Yemen Drone War: New model for US intervention, with Saudi help

Published on 7 January 2013 in Opinion Jason Ditz (author) Jason Ditz


With the U.S. still coming to grips with what a disaster the Iraq invasion was, and still toiling away in Afghanistan well over a decade into that occupation, the Obama Administration is eager to frame its ambitions for more intervention as being a “new model.”

Libya was the first candidate for the “new model,” a regime change imposed primarily through air strikes. But, with Libya’s security situation ever-worsening, that’s not the “good example” the administration wants either. Now it is Yemen.

Officials say that the administration has latched onto its war in Yemen, with its high body count, legal ambiguity and intense secrecy as “a new model for US intervention abroad,” with the big problem of selling the public on the virtues of a war many didn’t even know was going on in the first place.

The officials cite Guantanamo Bay and the enormous legal problem of open-ended detention of suspects with little evidence as a justification for the Yemen strategy. “There is no kill or capture anymore. It’s kill or kill,” one noted.

As morally reprehensible as this is as a strategy, it appears one carefully thought out by the administration, which has been able to ditch responsibility for people killed in drone strikes by claiming the killings are a “state secret.”

A lot of people are being killed in Yemen, but when innocents are obliterated in a random air strike, the Hadi regime is quick to take the credit, and help the U.S. ditch the blame. Saudi Arabia is adding warplanes to the semi-organized kill frenzy, adding yet more deliberate ambiguity to how many of the deaths are directly on the hands of the U.S..

Whereas one would’ve thought a “new model” for intervention would seek to avoid open-ended wars by spurning adventurism in favor of realistic goals, the administration appears to have chosen the opposite, deciding that open-endedness and ambiguity is a small price to pay if it keeps the American public even more in the dark about its assorted wars.

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