginning, US officials insisted that American weapons, training and intelligence assistance would help the Saudis avoid causing even more civilian casualties.
Deliberately targeted civilians, huh? Can you blame them if they decide to return the favor? I guess you could, a little. About as much as they could blame you.
In his veto message, Mr. Trump said he agreed with Congress that “great nations do not fight endless wars.” He noted that the United States was negotiating to end its involvement in Afghanistan and drawing down troops in Syria, after what he said was the conquest of 100 percent of the territory once held by the Islamic State.
Yemen, however, is a different situation, he declared.
Yeah. Every situation is a different situation. And while “great nations do not fight endless wars,” who ever said that we’d gotten to that destination? We’ve still got a couple of more wars to fight before we can lay down our arms and let our true greatness shine.
This veto, you’ll remember, and the pro-Saudi gesture it involved, took place after the other member of our coalition, Saudi Arabia, dismembered Jamal Khashoggi, a guy who happened to live in Washington, D.C., and happened to write for an American newspaper without being quite American enough for anyone to care about his dismemberment at the hands of one of our allies. The heck of it is that he was banned from his native country, Saudi Arabia, for…criticizing Donald Trump. So many ironies amidst so much winning.
I have to admit that there are foreign policy experts out there who think we should just continue with this policy. And I also have to admit that I’m no foreign policy expert. I’m just one of the ignorant non-specialist civilians who has to pay for and support the affair. And I mean, who are people like me to decide whether we’re to help kill a couple hundred or thousand or whatever more civilians somewhere that we’ll never meet? It might make us a little uncomfortable that some of the people urging the continuation of the policy are the exact same individuals who urged us into war in Iraq. In fact, these are some of the same individuals who urged us into war, then went on, a decade later, to casually toss off stuff like this:
Just as unfortunately, the problems of Iraq will not be easily healed. They are not the product of ancient hatreds, a canard that resurfaces with the outbreak of each such civil war. Instead they are principally the products of our own mistakes. We caused the Iraqi civil war, we healed it briefly, and then we left it to fester all over again. It is not that Iraqis had no say in the matter, no free will. Only that they were acting within circumstances that we created and those circumstances have driven their actions.
Our mistakes that caused that civil war that we left to fester. But what’s a civil war or two between fellow citizens?
I guess we could proceed robotically to the next set of mistakes that will cause the next disaster that won’t be our responsibility. Or we could do a double take and act accordingly. But the noose is slowly tightening. Today’s it’s Yemen; tomorrow it’ll be somewhere closer to “us.” You could object that it’s unlikely any of this will ever target you in particular. But then it’s a question why we are over there in the first place. And like it or not, we are.
*Since a tax form signed under duress is invalid, but the involuntary character of taxation doesn’t count as duress, to file a form while citing duress is considered fraud by the IRS. The tax code doesn’t explicitly put it that way, but I wouldn’t recommend experimenting with it.