Eight drone strikes in two weeks. That’s a number, according to Ron Paul that most Americans are unfamiliar with. With the strikes, it represents the largest escalation of attacks in Yemen in more than a decade. As for the targets? The US claims that everyone killed is a ‘suspected militant’. Said another way, if you are a military-aged male and are outside when the missile lands, you’re a suspected militant.
Yemeni civilians have long complained, quite loudly, over the number of civilians killed in the strikes. Similar to the complaints heard out of Pakistan over the drone strikes there. The media reporting on the drone strikes say that of all the ‘suspected militants’ killed, only one was on the most wanted list.
Why the Escalation Now?
The escalation into Yemen is interestingly timed around President Obama’s meeting with Yemen’s President Hadi. President Hadi was initially installed as the leader of Yemen after Saleh was ousted in 2011. Not exactly a popular figure in his own country, and considering he has Al Qaeda base surrounding him, it is in his best interest to court the US.
At the meeting in Washington, President Obama praised Hadi’s cooperation in the fight against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Ron Paul then went on to mention this was just days before the unspecified threat was leaked to the press that led to the closure of twenty embassies. It was later revealed that supposedly the NSA intercepted a conference call of Al-Qaeda leaders discussing plans to attack the west.
Two issues. One, as drone strike happy as this administration is, no one thought to backtrace that? And two, did Al-Qaeda suddenly go full moron and seriously hop on an open conference call to plan their next attack? Awfully convenient it came at a time when people were questioning the NSA surveillance methods.
Creating More Militants
Deeper into Ron Paul’s letter he gets into the issue of blowback. With each drone strike, we are creating a new crop of militants. As we kill civilians, we are radicalizing their families against the west. He goes on to quote Gregory Johnson of Princeton University:
“There are strikes that kill civilians. There are strikes that kill women and children. And when you kill people in Yemen, these are people who have families. They have clans. And they have tribes. And what we’re seeing is that the United States might target a particular individual because they see him as a member of al-Qaeda. But what’s happening on the ground is that he’s being defended as a tribesman.”
Finishing off his letter, Ron Paul returns to his brand of foreign policy. One that hasn’t been tried in centuries. Non-interventionism. He clearly points out the lack of successes in the region. We have left Iraq, yet it teeters on the brink of a new civil war daily. Afghanistan is a mess. And now we are in an undeclared war inside of Yemen.
His first step? Pulling US forces out of Yemen.