Last week, during his trip across Asia, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted the obvious, that the US has been involved in a war in Pakistan's tribal areas, by launching drone strikes against militant encampments which allegedly provide fighters for the insurgency in Afghanistan. Also obvious, but not yet admitted by Panetta, is that the US is also at war in Yemen, not only with drones, as in Pakistan, but also with commandos on the ground, and, on at least one occasion, with Tomahawk missile strikes and cluster bombs delivered by F-15 fighters based in Djibouti.
This fact underscores the importance of Rep. Walter Jones' concurrent resolution warning the president that if he takes the United States to war without the Constitutionally required Congressional authorization, he has committed an impeachable offense.
While attention in this regard has been focused primarily on Syria and Iran, the war in Yemen has escalated. Another drone strike hit in Yemen, yesterday, reportedly killing 9 people, making it, according to the website The Long War Journal the 23rd so far this year, compared to 22 in Pakistan. Yet, there's been next to no public articulation by the Obama Administration on what this war is supposed to accomplish, and how it's supposed to do that, and no debate in the Congress on the legitimacy of the war itself.
And, according to at least one Yemeni politician, if the war is supposed to make Americans safer, it's backfiring badly. Ibrahim Mothana, a co-founder of Yemen's Watan Party, opened up an op-ed in the New York Times with the following Twitter quote from a Yemeni lawyer, last month: "DEAR OBAMA, when a U.S. drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda." And thus, the following of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has grown as the intensity of Obama's drone war in Yemen has also grown. "Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology but rather by a sense of revenge and despair," writes Mothana.
"Anti-Americanism is far less prevalent in Yemen than in Pakistan. But rather than winning the hearts and minds of Yemeni civilians, America is alienating them by killing their relatives and friends. Indeed, the drone program is leading to the Talibanization of vast tribal areas and the radicalization of people who could otherwise be Americas allies in the fight against terrorism in Yemen." In 2009, AQAP, Mothana writes, had only a few hundred members and controlled no territory, but today, it has over 1,000 members and controls substantial areas of the country. Its support is directly related to the fury in the population in response to US drone strikes.
Mothana concludes that only by dealing with the real drivers of extremism can the threat of Islamic radicalism be dealt with. Mothana rightly places the policy at Obama's feet but the only way to end this brutality is by the removal of Obama, by impeachment or the 25th Amendment, from the Oval Office.